On June 29, a 42-year-old woman named Rieko Nakabayashi was arrested in Mie Prefecture on suspicion of causing fatal injuries to her 4-year-old daughter. The Tsu Minami Police Station of the Mie Prefectural Police accuses Nakabayashi of knocking her daughter, Honoka, to the floor after she climbed onto a 30-centimeter-high table at their home around May 22.
The incident resulted in the child’s death. Police have stated that the suspect has largely admitted to the allegations. They are now preparing to investigate whether the daughter was subjected to daily abuse, given that she had multiple bruises on her face and body.
On the night of May 25, the suspect called for an ambulance, reporting that her daughter had choked on food but had weak breathing after she removed the obstruction. Honoka was rushed to the hospital but succumbed to an acute subdural hematoma the following day. During the autopsy, the child, who measured 95 cm tall and weighed 12 kilograms, was found to be 4 kg lighter than the average weight for children of the same age.
According to a news conference held by the Mie Prefectural Government and prefectural police, Honoka showed no signs of life when she arrived at the hospital. A doctor suspected abuse due to internal bleeding in her head and promptly reported the case to a child consultation center.
Nakabayashi had been living with her three daughters. In February 2019, she sought assistance from a child consultation center regarding her inability to care for her children, particularly Honoka. In June of the same year, the center arranged for Honoka to be placed in an infant home. However, in March 2021, the center decided to lift the measures and allow Honoka to return home, citing the support of relatives.
In February 2022, the child consultation center received a report from Honoka’s daycare center, noting bruises on her cheeks and ears. However, she was not taken into protective custody as Nakabayashi claimed that Honoka “fell out of bed and hit her face on a toy box.” Honoka ceased attending the daycare center five months later, and although the prefectural government was aware of this, they did not have any further contact with Nakabayashi.