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Japan child abuse, pornography cases hit record highs in 2016

Kyodo

The number of reported cases of child abuse and child pornography reached record highs in 2016, according to National Police Agency figures released Thursday. The agency attributed the rise to increased awareness among citizens and stepped up police enforcement.

Police reported 54,227 cases of suspected abuse against minors aged below 18, up 46.5 percent from the previous year and topping the 50,000 mark for the first time since comparable statistics became available in 2004.

Cases of psychological abuse came to nearly 40,000, accounting for more than 60 percent of the total.

The number of child abuse cases increased for the 12th consecutive year, marking a sharp rise from 962 in 2004.

The police also said a record 1,313 children were victims of child pornography, up 45.1 percent from the previous year. The number of cases investigated totaled 2,097, up 8.2 percent, with those involving perpetrators reaching 1,531, up 3.2 percent, the highest since statistics began in 2000.

In April last year, the agency ordered police nationwide to actively report suspected abuse cases to consultation centers.

In 2016, the police offered protection to a record 3,521 minors facing life-threatening situations, up 34.2 percent from the year before, the agency said.

The number of psychological abuse cases surged 53.9 percent to 37,183, of which around 70 percent also involved domestic violence by parents. Physical abuse was suspected in 11,165 cases, up 35.2 percent.

The police took law enforcement actions in a record 1,081 abuse cases, up 31.5 percent and including 866 cases of physical abuse. The cases involved 1,113 abusers and 1,108 victims, both record highs. Among the victims, 67 children died.

The child consultation centers provide temporary shelter to children or dispatch staff to families with potentially abused children.

Meanwhile, production of child pornography through the use of spy cameras became a punishable offense in 2014. Possession of child pornography was criminalized in 2015.

Those who were tricked or coerced into being photographed nude stood at 480, 36.6 percent of the total victims, followed by 426 (32.4 percent) who were photographed by spy cameras. Meanwhile, 186 (14.2 percent) were victims of child prostitution and other obscene acts.

Around 80 percent of those who took their own pictures did not know the criminals, and over 70 percent first met the offenders through social media sites, the report said.