TOKYO (Kyodo) -- A woman was given an eight-year prison term by the Tokyo District Court on Tuesday for parental neglect that led to the death of her 5-year-old daughter last year.
Yuri Funato, 27, was aware of her then husband's abuse of Yua, who died in March last year due to sepsis after the girl developed pneumonia, but she took no action, the court said, adding that Funato suffered from psychological abuse from him as well.
"(Her actions) deserve strong blame," Presiding Judge Minoru Morishita said, referring to Funato not giving medical treatment to her daughter and not feeding her adequately since around late January last year.
He said that "one can only imagine the pain, sadness and hopelessness" the girl must have felt at not being saved by her beloved mother.
In the trial, prosecutors said Funato prioritized her relationship with her then husband and Yua's 34-year-old stepfather, Yudai Funato, over her daughter's life. The couple are now divorced.
"She failed to do a parent's bare minimum of protecting her child by contacting a medical facility or her own parents," they said and demanded an 11-year prison term.
The woman did not take Yua to the hospital in late February last year when her daughter's condition seriously deteriorated following abuse the girl had allegedly been subjected to by her stepfather.
Defense lawyers for the woman argued she was powerless to stop her then husband as she had been the target of his "relentless psychological abuse," and had asked that she be given no more than a five-year prison term.
The court acknowledged the psychological abuse Funato suffered under her former husband but said it "cannot be a factor that would greatly reduce her responsibility."
"She ultimately acted of her own volition," the judge said.
Yudai Funato has also been indicted on charges of assaulting the child and negligence resulting in her death. His trial will start on Oct. 1.
The mother had previously admitted to parental neglect resulting in Yua's death but said she had to obey her husband's orders to stop her daughter from being harmed.
The girl's death on March 2 last year in Tokyo's Meguro Ward attracted nationwide attention and prompted Japan to enact revised laws in June this year, banning parents and other guardians from physically punishing children and strengthening the ability of child welfare centers to intervene in cases when abuse is suspected.