The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said Thursday that a record 59,862 cases of reported child abuse were handled by child welfare centers in Japan in fiscal 2011.
The figure includes 51 deaths, of which 23 were children younger than 12 months, the ministry said.
A ministry spokesman said that growing public awareness of child abuse and greater cooperation between law enforcement officials, hospitals and welfare authorities contributed to the high number of cases coming to light, NTV reported.
The official said that many cases involved unwanted pregnancies and teenage mothers who did not know how to look after their babies and who were frequently ostracized by their local communities.
The ministry said it is studying countermeasures, including consulting with obstetricians to identify potential abusers among young mothers and offering them counseling and assistance at an early stage before their babies are born, NTV reported.© Japan Today