YOKOHAMA – Eight households that evacuated from Fukushima following the 2011 nuclear disaster said their children have experienced bullying at their new schools, according to a survey of 61 families suing the government and the nuclear plant operator.
Of the 61 households, 30 have children in elementary or junior high school, and eight said their children had been verbally abused or even physically assaulted at schools in and around Yokohama, according to sources involved with the lawsuit.
One of the sources quoted a plaintiff as saying that person was “unaware of a causal relationship between evacuation and bullying.” But the source also noted there may also be more bullying because some children don’t want to talk about being bullied.
“In reality, it seems there are more cases,” the sources said in a statement.
Lawyers conducted the survey after it was revealed last month that a 13-year-old in Yokohama was bullied by classmates after evacuating from Fukushima, and called “germ” and extorted for money while at elementary school.
That bullying case drew public attention, prompting the Yokohama Board of Education to investigate.
Among the children of the eight households citing bullying in the survey, a male student was told such things as “Keep away from us!” and “Fukushima people are idiots,” while attending a junior high school in Kawasaki, the sources said.
The survey did not count as bullying cases in which parents said their children did not get accustomed to their new schools or could not make friends, the sources said.
In the lawsuit filed with the Yokohama District Court, 174 plaintiffs from 61 households are demanding ¥4.07 billion ($34.4 million) from the government and the Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., the operator of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant where three reactors melted down after a massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.