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One onigiri for 3 days: Woman accused of fatal neglect of 2-year-old girl

MIYAGI (TR) – Miyagi Prefectural Police have arrested a 25-year-old woman over the alleged fatal neglect of her two-year-old daughter at their residence in Sendai City, reports TBS News (July 2).

Between June 27 and June 30, Risa Tsuchiya, a bar employee, allegedly left her daughter Hinata alone at the residence, located in Aoba Ward, while she went to work and visited a male friend.

At around 11 a.m. on June 30, Tsuchiya alerted emergency services when she returned home and found Hinata collapsed on the living room floor and not breathing. Hinata was later confirmed dead at the scene, according to the Sendai-Kita Police Station.

“I was exhausted from child rearing,” the suspect was quoted by police. “I left [her] to be by myself. I am terrible.”

On Tuesday, police said that the results of an autopsy revealed that the cause of death was hypothermia.

Risa Tsuchiya
Risa Tsuchiya (Twitter)

Access to balcony

At the time of the discovery of Hinata, she was unclothed. During the period that she was left alone, the temperature reached a low of 16.6 degrees Celsius and a high of 27.2.

The residence included an air conditioner. However, it was not turned on. With the lock on the glass door of the balcony not locked, police believe that Tsuchiya could have instructed Hinata how to go in and out.

Police suspect that Hinata removed her clothes when the temperature climbed. She then died after her condition weakened.

Miyagi police believe the suspect could have instructed her daughter how to access the balcony
Miyagi police believe the suspect could have instructed her daughter how to access the balcony of their residence (Twitter)

Low weight

Tsuchiya shared the residence with Hinata, who was aged 2 years and 11 months. At the time of her death, she weighed 8.6 kilograms, which his about 4 kilograms less than average for her age, according to a survey by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.

According to the government of Sendai City, staff members on three occasions requested via telephone and documentation that Hinata undergo medical examinations. However, those requests went unanswered.

There is no evidence that the suspect had consulted with a child consultation center or other government organization, police said.

A single onigiri

When she departed on June 27, Tsuchiya left Hinata with a single onigiri (rice ball) purchased from a convenience store. A wrapper was found in the living room. There was no food in the refrigerator, police said.

“I taught her how to eat when I was at home,” the suspect said. “However, this was the first time I went out [and left her alone] for such a long period.”