Japanese mother, 2 roommates accused of confining her 5-year-old son in cat cage before his death

Warning: This article contains graphic descriptions of violence and child abuse that some readers may find disturbing.

Police in Japan have issued new arrest warrants on suspicion of assault and detention against a 5-year-old boy for three people who were previously arrested after his body was found under their home in Saitama Prefecture in March.

Chika Kakimoto, the boy's 30-year-old mother, and her unemployed roommates Hiroki Niwa, 34, and Yoko Ishii, 54, allegedly tortured the boy, named Ayumu, which led to his death earlier this year.

In an incident that took place on January 31 last year, the three reportedly placed Ayumu in a rainwater tank, knocking it over and hitting it with their hands.

The three are also accused of beating Ayumu and hanging him upside down before locking him in a cat cage for more than two hours on May 29 of the same year.

The owner of a restaurant, which the three suspects and the boy had visited several times, was convinced that Ayuma was being abused and alerted the city authorities. The owner said they witnessed Niwa severely punish Ayumu by making him sit on his heels for about two hours without eating. When asked about the treatment, Kakimoto said it was just to discipline her child.

City officials initially concluded that there were no signs of child abuse after consulting a local child counseling center and the boy's nursery, who claimed Ayuma was on good terms with his mother and had no signs of bruising on his body .

Ayuma's body was finally discovered under the floorboards of her home on March 6 this year after city officials reported concerns to the police that the child had not been seen at school in about two months and had not moved to Izumi, eh his mother claimed in January.

Officers then arrested the three in March on suspicion of leaving the boy's body under their floor, leading them to admit digging a hole to bury Ayuma.

Saitama Prefectural Police have not released their response to the more recent assault and detention charges.

Feature image via Chris Fuller
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