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Last Updated: Monday, 26 July, 2004, 11:03 GMT 12:03 UK
Japan kids get stab-resistant kit
Madre coat
The clothing should give worried parents some comfort
A Japanese company has begun making stab-resistant coats and sweatshirts as fears about public safety rise following a series of gruesome attacks.

Madre, the maker, said it was providing the products in response to requests from worried parents.

The jackets and tops look ordinary, but are made from fibre-glass and 'Specter' - a treated plastic used in bullet-proof vests.

But they are not cheap, costing 43,900 Yen ($400) for a child's wind-breaker.

A child's sweatshirt costs 38,900 Yen ($354), while both products cost 80,000 Yen ($729) for adults.

Madre began selling the clothing through its website in May.

Although Japan is still one of the safest developed nations in the world, youth crime has dramatically increased in recent years.

An 11-year-old school girl slashed to death her 12-year-old classmate in June, and an intruder attacked primary school children with a knife in June 2001.

The number of children under 14 committing serious crimes in 2003 rose to 212, a 47% increase on the previous year.

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