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Osaka: Woman, 2 men arrested over fatal abuse of her 4-year-old son

Mai Tsutsui
Mai Tsutsui (TBS News)

OSAKA (TR) – Osaka Prefectural Police have arrested a 26-year-old woman, her boyfriend and his male friend over the alleged fatal assault of her son at their residence in Minoh City in what is believed to have been a case of systematic abuse, reports the Sankei Shimbun (Dec. 26).

Between 11:00 p.m. on Sunday and 2:10 a.m. on Monday, Mai Tsutsui, boyfriend Shogi Matsumoto (24) and his friend Toshio Okura (20) conspired to beat her son, 4-year-old Ayumu, at the residence, located inside a municipal housing block, that they share.

After the boy stopped breathing, Tsutsui alerted emergency services. Personnel arriving at the residence found the boy unconscious atop a bed. He was later confirmed dead at a hospital, police said.

According to the results of an autopsy, the cause of death was internal bleeding in the abdomen. He was found to have at least 10 bruises across his body, including his face and limbs.

Matsumoto and Okura, who have been accused of murder, admit to hitting the boy since he would not listen. One of the two suspects was quoted, “I was wondering if he would die.” “In the name of training, we exerted violence,” one of the two male suspects said.

Tsutsui denies the allegations, saying, “I hit him in the past, but this time I did not.”

According to police, the two-year-old son of Tsutsui also lives in the residence. Personnel transported the boy, who was also found to have bruises on his body, to another hospital.

Neighbors reported hearing crying children coming from the residence in October and November.

“I wanted to protect them”

Around when Tsutsui telephoned emergency services on the morning of the incident, Matsumoto and Okura fled the residence. “I wanted to protect them,” she said. Both suspects later surrendered at a nearby police box.

On two occasions in May and June of last year, reports of neglect of the boys by Tsutsui were lodged with a child consultation center in Ikeda City, where the suspect was living at the time. The boys were temporarily taken into protective custody. However, they were returned to the suspect after relatives granted support, according to the Asahi Shimbun (Dec. 25).

Nursery school officials visited residence

At a press conference on Monday, the Minoh Board of Education revealed that Ayumu and his brother entered a nursery school in the city in May of this year. Two months later, nursery officials visited the residence of the suspects after the boys were found to not be bathing nor wearing clean clothes.

In the middle of November, the boys did not attend the school at all. On December 9, an official visiting the residence found the youngest boy to have a bruise on the left side of his face. “He fell down the stairs,” Tsutsui reportedly said. The boy also said he fell down. Officials visited the residence again after the boys did not attend school last Friday.

According to TV Asahi (Dec. 26), the city became aware of neglect beginning in September of last year. “It is regrettable that we were unable to help a child who entered a municipal nursery school,” said Minoru Fujisako, the superintendent of education. “I am full of feelings of sorrow.”