The number of murder and attempted murder cases involving stalkers rose to 19 in 2003 from seven the year before, the National Police Agency said in a report released Thursday.

The total includes five stalking-related murders and 14 attempted murders, the NPA said.

Three of the murder victims had asked police for help before they were killed, and the agency said it regrets that police, although they had responded appropriately, could not protect the victims.

The NPA said police issued 1,169 warnings last year based on an antistalking law that took effect in November 2000, an increase of 21.1 percent, or 204 warnings, over 2002. It was the first time the number of warnings has topped 1,000.

Police throughout the country took further action — including arresting suspects or sending cases to prosecutors — in a record 192 cases of stalking in 2003, up 7.9 percent over the previous year, the NPA said. There were 178 cases in 2002.

The NPA said a man who stabbed his former girlfriend to death in Shimabara, Nagasaki Prefecture, in January 2003 had been warned by police after he kept following the victim.

In the city of Saitama, a Pakistani man committed suicide in October after killing the mother of his former girlfriend. He had been warned by police after he was seen loitering around the woman’s house.

The NPA said a Saitama woman who was stabbed to death by her former boyfriend in Kodaira, western Tokyo, in November had contacted Saitama Prefectural Police over the stalking.

The agency said the number of complaints about stalking-related activities, including silent phone calls, rose 2.4 percent to 22,226 in 2003 from 21,696 in 2002. An analysis conducted on 11,923 of the cases revealed that 59.6 percent were motivated by obsession with the victims, and 32.8 percent by feelings of hatred or desire for revenge, according to the NPA.

The stalking law enables police, if asked by victims, to warn stalkers to stop the harassment. People who ask for help against stalkers can receive various forms of assistance from police, including the loan of antitheft alarms and other equipment. Offenders face up to six months in prison or a fine of up to 500,000 yen.

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