A 60-year-old Japanese man who claims to be an exorcist has been arrested on suspicion of persuading the parents of a 7-year-old boy with type 1 diabetes to cease his insulin treatment.

Shun Imai, a second grader at Utsunomiya elementary school, died at a Tochigu hospital on April 27. Shun’s parents have also been questioned by police on suspicion of negligence resulting in their son’s death.

“God of death”

According to police, Shun’s parents, both in their 40s, met Hiroji Kondo when the self-proclaimed exorcist visited an office where Shun’s mother worked in mid-2014.

Kondo claimed he could cure her son’s type 1 diabetes, and in December later that year, Shun’s parents contacted Kondo for help. The police revealed that Kondo received several million yen from Shun’s parents to cover the expenses required for his treatment.

Kondo repeatedly rubbed Shun’s body and chanted a spell. He also reportedly convinced Shun’s parents to stop treating him with insulin after he was released from hospital in February this year.

Kondo was quoted as saying by the police: “He won’t recover by insulin because he has the God of Death in his stomach.”

The Imais discontinued Shun’s insulin treatment, and a seriously ill Shun was admitted to hospital in March. After being given insulin, his condition improved within a month.

But Shun’s parents once again stopped giving him insulin at the beginning of April. At the end of the month, he died.

Kondo confessed to police that he had conducted exorcisms for over a decade, and police are now investigating his source of income received in the name of medical practice. Kondo has denied causing Shun’s death.

The police added that Shun’s parents sought Kondo’s help because they felt sorry that Shun had to inject himself with insulin, and they didn’t like seeing him suffering.

Alternative treatments

A number of alternative treatments can be used by people with type 1 diabetes, either to ease the suffering felt managing the condition, or to improve their diabetes control.

However, these treatments are not suitable as a replacement for insulin. There is no alternative to insulin in the management of type 1 diabetes, and insulin treatment should never be stopped to accommodate an alternative treatment.

Earlier this year, another 7-year-old child with type 1 diabetes died after undertaking a “slapping therapy” workshop. Therapist Hongchi Xiao reported this process – known as Paida-Lajin – brings disease-inducing toxins to the surface and releases them. Xiao claimed that the therapy can cure everything from diabetes to cancer, but Aiden Fenton was also taken off insulin therapy and died on the same day he received the therapy.

Thorough research should be conducted regarding any alternative treatments for type 1 diabetes, and you should consult with your healthcare team before committing to them.

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