|TOKYO, Mar. 9, 2018 -- The National Police Agency (NPA) said Thursday that the reported cases of suspected child abuse had spiked dramatically in Japan last year.
According to the agency, the number of cases of suspected abuse of children aged below 18 leapt 20.7 percent year-on-year to 65,431 minors.
This marks the 13th successive year that the figure has increased with the number of cases passing 60,000 for the first time since 2004, when comparable data became available.
Largely contributing to the exponential rise in suspected child abuse cases, was the number of children thought to have been psychologically abused.
The figure jumped 24.9 percent to 46,439, the agency said, with the number accounting for more than 70 percent of the overall cases of suspected abuse to minors.
Those suspected of being victims of psychological abuse included more than 30,000 children who had witnessed domestic spousal abuse, with a contingent of cases also involving the children themselves being abused verbally, the NPA said.
Suspected cases involving children being physically abused rose 10.6 percent to 12,343 children and children who were thought to be victims of neglect rose 13.7 percent to 6,398 minors.
Cases of suspected sexual abuse remained unchanged from the previous year at 251 incidents requiring police or welfare intervention, the agency said.
The agency's figures also showed that among the abused minors aged below 17, 58 died, with the number including cases of death through parental suicide.
The highest number of abusers were biological fathers, the agency said, at 488, with biological mothers the second-highest perpetrators at 304.
In cases of sexual abuse, the agency said that the total number of abuses stood at 68, comprised predominantly of stepfathers or adoptive fathers.
Of the total of 65,431 minors suspected of being abused in 2017, emergency police protection was offered to almost 4,000 children in mostly situations where the child's life was at threat, rising for the fifth consecutive year, the agency said.
The significant rise in suspected cases of child abuse in 2017, according to an agency official and as quoted by local media, was down to "heightened social awareness" among citizens.
Legal action was taken by the police in 1,138 cases involving 1,176 abusers and 1,168 victims, the NPA said.