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Otsu settles with family of boy bullied into suicide

Kyodo

The city of Otsu agreed Tuesday to settle a damages suit filed by the relatives of a 13-year-old boy who killed himself in 2011 after being bullied, agreeing to pay compensation and apologize for the way the school and the local board of education handled the matter.

Under the settlement reached at the Otsu District Court, the municipal government will pay ¥13 million in damages in addition to ¥28 million paid earlier as condolence money.

The relatives in February 2012 sued the city and three former classmates who had bullied the boy, demanding ¥77 million in damages. One year later, the municipal government acknowledged its negligence in responding to the case and expressed willingness to reach a settlement.

The damages suit against the three classmates continues.

The high-profile case led to the enactment in June 2013 of a law to help prevent bullying at elementary, junior high and high schools.

The boy jumped to his death from a condominium building where he lived in October 2011. The municipal board of education initially found no relationship between the suicide and bullying after the school surveyed all students in connection with the case.

However, the city later reopened its investigation after it was found some students indicated the boy was told to “practice killing himself.” An independent committee set up by the municipal government attributed the suicide to bullying in a report issued in January 2013.

In March 2014, the Otsu Family Court recognized violence inflicted on the boy by the three classmates and sentenced two to probation.

Tuesday’s settlement identified 19 instances of bullying, including beating and hiding the boy’s belongings, and urged the municipal government to apologize for the junior high school’s failure to respond to the bullying appropriately and for the board of education’s problematic response.

The city is to continue implementing anti-bullying measures and release information about the settlement on its website.