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Young victims of crimes connected with Internet dating sites more than doubled in 2002, led by a dramatic increase in child prostitution, according to a government report released Tuesday.

The 2003 white paper on the status of people aged 24 or younger says there were 1,317 victims of such crimes last year, an increase of 719 — or 120 percent — from 2001.

About 40 young people were victims of serious crimes such as murder or rape, seven times the number of cases when the Cabinet Office started collecting data in 2000. Sex-related crimes like prostitution were the most numerous, with 1,117 victims.

Dating Web sites enable people who do not know each other to communicate via e-mail prior to meeting.

Police are now asking for cooperation from Internet providers to prevent minors from accessing the sites.

The Diet enacted a law this month to ban people from soliciting sex from minors and vice versa, and to combat the rise in child prostitution since the spread of Internet-capable mobile phones.

Japan should “stimulate communication between youths and adults both at home and in communities to give them more opportunities to learn about society and its rules,” the report says.

It also draws attention to the rising number of unemployed people aged 15 to 29. The rate stood at 5.4 percent, or 1.2 million, in 2002 — up from 2.1 percent in 1990.

To combat the increase in jobless graduates and young part-time workers, the paper says youths should be encouraged to work full-time through job training, education and counseling.

The white paper also highlights the increasing rate of child abuse involving parents, with 23,274 cases reported in the year to March 2002, up 5,549 from the previous year.

About half were cases of physical abuse, followed by neglect at about 40 percent and other abuse, including psychological and sexual. Thirty-nine children died. The white paper attributes the increase to the lack of systems to help especially young parents deal with the problems of child-rearing.

Crimes by youths have been on the rise, according to the report, totaling 141,775 in 2002, an increase of 3,121 from the previous year.

Theft was the main crime at 58.8 percent of the cases, followed by assault and blackmail at 11.3 percent, and murder or other serious crimes at 1.6 percent.

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