The parents of a boy who committed suicide earlier this month in Hyogo Prefecture have discovered that their son was being bullied by his classmates, despite the fact that school authorities reported that no bullying had taken place.
The news has reignited the national discussion over the detection and prevention of bullying in Japan's schools.
Bullying continues to feature heavily in Japanese headlines following the suicide of a 13-year-old high school boy in Shiga Prefecture in October 2011 and the subsequent creation of a bullying taskforce. However, Japanese media have reported on a series of incidents in which authorities were unaware of the bullying that was taking place in their schools, casting doubt on the government's ability to fully investigate the problem.
The latest such case is that of a 17-year-old high school student from Kawanishi, who committed suicide by hanging himself at his home on Sept 2, Sankei Shimbun reported. Following his death, the boy's school told his parents that there were no problems in his school life and that they were unaware of any bullying. The boy did not leave any written notes.
However, following his funeral, the boy's parents discovered a mourning letter written by a classmate and addressed to their son, which revealed that he had been bullied. The boy's parents contacted his school and were told that the school principal had also heard reports from other sources that the boy had been the victim of bullying.
Witnesses became aware of the bullying in the spring of 2012, the school said. Early indications are that the boy was called names and that dead insects were placed on his chair, Sankei reported. School authorities said they intend to conduct a survey of the boy's classmates in order to ascertain the scale of the problem.© Japan Today