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High-ranking Fukushima policeman demoted for bullying subordinates

Kyodo

A senior police officer who harassed three subordinates, one of whom committed suicide in April, has been reprimanded and demoted, according to the Fukushima Prefectural Police.

Takayuki Seino, 45, who headed the department’s Second Investigation Division, repeatedly bullied the male officers in his division between May 2013 and April 2014.

The harassment was daily and often comprised belittling sneers such as, “Haven’t you ever learned Japanese?” and “Don’t write like an elementary school kid,” the police said.

Seino also reportedly told them, “You’re worth less than a section chief.”

Police said Thursday that the harassment may have contributed to the death of a 51-year-old deputy division chief, one of the three who had been bullied. He was found hanging in a prefectural police building on April 28, having left a suicide note. The contents of the note have not been made public.

Two days later, another officer was found dead. The 52-year-old, who was not apparently abused by Seino, was found in his car, together with a suicide note that read: “I’m sorry for not having given enough support.” The note named the deputy division chief.

“Bullying contributed to the deputy chief’s death,” Fukushima Prefecture’s Inspector General Koichi Saito said. “We believe that he was also under pressure from factors such as a heavy workload and the fact some of the (criminal) investigations he was handling would soon be dropped.”

Seino joined the National Police Agency in Tokyo after passing the advanced civil servant exam in 1993. He was appointed head of the Fukushima Prefectural Police’s Second Investigation Division in March 2013.

The police said Seino apologized for his actions.

“I am very sorry for having caused my subordinates enormous emotional distress,” the police quoted him saying.

Others said the events show the need for reform.

“It’s very regrettable that we have lost valuable assets in the police force. It’s a huge loss,” said Shinpei Nawa, chief inspector of the prefectural police headquarters. “We will strengthen our measures against harassment, and will offer psychological health care to our officers.”