Photo/Illutration Tokyo ward government officials role-play a scenario in which parents attempt to conceal a case of child abuse in Tokyo in June. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Cases of child abuse in Japan rose to a record-high 205,029 in fiscal 2020, the health ministry announced on Aug. 27, the most since the ministry began keeping data on the subject in fiscal 1990.

The data was based on requests for consultations about abuse involving children under 18 at children's welfare centers nationwide during the period.

Cases of child abuse were also up 5.8 percent, or 11,249 more cases, from fiscal 2019.

The number has increased every year since fiscal 1990.

Of the 205,029 consultations, 50.5 percent were brought in by police and others.

In many cases, police officers who responded to an emergency call reported to a child consultation center that domestic violence between a husband and wife had occurred in front of a child.

In 13.5 percent of the cases, a neighbor or an acquaintance contacted a child consultation center. In 8.2 percent of the cases, a family member or a relative made a consultation.

Psychological abuse was reported in 121,325 cases, or 59.2 percent, while cases of physical abuse accounted for 50,033 reports, or 24.4 percent.

Child neglect was reported in 31,420 cases, or 15.3 percent.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, parents and children have spent more time together staying at home.

Some people have voiced concerns that the trend would lead to an increase in the number of child abuse cases.

A ministry official, however, concluded that the trend in the number of consultations was not connected to the infection situation.

The growth rate in child abuse cases in fiscal 2020 was lower than that of fiscal 2019, when the rate was 21.2 percent, and fiscal 2018, when the rate was 19.5 percent.

In April 2020 when the nation was under a state of emergency for COVID-19, the number of consultations rose by 13 percent compared to the same month in 2019.

In June 2020, when the state of emergency had already been lifted, the number of consultations increased by 17 percent compared to the same month a year ago.