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Boy hit and killed by train left note saying he was bullied

32 Comments

A 13-year-old boy who was hit and killed by a train in Yahaba, Iwate Prefecture, left a note in which he said he had been the victim of bullying at school.

The boy jumped onto the tracks in front of an oncoming train at JR Yahaba Station at around 7:30 p.m. on July 5, Fuji TV reported.

On Tuesday, a teacher told police that he had been given a notebook by the boy in which he wrote that he had been kicked and choked. He also wrote: "I've decided upon the place I will die."

The boy's father, interviewed by Japanese media, said: "I knew that my son had been subjected to bullying at school, but I didn't know it was so bad that it would lead to something like this." He added that he didn't fully understand the severity of everything that occurred in his son's classroom.

On Tuesday night, the school held a meeting of teachers and parents, attended by about 360 people. The school principal spoke briefly about the deceased boy, but no mention was made of whether or not bullying had been a factor in the suicide.

The school will conduct a poll of students to ask them what they know about bullying incidents at the school.

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He added that he didn’t fully understand the severity of everything that occurred in his son’s classroom.

The fathers are often the most clueless, as they work long hrs & put their loyalty to their companies instead of family.

5 ( +12 / -6 )

The poor boy. So his family and teachers knew about it, and weren't helping him... A terrible story.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

They should held several meetings with the kids, so teachers could understand the social dynamics of that particular year. Through those, cultivate trust and provide an open and comfortable channel to bullied and witnesses denounce bullying.

Then, fine tune the teacher's perception and response over what's happening. Too much and too little reaction are bad things.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

This happens with increasing regularity! The number of incidents show teachers mainly turn a blind eye to bullying - when fatalities occur everyone pleads ignorance. How convenient....

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Japanese schools are too authoritarian. The out-dated kulture of senpai / kouhai guarantees bullying and hazing just like in the IJA. Parents who understand the fascistic mind-set undergirding the maintenance of discipline and group-think feel powerless to change the system while the unaware and clueless see nothing wrong, excusing and justifying the excesses to which Japanese organizations are prone, as "common sense" (joushiki) and explaining away the the harsh pressure felt by pupils overloaded with homework and deprived of the free time necessary for the development of a personality with a strong individual identity as a "virtue" (bitoku). Confrontation and criticism are anathema in this highly conformist society so the hope of an education system based on scientific principles of pedagogy that is liberal, creative,and FUN is a long, long way off. Unless parents take action nothing will change. This heart-breaking suicide hit close to home. I was on Yahaba station platform only yesterday visiting my son's school and I'm sickened by the waste of this youngster's life, another victim of bureaucratic bungling and the incompetence of edukators who worship at the altar of mindless conformity and subservience.

11 ( +14 / -3 )

Where to begin?

A teacher told police that he had been given a notebook by the boy in which he wrote that he had been kicked and choked and "decided upon the place I will die.”

Red flag number one. do something about, useless-ass teacher.

The boy’s father said: “I knew that my son had been subjected to bullying at school, but I didn’t know it was so bad that it would lead to something like this.”

Well I'm sorry but you damn well should have known - how many times does this happen? Almost every month there's a child killing themselves, and in most cases they say it's because they were bullied. For god's sake Japan, pull your head out of the sand and stop sweeping this (and other 'muzukashii' issues) under the rug. Of course it doesn't help that:

The school principal spoke briefly about the deceased boy, but no mention was made of whether or not bullying had been a factor in the suicide.

No, of course not, because that might give the impression that the principal, or Board of Education, are partly responsible, and we all know how deathly petrified Japanese people are of being seen as responsible for incidents. Hush hush, don't disturb the wa, move along.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

The school will conduct a poll of students to ask them what they know about bullying incidents at the school.

what good will this do?!?! another useless poll after a kid commits suicide? why not just bury your heads in the sand.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

On Tuesday night, the school held a meeting of teachers and parents, attended by about 360 people. The school principal spoke briefly about the deceased boy, but no mention was made of whether or not bullying had been a factor in the suicide.

See no evil. Hear no evil. Speak no evil.

The school will conduct a poll of students to ask them what they know about bullying incidents at the school.

Practice the above. Rinse and repeat.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

@kurisupisu "The number of incidents show teachers mainly turn a blind eye to bullying- when fatalities occur everyone pleads ignorance."

Parents are often guilty too due to lack of attention to their kids and plain negligence. I was quite familiar with school bullying since childhood and when my kids began to comply about bullying in their new school, I perfectly knew what to do.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Welcome to Cool Japan where bullying is considered normal, and necessary to "toughen" up children. They'll launch "investigations" and maybe conclude that bullying is a problem, but I wouldn't bet for anything to change, unless anyone has better alternatives, training my kids in martial arts is the only thing I can do right now, let them come!!

3 ( +6 / -3 )

@kibousha"training my kids in martial arts is the only thing I can do right now".

Bingo!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Bit of a shock this. I actually know the town (almost a village) where this occurred.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Such a sad story, the poor boy with no one to turn to. But as ever Japan is a bullying society from young to old dont expect anything to change.

R.I.P little man hope you found some peace and the bullies are reprimanded as is the school for turning a blind eye that resulted in this boy having no other option.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I have observed these incidents in Japan for the past 4 years, and as a foreigner come to see these occurrences with a different light and perspective. There is a major problem with social "expectations" or what is called "atarimae". There is very little "real" sense of "personal" responsibility and "shared" responsibility within much of Japanese society, but rather an "idealized" sense of self-righteousness and what I would call a false sense of pride based on what others may think are "ideal" values. One likes to judge others but based on what others may judge him by. Very few if any have principles of their own. And those that do often are "idealists" that lack pragmatism, forgetting to look at "reality".

Sadly most workers, teachers included, and even business owners and government officials only see the limits of their work and responsibility and not the "role" he plays in relation to the customers, patients, clients and in this case students and parents. Workers forget that their responsibility is personal as well as social and not just to and within the the position to which they are assigned. That is the problem with social structuring that exist in out host country where everything is "atarimae".

It appears that many people here point a finger at others without first looking at that hand, where three of his own fingers are pointing back at himself, no matter where he points. "Atarimae" is nothing more than a self-serving and self-preserving use of what "appears" to be a good and ideal social ethic or value or law, used to subordinate others. "Atarimae" or such "expectation" of what appears to be of higher level of something, only contribute to "shedding" one's personal and shared responsibility.

Looking at the larger picture, I see a problem with this society, which will continue to breed more such devastating incidents. That is all because of what I would label as "atarimae" syndrome or "atarimae" psychosis in Japan our host country.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

A teacher told police that he had been given a notebook by the boy in which he wrote that he had been kicked and choked and "decided upon the place I will die.”

Red flag number one. do something about, useless-ass teacher.

Unfortunately it wasn't number one. The news was saying that the kids had to turn in a notebook with a message to the teachers every day, and the kid had written about being bullied a number of times. When he wrote that he had decided where he would die, the teacher's response (in the notebook) was 'try hard on your test tomorrow'.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

for those blaming the parents... you dont seem ever to have had bullying experience on your own. Kids wont ask their parents for help... uselly they are good t hiding the fact that they get bullied... and in many cases adults cant really help.. unless they would let the kid transfer which also isnt a 100% safe way escaping bullying (also sometimes it isnt possible due to the ruling for public schools that you have to attend the closest to your place). Most Ideal way for kids would be to find a respected older student to cover for them (if they have no other choice than sticking to that particular school)

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

My daughter was bullied many times in her Elementary School days way, way back many moons ago. I decided to write the Principal and told him about the trauma my daughter have been suffering. Nothing from the Principal or het teacher was done. Now you see why many students commit suicide due to bullying in their school. I read one time here, that bullying is a part of growing up to be strong and cope up with society. YEAH !!!!! RIGHT !... What do you think if I will teach my children to fight them back, equipped them with things they can use to fight back and bully them back too. Har.. har..har..

So another student died cuz of bullying... who is next "kashira"

This bullying have not been given attention by JP Department of Education and School Principals....

2 ( +2 / -0 )

actually such things happen in many schools but unfortunately no one is taking the full responsibility for addressing such issues, for the parents as usual work comes first the family comes second, the teachers have no skills or the capacity to tackle the issue and the society and the politician they are sleeping as usual.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Welcome to Cool Japan where bullying is considered normal, and necessary to "toughen" up children.

Nothing cool here, and nothing normal. I take offense with the statement and I just wonder what the poster knows about bullying in other cultures/countries. It certainly is not a typical Japanese phenomenon. It IS a deeply saddening occurrence. One that makes me want to cry. Why does a precious life have to end like this? The teacher who read the boy's notes will never forget his/ her responsibility. And then an adolescent growing up in a family, an environment where he can't talk about his problems, nor seek for help, it boggles the mind. When my daughters of similar age were bullied we were quick to react. The teacher, culprits and parents were gathered and all was brought out into the open. Some cried, apologized and some looked defiant, but it was the end of the abuse. Failing to confront abuse and bullying is a responsibility of parents and educators and something they could regret all their lives.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

It (bullying) certainly is not a typical Japanese phenomenon

Sorry, I can't suspend my disbelief. Is it a Gaman deficiency?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Let's conduct a poll. Just in the nick of time. Not.

Very sad all round. 13-year-olds should not be doing this.

Society is really messed up if they are.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

SenseNotSoCommonJul. 08, 2015 - 10:49PM JST

It (bullying) certainly is not a typical Japanese phenomenon

Sorry, I can't suspend my disbelief. Is it a Gaman deficiency?

I believe bullying happens in every country. It's how the school, parents, and the victim reacts that is different for each country and culture.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

for those blaming the parents... you dont seem ever to have had bullying experience on your own. Kids wont ask their parents for help... uselly they are good t hiding the fact that they get bullied... and in many cases adults cant really help.. unless they would let the kid transfer which also isnt a 100% safe way escaping bullying (also sometimes it isnt possible due to the ruling for public schools that you have to attend the closest to your place).

Absolute rubbish. Kids DO come to their parents with everything IF they feel that they can. IF they feel that their parent(s) have their backs. Setting that relationship up in the first place is what is important. And then when they hit puberty - keeping them engaged. Asking how their day was. Watching them interact with other kids. Getting to know those other kids. Keeping a relationship going with other parents. Listening to the gossip. Identifying potential areas of trouble. Volunteering at the school. In short - staying engaged.

And adults can and DO help. I can name many circumstances within and outside Japan, but taking Japan for a moment as it is the place in question - you meet with the principal, you then meet with the school board, and if nothing is done, you then involve the police and withdraw your child from school. Schools in Japan go CRAZY when you do that. It makes them look bad. Some police refuse to help. So then you get a lawyer and have them threaten to sue the school if nothing is done. A letter like that costs less than 5000 yen. A friend right now has a futouko child in Tokyo. The board are scrabbling around to fix the problem including offering the option of transferring her to a new school. Another friend withdrew her daughter after bullying and told people she was going to homeschool - the school contacted her and begged her not to tell anyone what she was doing because it made them look inept.

Then you have good schools - there is one in Tokyo that employs a school counsellor, has anti-bullying posters up everywhere, operates a "buddy" system with older kids looking after younger ones, holds tri-annual meetings for parents and kids to state their bullying policy and smaller classroom workgroups talking about feelings and looking after each other (in the spirit of "we are a team") and holds regular anonymous surveys with the kids - results? Bullying has been virtual eliminated and what does crop up is stamped down immediately.

There is plenty a parent AND a school can do to support and protect a child - and this should always be their number one priority. But in J culture a lot of parents feel it is the schools responsibility, not theirs. Bullying is a fact at school. But no child has to suffer with it alone, unless they are raised to feel that they should.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

This is sad. I cannot beleive this. I also got information about this from the NHK TV news. To me, the boy who committed suicide asked for help. He wrote down his troubles in his open diary to his teacher. I totally cannot understand why the teacher didn't react? I doubt this teacher's quality as a teacher, also as an adult. I am sorry for this student's fate. If his teacher were a better one, he would have been helped. I am really sorry. Poor this boy.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Nakatsu Shinji "for those blaming the parents...you don't seem have had bullying experience on your own".

I had many years ago. And I came to sports hall instead of railway station.

"Kids won't ask their parents for help....usually they are good hiding the fact that they get bullied...and in many cases adults can't really help".

If parent pays no attention to child, then you are right. Kid would never tell about. It is important to find ways to understand and communicate to your children. My kids told me about school bullying right in time. We talked a lot. Then we came to "self-defense" club. After four months of intensive training process, twice a week, my kids deliberately met their bully with sidekicks and "asked some questions" by hands and legs. Sidekicks run away, leaving the bully with smashed balls.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Strangerland is right.

Student Ryou: "I feel that I am just tired of living. Do you mind if I dye (sic)? " Teacher: "What's the matter? Are you worried about the test? Pluck up and keep going."

RIP Ryou.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

A simple law would help here. Any student making even a passing reference to suicide or self-harm should be referred immediately, as in the same day, to a qualified psychiatrist. That way something's being done but the pressure's off the teacher, who didn't sign up for that kind of work....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The sad thing is that many teachers here are powerless and fear monster parents. If one were to suggest Toru were a bully you can bet their parents would be in the school demanding the teacher be fired. Teachers have very little support in dealing with these issues - be it from the school heads, the BOE or other parents. Schools here fear parents and that is why they keep their mouths shut.

The case in Osaka for example where the coach was beating the basketball captain. After he killed himself many parents sided with the coach. He wasn't fired nor was he charged. Many parents suggested that the kid wasn't tough enough. Now imagine a teacher knowing a kid is getting bullied. What does he do? Many parents here refuse to believe their kid is THAT child.

Parents here need to step up and stop ignoring their kids - be it the bullied kid or the kid bullying. However, bullying is learned behaviour so I doubt the parents of many bullies care that their kid is a problem.

Japan really needs to get rid of the kohai/sempai system. Engrained bullying where everyone is a victim. I often feel this is why many will just look the other way. That and they were being bullied if they say something.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"senpai" and "kohai" as used here may be a problem and the problem is in the "use" and not necessarily in the "relationship".

Just as the use of "teacher" to mean "instructor", " lecturer", "trainer", "guide" and even "leader", the problem appears to be in the way that relationship is being used.

People all over the world use the term "teacher" to mean "sensei" or person who lived before me to show respect. Obviously some, not all, do by their "experience" may have earned that title and respect. So the relationship had and may still have some value.

However, that is often misguided and misused by the person as well as those around that person for their own personal gains. Sadly that practice in "senpai" and "kohai" has taken a misguided turn and ended up as self-righteous right to use and abuse others. That has further progressed to physical, mental and other forms of harassment directly and indirectly forced upon the victim.

The society that we live in today, all over the world, face similar problems, where those in any organization are harassed from above, besides and below. In fact it is in all parts of every society. The only difference is that whether there is "self-control" on the part of the perpetrator/s.

For many youths in our current fast paced technological world growing up with little or no "guidance" from those with the full awareness of social relationships, social responsibilities and social values, are "clueless" as to what even constitute "harassment". Many who are in a position to guide, do not practice such social values on their own or are able to transfer that to the youths.

Could these incidents be considered an important "sign" to a social problem that must be addressed by the society as a whole and not just by the school or the Dept. of Education?

Couldn't the media (this one included) really play an important part in it?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

We must teach kids "ijimekkos" to fight back and learn to take control of their lives. Taking ones own life to escape pain is not an option. I am truly sorry for the loss

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The system needs to change for sure. As someone mentioned some schools though rare put up anti-bullying posters and actively have meetings to address issues. This needs to be standard in all schools. I have lived in Japan for 10 years and during this time I have seen countless articles like the one above. Is the Japanese Education board so ridiculously inept to change things? The whole school system is wrong here, not just about bullying but all the pressures of entrance exams and costs are way to extreme. Parents are under pressure to pay up, so their kids in turn are under pressure to perform. Sleep deprivation, stress also lead to suicidal tendencies. Teachers unfortunately are only there to help students pass tests. When in fact it should be in their power to put an end to bullying, it is their moral responsibility to educate life skills and ethics not just enforce 100% on a math test. They are under pressure to conform and process the next generation of office workers. Like those before them, its a never ending cycle. Some teachers stand up for their beliefs, like those that didn't sing the anthem at a school ceremony, (not saying that was right or wrong) but what happened to them?, they were fired and boycotted from joining other schools. Yes, they were compensated but only to keep them quiet.

Look at the facts Japan, you have a major problem in your schools. Parents and teachers need to talk more about their kids well being not only how to pass tests and milk parents for every penny they have. Parents sit down with your kids and talk about their school life, open them up, look for signs, don't parents nothing is happening.

Yes bullying is an everyday experience and yes some kids live through it and move on, I know I was a victim and also became a bully for a short time.

I have three kids, oldest is in Elementary school and too be honest if something happens I will insist on meetings with both teachers and the bully's parents.

RIP little man.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Heartbreaking!!

What is the official school policy? "you are Japanese. learn to endure! "???

I work in junior high and I find more than half of the teachers to be pretty pathetic and actually role models for the bullies. I'm especially talking about you, Japanese PE teachers.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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