A 28-year-old single mother from the town of Fuchu, Hiroshima was arrested earlier this month after causing the death of her 10-year-old daughter, exposing a long history of abuse and neglect in the family.

Over at NicoNico News, a heart-rending story reveals the broken family’s background and details the sad details of the girl’s early years. Perhaps even more tragically, though, we learn that the girl– who spent much of her life in care– once sent her abusive mother a letter in which she states how much she loves her.

Asato Horiuchi was barely an adult when she became a mother at just 17 years old.

Despite being married at the time of their daughter Yuma’s birth, Asato and her husband filed for divorce just three months later, leaving Asato to be the sole provider. Struggling to care for the child on her own,  however, the young mother put her daughter into care five months later.

Little Yuma spent more than half of her short life in and out of childcare centres and orphanages, returning to her real home for short, sporadic periods where she often met with physical and mental abuse at the hands of not just her mother, but her grandmother, who felt that violence was a necessary part of much-needed “discipline”.

As the author of the report Tsutomu Tanigawa suggests, however, it might have been better for Yuma had she spent all of her childhood in care…

On 1 October this year, Asato Horiuchi entered a police box in the centre of town, reporting to the officer on duty that her child, Yuma, was “behaving strangely”. Outside the police box, the 10-year-old was sittting in the passenger seat of the car, barely conscious.

Despite being rushed to hospital, Yuma was pronounced dead soon after.

Asato Horiuchi, pictured here just a couple of years older than her deceased child

An examination of Yuma’s body led to police arresting and charging her mother with manslaughter.

Despite having shown no signs of serious injury just before she collapsed, Yuma had suffered a cerebral contusion after bring struck repeatedly on the back of the head with a practice-use golf club.

After being interrogated by police, Asato admitted that she had been hitting her daughter for “up to 30 minutes” and that she “may have gone a little too far”.

The reason for the repeated blows to the head? Yuma had been caught telling lies.

The report also revealed that, despite being so poorly treated by her family and spending so much time in care, Yuma had once written to her mother, telling her in oversized handwriting how much she loved her and thanking her for everything she had done for her until then.

This story is too tragic to necessitate us passing comment about the people involved, nor do we feel it’s our place to point the finger of blame. Rather, as I’m sure many of you would agree, we’d prefer to stress that we each make it our personal responsibility to keep an eye out for signs of violence and abuse in families, regardless of the age or sex of either the victim or perpetrator. To echo NicoNico News’ writer, it is important for us to remember that children are neither responsible for nor capable of choosing the environment in which they grow nor the people with whom they reside. It’s our duty to provide safe, loving environments for children to grow up in, and even more so to be aware of the signs of child abuse and to respond to cries for help.

Source: NicoNico News Title Image: Voices for Children Asato Horiuchi photo: Yamato Takada