The parents of a 13-year-old junior high school boy who committed suicide after suffering from bullying at his school in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture in 2011, have settled a suit against the city out of court.
The Otsu government agreed this week to pay the boy's parents 13 million yen in damages, Sports Nippon reported.
However, a second suit filed by the parents against the three boys who bullied their son, is ongoing.
The high-profile case sparked a debate in Japan over bullying and the role of schools, boards of education and the city government in protecting children from bullies.
The boy leapt to his death in October 2011 from an apartment building in Otsu. Shortly after, it came to light that bullies routinely forced him to “practice” killing himself before he took his own life, and that his teacher brushed off the abuse as a joke.
After the boy's death, the school asked students to respond to a questionnaire on bullying. More than 60 students answered that they had seen the boy being bullied in the three weeks before he committed suicide. 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.
Initially, the school said it did not think the bullying was a direct cause of the boy's death, but after news of the questionnaire was leaked, school officials conceded that bullying may have been responsible. In a second survey, some students reported seeing the bullies forcing the boy to take part in a mock funeral.
After the first questionnaire results came out, the school coerced the boy's parents into signing a confidentiality agreement before it would let them see the results. The boy's father signed the document but was outraged when he read the account of what had happened to his son, NHK reported.
Public indignation over the case resulted in a series of bomb threats against the school and the local government over claims of negligence in the case. A letter sent to the school threatened that the building would be bombed unless the pupils and teachers involved apologize.
The father of the boy has also criticized police over the case. After the questionnaire results were made public, he went to the police but said they refused to accept the complaint on three occasions, claiming that complaints cannot be lodged in the event that the victim is deceased and was not murdered. They also said the boy left no suicide note indicating what might have driven him to kill himself.© Japan Today