Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stood before Japan's parliament Thursday and said the government had failed a 10-year-old girl. Mia Kurihara was found dead in the bathroom of her home near Tokyo last month, and both her parents are now facing charges. An autopsy didn't reveal a cause of death, but the girl was bruised, reports the Guardian. She'd been removed from her father's custody a year earlier after noting on a confidential school questionnaire that he "wakes me up in the middle of the night and kicks and beats me." School officials gave a copy to Mia's father, Yuichiro Kurihara, who is believed to have pressured the girl to recant the report, reports the Japan Times. She did so, and Mia was back home after seven weeks.
"We truly feel sorry," says the head of the child welfare center that allowed Mia to return home. "We failed to respond to the call for help that she had courageously sent out," resulting in a "heart-wrenching" death, Abe said. He promised a new initiative against child abuse in the nation. On Thursday, the National Police Agency said it reported 80,104 suspected child abuse cases to child welfare officials in 2018, a 22% increase over 2017. In Mia's case, "as in many of the past cases of fatal abuse of children, the victim's plea for help did not appear to have been taken seriously enough by the parties involved," according to the Japan Times' editorial board. (Japan's youth suicide rate has spiked.)