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Otsu mayor apologizes to father of bullying victim who killed himself

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The mayor of Otsu City in Shiga Prefecture on Wednesday apologized to the father of the 13-year-old boy who killed himself after being bullied at school last October.

The boy's 47-year-old father was accompanied by his lawyer during the 90-minute meeting with Otsu Mayor Naomi Koshi, which was open to the media.

Koshi admitted that the school and the Otsu Board of Education were lax for not taking action to prevent the bullying and called their investigation into the suicide shoddy, TBS reported.

The father has filed a damages suit against the school and board of education which initially said there was no link between the bullying two weeks before the boy's death last Oct 13, even though two questionnaires given to students after the boy's suicide revealed that at least 60 students had witnessed the bullying.

Last week, both the school and board reversed their stance and said they now believed bullying led to the boy killing himself by leaping from a building.

At Wednesday's meeting, the two sides disagreed over the formation of a third-party panel to investigate the circumstances leading up to the suicide.

Mayor Koshi said the panel of experts will hold private meetings, but the boy's father said the panel cannot be handpicked by the city, TBS reported. He demanded that the family be allowed to nominate experts from outside the city. He also said the meetings should not be closed to the public and media.

Meanwhile, police on Wednesday will begin interviewing the boys who wrote in the questionnaires that they witnessed the bullying. According to the answers, three bullies punched the boy in the toilet, forced him to eat dead bees, pulled down his pants and taped his mouth.

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Mayor Koshi said the panel of experts will hold private meetings, but the boy’s father said the panel cannot be handpicked by the city, TBS reported. He demanded that the family be allowed to nominate experts from outside the city. He also said the meetings should not be closed to the public and media.

Keep fighting Dad! I'm with you on this one. Don't let the city run and keep it public! This is the only way to ensure impartiality.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Interesting point about the disagreement of the panel. If there's nothing to hide, then it shouldn't matter who is on it. The title should reflect this, instead of the apology...apologies aren't news; putting the focus on them gives them weight that they simply don't have anymore, in today's world.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Typical. The guy making the apology is in no way responsible. Those responsible are saying/doing nothing.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Indeed Lucabrasi. Again, where are the parents of the bullies? Why aren't they apologizing? Poor parenting is what caused this. Name and shame them. In Japan, most parents of the accused apologize. THREE sets off parents and not a word. Three sets of parents and based on what has come out in the news, some of the moms have complained that THEIR sons lives are being wrecked by this. Add in dad getting in the way with the police... clearly these parents needs to be punished for their role in this.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Mayor Koshi said the panel of experts will hold private meetings, but the boy’s father said the panel cannot be handpicked by the city, TBS reported. He demanded that the family be allowed to nominate experts from outside the city. He also said the meetings should not be closed to the public and media.

I agree with Yubaru. Gambare dad! Fight all the way until they listen to you!!

8 ( +8 / -0 )

All the responsible people knew about it, they just didn't want to get involved. Shame on the teachers, school principal, school board members, and the police. How can you show your face in public?? These people should have a poster size photos displayed in public places so everyone will know who they are.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

The Otsu Board of Education should be called the Otsu "Bored" of Education.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Apologies are cheap, do something about it and do it good.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Otsu city just keeps on disgracing itself. Who cares about mayor's apology? It's worthless, since he's not a party to the tragedy.

That school is disgusting.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

That poor father. It must be the hardest time in his life yet he was to battle through this. Don't give up, man! Make something good come of it!

6 ( +6 / -0 )

all form and no meaning. you go DAD - there are so many people that stand behind what you are doing.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Those kids should be charged with manslaughter at the minimum. But wait here they don't punish troubled youth, they are too worried about their rights instead of the victims.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Surely, it is a just a matter of time before we read about the next student suicide that will be attributed to bullying. Let's try to picture this young person now living in our imaginations. before he or she kills herself. What is going on in their life now? What can society, government policy makers, and school administrator do to identify this young person before he or she commits suicide, and what can we all do to prevent it?

What do we learn from these suicides that can help us avert future ones? What positive actions can we make that will have measurable result in preventing suicide?

I asked my college aged son if he had been the victim of bullying. He said he both bullied, and was bullied. I had no clue of either.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

That Apology is worthless it's just empty words,The bully's need to be punished for their actions

As a father I just found out that my son has had some issues with bullying and he's only 4 it's looks like these like thugs start early.

Then my wife spoke to teachers she was told it's was a "fighting game" .eh !! If you turn a blind eye to it now you are just causing problems later, Needless to say I have a few words to say to the teachers and I wasn't as "nice" about it.

Bully's are cowards they need groups to feel big ..

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The mayor is a young female. She was probably pressured into apologizing by her advisors. Had this news not gone out of hand or become a huge scandal, no one would have apologized.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Ganbare otoosan!

You must continue fighting, so bullying will be stopped at schools!

Those kids and their parents should be taken to judgement. Those irresponsible parents which allow their kids to bull others!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

How the hack Japan is becoming HKSAR now !!!!! The Government did nothing until there is severe consequences from a public event ~ No, please! HK's government is now one of the lamb-est one in the world, and Japan should not be like this, not even one tiny tint!

Heartfully support you, otoosan!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Behind this dad 100%, give them hell.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Keep it public and arrest the principal and the homeroom teacher IMMEDIATELY. If the City of Otsu is sued, collect back from the parents of the bullies. Take into account the past "good deeds" of the homeroom teacher and principal, but ARREST the PRINCIPAL and HOMEROOM TEACHER now.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The parents of the bullies should be forced to take "parenting classes" and do "community service" after reimbursing the City of Otsu for damages.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Force both the Ministry of Education and the National Police Agency Chief to make a public apology for failing to take the father's complaint initially.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Require the bullies to undergo a psychological evaluation, do "community service", transfer them to a different school, and peer them up with positive role models so they can reflect on their acts. These are still children in which the parents are ultimately responsible.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Make all of Japan in particular and the world in general stop bullying by having a "Stop Bullying or Harmony Day!" Bullying needs to be stopped (whether face-to-face or online). Let's make it happen.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

http://www.stopbullying.gov/laws/index.html

Japan needs to set up "Anti-Bullying Laws & Policies".

I see someone apologizing every week like ritual on JT. Unreal! It does not reverse aything what has happened. It is nice to acknowledge the wrong first, and then move forward for the solutions for your children and for you.

This weblink I am introducing listed above applies to school and work place. Hope you guys can come up wh something similar to this to make your place as a better place to live. Good luck.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

He demanded that the family be allowed to nominate experts from outside the city. He also said the meetings should not be closed to the public and media.

Good call Mr. Mayor. Without a public forum, there can't be public debate -- something there needs to be more of in Japan.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Meaningless apologies are an easy way out. The fathers demand for an outside panel and public hearings are entirely reasonable. He should not let the mayor weasel out with a cheap apology.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I know this is a tragic incident and it has caused a lot of controversy throughout the Japanese education system, but the bullying this kid went through is normal behavior for boys at that age. I went through far worse, but it only made me stronger. I think they are looking at bullying from the wrong angle. Instead of trying to wipe it out, they should be teaching the kids to be stronger and how to deal with it without jumping off a roof. Boys will always be boys and bullying is just a part of growing up. I am not saying I condone bullying, but it always has been a part of school life and always will be. I also think the father of this kid has some answers to come up with too. Why wasn't he aware of his son's predicament and emotional state? Talk to your kids people!

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

@Disillusions - I think you have some good points. But the issue here isn't so much the presence of bullying, rather if teachers, police and other students neglected this kid and any times him or his dad tried to find help, and especially any ensuing cover-up of what happened. Bullying is at a whole other level if your teacher is going to laugh at you when you report it to him.

@Gen - I think the "He" in that quote refers to the dad. The mayor here is a woman, the youngest mayor in Japan (I think?), and this is one of her first big tests, it seems.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@ Disillusioned - while I agree that bullying happens all the time and might be a part of growing up, what these kids did goes beyond bullying. And I'm sure the father did what he could do. He was aware of the bullying. That's why he went to both the school and the police. But he was turned away three times! That's probably why he's working so hard now - he couldn't stop the bullying in time and lost his son.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

But wait here they don't punish troubled youth

If you mean by "troubled youth" those who commit crimes, then you are mistaken.

In April 2001, a revised Juvenile Law went into effect. It stated that teenagers 14 and older could be tried and penalized under adult criminal law and given more severe punishments. New rules were passed in 1997 allowed youth with "uncorrected criminal tendencies" to be held until 23 and those with mental disturbances until 26. Japan lowered the age at which youths can be sent to reformatories to around 12 after a number of gruesome crimes in recent years prompted calls for tougher penalties.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Typical. The guy making the apology is in no way responsible. Those responsible are saying/doing nothing.

First off I don't think the mayor would appreciate being called a guy. She's definitely not that.

You have to understand a little bit about Japanese politics and culture to know why she was apologizing. She wasn't apologizing for the bullying, not at all. She was apologizing for the lack of respect given to the father in the aftermath of his son's death and lack of response by the school, the school board, and police.

She is the mayor of the town and ultimately the top politician there, it was her duty to apologize, and now it's her duty to ensure that things get smoothed over too.

But Dad isn't playing nicely! Keep it up Dad!

1 ( +3 / -2 )

What the hell is the point of the mayor apologizing? Why aren't they going after the people who are responsible?

Again, where are the parents of the bullies? Why aren't they apologizing?

They are defending their sons.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

A common thread on here is that mere apology isn't enough.

I agree wholeheartedly.

More communication is needed.

That means LISTENING as well as speaking.

Communication that leads to mutual understanding.

Parents and children.

Children and teachers.

Teachers and parents.

Please cut out the "tadaima yori ..." authoritarian speeches and other rituals.

It's too late to apologise.

The damage has been done.

Those in authority need to do something to identify the source of the problem and prevent a recurrence.

If they can't do that, they have no right to be where they are.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Like the link globalwatcher. Thanks! @Yubara. I agree with you. I do not see the Mayor of Otsu being at fault here. However, her apologize was the right thing to do for Japan as a whole and the people and children of Otsu. The father needs closure. Therefore, a full investigation must take place and all parties that were responsible for the bullying and/or at fault must be brought to justice.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

An apology certainly isn't enough, but it is a start, and considering that there are associated civil proceedings already in motion and criminal proceedings likely to follow, I think it can be taken as a sign that the family's efforts are bearing fruit.

wackness is right in pointing out that the disagreement over the composition of the third-party panel of experts that is to look into the case.

If the city is trying to quickly put this behind them, going through the motions in a public manner to put on a display, then that is not going to go far toward bringing the issues to light and implementing effective measures aimed at preventing bullying by eliminating systematic faults that contributed to this tragedy.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Last week, both the school and board reversed their stance and said they now believed bullying led to the boy killing himself by leaping from a building.

Unfortunately, don't think this is correct. The actual change of stance of the BOE was from "complete denial" to admitting that "bullying may possibly have been one factor" while also suggesting the need to "look into other possible factors in good detail including the victim's own home environment at the time" implying that there may have also been greater issues within the victim's own home (which is seemingly based on what was reported to them by the victim's teacher). The victim's family is infuriated by the remark.

Hopefully the police will be able to clear all this out. The positive sign as reported by various local media is that some students are prepared to take a stand in speaking to the police about the actual bullying that they saw take place including the suicide practice. The sense of mission that these students seem to feel in speaking openly to the police, while being more cautious in their way of response to the previous school surveys, says so much about the likely severity of the incident, as well as the level of trust the students place on their school.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I heard that one of the mothers of the bullies was passing out leaflets in front of the school saying that her son had nothing to do with it. Did anyone hear about that?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

sandiegoluv: Some media reported that one of the mothers, chairman of the school PTA at the time, is said to have indeed passed out leaflets in front of the school with several other mothers she was close to, just before the urgent parent-teacher conference started, which said that the fault is rather with the parents of the victim in not understanding the pain of their child and that blaming his death on her child is a shift of responsibility. Note however that not all media has reported this and actual evidence (ie copy of leaflet) seems to be lacking.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

just before the urgent parent-teacher conference started, which said that the fault is rather with the parents of the victim in not understanding the pain of their child and that blaming his death on her child is a shift of responsibility. Note however that not all media has reported this and actual evidence (ie copy of leaflet) seems to be lacking.

alliswellinjapan,

Thanks for the reply back. But, Wow! That is beyond insensitive, but I myself have wondered why the victim's parents would let their kid go to that school if he was being bullied. But still, she shouldn't have done such a thing if she did. If she did, which according to your information, there seems to be no evidence to support that, then she would surely be below "pond scum" level. Some people are just unbelievable. I hope that is a false story, but isn't true that the parents of the criminals, ( I call them criminals not kids, who are we kidding ) denied that there children had anything to do with that, despite numerous children stating the contrary.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The mother of one of the alleged bullies (chairperson of the PTA) has indeed strongly protested any accusation of her son bullying. She contends that they were just playing and there was no bullying. She is openly acussing the public and the media of ruining her son's life for no good reason.....

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Also, I haven't seen any references to the information but the alleged bullies names, photos and home addresses are all over the internet (in Japanese)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Nice gesture .... a lot to late!!!!!!!!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Maninjapan79. Man, that is hard to hear.

She contends that they were just playing and there was no bullying. She is openly acussing the public and the media of ruining her son's life for no good reason.....

They were JUST playing? Well, somebody forgot to tell the boy who killed himself. She is accusing the media of ruining her son's life? Well, at least he has one to ruin. And from the looks of it, he pretty much ruined another boy's life as well.

I have no sympathy for her or her son unless everyone else is lying, which kind of seems doubtful.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@sandi - I heard the same, living in Shiga myself. It's a difficult situation....but anyone with experience dealing with "head of the PTA" types might be biased. I know in my neighborhood, I wouldn't trust the head of the PTA to tell me yesterdays weather.

I've heard the stories about passing the leaflets too. I wonder if her efforts would be better served in educating her child, rather than shielding them. Then again, I wonder this about many people in my own 'hood.

Indeed, "playing" and "bullying" all depends on if you ask the sender or the receiver. That might be the best BS I've heard since the last Hashimoto story.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

For what?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Disillusioned: "bullying this kid went through is normal behavior for boys at that age"

what?? that is NOT normal, not in boys, neither girls...

excuse me, but bullying is part of girls world too for ex.. but neither nobody cares. I had been bullied too, not physical, but psychologically a lot, from 8 to 14 years old.. and with just 11 years old always thinking of suicide, not very happy memories, are they? Ok, I'm stronger now, I have my own scars till now, but nice, congratulations for me.. But if it all could be different? I understand that little poor kid (RIP) as if it were my own story. Most kids show themselves shy about telling this things to their parents, so did I, because sometimes make things worse. The people who should be taking care of this things more is the teachers (they should teach about denouncing bullying attitude and punish bullies correctly), principal, school psychologists, etc. If you think bullying is part of growing up, in my humble opinion, you're soooo wrong. This kind of things make the world a worse place, you know? That kid didn't deserve that.. and again, if you didn't know before: but everybody is different.

PS: I live in Uruguay... but this kind of things are worldwide problems, is the same everywhere. We should teach kids/teenagers best, and high/schools should be prepared more, they can NOT ignore this things any more.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

After all, it's easier to young kids bully somebody than to work things out, manage your emotions, and learn to solve problems. Bullying is the easy way out, and sadly, some kids take it. Look at men who beat or intimidate their wives and scream at their kids. They’ve never learned to be effective spouses or parents. Instead, they're really bullies. And the other people in those families live in fear that they're going to be yelled at, called names, or hit. Nothing has to be worked out, because the bully always gets his way. The chain of command has been established by force, and the whole mindset becomes, “If you'd only do what I say, there'd be peace around here. Many families operate this way. I’m not just talking about the adults in the family, there are countless children who throw tantrums for the same reason: they’re saying, “Give me my way or face my behavior.” And if you as a parent don't start dealing with those tantrums early, your child may develop larger behavior problems as they grow older.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I have continued to say this is essentially murder at the cruelest level imaginable. Hopefully the investigation of both the police and the panel will reveal not only the details of such merciless acts committed, but also the grave responsibility of the teachers and the school in ignoring the emergency signals from the victim and classmates (the signals surely must have been there) and allowing the acts to escalate to such an extreme degree. As sfjp330 noted there will continue to be kids everywhere who choose to manage their stress and frustration through bullying others. The key lesson to be learned here is that, if there is no meaningful control and guidance from the adults who are around and are supposed to be wiser, it should not be all that difficult for the situation to escalate to a Lord of the Flies-esque situation. There are some local media which report that immediately after the suicide, the three kids continued with their ways through choosing to play cards at the victim's desk in the classroom laughing wildly and stabbing drawing pins into the facial photo of the victim, to the disgust and tears of the classmates. Yes they are truly helpless criminals who inevitably need to be strictly punished regardless of age, but this also shows how extremely cruel troubled kids can become in a closed group environment uncontrolled by adults, or to make matters critically worse, with adults around who are ignoring the whole process of things as they develop.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I hope there's some way for all of this dad's supporters to help him more in this matter.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It seems that the impression of this news disappears gradually from people.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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