• Kyodo

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The number of child abuse cases in which the Japanese police took action in the first half of 2015 rose to a record 376, with more than 80 percent involving violent assault, a police survey showed Thursday.

Of those cases, eight led to the death of the victims. The release of the semiannual survey comes at a time when child abuse has become a more openly discussed social issue, with the arrest of relatives, often parents, frequently being reported.

In February alone, a 36-year-old mother in Chiba Prefecture was arrested on suspicion of killing her daughters aged 1 and 4, citing “fatigue” over child-rearing, while a 36-year-old father in Osaka was arrested on suspicion of killing his 6-month-old son.

Several other parents were arrested for assaulting their kids in the same month.

In the January-June period, the number of people the police suspect of having abused children aged below 18 increased to 387 and the number of child victims rose to 386, both the highest figures since comparable data became available in 2000, the survey showed.

“Abusive behavior often occurs in a place hidden from the outside, such as at home, so we will tackle the issue by cooperating with relevant organizations,” said an official from the National Police Agency.

By type of abusive behavior, the number of cases involving physical assault rose by 79 from a year earlier to 307, accounting for 81.6 percent of the acknowledged child abuse cases in the six-month period. Of those cases, the number of attempted murders increased by 12 to 28, including eight cases of death.

The number of sexual abuse cases fell by 20 to 58 and that of neglecting to provide basic care, such as feeding, fell by five to one. But the number of cases involving psychological abuse, including threats with knives, rose by five to 10.

Fathers accounted for the largest number of abusers the police took action against, totaling 172, followed by mothers at 83 and stepfathers at 67.

In the period covered, the police reported suspected abuse cases for a record 17,224 children to counseling centers, up 32.1 percent. About 65 percent of those were cases involving psychological abuse, such as witnessing acts of domestic violence between parents.

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