TOKYO – Police arrested Kasumi Nawata a Japanese woman in Osaka, Japan, for allegedly starving and abusing her eight-year-old daughter to hospitalize her and fraudulently claim insurance payments.
The girl’s mother is suspected of telling her daughter not to eat and feeding her laxatives. The alleged forced starvation and malnutrition are suspected to have led to the daughter developing ketotic hypoglycemia so that she could be hospitalized. Daito City officials said that Nawata told the school that her daughter has an intractable disease and needed to be hospitalized regularly to have tests done, according to Yahoo! News Japan.
However, after police contacted the medical institutions they found no proof that the daughter had ever been diagnosed with such a disease. Police suspect that the mother told the school this so that they would not infer abuse.
The Japan Times report stated that investigators believed that the mother regularly starved her daughter, hospitalizing her 43 times for a total of 332 days since spring 2018 and subsequently obtaining some $40,000 in insurance benefits from three institutions.
Prefectural police had previously arrested Nawata three times between March and June, leading to two indictments “on suspicion of causing her daughter to have hypoglycemia, forcing her daughter to take laxatives and causing bodily harm.”
Alarms were raised when the daughter was hospitalized earlier in February a nurse overheard a conversation between the daughter and her mother.
According to Yahoo! News Japan, Nawata, frustrated with her daughter, reportedly told her “Don’t eat! Just go to sleep!” Admonishing her daughter, Nawata said.
The incident at the hospital helped lead to subsequent police investigations of Nawata. However, there was another incident from October of 2022 that was overlooked by child welfare officials and not reported to law enforcement.
Fuji News Network (FNN) reported that Daito City Hall received an anonymous tip suspecting abuse in October 2022, which led to Nawata’s first arrest. The informant presumed that the constant hospitalization was due to the mother not giving adequate food to her daughter.
Kazuhisa Takahashi, deputy director and manager of the Office for Children and Families, Welfare and Children Department at Daito City Hall, told Fuji News Network that he believed his agency’s response “was appropriate.” The day after the first anonymous tip, the department reported the concern to the child’s school.
“Authorities acted slowly and inappropriately,” Viktoriya Shirota, who served as director of NPO Michel Club, which helps serve disadvantaged families in Japan, told Fox News Digital. Shirota assisted Japanese child welfare services with cases of domestic violence. Shirota noted that officials in charge of caring for children and spotting domestic abuse need proper training and that legislation needs to be changed.
“Japan does not have joint custody and has a strict policy over family units, so it’s quite difficult to take a child away from an abusive parent, especially if it’s a single-mother case.”
On February 9, Nawata’s daughter was placed under the care of child protective services, where police and Daito City report that she is eating three meals a day and healthy.
Nawata denied the allegations against her, telling Japanese media that she had not deliberately caused her daughter to suffer and nor had she tried to fraudulently take money that had been meant for the child from the insurance company.
Fox News’ Peter Petroff contributed to this report.