By Akira Tomoshige
TOKYO – Harley-Davidson cyclists in Santa Claus costumes took to the streets of central Tokyo on Sunday in their annual anti-child abuse parade, saying more children would be vulnerable to the coronavirus epidemic by 2020.
The party, which was followed by a toy race to give toys to children, is a worldwide tradition during Christmas. The event in Tokyo is hosted by members of the Harley Santa Club, founded in 2008.
The cyclists at the event said that this year’s event means more, as more children are vulnerable to domestic violence during the coronavirus year.
“Especially because of the coronavirus epidemic this year, I think there are a lot of cases of child abuse out of sight,” said event director Takashi Mine.
“Now it is very likely that parents will put stress on their children after losing their job, so I think we should hold a parade, especially during the epidemic,” he said.
From January to March, the number of child abuse cases in Aponia increased by 20% compared to the same period last year, as more families spent time at home due to the epidemic, writes the daily Asahi Shimbun.
According to the Ministry of Health, child abuse cases were at a record high last year.
Hundreds of motorcyclists usually take part in the parade, but only about 100 have ridden this year due to the coronavirus.
Still, the cyclists roared proudly with their motorbikes to bring the joy of Christmas to the children living in the orphanages. Riders plan to visit four homes in Tokyo this year to donate toys and sweets to about 400 children.
(Written by Ju-min Park; edited by Michael Perry)