Santa Claus Biker Parade in Tokyo towards youngster abuse

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© Reuters. People in Santa suits ride their motorbikes during the Xmas Toy Run parade amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Tokyo

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By Akira Tomoshige

TOKYO (Reuters) – Harley Davidson bikers in Santa Claus costumes rode the streets of central Tokyo for their annual child abuse parade on Sunday. In 2020, more children are at risk due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The parade, followed by a toy run to donate toys to children, has a worldwide tradition during the Christmas season. In Tokyo, the event is held by members of the Harley Santa Club, founded in 2008.

At the parade, bikers said this year's event meant more because more children were vulnerable to domestic violence during the coronavirus year.

"With the coronavirus pandemic in particular this year, I think a lot of child abuse cases are out of sight," said Takashi Mine, director of the event.

"It is very likely that parents will exonerate their children after they have lost their jobs. I think we have to do the parade, especially during the pandemic," he said.

The number of child abuse cases per month in Japan rose to 20% between January and March year-over-year as more families were at home due to the pandemic, daily Asahi Shimbun reported.

The number of reported cases of child abuse was a record high last year, according to the Ministry of Health.

Hundreds of motorcyclists usually take part in the parade, but only about 100 have ridden this year due to the coronavirus.

Even so, the drivers proudly roared their engines to bring Christmas joy to children living in children's homes. The drivers plan to visit four houses in Tokyo this year to donate toys and sweets to around 400 children.

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