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Okinawa teen called starvation victim

Date Posted: 2004-08-05

A 19-year-old Okinawan boy who had moved to live with his mother in Osaka has died of what investigators believe was starvation.

They say that the 48-year-old mother found the boy dead in their apartment upon returning from work in the early morning hours of Aug. 2. The mother, who works as a cleaning lady in a snack bar, went to the police for help after discovering the boy.

The subsequent autopsy determined that the cause of the boy’s death was starvation. The autopsy results show that the boy had not eaten anything for several weeks.

The mother told investigators that the boy had nothing to eat for past three weeks. “He refused to eat anything, just drank some water. Even when I made some noodle soup for him he refused to eat that also. I did not have money to take him to hospital, and I was always busy.”

Police are investigating the mother on suspicion of abandoning her son, and failing to take proper care of his well being.

According to investigators, the boy graduated from a night class at a Naha High School. After graduation, he moved to Osaka in March to live with his mother.

Investigators say that although the boy was 182 cm tall, he weighed only 32 kg when found.
His former teachers and classmates remember his as a very likable student who composed Haiku-poems for which he won a prize. He also liked gardening.

Upon hearing about his death, his former teachers expressed disbelief. “How is it possible that at this time and age a person can starve to death in Japan. It’s unbelievable,” the principal of his former high school said.

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