Japanese police launched investigations into a record 1,957 child abuse cases in 2019, up 41.8 percent from the previous year, an official report showed Thursday.
The suspected abuse of a record 97,842 children under 18 was reported to child welfare centers, up 21.9 percent from 2018 and ballooning around 2.6-fold over the past five years, the National Police Agency said.
Of the 1,957 cases investigated by police last year, physical violence accounted for 1,629, followed by 243 sexual abuse cases, 50 psychological abuse cases such as verbal attacks and 35 cases of neglect.
There was also a record 2,095 children under 18 who fell victim to sexual and other crimes through social networking services such as Twitter in 2019, topping the previous high of 1,813 in 2017.
Of them, 859 were found to have fallen prey to sexual offenses in breach of local government ordinances, followed by 671 to child pornography and 428 to child prostitution.
A total of 109 children fell victim to crimes considered more serious by the police, including 48 to rape and 45 to abduction. There were 15 indecent assault victims and one murder attempt.
The annual figure for abductions has been on the rise after it hovered between one and three per year from 2009 to 2014.
A 35-year-old man was arrested in November for allegedly kidnapping a sixth-grader living in the city of Osaka after he made contact with her through Twitter.
He is suspected of taking her to his home in Tochigi Prefecture, some 430 kilometers from Osaka.
In January, the Aichi prefectural police began sending messages directly to people who have tweeted offers of a place to stay for runaway girls, warning them such acts may constitute abduction of minors even if the child consents.