A 4-year-old girl who died after a suspected assault case in Kagoshima Prefecture in southwestern Japan was often seen walking alone and uncared for on the streets long before her death.
Shun Hiwatashi, boyfriend of Riara Otsuka's mother, was arrested on suspicion of hitting the girl in the head last week. The 21-year-old construction worker lived with the mother and the girl in the city of Izumi.
Riara was taken to hospital the day after the alleged assault. Hospital officials were told at the time that the girl had drowned in a bathtub. She was later pronounced dead.
The girl and her mother lived in a different city, Satsumasendai, until July.
City officials say the girl was given care on four occasions after she was spotted walking alone on the street at night between March and April.
In addition to that, officials at a nearby sports facility often took care of the girl after they found her wandering alone in the evening from last December to February.
The facility officials said they sometimes saw her walking barefoot in the rain or without underwear.
Satsumasendai city officials said they hadn't received any information from locals about suspected abuse. They said it was difficult to inquire because of privacy concerns.