In the wake of recent fatal child abuse cases, the government has begun exploring amendments to the laws on child welfare and prevention of abuse to prohibit corporal punishment by parents. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has separately proposed a local ordinance banning the physical punishment of children as part of efforts to fight child abuse — though it provides for no penalties. The banning of corporal punishment may have symbolic meaning in the effort to deter the abuse of children in the name of discipline. But to ensure the end of fatal child abuse, such a step must be accompanied by concerted efforts to boost the numbers and skills of officials responsible for children’s welfare.

In a number of abuse cases, including the death of a 10-year-old girl in Noda, Chiba Prefecture, last month, the legal guardians of the victims have tried to justify their actions by saying they meant to discipline misbehaving children.

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