Japan PM reacts to child abuse after 'heart-wrenching' death of girl, 10 - 'We failed...' | Eurasia Diary - ednews.net

21 August, Wednesday

Japan PM reacts to child abuse after 'heart-wrenching' death of girl, 10 - 'We failed...'

Mia Kurihara, who died after being returned to her father’s care, joins high-profile cases that have shocked the country

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Authorities in Japan are facing demands to do more to protect children from abusive parents following the death of a 10-year-old girl who was returned to the care of her father despite evidence that he had been violent towards her.

Mia Kurihara was found dead in the bathroom of her home in Chiba, near Tokyo, in January, just over year after telling teachers that her father, Yuichiro Kurihara, regularly beat and bullied her.

The case has attracted huge media attention and prompted criticism of Japanese authorities amid a dramatic rise in the number of abuse cases.

Police reported the suspected abuse of a record 80,104 children last year, according to government figures released on Thursday, up almost 25% from the previous year. Experts attributed the rise to growing public awareness of the issue in the wake of several high-profile cases.

Japanese welfare officials and police have traditionally been reluctant to investigate allegations of child abuse and domestic violence. Social workers complain they are under-staffed and lack the powers to intervene to protect children when confronted with uncooperative parents.

Mia’s death, however, prompted experts to call for drastic changes in the way authorities investigate child abuse, including closer cooperation between the police, teachers and welfare authorities.

“People must recognise that child abuse is a very serious matter that cannot be dealt with by one organisation alone,” Keiji Goto, a lawyer, told public broadcaster NHK.

The prime minister, Shinzo Abe, vowed to eradicate child abuse in response to Mia’s “heart-wrenching” death. “We failed to respond to the call for help that she had courageously sent out,” he told MPs this week. “As a government, we take that seriously.”


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