Woman Dies After Parents Lock Her In Room For 15 Years

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A couple has been charged with keeping their emaciated adult daughter locked in a windowless room for years until she died.

Authorities discovered the body of Airi Kakimoto on Dec. 23, according to CNN. She apparently froze to death and showed signs of extreme malnutrition.

The 33-year-old woman weighed less than 42 pounds at the time of her death, which was believed to be on or about Dec. 18.

Her parents, Yasutaka Kakimoto, 55, and Yukari Kakimoto, 53, admitted confining their daughter in an adjoining structure next to their home, according to CNN. They are currently in police custody.

The room their daughter lived in had no heat, but was equipped with surveillance cameras, a makeshift toilet, an air conditioner and a double door that could only be locked from the outside, according to authorities.

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Police in Osaka, Japan, say the room was fitted with a tube from which Airi could drink water that was fed from a canister outside. Airi was fed one meal per day, and sores on her body suggest she was bedridden.

The couple has been arrested and charged with illegally disposing of a body, according to Japan Times. Osaka police have a 23-day window from the day of arrest to decide how to proceed with charges.

Authorities are reportedly considering charges of confinement and dereliction of responsibility as guardians.

No previous reports of abuse for Airi had been filed before this incident.

Yasutaka told police he and his wife were forced to lock Airi in the small room with no windows since she was 16 years old because she was mentally ill and violent.

It is rare for family members in Japan to be arrested for suspicion of confining a family member. In 2000, a Kashiwazaki man was arrested for confining a girl he had abducted 10 years earlier, when she was 9 years old.   

The case against the Kakimotos plays into the "strong social stigma against mental illness in Japan," said Kohei Yamamoto, a professor of sociology at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, as reported by CNN.

Medical and community support for the mentally disabled are lacking in Japan, he says, with numerous reports of parents killing their mentally disabled children, overwhelmed by the burden of caring for them.

Yamamoto believes the parents were as much victims of Japanese society as their daughter.

Yamamoto said the issue is a universal one that affects families of every culture who deal with a similar social stigma regarding mentally ill children.

Sources: CNN, Japan Times / Featured Image: Aliven Sarkar/Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: Catherine Munro/Wikimedia Commons, Wikimedia Commons

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