Prosecutors asked a court on Thursday to sentence a woman to two years in prison as she pleaded guilty to complicity in her husband's assaults on their 10-year-old daughter who died this January near Tokyo in a case that has attracted international attention.
Nagisa Kurihara, 32, is accused of failing to stop her husband Yuichiro, 41, from assaulting their daughter Mia and following his instructions not to feed her from around Jan. 22. Mia was found dead inside the bathroom of their home in Noda, Chiba Prefecture two days later.
"The defendant showed no intention to protect her daughter and left the abuse as it was. She abandoned her responsibility as a mother," a prosecutor said in the first court hearing at the Chiba District Court.
The mother told the court that when she tried to stop her husband from abusing Mia she was "grabbed by the collar, forced down on the floor and was assaulted" by him.
The court will hand down its ruling on the mother on June 26.
[Sketch by Nobutoshi Katsuyama]
Her defense team argued she had been controlled by her husband and did not intend to abuse her daughter.
The prosecutors said the father had resumed his assaults and was injuring Mia by around July 2018 after her protective custody at a child welfare center ended the previous year.
The mother did not report the assaults to police even though she sometimes intervened, the prosecutors said.
Yuichiro has been indicted for assaulting Nagisa around Jan. 1 in addition to assaulting Mia and causing her death by depriving her of sleep and nutrition, among other related charges. His trial schedule has yet to be decided.
Investigations into the case have uncovered how a child welfare center, her school and other local authorities failed to respond promptly to Mia's repeated calls for help, and a member of the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child said it demonstrated a crucial lack of responsibility by the adults involved.
In November 2017, Mia wrote in a questionnaire from her school in Noda that she was being "bullied" by her father, and was subsequently taken into protective custody at the child welfare center for seven weeks.
But as she started saying she wanted to go home, the center concluded the abuse was not serious and ended her protection in late December that year.
Mia then stayed with her relatives. But she finally returned to her parents' home upon approval by the welfare center in February 2018.
After her protective custody ended, no visits were paid to her home by officials of either the center or the school to check her safety.
It was also found that a local education board handed Yuichiro a copy of Mia's questionnaire, and that Mia was released from protective custody despite his suspected sexual abuse of her.