The number of domestic violence consultations in Japan grew to a record 190,030 in the fiscal year through March, preliminary government data has shown, as the coronavirus pandemic is believed to have ramped up stress among couples and families who spent more time at home.

The latest figure for fiscal 2020 was up 70,754 from the previous year, the Cabinet Office announced Friday.

The increase in the number of people seeking help is also believed to be attributable to the launch in April last year of a 24-hour service to accept consultations by phone and online amid the pandemic.

As Tokyo, Osaka and seven other prefectures currently remain under the third COVID-19 state of emergency, an official with the Cabinet Office said people should not hesitate to use the public consultation services as domestic violence victims themselves are often unaware they are being abused.

Excluding the consultations through the new helpline, the number of contacts to the counseling and support centers nationwide rose by about 18,000 to 137,333 in the year, the Cabinet Office said.

By month, March saw the highest number of consultations at 17,320 in fiscal 2020, followed by 17,248 and 17,063 in June and May, respectively.