Harrowing details in a case of child abuse emerged with the arrest June 6 of a couple over the death of their 5-year-old daughter.

In spite of beatings, a near-starvation diet and gross neglect, Yua Funato kept craving her parents' approval, begging in a notebook to "please, please, please forgive me" and promising to be better behaved.

Yua weighed only 12.2 kilograms when she died in March, about the same as a 2-year-old. The soles of her feet bore traces of frostbite, investigators said.

Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police Department announced the rearrest June 6 of Yudai Funato, 33, and his 25-year-old wife, Yuri, on suspicion of abandoning their parental responsibility resulting in the girl's death.

Yua was pronounced dead at a hospital March 2 after her father called an ambulance that day.

Police said the couple, residents of Tokyo’s Meguro Ward, had admitted to physically abusing Yua.

Police said the child was not given enough to eat, and suffered from malnutrition. The parents apparently began serving Yua mini portions of food from around late January, after they moved to Tokyo, as punishment for bad behavior.

About a month later, the girl was severely debilitated. But her parents did not seek medical treatment.

“We didn't take her to a hospital because we feared our abuse would be exposed,” police quoted one of them saying.

Yua died of blood poisoning brought on by pneumonia, which was triggered by malnutrition.

Yudai was not Yua's biological father. She was from the mother's former marriage. However, the couple had a 1-year-old son on whom they doted.

Yudai, who is unemployed, was indicted in March for inflicting her injuries. Investigators discovered the girl had bleeding in the brain and bruises around her eyes and on the head. The suspect admitted to punching her with his fist repeatedly.

Police believe he orchestrated the physical abuse, and his wife turned a blind eye.

The abuse began long before the family moved to Tokyo from Zentsuji, Kagawa Prefecture.

The Kagawa prefectural child welfare center took Yua into its temporary care twice, in December 2016 and again the following March 2017.

After the family moved in January, Shinagawa child welfare center workers from the Tokyo metropolitan government visited the family Feb. 9 to check up on Yua. They had been alerted to her case by Kagawa workers.

The Shinagawa child welfare center covers Shinagawa, Meguro and Ota wards.

But the mother said her daughter was not at home.

Yua’s death came as metropolitan and ward government officials were preparing to call a response meeting to address the girl’s plight.

Yua was forced to sleep alone in a separate room while her parents and infant brother slept together, according to investigative sources.

She was left by herself in a room without a heater in winter, while her parents went shopping with her sibling.

Her notebook, written in hiragana and found in their apartment, demonstrated desperate pleas for forgiveness.

“Please, please, please forgive me. I will make sure I can do more things tomorrow than today without daddy and mommy needing to tell me what to do,” said one entry.

"Really, I will never repeat the same things. Forgive me. I will correct what I was unable to do yesterday and what I have done every day," said another.

In a pitiful cry for help and affection, she wrote: "I am sorry that I played so much like a fool. I will stop doing a foolish thing like playing. I will never ever do that. I do promise. "

Yua awoke each day at 4 a.m., having set the alarm herself to give her time to practice hiragana, according to police and other sources. She was ordered to do so by her father.

“The notebook gives an impression that the girl was trying very hard to write neatly,” an investigator said. "Even though she was told to practice hiragana, the only words that came to her mind were those begging her parents for forgiveness as she was severely abused."

Yudai moved to Tokyo last December to find work. Yuri and the children followed the following month, arriving in the capital on Jan. 23.

Around that time, Yudai ordered the girl to lose weight, saying she was plump.

The father weighed her every morning and controlled what she could eat.

Breakfast consisted of only soup.

Lunch was miso soup and a one-third serving of rice.

Dinner was just half a bowl of rice.

Yua sometimes "ate" just once a day.

When she did not follow family rules, Yudai poured water on her or beat her to instill “discipline,” according to investigators.

On Jan. 4, before she moved to Tokyo, Yua weighed 16.6 kg. By the time she died, she had lost 4 kg.

A woman in her 60s who lived in the same neighborhood as the Funatos in Zentsuji recalled that Yua did not look skinny when she lived there.

“I've seen Yua’s mother asking her daughter what she wanted for lunch,” the woman said.

Yua ventured out only once after she moved to Tokyo until her death. That was when her parents introduced themselves to neighbors after they moved in.

Tokyo and Kagawa officials will investigate the case to assess if their responses were appropriate and compile a report on their findings, including measures to stop a recurrence of a similar incident, by the end of March 2019.


Timeline of events, based on information obtained from the Tokyo metropolitan government and police, as well as the Kagawa prefectural government



Child welfare center workers in Kagawa Prefecture begin making regular visits to the Funatos after reports that Yua was heard crying loudly at her home in Zentsuji.


A neighbor finds Yua crouching outdoors. The child welfare center takes her into its temporary care.



Kagawa prefectural police refer the case to prosecutors, citing suspicions that Yudai Funato physically abused Yua. The child welfare center releases her.


The child welfare center takes Yua in its temporary care for a second time.


Kagawa prefectural police again send criminal papers to prosecutors against Yudai for injuries sustained by Yua. But both cases were not prosecuted


The child welfare center releases Yua.



The Funatos start afresh in Tokyo’s Meguro Ward. The Kagawa prefectural welfare center provides the Shinagawa child welfare center in Tokyo’s Shinagawa Ward with its case files on Yua.

Feb. 9

Shinagawa child welfare center workers visit the Funato home, but are unable to meet with Yua.

March 2

Yudai calls for an ambulance for Yua, who is confirmed dead at a hospital.

March 3

Tokyo police arrest Yudai on suspicion of physically abusing Yua and injuring her.

March 23

Tokyo prosecutors indict Yudai for causing injuries resulting in Yua's death.