A Japanese court on Tuesday sentenced a man to 13 years in jail for the physical abuse and neglect that led to the death of his 5-year-old stepdaughter, saying his treatment of her went far beyond the bounds of disciplinary action.
Yudai Funato restricted his stepdaughter Yua's food intake from around late January last year, beat her and did not seek medical care despite her weakened state while at their home in Tokyo's Meguro Ward, according to the ruling.
"The restriction of food intake and the violence went far beyond discipline," Minoru Morishita, presiding judge of the Tokyo District Court, said in the ruling.
Morishita said Funato, 34, abused his 5-year-old stepdaughter viciously despite her mother's objections.
Morishita criticized Funato for not taking Yua to hospital for fear that the abuse would come to light.
"(Funato) acted selfishly to protect himself and saving (Yua's) life was of secondary importance," Morishita said.
Prosecutors had demanded that Funato be sentenced to 18 years in prison. The defense had sought a nine-year prison term.
Yua weighed about 12 kilograms when she died in March last year -- far less than the 20-kg average for her age -- and had 170 injuries, according to the prosecutors.
Funato gave the girl tasks such as telling her to wake up at 4 a.m., and shouted at her and grew violent when she did not obey.
Yua's 27-year-old mother Yuri, now divorced from Funato, received an eight-year prison term in September for parental neglect resulting in the girl's death and has appealed against her sentence. The court acknowledged the woman suffered psychological abuse by Funato.
The defense team had argued that Funato, who has also been charged with marijuana possession, "set high standards for his family" and that he had tried to be a father to the girl.
Yua left behind written messages including "Please forgive me" on a sheet of paper.
The girl's death, on March 2, 2018, attracted nationwide attention and prompted Japan to enact revised laws in June this year, banning parents and other guardians from physically punishing children, and strengthening the ability of child welfare centers to intervene in cases where abuse is suspected.