Photo/IllutrationThe questionnaire Mia Kurihara completed in November 2017, in which she said her father was abusing her. (The Asahi Shimbun)

More than two weeks have passed since 10-year-old schoolgirl Mia Kurihara was found dead on Jan. 24 at her home in Noda, Chiba Prefecture.

A heart-wrenching picture has emerged from daily follow-up media reports: Mia's father, Yuichiro, brutalized her repeatedly, while her mother, Nagisa, did nothing to stop it.

Nagisa reportedly told investigators: "I didn't have to fear for my own safety so long as my husband kept abusing my daughter. It couldn't be helped."

If that was the case, she was essentially ensuring that her husband's violence remained targeted at her daughter and away from herself.

Self-preservation is one thing. But it is simply beyond belief that this mother sacrificed her own daughter for it.

But come to think of it, wasn't this also what was effectively done by child welfare center workers and local education board officials who were involved in Mia's case?

The Noda municipal board of education reportedly gave in to Yuichiro's intimidation and let him see a questionnaire in which Mia had revealed his abusive conduct.

A board official admitted later, "I came under unbearable emotional pressure (from Yuichiro) until I had no choice but to hand over the questionnaire form."

Obviously, the official chose not to think about the consequences of this action, such as how ugly the situation could turn for Mia.

And the child welfare center's lack of professional commitment leaves me speechless. After taking Mia into temporary custody because her safety was at risk, the center did everything in a half-baked manner.

No caseworker was sent to the child's home to confront her father, even though the center was fully authorized to intervene professionally in a child abuse case such as Mia's.

"Never again" was the cry heard in March last year, when 5-year-old Yua Funato died from parental abuse and neglect in Tokyo's Meguro Ward.

But even this recent tragedy failed to serve as a lesson or warning. It is still not clear what lies at the root of the "insensitivity" that leads to recurrences.

Time is of the essence in investigating the latest case and implementing countermeasures.

Even as we speak, a young, feeble cry for help is being raised somewhere.

--The Asahi Shimbun, Feb. 11

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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.