• Kyodo

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At least 50 women and teenage girls were coerced into sexual or labor-related exploitation last year and spoke to a civic group about it, the organization said Tuesday.

Forty-four were forced to work at sex parlors to pay off debts, or were coerced into appearing in pornographic videos under exploitative contracts, the Tokyo-based nonprofit organization Lighthouse said at a seminar for journalists.

The other cases involved labor exploitation, such women trafficked to Japan and forced to work in bars or factories.

The group underscored that the 50 cases represent only those it knows about. It said its officers met with the victims to give advice and put them in touch with the police, lawyers and relevant government agencies.

The National Police Agency said in February that there were 17 confirmed cases of human trafficking last year.

Some analysts believe cases that come to light are few compared with the full scale of the problem, as victims are often reluctant to speak out about their abuse.

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