Over 23,000 stalking cases recorded in Japan in 2017

he number of stalking cases recognised by police reached 23,079 in 2017, an increase of 342 cases, or 1.5 per cent, over the 2016 figure, the National Police Agency said Thursday.

The number is a record high since the antistalking law became effective in 2000.

The law was revised in January last year to expand the scope of acts subject to regulations to include repeatedly sending messages to victims via social media. The police took action on a total of 2,625 stalking cases last year.

According to the NPA, women accounted for 88.3 per cent of all stalking victims. Of them, 35.5 per cent were in their 20s, 24.9 per cent in their 30s and 19 per cent in their 40s while 10.1 per cent were teenagers.

Men accounted for 82.7 per cent of perpetrators. Of them about 60 per cent were in their 20s to 40s.

By stalkers' relationship with victims, 44.8 per cent, the largest group, were current or former boyfriends or girlfriends, 13.2 per cent were acquaintances or friends and 11 per cent were colleagues or those at the same workplace. Strangers accounted for 7.4 per cent. The relationship between stalkers and victims was unknown in 7.8 per cent of cases, such as those involving one-sidedly sending messages through social media.

Of the 2,625 cases in which the police took action, the violation of the antistalking law was specifically applied in a record 926 cases. Of them, 94 cases involved repeatedly sending messages via social media, which became subject to regulation following the revision of the law in January last year. The police also handled 53 cases in which perpetrators were hanging around the victims.

The police issued warnings to stalkers in 3,265 cases, down 297 from the previous year. Orders including those to cease stalking were issued in a record 662 cases, up 489 from a year earlier.

The police issued orders to stop stalking that were not preceded by warnings - a measure that was introduced in June last year - in 463 cases. Of those, emergency orders to cease stalking were issued in 231 cases as the police judged that stalking could pose a threat to victims.

In May last year, a man stabbed the mother of his former girlfriend at the mother's apartment in Taito Ward, Tokyo. The man took the mother hostage and the Metropolitan Police Department's special squad was mobilized.

Before the stabbing incident, the man had pressed his former girlfriend to come back to him and repeatedly committed stalking by telephoning her about 30 times in a week. The day before the incident, the man was given a warning from the police based on the antistalking law.

Meanwhile, the NPA is urging stalkers to receive treatment by medical specialists. From April to December last year, the NPA urged 522 stalkers to receive such treatment, but only 108, or about 20 per cent of the total, did so. Receiving such treatment is not mandatory. Of the 108, 17 people completed the treatment while 74 are still under treatment. The remaining 17 people stopped receiving the treatment halfway.