Father suspected of forcing daughter to lie about abuse before her death
Japan Today -- Feb 07
The father of a 10-year-old girl who died last month at their home near Tokyo forced her to write a letter stating he did not hit her so she would be returned home, a child welfare center said Tuesday, revealing more apparent missteps by authorities in protecting her life.

The father, Yuichiro Kurihara, showed the letter written by his daughter Mia in February last year when the welfare center was considering whether the girl, who was residing with a relative to escape suspected abuse by him, should return home, according to the center.

"I lied that I had been hit by my father. I said that to my elementary school teacher without thinking and caused lot of trouble to my father, mother, sister" and the relative, read the letter signed by the girl. "I am sorry."

Two days after the letter was shown by Kurihara to demand her return home, the child welfare center, which also serves as a temporary shelter for children, decided in a meeting to allow Mia to leave the relative's house and resume living with her parents and 1-year-old sister.

After her return home in Noda, Chiba Prefecture last March, the girl told a center official at her school that her father had actually made her write the letter, which also stated she wanted to live with her parents and younger sister and did not want to meet officials of the child welfare center anymore.

Mia initially said in a school questionnaire on Nov 6, 2017, that she was being "bullied" by her father who hit her. Because of the description and following discussions with her teacher, she was sent for her protection to the child welfare center in Kashiwa, near Noda, the next day, remaining there for seven weeks.

Hitoshi Nihei, head of the center, said officials at the center thought it was highly possible that the father had forced the girl to write the letter, but they did not ask her whether she had written it without compulsion before they decided to allow her to return home.

"Our role is to protect children's lives. We truly feel sorry," Nihei said at a press conference.

The action by the welfare center follows revelations that the education board of Noda, at Kurihara's insistence, gave him a copy of the school questionnaire when he demanded Mia's return home, an action feared to have aggravated his abuse of the girl.

Officials of the education board said recently they were frightened by his "intimidating demeanor" in explaining why they gave him the copy.

News source: Japan Today
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