The owner of a local restaurant was convinced that an eastern Japanese boy found dead at home was being abused

Saitama Prefecture police officers investigate the house where the body of a 5-year-old boy was found buried, in Honjo, Saitama Prefecture, on March 6, 2022. (Mainichi/Ayako Hiramoto)

HONJO, Saitama – A restaurant owner in this eastern Japanese city told the Mainichi Shimbun that there were some abuses from the family and more happened in the case of a boy from 5 year old whose body was found under the floor of the house they live at.

“Of course it was abuse. Anyone who saw what was going on would have reported it,” the restaurant owner said, recalling to Mainichi Shimbun on March 10 how the boy’s mother and others treated him during company visits.

The owner previously alerted the city to the alleged abuse, and their testimony raises questions about the Honjo municipal government‘s response in the roughly six-month period between the restorer’s report and the exposure of the case.

Chika Kakimoto, 30, the boy’s mother; Hiroki Niwa, 34; and his common-law wife Yoko Ishii, 54, were arrested on suspicion of dumping the body of Ayumu, 5, under the floor of the house in Honjo, Saitama prefecture, where the four lived together.

According to the restaurant owner, the three suspects and the boy visited the restaurant three times between summer and early September 2021. Niwa was seen scolding Ayumu harshly each time, and the boy was made to stay sitting on his heels for nearly two hours without eating. The boy’s mother appeared to photograph her son’s ordeal with her smartphone.

Convinced that he was being abused, the restaurant owner approached Ayumu during his last visit and asked him his name and the daycare center he attends. They also noted the group’s vehicle registration number.

The owner reported the information to the municipal administration and called on them to react appropriately. The owner then contacted the city again, asking them to contact them if there were any developments. But the city never did, and the incident happened. The owner said the four stopped coming to the restaurant after the report to the city office.

(Japanese original by Hirohiko Kumamoto, Kumagaya Office)

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