Bullying caused boy’s suicide, Otsu admits


The city of Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, admitted for the first time Tuesday there was a causal relationship between a junior high school boy’s suicide in 2011 and the bullying he was subjected to by his classmates.

The admission came during an Otsu District Court session in a ¥77 million damages suit filed by the boy’s family against the municipal government and the three alleged victimizers. The boy was 13 years old at the time of his October 2011 suicide.

During the session, the city proposed an out-of-court settlement in the damages suit. The next of kin has yet to respond.

The city also filed with the three-judge panel a report — compiled in January by an independent panel set up to look into the suicide — that concluded that bullying by the boy’s classmates was the “direct cause” of his death.

The family filed a document noting that the city board of education had issued a guideline in March 2011 aimed at rooting out bullying at schools at an early stage. Earlier reports said both the board and the city had initially denied that the victim had been bullied, only to reverse themselves and apologize.

During the court session, the family argued that the guideline assumed that suicide could be a direct result of bullying and that school authorities knew their inaction may have contributed to their son’s death.

The document also noted that the victim had a bruised cheek and that two or more teachers were aware that he was probably being squeezed by his tormentors for money.

School authorities were aware of the bullying but failed to take effective measures to stop it, the family said.

  • The tendency that people hide the fact is the same as the Olympus incident. People tend to hide facts that are bad for them. Not just monitoring but also how to design the incentive system are important.

  • Hiroki Sano

    Bullying can happen to everyone, everywhere, so it is almost impossible to completely prevent it from breaking out. The controversial issue that all of Japanese people, not only those in the educational field, is how to save the lives of the victim.
    Firstly, establishing the solid relationship between students will stop further bullying. If you see your friend being bullied, you would go there to help your friend, wouldn’t you? On the contrary, some may think that they can be the next target of bullying, so they can’t interfere with them. I think it is a natural feeling that students have. Therefore, the atmosphere of not allowing bullying to happen is essential in making solid relationship between students.
    Secondly, teachers’ interventions are necessary to resolve the problem. Although, in the case of Otsu, they did not take any actions even they were aware of the bullying, it is no longer be forgiven.Students need help from teachers, but they cannot ask for it because of their self-esteem. Thus, when teachers get aware of that, they should take actions as early as possible.

  • Big issue is whether the bullying was the only factor. Did the child feel estranged from parents? Was the school responsive to the parents concerns? Did the child provoke the issue? Was it always the same bullies? Kids don’t just commit suicide because they are bullied; there has to be more to it for them to develop a thoroughly tragic state of mind that ending it could be conceived as a seemingly remedy. i.e. For a start, they would need to feel that this is how their long-life outlook is destined to be. Were their other issues for the kids.

    • Mark Garrett

      “Kids don’t just commit suicide because they are bullied”

      They do if they feel trapped and their situation is hopeless. There’s absolutely no doubt that Japan’s culture of acceptance and even encouragement contributes to it, as well as parents indifference, but bullying is a bigger problem in Japan than in many (most?) countries because of the school culture and model. Students stay in the same (home)room for the better part of every school day with the same classmates. There is very little time to escape their tormentors.

      It is true that bullying occurs everywhere, but in most western schools students change rooms for each subject as well as classmates. A student may dread 1st period math but look forward to 2nd period science. Also, for some reason which I cannot fathom, physical harm in the form of punishment and bullying (is there really much of a distinction between them?) is not only accepted, but approved. Teachers use corporal tactics to influence students behavior, so it’s only natural that the children will resort to the very same actions.

      The Japanese school model needs to be completely overhauled or we will continue to read these tragic articles far too often.

      • I feel you dropped the context with that rebuttal. I believe I was saying there is more to it.

  • GBO

    It is against human nature to see a student, a person that teachers are responsible for, being in such a pressure and turn a blind eye to the problem. It calls for a revision of values on ethics and even moral of Japanese society.

    Human beings are not supposed to be indiferent to the suffering of their class, mainly when their job description require them to protect the ones who depend on them for their safety. I hope we can go to the root of the problem and not be shallow about this continuous problem in our society.