• Kyodo

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Top officials from the education ministry and the city of Yokohama met Monday to discuss how to better prevent school bullying in the wake of the harassment of a transfer student from Fukushima.

Hiroyuki Yoshiie, senior vice education minister, said during the meeting with Mayor Fumiko Hayashi that because there are young evacuees from radiation-hit Fukushima all around the country, the ministry will help give academic institutions “clear guidelines” to cope with bullying.

“I feel sorry that we were not able to fully understand the pupil’s situation, and staff at the education authority failed to cooperate,” Hayashi said. “We want to take preventive measures.”

Earlier this month, a third-party panel of the Yokohama Board of Education compiled a report recognizing that the boy, now 13, had been victimized by bullies and criticizing the slow response by the board and his elementary school.

The boy joined the school as a second grader in August 2011, five months after the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

He was called names such as “germ,” referring to the contamination caused by the nuclear accident, and was physically assaulted. He eventually started missing school when in the third grade, according to the report.

The bullying started immediately after the boy moved to Yokohama, but local education officials only started investigating the matter last December.

The school that he attended is suspected of ignoring a police report saying it was possible his classmates were bullying him and extorting money, according to people related to him.

Last week, the education ministry instructed the local board of education to investigate the case and make sure such problems do not recur. It also ordered school officials attending a nationwide conference to take better care of pupils who were affected by the Fukushima nuclear disaster and take swift measures against bullying of such students.

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