For at least 15 years, Airi Kakimoto was confined to a 32-square-foot room without windows or heat, according to police. Her suffering would only be exposed with her death. Authorities in Japan say the 33-year-old was found dead in her parents' Neyagawa home on Saturday. She died days earlier around Dec. 18 from exposure to cold in an unheated structure her parents had built separate from the main home, report CNN and the Japan Times. Authorities say Yasutaka Kakimoto, 55, and Yukari Kakimoto, 53, admitted to locking their daughter in the room from the age of 16 or 17 because of a mental illness that made her violent, per Reuters. Extremely malnourished and weighing just 42 pounds at her death, Airi was fed once a day and drank from a tube connected to an outdoor water tank, according to police.
Police say some 10 security cameras allowed the couple to keep watch over their daughter and the property at large. But neighbors and city officials say they had no idea what went on behind a 6.5-foot-tall fence surrounding the area. IT was the parents who reported their daughter's death to police. "We wanted to be together with our daughter," who was "adorable," police quoted them as saying. Both were arrested Tuesday and charged with abandoning a corpse, which often precedes more serious charges. Mental health groups are now using the case to highlight the stigma toward mental illness in Japan, noting Airi's parents didn't file an application for mental illness handbooks and other services that could've helped their daughter, possibly out of shame. (Read more Japan stories.)