The number of child abuse cases handled by child consultation centers in Japan reached an all-time high of 219,170 in fiscal 2022, marking an increase for the 32nd consecutive year, according to recent government data.

Psychological abuse, including physically abusing family members in the presence of children, accounted for about 60 percent of cases in which the centers took action, preliminary data released Thursday by the Children and Families Agency showed.

The new record saw a rise of 11,510 from the previous high logged in fiscal 2021, according to data from the agency, which was launched in April this year to oversee the government's child policy.

More than half of the cases reported to the centers came from the police after its officers were dispatched to respond to domestic quarrels, an agency official said.

Officials at a foster care facility for children in Tachikawa, Tokyo, hold talks in August 2023. (For editorial use only) (No reuse permitted)(Kyodo)

As of April 2023, there were 232 child consultation centers across Japan.

However, Akira Kawamatsu, a professor of child welfare at Meisei University, pointed out that despite an increase in personnel in these centers, it is not enough to handle the rise in abuse cases.

Since statistics on the number of cases handled by the centers started being compiled in fiscal 1990, the figure exceeded 10,000 in fiscal 1999, topped 100,000 in fiscal 2015 and passed 200,000 in fiscal 2020.

By type of abuse reported in fiscal 2022 ended March, psychological abuse, including verbal abuse, accounted for 59.1 percent, or 129,484 cases, physical abuse 23.6 percent, or 51,679 cases, neglect 16.2 percent, or 35,556 cases, and sexual abuse 1.1 percent, or 2,451 cases.

Notably, psychological abuse and neglect rose significantly in the reporting year, up 4,760 and 4,108 cases, respectively.

More than half of child abuse cases, or 51.5 percent, were reported to the centers by police, followed by those notified by neighbors and acquaintances at 11.0 percent, and by family members and relatives at 8.4 percent.

A panel of the agency has also disclosed that 74 children died from abuse in fiscal 2021.

Of the 50 victims excluding murder-suicide cases, 24 were under 1-year old, and biological parents were main abusers in most cases.

Biological mothers were main assailants in 20 cases, while biological fathers were responsible in six cases and both parents were held accountable in three cases.

"It is necessary to grasp the living situations of families involved in childrearing," the panel said.

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