The Tokyo District Court has sentenced a 36-year-old man to seven years in prison for fatally abusing his girlfriend's 3-year-old son in 2019. Prosecutors had sought 10 years.
According to the court ruling, Yuji Watanabe punched the boy, Ryutaro Yamada, in the stomach and then placed him in the bathtub on the morning of Sept 28, 2019, Fuji TV reported. At around 1:25 p.m., Watanabe called for emergency assistance saying he had found the boy floating face-down and unresponsive in the bathtub. Ryutaro was taken to a hospital in a state of cardiac arrest before regaining vital signs, but died the following day.
Autopsy results showed no water in the boy's lungs, prompting police to suspect Watanabe had abused Ryotaro and tried to cover it up as a drowning accident.
Watanabe, who was on child rearing leave, had been living with his own son, Ryotaro's mother and Ryotaro in a high-rise condominium in Toyosu since spring 2019. When the incident occurred, Ryotaro’s mother was on a business trip abroad, leaving Watanabe and the two boys in the condominium. Police said there were no signs that Watanabe had abused his own son.
At the beginning of the trial, Watanabe pleaded not guilty.© KYODO/Japan Today