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Bullying keeps youth suicides high in Japan

By Megumi Lim

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Saddening. I pray they get something fundamental done to annihilate bullying "culture", otherwise such photos will keep on happening.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Rima Kasai, 13, poignant story.....

Family releases poignant photo of deceased bullying victim....


Schools need to enforce a zero tolerance approach and policy to bullying. Out the bullies, name and shame, involve the families. Bullies torment and harass there victims for a reason.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

I don't think "no tolerance" approaches are effective or realistic. I'm not saying that punishment shouldn't be a tool. It should. But conflict resolution programs present further effective tools that schools can turn to. Restorative justice and peer mediation programs are not so well understood in Japan but are regular now in many parts of the world. Bringing about a culture of peace in the school should be the goal. Let's not give up on these kids.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

I have a suspicion that there isn't significantly more bullying in Japan than other countries but as the article mentions, there is significantly higher pressure to conform and be exactly like everyone else, which is of course impossible. So, taking on bullying is not completely ineffective and it should be done but little will actually change in terms of the destruction of young lives until this insane forging of cookie-cutter people is put to an end. My heart goes out to the young people of this country who fall outside the narrow definitions. When once you could find sanctuary at home if you were lucky, now because of our increasingly dense social grid (social media) there would seem to be no refuge.

16 ( +16 / -0 )

J-Dake: "I have a suspicion that there isn't significantly more bullying in Japan than other countries..."

There is significantly more acceptance of it, and a vast difference in the "see no evil, hear no evil" approach to it... until a death is involved. Then you see the vast difference as well in the inability to accept responsibility and complete failure to then do anything about it except promise it won't happen again.

Japan has the laws, it just, and this goes for the whole spectrum, needs to start enforcing them. I have heard countless times how, when I suggest a zero tolerance policy as one way of dealing with bullies, the bullies "have a right to education". The same people who say it can never answer me when I ask about their victims' right to live, or the rights of other students to learn in a bully-free environment (or as much as possible).

Expel bullies permanently, and if the bullying is sever enough, arrest and charge them as adults. That might start putting an end to the problem. But given that bullying is rampant in this nation from childhood well into the senior years, they would never even consider it.

5 ( +12 / -7 )

A zero tolerance policies to bullying and harassment doesn't necessarily lead to harsh sanctions and retribution.

A whole range of  measures can be introduced. From Kosuke Isogai, a sixth-grade leader of a patrol team at his school, to shallots conflict resolution programs and peer mediation. All preventive more than punitive. If left uncheck the behaviour will enter the work place. In the UK Harassment and Bullying is a criminal offence. Where the Company as well as the bully can be herald accountable through the justice system

1 ( +2 / -1 )

"Kosuke Isogai, a sixth-grader and leader of a patrol team at his school in a Tokyo suburb, leads members through the school chanting slogans such as let's prevent bullying together and we will not tolerate bullying"

While I'm happy they're not cheering on politicians and the passage of security legislation, this is still creeps me out a bit. Just smacks of Mao's Red Guards.

J-Dake: "I have a suspicion that there isn't significantly more bullying in Japan than other countries..."

You're probably right to a point, but as the article says, it's the group-oriented bullying here that destroys kids. My Japanese niece was completely ostracized her first year at a highly ranked private JHS. No one would speak to her or simply acknowledge that she existed. As an American, my idea of bullying is some guy wants to fight you at the bus-stop. Maybe no one is going to try to stop him but then again the other 25 kids in your class aren't going to ignore you either. My niece faced utter and complete isolation for an entire year. No doubt the majority of her classmates weren't bad kids but not a single one crossed that picket line of twisted abuse. That's what's wholly warped about Japan.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

What ever happened to punching the bully in the face and ending their trouble making in an instance.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Bullying is present in all levels of Japanese culture, not just in the youth. The business culture is built on intimidation and threats, which leads to the excessive overtime scenario, often resulting in suicide. The disciplinary system in schools is also built on the same structure. Most youth grow up with very frail and immature emotional states and are unable to defend themselves either verbally or physically. This emotional state follows through into business life as well. While it's all well and good to attempt to stop the bullying happening, they also need to assess the emotional immaturity of so many people. Bullying is not a new thing, nor is it specific to Japan, but it seems many more young people are unable to deal with it emotionally in recent years. They need to stop coddling kids and toughen them up emotionally.

0 ( +8 / -8 )

@Andrew Crisp - Because a punch in the face is a lot easier to recognize than bullying and easier to punish. "

If someone is able to punch a bully, the 'bullying' must not be so bad, but let's punish the person who threw the punch."

This is what would happen in many cases.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

There is significantly more acceptance of it, and a vast difference in the "see no evil, hear no evil" approach to it... 

Hmm, I'm not sure if that's possible to verify. I remember issues regarding schools back home claiming that they "didn't have a bullying problem", which was obviously a case of deliberate ignorance to pretend the schools were better than they were.

One problem with bullying is that frequently it happens outside of lessons/classrooms when students are on their own. Unless schools are equipped with cameras and microphones everywhere, teachers are in the difficult position of dealing with "he said, she said" - or the incident simply isn't reported.

As for punishment, expulsion is the last resort. There are other steps to take before then. Remember that if you expel a bully, they're only going to go to another school. You can't just stick them in a black hole for the rest of their lives.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

It’s right through society The strong kohai, senpai dynamic is easy to abuse.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Nothing will materialize from this until the entire archaic culture is scrubbed from memory. Otherwise, kindly move on, nothing to see here!!

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Surely the best place to start is by imprisoning the guilty teachers. 5 years for failing to report or prevent bullying & 15-20 for active participation sounds fair to me.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Did I just read that teachers participated in a mock funeral for one of their students?

Where do I throw up?

..........And I promised myself yesterday I wouldn't read the news from now on........

12 ( +13 / -1 )

It happened to me in the "corporate world" in Japan, but I fought back. It turned out the teacher had a history of bullying issues, but I was the first to actually take action. I brought documentation and recordings to the principal and she was suspended. Just before coming back, I left. Her face was frozen after my report and didn't bother me again.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Adulthood's lens of hindsight makes it easy for many to forget just how tough being on the receiving end can be for children. Adults have seen firsthand how so many traumas of childhood fade away with the years. But for children who aren't old enough to have experienced "moving on," and whose options are limited (can't quit and find a new job...can't move to a new city...), they can feel eternally stuck in the only world they've ever known, with no sight of refuge.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

The main difference I've observed between bullying here and elsewhere, is that in Japan NOBODY will stand up for the bullied. In most places even other children or other will rally against a bully if it's blatant. Sometimes I'm shocked at how nobody will lift the initial finger.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Parents should dump the TV or severely restrict its use so that they can get into and keep communication with their children. And teachers, instead of standing on a soap box, should GET INTERESTED IN their students as people, LISTEN to them and get into meaningful TWO WAY COMMUNICATION with them.

Lack of communication isolates people and leaves them alone with their thoughts. For some, this is NOT a good idea. This problem could largely be solved by communication.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I think zichi is right in that a lot of the problem is psychological attacks, not physical harm. The best-known form of ijime in Japan is "nakama hazure", exclusion from the group, a classic form of passive-aggressiveness. In this case, the target may simply appear to be a loner rather than the victim of the vindictive behaviour of others. Japan is of course home to many martial arts, so there are ample chances out there for any child who is bullied in simple physical terms to learn how to parry blows and land a few back, the classic "I stood up to the bully" story you hear in the West. I don't think martial arts work when you're getting hardcore passive-aggressiveness, the silent treatment, gaslighting, ostracizing, etc. School and school-centered activities utterly dominate Japanese children's lives, so if there is a problem there, the pressure can simply build and build.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

The issue isn't what schools can do as they can only address after the fact. The issue is why kids bully other kids and what cues they are taking from their parents or just taking the initiative themselves, and what education they are receiving to stop that. It's a feedback loop encompassing many links in the chain so where it starts doesn't matter as much as starting and doing something that creates teaching moments that kids will learn from

3 ( +3 / -0 )


You said...

Surely the best place to start is by imprisoning the guilty teachers. 5 years for failing to report or prevent bullying & 15-20 for active participation sounds fair to me.

Dude that is the most irrational thing I've heard in awhile!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The kizuna is strong here, bullies are protected, and fighting back means you're the peace breaker ... "why can't you just accept being bullied and ganbaru like everyone else !?!"

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I think a big problem comes from parents and schools not getting involved in difficult talks. For example, i had 1 student in 5th grade that was bullied for smelling badly. I tried to protect him but he honestly did stink and i was also trying to keep my distance without being obvious. Another example of a girl that was extremely hairy being called a gorilla. For the mercy of the Gods i couldnt understand why the parents wouldnt shave her or wax her etc. There are a million other examples like these i have noticed over my 10 years in public schools. Please parents, be proactive. please teachers, have these talks with these brainless parents. I honestly put more tan 70% of the blame on the parents and 30%on the teachers for turning a blind eye.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

wtf, I agree. I think most here wrote very good replies. All I know is this is so sad, and absolutely must be dealt with, everywhere! All over the world, people are bullied, but it is surely done at a different level than America. I pray this decreases. It'll never totally stop, but needs to be addressed.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

So every day for the past 10 years (and no doubt longer), roughly 1 kid under the age of 18 has killed him/herself in Japan. Every day. That is very sad. It would be impossible to stop all such suicides, but family and friends have an obligation to look out for the signs. If they don't know what the signs are, they need to learn.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

My prayer is that Japan's psychological and sociological systems develop into a definitive care system. There must be more interventions with families of both sides and teacher training. Taking people who can pass a test is not sufficient for teaching. When applicants past "the test' they shoud be submitted to rigorous training to include a few hours of child psychology. I have seen the teachers been bullied and are totally unaware of the games "rotten kids play". Of course, I agree that it all starts at home, but let's face it, fathers are bread winners and mothers are chauffeurs. I've even seen grandparents chastise the schools for ruining their grands. Everyone wants to be "kawai" and no one wants to stand-up for the defenseless silent suffered. Japan needs an academy or boarding school for truants and bullies. That's the only place that a true no-tollerance policy can be carried out. Parents, teachers, and the government appears unprepared or unable.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

To summarize the article, in 1986, a 13 y.o. boy hanged himself after being bullied by students AND teachers, in 2003, the number of suicides peaked at 34,427, in 2013, they FINALLY passed an anti-bullying legislation, then in 2015-16 we had 224,540 cases of reported bullying, and now this Director of "whatever" for the Ministry of Education says: "I don't think the law has been functioning effectively...." .......duh! ....and now we have this case in Tokyo where they make STUDENTS take the lead in preventing bullying?!?!?! To the parents, teachers, schools, and government: Stop being so ignorant, negligent, and irresponsible. Stop it already.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Well said, Disillusioned (and many other excellent, pertinent comments here). Once again the only millennia-old answer is shoganai.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I think the whole bullying thing is engraved into the Japanese psyche at a fundamental level due to the conquest at the hands of Americans in WW2.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Nan ferra

Yiu may be due for a rethink in general.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

kohakuebisu and others have said it. That's why I think it's hard to find the perpetrators. It's easy to say "expel the bullies!" but what about when the whole class is complicit in shunning the victim?

The mind games and passive aggressive tactics kids learn from the adult world around them. Apply those behaviors to a very insular group of people (school class) who are not yet independent and without fully developed frontal lobes and you get absolute hell for the kids at the receiving end--though you may never "see" hard evidence of it going on.

I must agree some aspects of Japanese culture are definitely ripe for abuse, ripe for the victim and problems being ignored until the breaking point.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

That photo of the father holding the picture of his daughter just broke my heart. This is a tragedy. I find it hard to believe that there is no will or innovation in schools to stop this crap cold. Zero tolerance for cruelty. Tangible rewards for students who document (everyone has a damn phone, so clandestinely tape record verbal bullying, video record what can be video recorded of physical bullying). Seriously, start offering $$ for video or recorded evidence of classmates being bullied. Get this crap done with. No kids should die over such brutality.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Make that "digitally" record. Not tape. My age is showing. Old verbal habit.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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