On 16 May Kumiko Osawa was found guilty by Sapporo District Court after pleading guilty to the assisted suicide of her 70-year-old mother. According to the prosecution, Osawa had agreed to kill her mother after the two nearly ran out of money. In addition, about one year prior to this they had refused to accept government assistance as a matter of pride.
The prosecution’s opening statement explained that Osawa and her mother had been receiving welfare since 2006. However, in April of 2011 she turned down the financial support.
When asked why she did this during the trial, the 42-year-old replied “I went to Hello Work [Japan’s national employment service] but couldn’t find anything. Just receiving handouts began to feel like torture.”
Afterwards, Osawa and her mother continued to live off of their savings of 1,000,000 yen (US$9,700), but by May of 2012, that money had begun to run dry. At this point the ailing mother had decided to commit suicide and suggested to her daughter, “Let’s end it.”
Having received the confession of Osawa, the remainder of the trial was to decide her punishment. Prosecutors requested a three year prison sentence on the grounds that the woman had been able to reapply for government assistance at any time.
However, the defense was able to get Osawa a suspended sentence after asking the court for leniency in her case.