• Kyodo

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About 15 percent of elementary and junior high school students in Nagasaki Prefecture believe dead people can be resurrected, according to a recent poll by the prefectural board of education.

Asked why they believe this, roughly half said it is because they have seen stories about resurrection on television or read them in books — and about 7 percent said because video games can be reset to start over again.

The survey was conducted in November and December, following the killing of a student by an 11-year-old girl in the city of Sasebo in June and a subsequent note issued by a family court that said the girl had only a “vague notion” of what death means.

The girl slashed her classmate’s throat after the victim reportedly taunted her on an Internet bulletin board.

The board polled around 3,600 students in the fourth and sixth grades of elementary school and the second year of junior high school.

Asked if they believe dead people can be resurrected, those who answered in the affirmative comprised 14.7 percent of the fourth-graders, 13.1 percent of the sixth-graders and 18.5 percent of the junior high students.

“Children apparently conceive of death not from their experiences of (being exposed to other people’s) deaths but rather from information” made available to them, a board official said.

The official stressed the need to teach the meaning of life and death at school and at home, saying, “It is essential in the course of growth to be exposed to life and death and feel sympathy for others.”

Sadanobu Ushijima, president of the Japanese Society for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, said the result of the survey is not that alarming.

“Children start accepting death as a reality only when they reach junior high school age,” Ushijima said.

He said some kids who replied that they believe in resurrection explained that they think people’s souls survive after death.

“I think the number of children who think the dead will be physically resurrected is much smaller (than is shown in the survey),” he said.

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