crime

Prosecutors seek 20-year sentence for man who let 5-year-old son starve to death

21 Comments

Prosecutors on Friday sought a 20-year prison sentence for a man who allowed his 5-year-old son to starve to death at an abandoned apartment in Atsugi, Kanagawa Prefecture.

The Yokohama District Court heard how the skeletal remains of Riku Saito were found in an apartment abandoned by his father Yukihiro Saito, a truck driver, in May 2014, Fuji TV reported. The boy had starved to death.

One month earlier, when the boy failed to show up at the start of the school term -- where he had been enrolled several years before -- school officials notified a child welfare center which, in turn, contacted police in May. Police went to the apartment and found the mail had been piled up but were unable to contact the boy's father until a week later. Saito lived in a different apartment. However, he accompanied police to the apartment where the remains of his son (given to the school as the boy's address) were found.

Saito -- who was divorced from the boy's mother -- was arrested after he admitted letting his son die due to starvation in the fall of 2006. Saito told police he moved out of the apartment shortly after.

It was learned that although officers from a local child welfare center were supposed to have visited the home to find out what had happened to the boy, they never went.

The Kanagawa Board of Education said that the elementary school where the boy had been enrolled tried to make contact with his family after he did not come to school in 2007. Officials visited the apartment several times but there was no answer and the school assumed the family had moved away and delisted the boy.

The court also heard that early one morning in October 2004, Riku had been taken into protective custody for a short time after he had run out of the house barefoot and wearing nothing but a diaper. While at the child welfare center, Riku was examined and found to have marks on his body signifying possible abuse.

A short while later, after the identity of Riku's father was established, staff members at the child welfare center met with Yukihiro and decided that an officer from the center would visit the home to establish whether or not the environment was fit for a young child. However, over the following four years, not one visit took place.

A spokesperson for the child welfare center said at the time: "Whether or not the individual in charge of the case forgot or was too busy, we do not know, and it doesn't matter. The fact remains that no home visits were conducted and that is a reflection of utter negligence on the part of the center."

Staff were quoted as saying that the center was grossly understaffed at the time, potentially further contributing to the problem. "At the current time, we believe that child welfare centers are not adequately equipped to deal with cases of abuse and neglect such as this one (Riku)," said one worker. "As such, a revision of these organizations is absolutely necessary at this time to prevent similar cases of professional negligence in the future."

The court will hand down its sentence on Oct 22.

© Japan Today

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21 Comments
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20 years is not enough. For shame dropping the ball on this poor child. At a time when Japan needs every child born.

9 ( +8 / -1 )

I hope that if there is an increase in births in Japan it's accompanied by an increase in family support services.

Maybe some of the funding earmarked for protecting the agriculture sector (or any other constituent group) would be better used providing assistance to families, especially families that are struggling in some way.

4 ( +4 / -1 )

And someone indiscriminately stabbing someone gets life. This is premeditated murder, the father knew well and good what he was doing and cruelly allowed his son to die.

I am not often an advocate of the death penalty but when it comes to crimes against children and women, the punishment should fit the crime, starve him to the point of death, revive him, get him healthy, give him hope, and repeat, over and over for those 20 years, and THEN let him perish away.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

A few years for the responsible officers that failed to protect him would do no harm also. Agreed, 20 years is not enough for the father. Even animals take care of the hungry..

6 ( +6 / -2 )

Wouldn't it be nice to just throw him in a cell and let him starve himself, but you know the law and his human rights and so on...

1 ( +3 / -2 )

20 years? think of every second the boy suffered to death.

6 ( +4 / -0 )

Imagine a child starving to death in 21st century Japan... Why did Saito let his son starve? Why not let Riku's mother know he couldn't take care him?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

It should be death penalty!20 yrs isnt enough!!!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Whether or not the individual in charge of the case forgot or was too busy, we do not know, and it doesn’t matter.

WTF?! It does matter.

That poor kid...

@weisse

You said it... lock him up, throw away the key and let him starve.

4 ( +3 / -0 )

“At the current time, we believe that child welfare centers are not adequately equipped to deal with cases of abuse and neglect such as this one (Riku)

Um, please tell me why they have child welfare centres if they are not capable of attending to a child's welfare? Yeah, the father is a scumbag and deserves a lengthy jail sentence, but the really sad fact is, if this agency had done their job this kid would still be a live today. Their pitiful excuses disgust me! They were too busy or just forgot about his case?bthey were too concerned with their own welfare! The father may have caused his death, but the welfare agency is responsible for it!

3 ( +5 / -3 )

In this instance, we really need the Yankee law "a toot for a toot and an eye for an eye" (originally a biblical law) its too kind to put him in a cell to starve to death, it would be better to place him in the very room that poor child starved in and let him meet his end. Only than would justice be served.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

This article also contradicts itself by saying both that Saito left his son to starve in an abandoned apartment and that he moved out after the boy died.

This is the case where after the mother left the family when the boy was three, she continued to visit to feed the boy for some time. Later, the father moved into another apartment with his new girlfriend while the boy was still alive, and at least for some time, coming around to give the boy food every few days.

A very detailed, informative record of an NHK special on this case is available online.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I have a feeling that he deliberately killed the boy to "enjoy" the child allowance. Two crimes then, fraud and murder. If men and women don't want to raise a child, let the child be adopted or put in a shelter. Utterly despicable!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Riku had been taken into protective custody for a short time after he had run out of the house barefoot and wearing nothing but a diaper.

I could have sworn I heard (or read somewhere) that the "child welfare" people had to determine if the "guardian-parent" was "fit" to take care of the child or not ? Surely "running out of the house barefoot and wearing nothing but a diaper..." should have raised an alarm ? "Taken into protective custody for a short time..." WHY ? Poor little boy ! He escaped only to be taken back to his torturer... WAKE UP JAPAN ! You're worse than the most primitive animals who take good care of their young. . Put these poor children up for adoption if you can't find the mother.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

RIP Riku-kun... I won't forget you!! :-(

1 ( +1 / -0 )

20 years is not near enough. And while we're at it:

"It was learned that although officers from a local child welfare center were supposed to have visited the home to find out what had happened to the boy, they never went."

I say five years a piece to any and all who were responsible for this debacle. Or else just take the average lifespan for a male in Japan, minus the age of the boy when he died, and divide the years among the staff for jail time. There is no way they didn't have time to do even a SINGLE visit over FOUR YEARS!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

^TheGodfather, hear, hear, poor little fella, tears flowing. One question: Why? I have a 7yo boy. No matter who walked out of where, it is a tragedy and the father should do a long stretch.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

“At the current time, we believe that child welfare centers are not adequately equipped to deal with cases

Totally. Close these totally useless centers tonight. I can get that they don't detect all cases or that their actions fail... but I can't accept that they get a clear case (a baby in the custody of single parent that can't possibly be at home every night due to his job + established abuse) and they do nothing over 5 years.

This is the case where after the mother left the family when the boy was three, she continued to visit to feed the boy for some time.

So she was not one of those mother with no access to the kid after divorce. So she also let the child die of starvation. I don't care that she was not the guardian. She should get 20 years too.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Why did the mother stop visiting? Did she become ill or otherwise incapacitated? Was she giving her ex some money for their son's meals?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I already had little confidence in the child welfare/family court system here but a story like this makes me feel even worse. I worry about what might be allowed to happen to my own two children. Two visits for one of them allowed in the last 18 months and only one (20 mins!) for the other. I'm not allowed to try and meet them, or communicate with them in any way. Day to day, week to week, even month to month I usually have no idea how they are. If my wife wanted to harm them there is nothing I can do "legally" to prevent her. Please note I said "if", but obviously in some cases the unimaginable does happen. If the system was better many similar cases could be prevented.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Patrick Kimura-Macke - "If my wife wanted to harm them there is nothing I can do 'legally' to prevent her"

They key word there is LEGALLY. It's the LEGAL SYSTEM that is abusing the children and as a father you've got to do what you've got to do to protect your kids...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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