Police across Japan took a record number of children facing abuse-related injury or death into protective custody in 2018.

A total of 4,571 children under age 18 were taken into protective custody after officers determined they were in danger based on calls for help by telephone, the National Police Agency said March 14 at a news conference.

Some children were taken into custody at night or on weekends when local child consultation centers were unavailable to swiftly deal with the matter.

The NPA also said that a record 1,394 children were victims in child abuse cases investigated by police.

"The situation is very alarming," said NPA Commissioner General Shunichi Kuryu. "We're taking every step to place the highest priority on securing children's safety."

Thirty-six children died as a result of child abuse in 2018, 22 fewer than the previous year.

According to the NPA, statistics on child abuse cases were first compiled in 2012 when there were 1,611 minors taken into protective custody. The numbers have been increasing every year, and the 2018 figure was 2.8 times higher than in 2012.

Police around the nation notified local child consultation centers about possible child abuse cases for a record 80,252 children in 2018. There was a noticeable increase in instances of mental abuse, with such suspected cases accounting for 71.6 percent of the total. The figure for psychological abuse cases in 2018 was up 23.7 percent from the previous year.

A record 1,419 number of parents or foster parents were detained by police on suspicion of inflicting physical harm or indecent assault. The figure represented a 20.7 percent increase over 2017.

A total of 1,276 children were victims of child pornography, an increase of 60 children from the previous year. For the third straight year, more than 1,000 children were child porn victims. Forty percent of the cases involved children taking and e-mailing naked selfies.