The number of reported cases of bullying at Japanese schools hit a record high of over 320,000 in the 2016 academic year due partly to efforts to detect early signs, the education ministry said Thursday.

A total of 323,808 bullying cases were reported at elementary, junior high and high schools, up 43.8 percent from a year before, with the figure for elementary schools jumping 1.5 times. But according to the results of the survey, 90.6 percent of the cases had been resolved and efforts were underway to address another 9.1 percent.

"We must take seriously the increase in the number," said a ministry official. "But we believe we are moving in a desirable direction to save children as long as we are able to recognize bullying earlier and deal with the situation."