Photo/IllutrationRepresentatives from police and a child consultation center hold a child-rescue drill in Chino, Nagano Prefecture, in June. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Child consultation centers across Japan handled a record high 159,850 abuse cases in fiscal 2018 but failed to confirm the safety of 8 percent of children within 48 hours of receiving the reports, the welfare ministry said.

The number of cases was up 26,072 from the previous year and represented the 28th straight year of increase since the ministry started compiling such statistics in fiscal 1990, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said Aug. 1 based on a preliminary report.

Child consultations centers are, in principle, required to confirm whether children are safe within 48 hours of receiving reports about abuse.

The ministry looked into about 154,000 child abuse cases handled from July 20, 2018, to June 7 this year. It found that the centers had not confirmed the conditions of the children in 8 percent of those cases within 48 hours.

Of all 159,850 cases, 88,389, or 55.3 percent, involved “psychological abuse,” such as parents committing domestic violence in front of their children.

It was followed by 40,256 cases of “physical abuse,” or 25.2 percent of the total; 29,474 cases of “neglect,” or 18.4 percent; and 1,731 cases of “sexual abuse,” or 1.1 percent.

Police reported about half of the cases to the child consultation centers, while 13 percent were reported through acquaintances living in the neighborhood.

“Cooperation between child consultation centers and related organizations has strengthened,” a ministry official said, explaining why the overall number of cases has increased. “In addition, the public has a heightened awareness of child abuse issues.”