The number of children referred to juvenile counseling centers in Osaka last year for alleged abuse against them rose 33.7 percent from the previous year to 8,536, keeping Osaka ahead of 46 other prefectures for the third straight year.

According to the juvenile affairs division of the Osaka Prefectural Police, about 70 percent of the victims under 18 years of age, or 6,010 children, suffered psychological abuse, including shock from seeing acts of domestic violence within their families.

The police department, the prefectural government as well as the city governments of Osaka and Sakai have recently concluded a pact enabling the sharing of information about abuse cases.

The deal follows a high-profile abuse case involving a 3-year-old boy who had been missing for more than two years before his body was discovered in the mountains.

The number of abusers facing police action last year was 88, involving 79 cases. Eight of the children in those cases died.