Child abuse is when a parent or caretaker causes distress or harm to a child, or to any person under the age of 18.  Child abuse is not only characterized by physical harm, and can range from a variety of behaviors imposed on a child. The actions or temperament of a child never warrants any type of child abuse, and the only one responsible for child abuse occurring is the adult who is inflicting it. A child can be involved in domestic violence as well. Domestic violence can cause damage to a child’s psychological development when the child is witnessing violence between parents. A mother who received violence from the father can also displace her stress on her child, which causes a chain of violence. 

How is child abuse defined in Japan?

Physical Abuse:

  • Physical violence
  • Inflicting burns 
  • Holding upside down
  • Locking outside


  • Failing to provide adequate food, shelter, clothing, etc.
  • Failing to take children to hospital when sick.
  • Leaving infants and young children at home unattended.
  • Refusing to take the child to school.

Gender-Related Abuse:

  • Sexual abuse of children (sexual intercourse and assault)
  • Revealing genitals or displaying sexual intercourse
  • Producing or watching child pornography 

Psychological Abuse:

  • Ignoring or rejecting
  • Verbal abuse (yelling or insulting)
  • Terrorizing or threatening 
  • Favoring one child over the other
  • Violence towards other parents or caretakers 

How can people report it?

  • Report to the police: 110
  • Child Guidance Office’s Child Abuse Hotline: 189
    • persons receiving counseling from the Child Guidance Office or members of related organizations can call this emergency number: 03-5937-2330
  • A child-family support center

Who is legally obligated to report it?

What are the current laws surrounding child abuse?

Current laws focusing on the prevention of child abuse and protection of child welfare are specified towards children under 18. Additionally, these laws apply to cases of child abuse inflicted by a parent or guardian only. The Child Abuse Prevention Act (2000) is the primary piece of legislation utilized for preventing child abuse, accompanying the Child Welfare Law (1947) and the Maternal and Child Health Act (1965). The Child Abuse Prevention Act (2000) is the first piece of legislation to explicitly mention child abuse and has been amended multiple times throughout the years.

The latest amendment of the Child Abuse Prevention Act in 2017:

  • Clarifies principles of the Child Welfare Law
  • Emphasizes the prevention of child abuse 
  • Addresses prompt and appropriate responses to child abuse
  • Includes ways to support the independence of abused children 


The Law and Reporting Child Abuse

The Child Abuse Prevention Act outlines the duty others have to report child abuse if they witness it, first by naming professions that are obligated to report child abuse: 

“Anyone who has the professional responsibility for the care or treatment of the minor (under 18), must act for early detection of child abuse.”  (Child Abuse Prevention Act, Article 5)

Individuals who are obligated to report child abuse due to their professions include:

  • Welfare workers
  • Individuals who work at schools (teachers, guidance counselors, administrators, social workers, etc.)
  • Mental health professionals (psychologists, therapists/counselors)
  • Physicians, nurses
  • Lawyers 


Although members of these professions are obligated to report instances of child abuse, there are no repercussions not reporting child abuse, whereas in the United States, mandated reporters could be criminally charged for failing to report child abuse.

Additionally, the Child Abuse Prevention Act acknowledges the civil duty individuals have to report suspected child abuse::

“Any person who reasonably believes that a minor (under 18) is or has been the victim of abuse or neglect shall immediately report to the welfare office or the child guidance office.” (Child Abuse Prevention Act, Article 6; Child Welfare Law, Article 25)

Those who report child abuse are not in breach of any professional obligation of confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement, and any individual who reports child abuse is immune from any civil or criminal repercussions from reporting as stated by the Child Abuse Prevention Act (Article 2, Section 2).

The Process of Reporting Child Abuse

If an individual witnesses or suspects child abuse is occuring, they should immediately report it to their local Child Guidance Center or welfare office, or call the Child Guidance Office’s Child Abuse Hotline: 189. Anonymous reports of child abuse can be made by phone, fax, letter, or visiting any CGC or welfare offices.

After making a report, the CGC will assess the report and the first responses to the report will usually be within the first 48 hours. Action from the CGC varies from visiting the home of the child, conducting family assessments, or gathering information from settings like schools or hospitals. The CGC can also provide emergency protection and custody for the family if necessary, as well as providing other methods to support the family.

In schools, group interventional methods are usually applied after early detection or suspicion of child abuse, including school counseling, check lists, home visit, and internal discussions among school workers. When children seek for help, and there is suspicion of any type of child abuse, schools usually contact local Child Abuse Consultation Center and Child Abuse Hotline (189). However, if any emergence and actual danger occur, schools usually contact police stations. 

How can people access services and support in Japan? 

Child Abuse Resources (Only in Japanese)

Provide online consultation for child abuse prevention via LINE

Provide online consultation and shelter for teens

Provide online consultation, hotline for DV, and shelter

Provide consultation via phone, group care, and parenting program

Provide child care support, child abuse prevention, and home visit for parenting support

  • 児童相談所虐待対応ダイヤル (Child Consultation Abuse Correspondence Dial)

Provide free consultation via phone

Phone: 189

Child abuse resources (In Multiple languages)

Provide free DV consultation. (Available in English, Chinese, Korean, Thai, & Tagalog)

Phone: 03-5467-1721 

Provide informations and maps for child abuse organizations. (Available in English, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Portuguese, Tagalog, Thai, Vietnamese, Khmer, & Lao). 

Provide information of child abuse organizations, only available in those who live in Gunma prefecture. (Available in Japanese, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tagalog, & Thai)

Provide 24 hours DV consultation via phone, email, and chat. (Available in Japanese, English, Tagalog, Thai, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, Nepali, Vietnamese, & Bahasa Indonesia)

Phone: 0120-279-889