File photo taken Oct. 13, 2015, shows a building that houses the National Police Agency in Tokyo. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

The number of police officers in Japan disciplined for drunk driving in the first six months of this year surged 2.4-fold from a year earlier to 12, recent police data showed, with an increase in social drinking following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions likely to be a factor behind the rise.

The figure, which represents a sharp rise from last year's five, was included among the total 117 police officers and officials who faced disciplinary action, such as suspension or dismissal. It marks a slight increase from the 116 cases logged during 2022's January-June period.

Incidents involving sexual misconduct, including cases of sexual harassment and voyeurism, were the most common causes for disciplinary action, with the number of officers disciplined in such cases remaining unchanged from the same period during the previous year at 46.

The number of officers disciplined for theft, fraud and embezzlement increased from 22 to 25, followed by those involved in traffic accidents and violations, including drunk driving, up 12 to 21.

Meanwhile, the number of police officers who were arrested fell by three to 26, the data showed.

An official at the National Police Agency said it intends to implement thorough measures to prevent further misconduct.

Among the 117 facing disciplinary action, 18 were dismissed from their jobs, 25 were suspended and 58 had their salaries slashed, while 16 were reprimanded.

Of the total, 21 faced punishment for work-related misconduct, while the remaining 96 were disciplined for behavior in their personal lives.

By region, Tokyo and Chiba prefectures accounted for the largest number of police officers who faced disciplinary measures with 12 each, followed by Osaka with eight officers.