The Japanese government decided Friday to compile measures aimed at preventing child abuse following the recent death of a 5-year-old girl who had written "forgive me" in a notebook to beg her parents to stop mistreating her.
"We should not allow such a pitiful incident to happen again. (The government) will take sweeping measures," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a meeting of relevant Cabinet ministers.
Abe instructed Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Katsunobu Kato and other ministers to come up with urgent action to save children.
After the gathering, Kato said his ministry will set up a panel of experts on child abuse to investigate the girl's case and release the results by the fall.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference the government will strengthen efforts to assess the situations of preschool children across the nation and share information on suspected abuse cases between governmental bodies, including child welfare centers and police.
(Prime Minister Abe, left, speaks in a meeting on child abuse prevention.)
Insufficient information sharing among public entities is seen as one of the factors behind the high-profile abuse case involving Yua Funato, who died in Tokyo in March.
Her family moved to the capital's Meguro Ward from Kagawa Prefecture, western Japan, in January. Information about suspected abuse of her while the family was in Kagawa was passed on to a Tokyo child welfare center.
A Tokyo child welfare official visited the family's home in February, but was denied an opportunity to see Yua by her mother.
Yua's stepfather Yudai Funato, 33, and his wife Yuri, 25, are believed to have physically abused the girl from late January and failed to provide her with sufficient nourishment, resulting in her death on March 2 from sepsis caused by pneumonia.
According to investigators, Yua was given only a cup of soup for breakfast and a little bit of rice for lunch and dinner, as her parents demanded she stay slim "like a model." She weighed only 12 kilograms when she died, compared with the average weight for her age of 20 kg.
Yua's case drew public attention after the police found at her home memos in a notebook written by her, filled with pleas to her parents to stop abusing her. "Please forgive me forgive me," "I have played like a fool. Playing is like being a fool. I will stop it. I promise I will never ever do it again," some of the memos read.
(A photo of Yua Funato is kept by her greatgrandmother.)