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The number of child abuse cases handled by child consultation centers across Japan in fiscal 2019 rose by 33,942 from the previous year to 193,780, the most since the survey started in fiscal 1990, the welfare ministry said in a preliminary report Wednesday.

The pace of increase was the steepest on record, according to the ministry.

“The results partly reflected an increase in reports from police to consultation centers about cases in which children witnessed domestic violence taking place in front of them,” a ministry official said.

Of the total for the year that ended in March 2020, psychological abuse cases, including those of witnessing domestic violence, totaled 109,118, up by 20,727, and physical abuse cases stood at 49,240, up by 9,002.

The revised law related to the fight against child abuse, which went into force in April, calls for the strengthening of cooperation between child consultation centers and facilities offering consultations on domestic violence.

In fiscal 2019, the number of child abuse cases reported from police to child consultation centers stood at 96,473, accounting for nearly half of the total, followed by reports from neighbors and acquaintances, and those by family members and relatives.

There were 1,663 reports by abused children themselves.

Among the country’s 47 prefectures, Osaka, saw the largest number of child abuse cases, at 24,643, followed by Tokyo, at 21,659, and Kanagawa, south of Tokyo, at 20,449.

The ministry also said in the preliminary report that the number of abuse cases handled by child consultation centers in January-July this year came to 115,969, up about 8% from the same period of 2019.

The ministry plans to continue calling on local governments to boost community-wide efforts to look out for children in need of support, as the risk of child abuse could increase amid the trend to stay home due to the novel coronavirus crisis.

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