The case of a schoolboy driven to jump off a building after relentless bullying at the hands of his classmates – apparently with the active participation of his teachers – has outraged Japan, as much as have the insistent attempts of his teachers and even local police to deny the bullying had anything to do with his death.
The incident occurred in the Shiga prefecture city of Otsu, where a 2nd year middle school boy jumped from his family’s apartment to his death after suffering intolerable bullying at the hands of his classmates and even apparently his teachers.
Both the nature of the abuse he suffered and the unwillingness of teachers to help have scandalised Japan – though not, it seems, any of the officials at the school or local authorities, all of whom have resolutely stonewalled any effort to connect his bullying to his death.
The school distributed a questionnaire about the bullying (the results of which it attempted to keep secret), and 14 students reported that teachers either overlooked it or actually participated – “the teacher warned us once but after that we laughed at him together.”
He was reportedly repeatedly beaten by multiple assailants in the school toilets, forced to eat dead wasps, and one occasion had a dead sparrow shoved in his mouth.
Other reports from the students suggested he was “repeatedly made to practice committing suicide,” was made to strip and then photographed, had his money and bank account details stolen, was made to shoplift, was repeatedly bound with tape and beaten, and of course was mercilessly mocked at every turn.
Even after his death, his classmates continued to deface and scrawl graffiti on a photograph of him displayed in their classroom.
Some students insisted the abuse was “just playing” and that he was just responding badly to them “messing around.”
He approached teachers about the abuse, but they apparently did nothing, and nothing came of approaches made by his parents to the school either.
One teacher who witnessed the bullying did feel it necessary to laughingly tell them “not to overdo it.”
His father also approached police and attempted to file a victim report and press charges of assault against the bullies, but police refused to accept that any crime had taken place and have further refused to comment as to why.
Since police refused to pursue charges, the boy’s family have been reduced to launching a ¥77,000,000 lawsuit against the school.
Students later reported being told by teachers “just ignore anyone who asks you questions about this,” “just don’t talk about any of this to anyone – keep your mouths shut” and “don’t say anything funny.”
The local school board actually admitted telling students not to talk about the incident, saying “there is no problem with telling pupils not to say anything unreliable.”
They also made a public statement saying “the bullies have human rights too, we have to think of their education.”
16 students reported knowing about the suicide practice in the questionnaire, but the school says it “cannot confirm it is true.”
The parents of some of the alleged bullies have also denied anything was amiss – one mother told the media “the reports were all from kids who had nothing to do with it, they are just saying what they heard.”
The lawyer of the boy’s parents has stated “it is unthinkable that 15 students would all write about exactly the same thing if it had no truth to it.”
His bereaved father said “they are throwing away the voices of the kids who so earnestly reported what they witnessed.”
In response to the lawsuit, the school submitted a defence to the court demanding the parents “tell us exactly who witnessed this bullying and where” and “explain just what the steps were which could have avoided his suicide?”
They deny there was any connection with the bullying and his suicide.
The town’s mayor has given a tearful press conference appearance in which she expressed her regrets, but it took the intervention of the prefectural governor for the school to begin a series of emergency countermeasures to prevent any more of its pupils being bullied into suicide.
Aside from the official theatrics, 2ch’s legion of Internet vigilantes have taken it upon themselves to uncover the perpetrators, having apparently already uncovered the identity of one of the bully’s parents and started a campaign of stalking and harassment against them.
The unbelievably egregious nature of virtually every aspect of the case has generated scores of media reports and prompted tens of thousands of outraged posts online:
“These people are rotten to their filthy cores.”
“Now they are just rubbing salt in the wound.”
“Arrest the lot of them!”
“They sound like schoolkids, asking who saw what and where like that…”
“Making individuals investigate a murder like this themselves – disgusting.”
“Amazing they even found a lawyer willing to defend them in a case like this.”
“Japan has no right to make fun of China.”
“So the parents have to do everything the school and police should have been doing?”
“All the adults involved in this are complete scum, aren’t they? Not one involved did anything to help save his life.”
“Why is their mayor crying at press conferences if she lets them get away with all this?”
“She’s crying over the damage to her resume…”
“These civil servants are out of control.”
“What is wrong with the authorities of this city? I just want to cry, why are they doing this?”