When Airi Kakimoto was 16 years old, she was locked away in a hidden room and never let out. It ended up killing her.
And the people who allegedly did it were her own parents.
According to CNN, Yasutaka and Yukari Kakimoto placed Airi in an unheated, 39-square-foot addition on their Kyoto, Japan, property and left her inside for the past 15 years.
Now, police say they believe the woman died from exposure to the cold.
Inside the locked room, Airi’s parents put only a toilet, an air conditioner, and surveillance cameras. Her dad told police the parents forced their child to drink water from a tube and only fed her once a day.
CNN reported Yasutaka and Yukari claimed they trapped their daughter in the room because she was “mentally ill and violent” — a reason Kohei Yamamoto, a sociology professor at Kyoto’s Ritsumeikan University, said rings true.
Yamamoto explained to CNN that Airi’s death highlights the “strong social stigma against mental illness in Japan.”
The professor also pointed out that the dead woman’s parents, who forced their teen into a torturous life, were also “victims of a Japanese society” due to the lack of support for the very families who need it — those whose loved ones suffer from mental disabilities.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one-half of all chronic mental illness begins by age 14; three-quarters by age 24. It added that despite effective treatment, there are still long delays between the first appearance of symptoms and when people get help, sometimes decades.
- Only 41 percent of adults in the U.S. with a mental health condition received mental health services in the past year.
- Among adults with a serious mental illness, 62.9 percent received mental health services in the past year.
- Just over half (50.6 percent) of children aged 8-15 received mental health services in the previous year.
CNN reported the 33-year-old Japanese woman weighed less than 42 pounds, the average weight of a 4-year-old child, when her lifeless body was found at her parents’ home.
The mother and father were arrested Tuesday for abandoning a corpse and remain in police custody.
Osaka police have 23 days from the time of the parents’ arrest to decide if they will press charges, according to CNN.
See more on the story below.