Tokyo govt plans to ban parents from physical punishment, verbal abuse of kids following tragic deaths

Motoko Hagiwara supervises her children doing their homework in the living room of their house at Higashinohara district in Inzai, Chiba Prefecture, Japan, on Nov 6, 2018.
Motoko Hagiwara supervises her children doing their homework in the living room of their house at Higashinohara district in Inzai, Chiba Prefecture, Japan, on Nov 6, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (XINHUA) - The Tokyo government on Wednesday (Feb 13) said it plans to introduce a law to ban parents and guardians from both physically punishing their children as well as verbally abusing them.

The Tokyo government's planned ordinance on child abuse prevention follows a widely reported case last year of the failings of municipal and child welfare facilities that led to the tragic death of a young girl at the hands of her parents.

Under the new ordinance to be submitted to the regular meeting of the Metropolitan assembly starting on Feb 20, child welfare centres will be required to share information between institutions.

Following the tragic death of five-year-old Yua Funato in March last year, who had been a victim of heinous levels of abuse and neglect at the hands of her Tokyo-based parents, the Metropolitan government decided to draft the ordinance to ensure welfare centres communicate more effectively.

It was revealed after Yua's case was reviewed by a Tokyo government panel that child welfare centres had not communicated with each other effectively when her family had moved and had been tardy when it came to checking on the young girl's safety.

The planned ordinance also follows a high-profile case involving the fatal abuse of 10-year-old Mia Kurihara in Tokyo's neighbouring prefecture of Chiba.

Mia died last month as a result of being physically assaulted and deprived of food and sleep. Her parents have since been arrested.

 
 

Mia's case also revealed fundamental flaws in the protocols of institutions and child welfare facilities that led to the young girl's written account of her father's abuse being given to her father after he coerced her school.

In addition, Mia being returned from protective custody to her abusive parents, despite welfare officials knowing she would likely be abused again, revealed a disturbing trend of lax measures by the authorities in charge of protecting her.

 

The Tokyo government's plans to introduce the ban on parents from physically punishing and verbally abusing children also follows worrying child abuse figures released recently.

Figures released last week from the National Police Agency (NPA) revealed that suspected abuse cases involving minors aged below 18 reported by the police to child welfare officials stood at a record high of 80,104 in 2018.

The figure has risen above the 80,000 mark for the first time since data become available for comparison and shot up by 22.4 per cent from a year earlier and is more than a 2.8-fold increase compared to figures from five years ago, the NPA said.

The NPA also said cases of psychological abuse against children comprised 70 per cent of the total cases in 2018.

Cases of physical abuse were suspected in 14,821 cases referred to child protection authorities and 7,699 cases of children being neglected were also reported, the NPA's figures showed.

Cases reported of children being sexually abused stood at 258, the police said.

In all the categories of child abuse, the figures marked an increase from those reported by the NPA a year earlier.

The NPA's figures also showed that intervention by law enforcement officials in suspected child abuse cases in the recording period was three times higher than that of 2009, with action taken in 1,355 cases in 2018.

Tokyo's plans to clamp down on abusive behaviour by parents and guardians towards children, follows nine of Japan's 47 prefectures that have already adopted similar measures on the prevention of child abuse.