Reports of Child Abuse in Japan up 26 Percent From Last Year

Japanese authorities got a record 33,408 reports of child abuse in 2004, up 26 percent from last year and more than 17 times the number a decade ago, a government study said Tuesday.

The number of child abuse cases reported in the year to March 2005 surged to 33,408 from 26,569 the year before, a rise of 25.7 percent, according to a government white paper on youth released Tuesday.

Cases were up more than 12-fold since 1995, when there were 2,722 cases.

CountryWatch: Japan

Of the inquiries received by police and child consultation centers, 14,881 cases, or 44.5 percent, involved physical abuse, while 12,263, or 36.7 percent, involved neglect. Forty-five percent of the reports involved preschool children.

Ministry officials have said the introduction of stricter laws against child abuse and several high-profile abuse cases have raised awareness, prompting more people to report to authorities.