Photo/Illutration Child consultation center staff conduct an on-site child abuse investigation during a drill in Hakodate, Hokkaido, in September 2019. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Child consultation centers nationwide handled a record high 193,780 child abuse cases in fiscal 2019, welfare ministry data shows.

The number of the cases, involving abuse against children under 18, was up 33,942, or 21.2 percent, from the previous fiscal year, the largest rise on record, according to a preliminary report released by the ministry on Nov. 18.

The overall figure rose for the 29th straight year since the ministry started compiling such statistics in fiscal 1990.

A total of 109,118 cases, or 56.3 percent, involved psychological abuse, such as parents committing domestic violence in front of their children, up 20,727 from fiscal 2018.

Physical abuse accounted for 49,240 cases, the second largest group, up 9,002 from a year earlier.

Police officers and narcotics control officers reported 96,473 cases, or 49.8 percent of the total, to the centers, up 17,335 from fiscal 2018.

The rise is due to more police reporting situations where children are living with parents who have committed domestic violence as cases of child abuse, the ministry said.

The ministry released a preliminary report the same day on the number of child abuse cases the centers handled since the novel coronavirus began spreading in Japan.

Cases of abuse rose 7 to 21 percent year on year between January and April, but fell 2 percent in May. The cases increased 10 percent in June before dropping 6 percent in July.

There is growing concern that child abuse cases might increase due to people remaining at home longer during the pandemic.

“We don’t know at this point what impact the trend (of staying at home) has had on child abuse cases since we have yet to compile data on changes in the number of cases reported from schools, day care centers and other related institutions,” a ministry official said. “We’ll closely monitor future developments.”