Government officials held their first meeting Monday to reinforce cooperation to prevent cases of women from abroad being trafficked into Japan and forced to work in the sex industry.
Officials at the bureau-chief level from the National Police Agency, the Justice Ministry, the Foreign Ministry, and the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry held their forum at the Cabinet Office, officials said.
The forum comes against the backdrop of a U.S. report on human trafficking issued last June that labeled Japan as the worst industrialized country in terms of measures to prevent the trafficking of women.
The NPA issued a report last month that it has uncovered 83 cases of women who were trafficked into Japan and forced to work in the sex industry in 2003, up 28 from the previous year.
Forty-three were from Colombia, 21 from Thailand and 12 from Taiwan, the NPA said. Human rights groups and researchers estimate, however, that thousands of women, mostly from poor parts of Asia, are trafficked into Japan every year and forced to work in the sex industry.