Under pressure from multiple high-publicity incidents that show just how prevalent bullying is in Japanese schools, Japan has just put into effect an anti-bulling law that outlines the responsibilities of school and administrative authorities in protecting students from this phenomenon. The law went into effect on Sept. 28, though the central government has yet to complete and sent out basic guidelines for the law’s execution and application. Clamors had been strong for an anti-bullying, and were intensified after the suicide of a second-year junior high school boy who was bullied in the city of Otsu, in Shiga Prefecture.
The law, while noble in motivation, seems to be surrounded by a great deal of difficulty, especially in the execution end. At a meeting held at Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology to formulate a basic policy on preventing bullying, participants of the meeting debated on the law’s related issues, including who the supposed “third-party” to investigate cases of bullying actually referred to. A group of 14 experts on the issue have been tasked to draw up the basic government outlines. The group includes lawyers, elementary and junior high school principals, and other experts on the issue.
Yoji Morita, a professor emeritus at Osaka City University presiding over the panel, is asking for consideration on the panel’s task. “There’s a need to debate the issues thoroughly,” he said, “We want to produce the best results we can.” Apparently, there has been no deadline set for formulating these guidelines, but the legislators who sponsored the bill did not have the foresight to see the law coming into effect before guidelines had been established. So the panel will aim to draw up the much-needed guidelines in early October. The law was enacted in June, and the first meeting on formulating guidelines for its application was held in August.
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