“Please, please, please forgive me. I will make sure I can do more things tomorrow than today without Daddy and Mummy needing to tell me what to do.”
Yua Funato was just five years old when she died in March last year in Tokyo. She weighed only 12kg. Investigators say she had frostbite marks on her feet and bruises on her head.
Her stepfather, Yudai, and mother, Yuri, were arrested over her death. Investigators say the stepfather punished the little girl by pouring water on her or beating her to instill “discipline”, if he felt she had broken the family rules.
A notebook was found in the family’s apartment. Yua had been practising her writing in it.
Is smacking our kids a good way to discipline them? Post continues below…
“Really, I will never repeat the same things,” she had written. “Forgive me. I will correct what I was unable to do yesterday and what I have done every day.
“I am sorry that I played so much like a fool. I will stop doing a foolish thing like playing. I will never ever do that. I do promise.”
Yua’s tragic death and her written pleas for forgiveness rocked Japan, and led to calls for the government to do more to stop child abuse.
In January this year, the death of another Japanese girl, 10-year-old Mia Kurihara, made the headlines. Mia had written in a school questionnaire more than a year ago that her father, Yuichiro, was hitting and bullying her. She was sent to a child welfare centre, and then to a relative’s house. Mia’s father managed to get her returned home when she wrote a letter saying she had lied in the questionnaire. But Mia later told a child welfare centre worker that her father had made her write the letter.
On the night Mia was found dead on the bathroom floor of her home, she had allegedly been punished by her father for more than 13 hours straight. She had bruises on her body, and had allegedly been deprived of food and sleep.