National / Crime & Legal

Police warnings on stalking, domestic violence broke records in 2016

Kyodo

Police consultations related to stalking and domestic violence rose to record levels last year as people showed a growing willingness to come forward with their concerns, the National Police Agency said Thursday.

Police investigated a record number of stalking and domestic violence complaints, according to NPA data, which also showed a continued trend in revenge porn, which was outlawed in November 2014.

Police interviews with potential victims broke 1,000 for the second year in a row over the offense, which involves uploading or distributing sexually explicit photos or video of people without their consent. The victims are typically former lovers.

Police nationwide were consulted about 22,737 potential cases of stalking, up 3.5 percent from the year before, and issued 3,562 warnings, up 5.5 percent.

Formal investigations rose to 769 cases, up by 92.

The figures for consultations and investigations were the highest since the stalker regulation law was enacted in 2000.

“We believe more people reported being victimized, deeming it safe to consult the police,” an NPA official said, attributing early intervention to the rise in cases investigated.

According to the data, crimes like attempted murder and assault hit 1,919 cases, up by 47. Women accounted for 88.8 percent of the targets, with 36.0 percent in their 20s and 25.5 percent in their 30s.

Regarding suspected stalkers, 22.2 percent were in their 30s, 21.0 percent in their 40s and 18.6 percent in their 20s, the data said.

The nearly fatal stabbing of an aspiring pop idol in Koganei, western Tokyo, last May by a fan who had repeatedly harassed her online spurred a revision to the anti-stalking law. The revision, which took effect in January, bans repeated messaging through social media and loitering near targeted persons’ homes.

Police also handled a record 69,908 cases involving reports of domestic violence, up 10.7 percent from the previous year and the 13th consecutive annual increase.

A record 8,291 cases of violent crime were investigated, including 2 murders, 100 attempted murders and 4,409 assaults, according to the data.

An NPA official said the figures reflect a shift in the mindset of victims over the years, saying “many domestic violence victims used to remain silent” in the past.

The police issued 2,143 restraining and other protective orders, of which 104 were investigated for later violations.

While 85.0 percent of the domestic violence victims were women, the number of male victims rose to 10,496, surpassing 10,000 for the first time. A total of 85.0 percent of the assailants were men, with those in their 30s and 40s comprising more than half.

Reports of revenge pornography stood at 1,063 last year, dropping 7.0 percent from the year before, the data showed. Roughly 90 percent of the victims were women and 90 percent of the culprits men, with the most common relationship being boyfriend-girlfriend, including ex-partners.

As for revenge porn, 451 cases involved threats to distribute compromising images, 297 cases involved intimate images suspected of being retained, and 196 cases involved publicly releasing compromising images without consent.

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