KUMAMOTO – Kumamoto Prefectural Police are probing the May suicide of a 22-year-old officer, suspecting it may have been linked to bullying within the police kendo club, it was learned Sunday.
According to sources close to the case, the investigation division of the prefectural police has been questioning people relevant to the club.
Police officials said that a colleague of the officer found him hanged in a police dormitory in the city of Kumamoto on May 24. The officer joined the force in 2001 under a special quota for people who excel in martial arts, and was assigned to the riot police in August 2003.
Rumors circulated after his death that he had been bullied by other members of the kendo club, the sources said.
A close friend of the officer said he spoke of being bullied, such as being left behind when the club returned from a competition held outside the city and sparring partners aiming for his throat, they added.
The officer’s father also works for the prefectural police force, and has won the national kendo championship as well as international competitions. He is currently the head teacher of the force’s overall martial arts program.
Some witnesses have said the reason the officer was bullied was because some club members were at odds with his father, according to the sources.
Shiro Koga, the chief of the inspection division, said that so far no concrete evidence of bullying has surfaced.