Death cult mom ruled with iron fist

Mainichi Shimbun / August 19, 2000

SENNAN, Osaka - A woman who lay down beside her five children as they starved to death here mesmerized her offspring, forbidding them to attend school and brainwashing them with religious indoctrination, police said. Akiko Wakasa ruled her children with an iron fist, shutting them away from society for decades and forcing them to obey her words as though they were gospel.

Police believe the 64-year-old woman's brainwashed children were so in awe of their mother that they offered no resistance when told they had to starve themselves to death.

The decomposed bodies of Wakasa's five adult children - four women and a man - were found here on Wednesday in a house of horror that belongs to Wakasa's brother, Takao, 66.

Wakasa and her brother, who were both exhausted after not eating for weeks at the time police made the ghastly find of the siblings' bodies, will be questioned by investigators once they have sufficiently recovered and could face charges in connection with the deaths.

Experts pondered the woman's motives for watching her children die. "You can have cases where a single person with messianic dreams took mental control over an entire family and prompted group deaths. Perhaps she believed that dying together would bring them happiness," Akira Fukushima, a professor in criminal psychology from Tokyo's Sophia University, said. "Because it wouldn't be possible to die alone, the family probably took turns watching over each other until they died."

Wakasa married about 40 years ago and lived with her husband and four daughters in Kishiwada, Osaka Prefecture, sources said. Then, in 1972, while pregnant with her son, she divorced and took her children to live with her brother in Sennan.

At the time, Takao Wakasa and the sinister siblings' mother were heavily into their own brand of religion. Within time, Akiko Wakasa also found religion.

Before her daughters reached their teens, Wakasa began indoctrinating them into the family beliefs.

Once her son was born, Wakasa began ordering her children to stop going outdoors.

If they talked to neighbors, Wakasa would berate them, saying that communicating with others would doom them to accept that person's fate. Wakasa banned the children from accepting help from others, ordering them to solve the problems they faced by themselves.

Wakasa also stopped her children from taking part in school field trips. In graduation albums, daughters Hiromi and Eiko left lonely messages saying that they wished they had been able to take part in a school excursion and outdoor classes.

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