Bullying and violence increased in Japanese schools, according to an annual education ministry survey, particularly for younger students. Reported cases of bullying at elementary schools rose to a record high of 118,805 in fiscal 2013, exceeding 100,000 for the second consecutive year. Student violence, meanwhile, at elementary schools exceeded 10,000 cases for the first time since the ministry started its annual survey in 1997.

While better reporting of incidents surely explains some of the increase over the past year, it also likely indicates incidents were grossly under-reported in past years. Better handling of bullying and violence is urgently needed if schools are to continue to provide their basic function of education. The larger number of cases at elementary schools is particularly worrisome. While it is better the issue is no longer being ignored or covered up, the upward trend suggests the full extent of the problem may not yet be fully exposed.

Violent incidents at elementary and junior high schools rose by 3,500 cases, to 59,300 total. At elementary schools alone, violence increased to a record high of 10,896 cases. Violence between children increased by 30 percent and violence against teachers by 50 percent. The number of bullying cases was highest in the first year of junior high school, over 27,000. However, nearly every grade from first to sixth in elementary school reported over 20,000 cases of bullying.