JAPAN, OSAKA – A couple who were arrested after the death of their 33-year-old daughter have confessed to confining her in a tiny room for around 15 years because, they said, she had a form of mental illness that made her violent, according to police sources.
The police said that an autopsy showed that the woman, Airi Kakimoto, whose body was recovered Saturday in her home in Neyagawa, Osaka Prefecture, froze to death and that she was in a state of extreme malnutrition, weighing only 19 kg (42 pounds) and standing 145 cm (4.75 ft) tall.
Her 55-year-old father, Yasutaka Kakimoto, and 53-year-old mother, Yukari Kakimoto, reported her death to the police Saturday and were arrested on suspicion of illegally disposing of a body.
The couple have confessed to the police that they only fed their daughter “once a day,” and that they kept her in a room measuring about 3 square meters (39 square feet) since she was 16 or 17 years old, the sources said.
The police suspect that the parents neglected to feed their daughter properly and are looking to build charges of confinement and dereliction of responsibility as guardians.
The woman is believed to have died around Dec. 18. There had been no previous reports of abuse before the incident, the Neyagawa Municipal Government’s welfare division said.
According to the police, the Kakimotos renovated their house to add the small room. It was fitted with a monitoring camera and a double door that can be unlocked only from the outside.
Inside the unheated room, there was a makeshift toilet and a tube designed to allow the woman to drink water from a tank placed outside.
Sores on the woman’s body suggest that she may have been bedridden, sources said.
The official reason given for the arrests is abandoning a corpse. Under the law Osaka police have 23 days from the time of the arrest to decide whether to press charges. The defendants' first court appearance would occur several months after any formal charges.
In 2000, a man was arrested for confining a 9-year-old girl for nine years at his home in Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture, after abducting her in 1990. But it is rare for suspects to be arrested over suspicion of confining a family member.