by Ewa Nowogorski
Where children exist, so does child abuse. There is not a single community on earth in which this terrible act does not exist, and although well-concealed in Japan, it certainly exists, and to a much higher degree than an outside might initially assume.
To a foreigner or outsider, Japan seems like a peaceful country in which most mothers decide to not work in order to raise their children full-time and provide them with an enriched and clean environment in the home. Fathers seem more of the laid-back type that leave most of the parenting to their wives and only get involved on the weekends to take the children somewhere fun out of the house.
While that is the picturesque family life that is often portrayed in family advertisements and in the general media, the reality of family harmony could not be more different.
Amazingly, the number of reported cases of child abuse in 2019 was a whopping 194,000, up 34,000 cases from the year before, and with the increased time that children are forced to spend with their parents in isolation due to the coronavirus pandemic, that number could only increase in the year 2020. By prefecture, Osaka topped the list with 24,643 cases, followed by Tokyo with 21,659 and Kanagawa with 20,449. Osaka is a place where people are more open about their opinions than other places, so people openly discipline their children in public, often slapping them, hitting them, and verbally battering them for minor offenses, and these public displays may be the reason for the higher reported rates.
Fathers are often the abusers in the family, but mothers can also abuse their children, since they spend more time together with their children. Abuse is often verbal and degrading, but physical abuse has become increasingly common as adult parents fail to properly cope with the stresses of daily life and family responsibilities in a struggling economic environment.