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Couple hit with fresh arrest warrant over death of daughter kept in tiny room for 15 years

The home where the body of Airi Kakimoto was found is pictured in this photo taken from a Mainichi Shimbun helicopter on Dec. 26, 2017. She is believed to have been confined in the central structure. (Mainichi)

NEYAGAWA, Osaka -- Police on Jan. 2 served a fresh arrest warrant on a couple here over the death of their 33-year-old daughter, whom they allegedly confined to a tiny room for 15 years before she froze to death in a state of malnutrition.

Yasutaka Kakimoto, 55, and his wife Yukari Kakimoto, 53, are accused of illegally confining their daughter Airi and abandoning their responsibility as parents, resulting in her death late last year.

The couple was quoted as telling police they had made their daughter live naked for the past several years. However, they have reportedly denied the allegations against them.

"It wasn't confinement; it was recuperation," Yasutaka Kakimoto was quoted as telling police. "She rapidly lost weight, but I didn't know whether she was debilitated. We gave her what we thought would be enough food for her." Yukari Kakimoto also reportedly told police that their daughter had not been "confined." At the time of her death, Airi weighed just 19 kilograms.

The couple allegedly kept their daughter in a room of only two straw tatami mats in size from about 2002, citing a mental illness that made her violent, among other reasons. Sometime around January last year, though she was severely underweight and had little energy, they made her live naked and didn't give her enough to eat, investigators said. Police said the couple did not take her to the hospital in spite of this, and accuse them of letting her freeze to death in a state of malnutrition on around Dec. 18.

Investigators said the family moved into the home in around 1995, and had built the small room as a children's room. In 2001, Airi was diagnosed as having a mental illness. It is believed that the couple started confining her to the room, which was equipped with a makeshift toilet and had double doors and was monitored by a security camera, from around the following year.

When questioned over why they had made their daughter live naked, they said that she had said she was hot several years ago and had taken off her clothes, so they left her without clothes. There was a duct to provide heat to the room from a heater outside, but police suspect that this was insufficient.

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