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14-year-old Saitama girl commits suicide after being bullied online

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A 14-year-old school girl committed suicide last October after being bullied by her classmates on the Internet in Saitama City, the prefectural education board revealed Monday. According to officials of the education board, the girl hanged herself at her house on the morning of Oct 10.

She left a note in which she said she wished she could get revenge on the classmates who posted insulting messages on her online profile site.

The officials said the girl transferred to a junior high school in the city from Yokohama last June. Her two classmates posted insulting messages about her last July, but later apologized to her, according to board officials.

The girl's parents said they first thought their daughter committed suicide because they scolded her on Oct 9 over her test results. They didn't find the note until November.

The education board officials denied that the cause of the girl's suicide was bullying.

© News reports

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The suicide note put the cause as bullying but the education board officials denied that the cause of the girl’s suicide was bullying. Does anybody see a problem here besides me? Again using the permenent solution to a temporary problem.

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oh noes!! another suicide!

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The cause of everything in Japan is bullying.

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When will these people learn to stand up for themselves? People suicide in Japan for the smallest of reasons. Is this a reflection of the strength of character within the society?

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She killed herself by ending her life.

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techall-Initially the school board denied it was due to bullying. Just bad reporting

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14?...What a waste of life.

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she cudnt have committed suicide because of bullying, bullying is part of japanese culture therefore...............

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Gotta be little bit more to it than just getting bullied by a couple of classmates.Some mental problems perhaps ??

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Potsu,

Bullying in Japan is not quite what we're used to back home. It usually takes the form of an entire group of students doing the bullying, not just the neighborhood lout beating you up for lunch money after school.

It also involves, in many cases, marked social ostracizing, which, in a group-oriented society like Japan, can be a double whammy for hormonally active teenagers who are already trying to cope with just being teens, but have their troubles compounded by having to appear the same as the rest of the group.

It can take the form of ignore-fests, or “nakama hazure,” in which your group of former friends blatantly ignore you and exclude you from any and all activities, school-related or otherwise. Or it can manifest in the kind of insult-fests on student-run blogs that everyone knows the address to, including the victim, as in the case of the one that reportedly led to this girl’s suicide.

And of course, it can result in ten guys or girls meeting you in the bathroom during lunch break and taking turns beating the crap out of you.

Bullying in Japan is a mixed and varied bag of abuse that I doubt even many teenagers in the West are emotionally equipped to handle.

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I agree, Techall. The glaringly obvious problem with the Saitama BOE's statement is what seems to be a perpetual state of denial that permeates multiple levels of Japanese society regarding bullying in general.

After that rash of school bullying-related suicides last year and the year before, boards of education across the country responded with typical and normally admirable Japanese social engineering efficiency, instituting a number of nationwide initiatives to combat a problem that was become a rather disturbing trend.

The problem I see with these “campaigns,” however, is that too many people who spearhead the projects assume that the mere existence of a campaign, e.g., a coordinated effort to appear diligent in addressing a problem, is enough to eliminate what I think is a root cause of many forms of school bullying – namely a marked unwillingness on the part of students (and some teachers) to accept than some people are just . . . different.

Saitama BOE officials are loathe to admit that bullying might possibly still exist in their jurisdiction, because virtually every BOE in the country unanimously declared their various "Stop Bullying" campaigns a success, despite evidence to the contrary. Kids still bully each other and kids are still doing rash things as a result, like dropping out of school entirely because their schools don’t confront the actual bullies. But since suicides are down, the schools and BOEs don’t fret about the issue as much any more. They had a “campaign,” after all.

You can't eliminate bullying from schools entirely. That's just a simple reality of life when talking about teenagers interacting with one another. But you can at least have the courage to admit it occurs and take steps to mitigate the damage for victims.

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"Bullying"? In LA we called that gang violence. I guess "bullying" sounds more acceptable in Japan. "Hey, this is not a gang attack, we're just gonna bully you".

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Japanese kids, like Japanese adults, are fast to latch on to buzzwords and catch-all terms seen in the media. This goes for school life as well. If a kid is isolated their misery is palpable. I've seen it and I felt at a loss to try to get the other kids to stop isolating that other one.

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LFRAgain: Wicked posts, my man!

I would go even a little further and talk about how superficial, along with much else, such initiatives are; in other words, them simply saying they are going to do something is often enough in their minds, without actually doing it. Or, when they DO do it, it's usually limited to one small area, and the victims must 'volunteer' to help. You can see this with ANYTHING in Japan, and especially in regards to education. For English education in elementary schools, for example, the government simply announces that they wish to implement it in the curriculum from such and such year (it has been 'mandatory' for more than four years now, and yet you STILL see them announce that it will be mandatory in the future). They then tell the local BOEs to implement it, who are waiting from the Federal Gov't on steps for how to implement it, and nothing gets done except that they say they passed a law. For 'driving safety week' you do indeed see more police on the streets, and checking cars, etc., but they choose non-descript, average Joes and ignore the Bosozoku driving down the street directly in front of them. What's more, when the week is done they pat themselves on the back as though there need not be any more safety checks for the rest of the year.

Anyway, you catch my point. As you say, bullying cannot be eliminated altogether. But the 'initiatives' to stop kids from offing themselves due to bullying have to be implemented on a much wider scale and year around, to the point where teachers stop any bullying any time they see it, instead of ignoring it until a kid throws their life away and they tried to cover up the fact that they knew about the problem and did nothing.

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She left a note in which she said she wished she could get revenge on the classmates who posted insulting messages on her online profile site.

She sure showed them.

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damn only 14? RIP

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"What, she killed herself becasue of bullying, why we thought it was because we scolded her because of her test results!"

What horrible parents.

"No bullying occured."

What a horrible school board.

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What a very tragic commentary on Japanese society. The bullying was a contributing factor, but there is a lot more to this story than a bullying, and a scolding for school work. Very tragic indeed.

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14 year olds dont have the emotional maturity to cope with bullying, and so it can often have dire consequences. I feel for those who did the bullying, as they were immature but they will have this black mark with them forever. The school should have done more. And the BoE need to take stock.

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I agree on 2 points:

Bullying in japan is extremely strong. When you are a school girl you are part of a group and a sub group (kumi). If yoru school results are not good for instance you driv ethe group down an dall peopel want to exclude you and make everything they can to do so. Suicides ar ea common thing swhen teenagers believe they ar eworth nothing and especially if parents tell the same thing.

For instanec if your father goes to jail...children or teenagers will treat you as a murderer.

2) School susually deny bullying. They need money from parents or don't want to be ashamed. They don't want to hear about this and don't want to take the responsibility on their shoulders.

usually if teh child is not dead after trying to commit suicide parents will simply change the school or move away

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if you get bullied at school and things are crap at home and your not made of strong stuff and there is no one to talk too.....

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poor kid.

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Hope the parents of the bullies were informed of this news. Too late to make a difference, but it is always good to know what you've raised.

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Don't commit suicide! Air Run Wesker on facebook, has created many groups dedicated to anti-bullying... not for the purpose of revenge... but anyone who is being bullied online would find it useful!

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Bullying people is part of Japanese culture. The story of this poor girl is really sad. In this case, it was just her classmates who bullied her - in some cases, the teacher is also known to join in with them in bullying a student. There was one case I remember a few years ago where the class, including the teacher, put funeral flowers on a student`s desk and then totally ignored the student when she arrived at school. She also committed sucide. What a sick country.

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suicide is never the answer to one's problems. something has to be done to prevent the vicious/arrogant from preying on the docile/humble. once all of the good children have killed themselves, we'll be left with only the scum.

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I'd qualify that: "Suicide is never the answer to a child's problems".

Some adults should really consider the option.

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Bullying in Japan is a mixed and varied bag of abuse that I doubt even many teenagers in the West are emotionally equipped to handle.

Not quite. While bullying probably happens across most cultures, kids in the West seem to have a stronger sense of self, stronger social skills and more access to social/mental services than Japanese kids.

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Collective punishment is part of the education system in Japan and it leads to bullying. If one player on a team is busted for trying a five finger discount at 7/11 the entire team is punished. Incredible! The teacher is likely to disband the entire team or make them all run another 10 kms because one kid did something. Nobody wants to get punished for something they didn't do so the kids at school will use force against anyone they think might do something that could result in collective punishment. Last year, my daughter's teacher tried to force all the students to go to school during summer vacation because a handfull had not finished some kind of report. My wife and I are "leaders" in the PTA and the PTA soon quashed that idea. Fine, punish the ones that don't do their work but punishing the "good" kids will only bring more problems.

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Bullying people is part of Japanese culture.

Agreed. You can see examples of this on various levels of the society. Shame culture indeed.

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i saw the school's principal on NHK's 21:00 English broadcast and wondered if he would've done more to prevent these sorts of things, if he also had to commit ritual suicide when a student killed themself. typically, he only shrugged and said: "i had no idea this sort of thing was happening in my school". maybe that's the answer. if one of your charges kills themself, the homeroom teacher and the principal must perform a public seppuku.

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funny thing is... after all these years after WWII... theyre babies. Babies. RIP kid, you didnt deserve it.

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I don't mind people making lite of 'emselves for entertainment...but people should not build their pleasure on the suffering of others....

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Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.

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Bullying happens everywhere and Japan is not special or unique. I do think however that there are more weak people here judging by the suicide rate.

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I reckon there should be free support by telephone or online to help kids who feels like this poor girl.

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I think that the bullying must be more intense in Japan than elsewhere. I was bullied as a kid, but only became stronger because of it. In the end, I ended up ending all bullying in the school by becoming the one person nobody could ever mess with - no bully won any fights against me in the end. And it only lasted to the end of elementary school. After that, no more bullying at all.

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I was bullied as a child. Bullying should not be allowed either on the playground, in school or online. Violaters should be prosecuted.

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She left a note in which she said she wished she could get revenge on the classmates who posted insulting messages on her online profile site.

I hope she knows she can't get revenge when she's dead. Unless there's some sort of crazy Japanese curse I haven't learned about yet.

The education board officials denied that the cause of the girl’s suicide was bullying.

Are you SERIOUS?

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Being bullies verbally is pretty mild in my books. I had it all through High School and I put an end to it. In Japan with their heiwaboke and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, Rose Colored Glasses etc are not equipped to deal with anyone who directly confronts them verbally. I've seen this in people not able to face you when there is a problem, and those are adults, as well as in personal relationships as well. Japanese in general (Whoops would hate to generalize...everyone says its a sin.) can't deal face to face with a problem and this is why mere verbal bullying succeeds. Once they can learn to deal with problems and fight words with words then maybe their society will get better. Until then this will happen more unfortunately. The bulliers should get the ratan cane.

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Not quite. While bullying probably happens across most cultures, kids in the West seem to have a stronger sense of self, stronger social skills and more access to social/mental services than Japanese kids.

Why do you think that is?

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Bullying happens everywhere and Japan is not special or unique.

Seems the question here is whether bullying in Japan is a just a behavior problem, or if there is a cultural part to it too. If usaexpat is correct and Japan is the same as everywhere else, then the solution is for people, schools etc, to get their heads out of the sand and deal with the problem. If others are right and bullying is part of the culture, then nothing is going to change unless people start to examine some of Japan's cultural beliefs and attitudes (ie. what exactly is "harmony"?). And that level of self-examination probably doesn't happen in any country, not only Japan.

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I am sorry I heard what the two girls wrote her and if that is enough for her to kill herself then I am less sympathic. During my school days I got Oreo wrappers, spit in the face, pushed down stairs, and having to fight usually a gang of people, how about giving a little more backbone to kids here. There was no way I was going to end my life for any stupid kids. Maybe, school needs not to be everything in a kids life. For all the crap I got at school my extra-cirricular activities kept me sane. I thank the YMCA and Four H clubs, also AYSO and ll the rest. The only time I bowed out was when a friend of mine took four baseball bats to the head and his attackers the next day told me I was next. I got straight on train to my Mom's work and told her I wouldn't step in that school again no matter what. Not all kids are the same but really a little more iron in the back would be nice.

Still the translator could have mis-translate what the e-mail messages said. Though two news reports said the same thing.

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Saitama got it bad. It must one of the most violent places in the world, up there with the Middle East, Afirca, and Brazil!

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Keeping in mind that everyone is not the same. I believe bullying makes kids stronger. Hell, bullying doesnt stop at being a kid so if you cant hack it at a young age you are in for a treat as you get older.

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MHiromi - A variety of reasons. In short, different cultures have different values.

Group thinking seems to be the norm in Japan. People spend a lot of time worrying about what other people think. Even most adults I talk to are extremely sensitive to what people think/say about them. They seem to have little self confidence. Perhaps these are by-products of a shame culture.

Students are so busy going to school, studying for entrance examinations, joining a club, studying more at juku and dealing with the parents mantra of "study study study". It leaves little time to actually figure out who they are as an individual, figure out what makes them happy, develop interpersonal skills, learn how to deal with failure, figure out their strong/weak points, develop a strong relation with parents (of course dad is at hostess bars drinking until 11pm) etc.

There is also a lot of "amae" in Japan. The culture almost seems to encourage immaturity.

As for social/mental health services...its no secret Japan is very far behind in this area. Most Japanese I talk to think people can overcome mental illness by simply "doing their best". Also shame and denial are factors that prevent most Japanese from asking for help.

Im sure there are more factors, as it is a complex issue, but these are the ones that come to mind.

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"Bullying happens everywhere and Japan is not special or unique."

Yes, but the SHAME culture of Japan IS unique. Thus, it can be deducted that, though bullying happens across the globe, bullied kids' reaction to said bullying here is also very unique.

So, I might add, is the lack of recognition and prevention/punishment for bullying here.

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Bullying is evil, i should know i suffered as a little boy. I was called poof duck, because i was obvioulsy gay and overweight.

If my parents and grandparents didn'T support me 100%, i would have considered suicide. This story is so sad, a young death always brings tears to ones eyes.

I hope measures can be taken, so others like this poor young girl can get some support.RIP.

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This is a topic very close to my heart for several reasons, as a victim, as a parent, as a teacher and as a sister of a victim who badly suffered well into adulthood.

But any comments I have to make would probably start a war so I would just like to say "Medievaltimes for Prime Minister"! your posts have summed up beautifully everything that is a factor in this scourge on society.

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I guess I am confused too. I was bullied while growing up. It was always by older kids. It stopped but growing up it was just part of being a kid. I don't think there is one person that can say they were never bullied. What confuses me is how normal that every one here is making it sound. I am sure that Parents, Schools, Teachers, let me just say every one knows that Bullying in Japan is a big problem. Why are we not hearing about what is being done to prevent this? I mean this is Japan. I am used to there being a solution to any problem. I mean I don't care if it is a knee jerk reaction. It doesn’t make sense to me to say that it is normal in Japan that a child that is bullied kills themselves. If it is then when the next child does it there shouldn't be any cry of out rage. It makes no sense to get all upset about it as a society if nothing is being done about it. Where are the parents? Are they active in the child’s life? Do they have a relationship with the child other than feeding them and giving them a place to sleep? Something more needs to be done.

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Part of the problem is precisely that spread of the word 'ijime' across the TVs and internet. The more the word gets spread around, the more of a phenomenon it appears to be, more of a thing that is either there or not, black and white - when in fact it is an amorphous thing that can be subtle or blunt. In fact, ijime doesn't mean 'bullying' in the western sense of beating on someone or teasing them; it also means isolating them socially by whatever means.

I had kids playing Monopoly, and one had a bad streak of luck and went to jail twice or three times in a row. He said be was being 'ijimerareta'. Being bullied by the universe? Come on. This kind of misuse of a term reflects poor understanding of the responsibility and effect of bullying, and in turn leads to ineffective measures against it.

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