Osaka Board of Education officials told a news conference on Tuesday that a 17-year-old high school student committed suicide on Dec 23 after he was physically punished by a teacher who coached the basketball team.
The officials said the incident happened at Sakuranomiya high school on Dec 22. The boy, who had an excellent academic record, was captain of the school basketball team which the 47-year-old teacher had coached since 1994, Fuji TV reported.
Officials said the boy hanged himself with a tie at his home. His mother found a letter to the teacher and a note in which he said he couldn't cope with being physically punished. The teacher was questioned by school officials and has admitted slapping the boy in the face several times, Fuji reported. He said he did it to toughen the boy up, the officials said.
Corporal punishment is banned in schools in Japan. However, after the boy's suicide, the school conducted a survey of 50 past and present members of the basketball club. Twenty-one of them said they have been physically punished by the teacher, the education board officials said.
The coach has apologized to the boy's family in the wake of his death, local media said, adding that police were questioning the man.
Japan, with a population of about 128 million, has one of the world's highest suicide rates, with more than 30,000 people taking their lives annually.
The case of a 13-year-old boy who leapt to his death from an apartment building in 2011 gained national prominence after a survey of students revealed he was subjected to a litany of abuse by bullies.© Japan Today/AFP