• Kyodo

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A nonprofit group says it has spoken with 50 women and teenage girls who were coerced into sexual or labor-related exploitation last year, and it believes the number is just the tip of the iceberg.

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 organization Lighthouse said at a seminar for journalists.

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

The group 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 the 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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