81 human-trafficking cases in 2005

Police in 2005 made arrests in or turned over to prosecutors 81 cases of alleged trafficking of foreign women, the National Police Agency said Thursday.

Human rights groups and researchers, however, estimate that thousands of women, mostly from poor parts of Asia, are trafficked into Japan every year and forced to work in the sex industry.

The latest NPA figure, an increase of two from the previous year, is a record high for the second straight year since 2001 when the agency began compiling more comprehensive statistics on human-trafficking.

The 81 cases netted 83 suspects involved in trafficking, up 25 from the previous year. The suspects were 57 restaurant owners and 26 human brokers.

The new human-trafficking provisions introduced into the Penal Code last July were applied in a case in Nagano Prefecture, where police arrested an Indonesian couple and a Taiwanese bar manager on suspicion of trafficking an Indonesian woman for 2 million yen.

The number of foreign women allegedly trafficked in the recorded cases totaled 117, up 40 from the previous year.

The number of women from Indonesia was 44, the largest group by country.