Yua Funato is seen in images taken from her mother's Facebook page. Photo: FACEBOOK
Yua Funato is seen in images taken from her mother's Facebook page. Photo: FACEBOOK

The Japanese government on Tuesday approved a plan to revise the child abuse prevention law and institute changes to legally prohibit parents and guardians from physically punishing children.

The revised bill and related legislation will be deliberated during the ongoing parliamentary session with an aim to be enacted in April next year, the government said.

“It is the responsibility of all adults to protect the lives of children. We are going to powerfully and swiftly work to take steps to prevent child abuse,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a Cabinet Meeting before endorsing the bill.

Abe, citing a rise in child abuse cases every year, told his Cabinet ministers to make every effort and utilize all means available to them to eradicate the problem.

The prime minister said that prevention and early detection was key, and seamless communication between relevant authorities was of vital importance to better protect and support victims.

The draft bill, while banning parents, guardians and others legally responsible for caring for children from physically punishing children, also requires full-time, in-house lawyers and doctors to be based at child welfare centers so that information and professional expertise can be easily shared.

One of the planned amendments to the current law would empower child welfare centers to separate its staff members involved in taking a child into protective custody from those dealing with the child’s parents or guardians.

The number of welfare and consultations centers will also be increased, according to the draft bill.

In addition, the revisions also require schools, education boards and child welfare centers to adhere to confidentiality requirements.

This is aimed at better safeguarding abused children and ensuring that abusive parents and guardians cannot coerce institutions into providing potentially damaging information or make decisions that could further put an at-risk child in danger.

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