OTSU -- A 17-year-old boy here arrested on suspicion of inflicting fatal injuries on his sister, aged 6, is to be placed under protective measures and sent to a juvenile training school instead of being referred to prosecutors, the Otsu family court ruled on Sept. 17.
That the siblings' mother did not return home during the seven days leading up to the girl's death, forcing the boy to take care of the first-grader alone, was taken into consideration by the court. It concluded that "placing the burden of responsibility only on the boy has a dimension of cruelty to it."
The decision describes the boy as having hit and kicked his younger sister in the face and stomach, among other acts, at their home in the city of Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, between around July 22 and Aug. 1, leading to her death. The boy reportedly said that his sister "fell from a jungle gym" in a park and asked a local to call the 119 emergency number, but the story he provided appears to be false.
The boy lived with his younger sister and mother. The decision states that the mother was increasingly absent from the home starting around July, and that she wasn't present for the seven days leading up to the 6-year-old's death. Institutions including the local child consultation center were aware of the neglect, but no measures such as taking the siblings into temporary care were taken.
The Juvenile Act states that, fundamentally, in cases involving a person aged 16 or over who intentionally causes harms to an individual that causes their death, suspects are referred to public prosecutors.
The judge stated, "With just him and his younger sister at home and with no one to turn to, he would have felt a great deal of stress," and added, "For the boy to atone for his crimes and truly remake his life, what is appropriate is not criminal punishment but protective measures."
(Japanese original by Kengo Suga, Otsu Bureau)