Hirofumi Hirano, Japan’s Minister of Education, has stated that he has begun developing plans to create an internal team that will work to help schools and boards of education both identify and stop student bullying. This initiative comes shortly after the nationwide exposure of a case in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture where a 13 year old boy committed suicide last October after severe abuse from bullies that went practically ignored by teachers and other school officials.
Minister Hirano said at a press conference that his vision of the team included them serving as “line troops,” in order to work with those who must deal with student bullying directly. He added that further responsibilities of the team will be figured out after the results a nationwide survey about bullying at elementary and junior high schools are returned and examined. The Ministry of Education will not allow the problems to remain the way they are, Hirano stated, and that guidance and advising need to be improved in whatever ways necessary.
The ministry is also looking at giving instructions to schools and local education board to report any serious cases of bullying to experts for review. In the Otsu case, the victim had to endure daily beatings, had his pants pulled down in class repeatedly, was forced to eat dead bees, and even made to “practice” his own suicide. The boy’s parents are now engaged in a lawsuit against the school, the board of education, and the three classmates who did the bullying, arguing that teachers and other officials ignored what was going on, even when the victim directly asked for help.