A total of 73 children died of abuse in Japan in fiscal 2018, up eight from the previous year, a survey by an expert committee of the welfare ministry showed Wednesday.
Of 54 cases excluding circumstances in which children were killed in murder-suicides by parents, 25 involved neglect such as children not being fed.
Neglect cases outnumbered physical abuse cases, which totaled 23, for the first time since the committee began surveying child abuse resulting in death for fiscal 2003.
The survey for fiscal 2018, which ended in March 2019, includes a January 2019 case in which 10-year-old Mia Kurihara died in Noda, Chiba Prefecture, after abuse from her father.
Abuse of children under the age of one made up 22 cases, or 40.7 percent of all cases, of which seven involved babies under one month old.
In cases of death from neglect, many involved parents who left children alone in dangerous environments.
The motive for abuse was “negligence in protection” for eight cases, while actions that parents believed were part of disciplining the child caused three deaths.
Deaths from abuse excluding murder-suicides by parents since fiscal 2003 totaled 833, with deaths of children under one making up 47.4 percent.
Some 18.7 percent of all cases involved children who died on the day of birth.
Birth mothers were the most common culprits, causing 54.5 percent of deaths.
After analyzing the survey results, the expert committee said that special attention must be paid to parents and children who are isolated from social support and relatives, as well as those who have not taken prenatal checkups.
It proposed that the central government and municipalities draw up a system for sharing information about parents and children with hospitals and support facilities, in addition to child consultation centers, so that they can continuously support struggling children.