80,299 minors suffered verbal or emotional abuse, 19,185 physically abuse, 8,270 neglect and 296 sexual abuse.

In Japan record number of child abuse, domestic violence cases reported in 2021

A record 2,170 cases of child abuse were investigated last year in Japan, up 1.7 percent from the previous year, as the coronavirus pandemic continued to reduce opportunities for welfare workers to intervene, a police report showed Thursday.

The number of minors referred to child welfare centers nationwide due to suspicion of abuse, meanwhile, also reached a record high at 108,050, up 1.0 percent from the previous year and surpassing 100,000 for the second consecutive year, the National Police Agency said in a preliminary report. It defines minors as children aged under 18.

By category, 80,299 minors suffered verbal or emotional abuse, 19,185 physically abuse, 8,270 neglect and 296 sexual abuse. Psychological and sexual abuse both increased from the previous year.

“As the novel coronavirus pandemic is feared to reduce opportunities to watch over children, we will continue to monitor information that could lead to uncovering abuse,” an NPA official said.

The NPA report, which also gave overall crime statistics, said the number of offenses recorded in Japan last year fell for the seventh consecutive year to a record low in the postwar era, totaling 568,148.

From January to March 2021, when the government declared a state of emergency over the coronavirus, the number of street crimes such as bag snatching was significantly lower than the figure in the same period the year before.

A total of 2,192 cases were recorded related to defrauding the state out of receiving subsidies aimed to help coronavirus pandemic-hit businesses.

Serious crimes including murder and robbery dropped 1.3 percent to 8,823. Among such crimes, kidnapping increased 15.4 percent to 389, while trespassing decreased.

The report also said that the number of consultations on domestic violence hit a record 83,035.

Consultations on stalking remained at a high level at 19,728. Among them, 1,811 minors were victimized via social media, the report said.

Cybercrime cases increased 24.3 percent to a record 12,275. The number of suspicious connection attempts detected by police rose to 7,335 on a daily average per IP address in 2021, likely affected by progress in digitalization in society brought by such practices as teleworking amid the pandemic.

Special fraud cases such as defrauding the elderly by impersonating their children or their grandchildren and asking for urgent money transfers over the phone increased 6.7 percent to 14,461, rising for the first time in four years.

There 44 coronavirus-related special fraud cases, with the financial damage amounting to 110 million yen.

Meanwhile, the welfare ministry decided to abolish the age limit for children living in orphanages or foster homes due to abuse or poverty, the ministry said Thursday.

The current limit is 18 years old in principle but under some circumstances some can stay until they are 22. The envisaged revision to the child welfare law will allow such children to continue to receive support until orphanages or local governments determine that they are capable of becoming independent.

Youths who have spent time in orphanages or foster homes tend to be vulnerable to poverty and isolation even after becoming adults and leaving their care, and the central and local governments have faced difficulties in providing them with seamless support.

The ministry intends to submit a draft amendment of the law to the ordinary Diet session that is currently ongoing, government sources said.

Yuri Chekalin

Yuri Chekalin is a Professor of Tokyo University, History Department, and a Political Analyst.

He also works as a commentator for Fitzroy Magazine.

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