OTSU, SHIGA PREF. – A college student tried to murder the chief of the Otsu board of education in Shiga Prefecture on Wednesday over an alleged coverup of bullying that led to a junior high school student’s suicide.
Kenji Sawamura, 65, who heads Otsu’s board of education, sustained minor head injuries after the 19-year-old male student attacked him with a 30-cm-long hammer at a municipal building, according to police.
The student was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after being overpowered by another board of education official who rushed to Sawamura’s aid. He was later quoted as telling police that he intended to kill Sawamura because he had tried to hide the truth behind the suicide.
The board has been harshly criticized by the public for initially failing to admit the 13-year-old student’s suicide last October was related to repeated bullying by his classmates.
“The (student’s) violent attack is unforgivable. I will consider stationing a security guard at the office of the board of education’s chief,” Otsu Mayor Naomi Koshi told reporters. Sawamura has been handling matters related to the suicide, after the boy jumped off a condominium Oct. 11.
The board last month admitted failing to conduct an adequate investigation into the link between his death and bullying by his classmates, who repeatedly forced him to “practice” committing suicide. The admission came seven months after the board released a public statement saying it “cannot judge” whether the suicide and abuse were related.
But Sawamura told a news conference July 12 that he believes bullying was “one of the factors” that contributed to the tragedy.