National / Social Issues

Niigata elementary school teacher calls Fukushima evacuee a 'germ'

Kyodo

A student who fled the Fukushima nuclear crisis in March 2011 has been absent from school for more than a week since a teacher added “germ” to his name when addressing him in late November, a local education board in Niigata Prefecture said Friday.

The fourth-grade elementary school student in the city of Niigata told the teacher, in his 40s, before the summer holidays that he was upset because other pupils were teasing him by adding “germ” to his name.

According to the board of education, the teacher then did the same thing while addressing the boy in class on Nov. 22, just five days after the boy spoke with the teacher again about the issue.

Nov. 22 was also the same day a strong earthquake struck off Fukushima in the early morning, reminding many of the March 2011 mega-quake and tsunami that triggered the meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

On Nov. 24, the boy’s parents complained to the school, and other teachers interviewed every student in the class five days later.

“Despite being approached by the pupil for help, the teacher said something extremely inconsiderate and inappropriate,” a board of education official said.

The case follows an earlier report of bullying in Yokohama, where a 13-year-old evacuee from Fukushima was verbally and physically attacked. The elementary school and local education board failed to offer meaningful support in that case, a third-party panel found.