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Kagoshima gov't admits bullying suspected in suicide of high school boy after 2nd probe

KAGOSHIMA -- A third-party investigative panel established by the Kagoshima Prefectural Government in southern Japan acknowledged on Nov. 18 that a high school boy was a bulling victim at his school here before he took his own life in August 2014.

The finding in its interim report reversed a decision a year ago by its education board's third-party panel.

According to the latest report, 15-year-old Takumi Tanaka, a first grader at a prefectural high school, had suffered from continuous bullying by his fellow students such as placing fermented soybean rice rolls into his school bag and hiding his slippers.

The investigative panel said in the report that most of the fellow students replied to its inquiry that they were "just playing around," and the youngsters couldn't have imagined that he had suffered psychological pain.

The panel's chairman Shinya, Katsuki, a lawyer who belongs to the Fukuoka Bar Association, said at a news conference on Nov. 18, "The student felt psychological pain frequently by the actions (of his schoolmates). We are looking into a causal relationship between his suicide and the bullying."

In an earlier investigation, a third-party panel established by the Kagoshima Prefectural Board of Education did not recognize the case as bullying in March 2017.

However, the prefecture decided to re-investigate the case based on a bullying prevention law in response to a request from the student's bereaved family.

On the night of Nov. 18, the student's mother held a news conference in the city of Kagoshima and said, "We finally learned what actually happened to him." "I think he didn't want to disclose that he had been bullied, but the reinvestigation result restores his honor ...," she added while looking at her son in a portrait through tears.

"Can you imagine how he felt while he was looking for his own slippers wearing slippers for school guests? I would like to tell him about the reinvestigation report," she added.

(Japanese original by In Tanaka, Kagoshima Bureau)

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