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The recent suicide of the Osaka high school basketball team student who had been regularly hit by his coach is a sad manifestation of one aspect of Japanese culture: intolerance. This takes the form of ignoring or excluding those who are deemed undesirable to the group. Often, bullying is involved as well.

Working as an ALT (assistant language teacher) in junior high, I often saw one student at a time being berated by two or three teachers simultaneously in the corridor at break time. While I never saw any violence, it was a form of excessive intimidation. Surely one teacher would’ve sufficed, or a simple visit to the principal’s office.

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