Officials at a child welfare center near Tokyo say they do not know when a 10-year-old girl who was temporarily in their care returned to her parents' home where she was fatally abused.
Mia Kurihara was found dead at her home in Noda City, Chiba Prefecture, in late January. Her parents have been arrested on suspicion of inflicting injuries.
The prefecture's child welfare center has been criticized for its handling of the case.
The officials took protective custody of the girl due to suspected domestic abuse. The custody was later lifted and she started living with relatives.
The officials interviewed her father, Yuichiro, in February last year to decide whether Mia should return to her parents' home.
The father brought a letter he said was written by Mia, in which she wrote she had lied about being beaten by her father and that she wanted to live with her parents.
The officials did not try to check if she wrote the letter of her free will, and decided to return the child to her parents.
They now say they have no record of informing her parents of the decision and they do not know exactly when Mia began living with her family again. They never visited the family's home. The officials believe the girl returned to her home around March because of what they were told by the girl when they visited her school.
The head of the center, Hitoshi Nihei, admits that the officials' handling of the case was sloppy. Nihei says they are waiting for an independent panel to complete its probe of the case.