A 10-year-old girl who died in January after a series of apparent assaults by her father had been released from protective custody despite his suspected sexual abuse of her, local government sources said Tuesday.
While 41-year-old Yuichiro Kurihara has already been indicted on assault-related charges after his daughter Mia was found dead in the bathroom of their home in Noda, Chiba Prefecture, near Tokyo, the sources said the girl told child welfare center officials in interviews in 2017 that her father had woken her up at night and pulled her pants down.
She said her underwear also slipped down, and when she told him to stop and pulled her pants up, Kurihara told her that other family members "will notice if you say (something) like that," according to the sources.
During the interviews conducted while she was in protective custody at the Kashiwa child welfare center, the girl also gave accounts of her father's physical abuse, such as covering her mouth and nose by his hands while she was asleep.
The center ended her protective custody, even though a doctor said she had been subjected to assaults as well as sexual abuse and suffered post-traumatic stress disorder. The national and prefectural governments are now looking into whether the decision at the time was appropriate.
Mia was taken into protective custody at the center on Nov. 7, 2017 after she reported in a school questionnaire that her father "bullied" her.
But as she started saying she wanted to go home, the center concluded the abuse was not serious and ended her protection as of Dec. 27 that year so she could stay with relatives. She was allowed to return home on Feb. 28, 2018.
The girl's 32-year-old mother Nagisa Kurihara has also been indicted on a charge of assisting in assault.
The case has revealed an apparent lack of coordination among authorities on the situation and questionable responses.
Officials of local governments apparently failed to share information on the family despite the abuse allegations and a local education board provided a copy of Mia's complaint to her father. Welfare officials also failed to check on the girl's safety after her protective custody ended.