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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.

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