New government figures show child consultation centers across Japan handled a record number of child abuse cases last fiscal year, which ended in March.
Officials of the welfare ministry say the number of reported cases was 159,850 -- an increase of about 26,000 from the previous year. The statistics cover children under 18.
They say the number has continued to grow since records began in fiscal 1990, and that the margin of increase was the largest last fiscal year.
The officials attribute the increase to a rise in reports from police about children having to witness domestic violence, such as their fathers beating mothers, which is considered to be psychological abuse.
By category, psychological abuse, which also includes verbal abuse, came out on top at about 88,400.
It was followed by physical abuse such as beating at slightly over 40,200, neglect at nearly 29,500 and sexual abuse at some 1,700.
Officials say they will step up measures to protect children's lives, including improving the functions of child consultation centers.