Photo/IllutrationThe questionnaire that Mia Kurihara completed in November 2017. The girl said she was being abused by her father. (The Asahi Shimbun)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

Suffering schoolgirl Mia Kurihara didn't shy away from giving her name when she begged her teacher for help in an elementary school questionnaire a year before her death, saying she was being beaten by her father.

“My father is using violence against me,” wrote Mia, then a third-grader. “He awakens me in the middle of the night and kicks me and beats me while I am awake.

“Could you do something about it?”

The 10-year-old girl died at her home in Noda, Chiba Prefecture, on Jan. 24 after her father, Yuichiro Kurihara, 41, pulled her hair and sprayed her with cold water in the shower and choked her hard enough around the neck with his hands to leave scratches, according to police.

Mia's father said he contacted police some time past 11 p.m. that day after he found her unconscious and not breathing, according to investigative sources.

But he “is not regretting” what he did to his daughter because he “was disciplining” her. Yuichiro was arrested on suspicion of causing injury to the girl on Jan. 25.

Mia filled out the questionnaire on Nov. 6, 2017, when she was attending the municipal Yamazaki Elementary School in Noda after she and her family moved from Okinawa Prefecture earlier that year.

The survey on bullying, prepared by the Noda municipal education board, was given before the beginning of the first class.

The questionnaire started with such instructions, “As the school will keep what you say confidential, please give honest answers” and “You do not need to give your name if you do not want to.”

But Mia wrote her name anyway.

She selected “Yes” in response to the “Yes” or “No” question about whether she was being bullied.

Asked for details of the bullying, Mia marked such answers as “hurled intimidating words” and “being jostled, beaten up and kicked.”

As for who was committing the bullying, she chose the answer “family.”

The questionnaire also showed a memo of more details from what the pupil told her homeroom teacher during an interview the following day.

The teacher scribbled down in the questionnaire’s empty space that she “was beaten yesterday, the head, back and neck, and still feels pain. (Her father) covered her mouth and pushed her to the floor. She wonders whether her body is all right. (Her father) struck her back and neck with all his might. (Her father) punched her head with his fist 10 times. (Her father) hit her back while her mother was not around. In Okinawa, her mother was beaten.”

By the end of Nov. 7, the prefectural child welfare center in Kashiwa temporarily took her into custody.

The girl lived with her relatives after the custody order was lifted on Dec. 27, 2017.

The Noda education board gave a copy of Mia's questionnaire to her father on Jan. 15, 2018, after deleting the part filled by the homeroom teacher. Board officials said he "blustered" them into doing so.

A few days later, the girl transferred to another elementary school in the city. In two more questionnaires completed after the one at Yamazaki Elementary School, the girl never again complained about violence at the hands of her father.

Mia returned to her parents to live in March 2018.

On the decision to make the questionnaire public on Feb. 1, a municipal official said, “We decided to release it to protect Mia’s honor as news media reported that her father is arguing that he was just disciplining her, denying physical abuse.”

Her mother, Nagisa Kurihara, was arrested Feb. 4 in connection with her death.

Nagisa, 31, is not believed to have been actively involved in the abuse. But she may have looked the other way while her daughter was being attacked and did not alert the police, according to the sources.

Police quoted Nagisa as saying, “I thought that as long as he is using violence against her, I would not suffer. I had no choice,” according to the sources.

After her husband’s arrest, Nagisa, who is from Okinawa Prefecture, told a friend at a social networking site she could not stop him in fear of being assaulted herself.

“I have cut in to stop him before, and he beat me up several times,” she said. “I could not do anything.”

Police referred her to prosecutors on Feb. 5.

A homemaker who lives in the neighborhood of the Kurihara family said she heard the girl screaming and a man shouting “Die” and “I will kill you” leading up to Mia's death.

But none contacted police or a child welfare center despite the child abuse prevention law that obliges residents to do so.

Police also found that Mia died with an empty stomach and believe that her parents did not give her any food on the day of her death.