JAPAN - The number of child abuse cases handled by child consultation centers nationwide reached a record high of 59,862 in fiscal 2011, up 3,478 from the previous year, according to a report by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry released Thursday.
The ministry also said 84.3 per cent of children who died of abuse in fiscal 2010 were aged 3 or under, setting a new record.
To prevent infant death caused by abuse, the ministry called on prefectural governments to start providing consultation services for issues related to pregnancy and childbearing.
According to the ministry, the highest number of cases brought or reported to child consultation centers was recorded in Osaka at 8,900. Kanagawa Prefecture was second with 7,296 cases, followed by Tokyo with 4,559.
The number of reported child abuse cases at the centers has been increasing since fiscal 1990, when the government began collecting data.
"It reflects increased cooperation between related organisations, and a rise in the public's interest in child abuse," a ministry official said.
In fiscal 2010, 51 children died from abuse, including 23 babies less than a year old, or 45.1 per cent. Forty-three of the 51 were children aged 3 or under.
The ministry said 30 people, or 58.8 per cent, who abused children to death were their biological mothers. The cases were believed to have resulted from problems related to pregnancy or childbearing, such as unwanted pregnancies or lack of prenatal clinical care.
Meanwhile, a total of seven requests were filed in the courts of six local governments for the temporary termination of parental rights in the three months since April, when such cases were made available. A family court approved one of the seven cases.