Police will take harsher action against minors involved in serious crimes, including robbery and extortion, the National Police Agency said June 3.

NPA Director General Yuko Sekiguchi announced the crackdown, which will include arrests, during a meeting of the nation’s police officers tasked with dealing with offenses involving minors. Although the youth population is decreasing with the decline in the nation’s birthrate, the percentage of minors involved in criminal offenses has increased for four consecutive years, according to the NPA.

Sekiguchi said during the meeting that police must crack down hard on youth crimes and take strategic and comprehensive measures to this end. He also ordered the participating officers to boost cooperation with high school teachers who provide guidance to minors.

Up to now, police have emphasized the importance of protecting youth from wrongdoing when they take action against crimes involving minors. However, the NPA now considers it important to take stricter actions in light of the serious crimes involving minors, according to NPA sources.

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