The education ministry said Thursday that a total of 400 million yen in compensation will be given to the parents of eight children killed in a stabbing spree at an Osaka elementary school two years ago.
The payment is part of a government admission of responsibility for lax security at the school.
The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry will offer an apology in an agreement to be signed with the families Sunday, the second anniversary of the incident, ministry officials said.
“I would like to extend my deep apology to the children and their families,” said Yasushi Mitarai, administrative vice education minister. “And the ministry will take thorough measures to prevent similar accidents from happening again.”
On June 8, Mamoru Takuma stormed into the Ikeda Elementary School and stabbed seven girls and one boy to death and wounding 13 other schoolchildren and two teachers.
The Osaka District Court is expected to hand down a ruling on Takuma as early as this summer. Prosecutors have demanded the death sentence.
The ministry bears direct responsibility for safety at the school, because it is an affiliate of the state-run Osaka Kyoiku University.
Haruhiko Tokuhisa, chief of the technical education division of the ministry’s Higher Education Bureau, admitted that the ministry had failed to take sufficient steps to tighten security at schools even though the Ikeda incident was not the first in which children were harmed by strangers wandering into school compounds.
For example, in December 2000, a man stabbed a boy at an elementary school in Kyoto.
In response to that incident, the ministry advised relevant authorities to tighten security at schools. However, it failed to follow up by examining what actions had been taken by the schools, Tokuhisa said.
At the Ikeda school, the notice was relayed to teachers but no extra steps were taken by the school before the killing, the official said.
To prevent similar incidents, the ministry has created a manual for coping with crises and distributed it to schools across the country, Tokuhisa said. The ministry will also promote holding seminars to help teachers cope with crimes at schools.
Meanwhile, in Osaka, heads of the Osaka Kyoiku University and its affiliated Ikeda Elementary School expressed apologies for the incident and their commitment to ensuring school security.
“Our lack of security management allowed the intrusion (of Takuma),” said Ikeda Elementary School Principal Yoshio Yamane. “We would like to extend our apologies again for our failure to protect the children.”
Osaka Kyoiku University President Takashi Inagaki said the institution is currently analyzing how the incident took place and plans to make public a detailed report by September.
“We hope that the report will contribute to school security not only public but also private schools across the country,” Inagaki said. “Our aim is that such a tragedy should not happen again.”
As for compensation for those who were hurt physically or mentally in the incident, Inagaki said the university will begin discussions with the parents of the schoolchildren next month.
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