In the wake of a court ruling last month ordering former junior high school classmates of a 13-year-old boy in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, to pay damages for their bullying that drove the boy to kill himself in 2011, education minister Masahiko Shibayama urged schools and boards of education across the country to proactively cooperate with investigations into bullying at schools and the suicides of bullying victims. That such a request has to be made more than seven years after the boy’s death indicates that the lessons of his case have not yet been sufficiently learned and that the purpose of the 2013 legislation enacted based on those lessons is not being fully shared among people responsible for combating the serious problem of bullying at schools.

Last month’s decision by the Otsu District Court was quite rare in that it recognized the causal link between the repeated bullying of the boy by his classmates and his suicide. Families of many of the school bullying victims who have killed themselves are reportedly frustrated with the difficulty in proving that the victims were driven to suicide by the bullying.

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