In 2020, the number of cases of child abuse handled by the Japanese police increased nationwide by 8.2%, to 2,133, while the number of children involved increased by 9.1%, to 2,172, both record highs. In addition, 61 children died the same year as a result of abuse. The number of children whom the police referred to child guidance offices increased by 8.9% to 106,991, exceeding 100,000 for the first time.
Child abuse is defined as the physical, sexual, or psychological abuse of a child under the age of 18. According to a report by the National Police Agency, child abuse cases handled in 2020 included 1,756 cases of physical abuse such as assault and injury, accounting for more than 80% of all cases, as well as 299 cases of sexual abuse, 46 cases of psychological abuse such as threats or confinement, and 32 cases of neglect.
There were 1,139 boys involved in cases and 1,033 girls.
The vast majority of boys were involved in cases of physical abuse (1,082), while girls were involved in cases of physical abuse (693) and sexual abuse (296). Among the 61 deaths related to child abuse, 21 were children in forced double suicides, while 11 were murdered soon after childbirth.
The abuse in these cases was carried out by 2,182 people. Physical abuse, which accounted for the majority of cases, was perpetrated mainly by the biological father (853 people), followed by the biological mother (531), the stepfather (189), and a male partner of the mother (158). Male perpetrators were overwhelmingly responsible for cases of sexual abuse. In cases of psychological abuse and neglect, however, many of the cases involved the biological mother (23 and 24, respectively). The biological father was also involved in a high number of cases (11 and 12, respectively).
On the other hand, the number of child pornography cases identified by the police in 2020 decreased year on year by 9.9%, to 2,757, while the number of children under the age of 18 identified as victims in such cases decreased by 15.3%, to 1,320. The number of people apprehended in such cases was down 7.1% to 1,965, the second consecutive decline since 2019. The vast majority of those child pornography cases, at 1,164, involved girls, while 156 involved boys.