The Saitama District Court has sentenced a 47-year-old woman to four years in prison for killing her mother and assisting her father to commit suicide.
The court heard that Atsuko Namikata put her parents into a car and drove it into the Tone River last November, Fuji TV reported. Namikata said that her ill father had said that he wanted the family to die together and asked his daughter to help. Namikata is the third daughter of Yoshihide Fujita, 74, and his wife Yoki, 81. She had been living with her parents at their home in Fukaya, Saitama Prefecture, caring full-time for her mother who has been suffering from dementia since 2003.
Fujita had been supporting his family by delivering newspapers every day but he became ill and was unable to continue to earn any income.
Namikata told police she was exhausted from looking after her parents and that their financial situation had become severe. She said her father had given up hope and asked that they all die together.
Namikata drove the car partially into the river and then she took her mother by the hand and led her into deeper water and let her go. Her father also waded into deeper water and went under.
Both of Namikata's parents drowned. Namikata, who was found lying on the riverbank, was taken to hospital, suffering from hypothermia. After she recovered, police charged her with killing her mother and assisting her father to commit suicide.
Namikata told the court that she had no hesitation about complying with her father's wish and that she regrets that she was unable to die with her parents.
The trial, which was extensively covered by the media this week, has thrown the spotlight on how local governments can better help such families in need.© Japan Today