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Child killer wants to devote lifetime to atone for crime.

TOKYO, Sept. 3 Kyodo

A woman charged with killing her neighbor's 2-year-old daughter in Tokyo's Bunkyo Ward apologized and said she wants to devote her lifetime to atoning for the crime as she entered her final plea of guilt Monday at the Tokyo District Court.

Mitsuko Yamada, 37, pleaded guilty to strangling Haruna Wakayama on Nov. 22, 1999. She murdered the child in a public lavatory near a Tokyo kindergarten and later buried the body in her parents' backyard in the town of Oigawa, Shizuoka Prefecture, central Japan.

''I am filled with regret and remorse for killing Haruna, who was totally innocent. I was a foolish mother, wife and a human being. I want to devote my life to atone for the crime I have committed,'' Yamada said in tears as she submitted her final plea in a case that began in March 2000.

Defense lawyers argued the crime was committed accidentally and under a pathological state of mind, and asked the court for a generous judgment, saying Yamada turned herself in and has pleaded guilty.

She felt threatened by Haruna's mother, who had a different lifestyle and ideas about education. Yamada believed if she killed the girl, she would not have to see the mother anymore, the lawyers said.

Yamada's son attended the same kindergarten as the victim's elder brother.

Prosecutors have demanded an 18-year prison term, saying Yamada committed ''an atrocious crime based on a selfish motive.''

The trial was concluded with Yamada's submission of a guilty plea and a ruling is expected to be handed down Dec. 5, the court said.
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Publication:Japan Weekly Monitor
Date:Sep 10, 2001
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