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Note written by Fukushima evacuee bullied at new school released

A note written by the 13-year-old boy who was bullied after transferring from a school in Fukushima Prefecture to one in Yokohama is seen. Parts of the note are blacked out for privacy reasons. (Mainichi)

YOKOHAMA -- A 13-year-old boy who had been bullied after transferring to an elementary school here from Fukushima Prefecture due to the nuclear disaster wrote that he "thought about dying many times" in a note revealed on Nov. 15 by an attorney representing the boy and his family.

The attorney released a statement by the boy's parents along with the three-page note their son wrote in July last year, when he was a sixth grader. The boy stated in the note that his new classmates in Yokohama demanded money, saying that he must have received compensation because his family had fled their hometown in Fukushima Prefecture after the nuclear meltdowns in 2011. It also said he was called a "germ," and that he was worried the name-calling was prompted by radiation associated with the nuclear disaster. The bullying reportedly continued for three years, from second to fifth grades, and he was unable to attend classes as a result.

The boy wrote, "I thought about dying many times, but I decided to live, even though it is painful, because a lot of people died in the disaster."

According to the attorney, the boy decided to disclose his notes in hopes of encouraging fellow bullying victims. He wrote about the time his classmates demanded money, saying, "It makes me mad that they told me I have compensation money, and it's also frustrating that I could not fight back," adding, "I couldn't do anything because I was scared of being bullied again." The boy also wrote about his feelings when he was called a "germ," saying, "It was painful because I thought it was because of radiation. I realized that people from Fukushima would be bullied (because of the disaster)."

The boy wrote in the notes that the school did not believe him even though he told teachers about the bullying, and that they ignored him when he tried to consult them.

Meanwhile, the boy's parents criticized the school in their statement, saying that staff did not contact them even when they knew that some students at the school were demanding money from their son. In addition, they touched on the report released by a third-party investigative committee set up by the Yokohama Municipal Board of Education, saying it was unfortunate that many parts explaining what kind of bullying took place were redacted even after they told the board that they wanted details to be made public.

Municipal education board superintendent Yuko Okada held a separate news conference on Nov. 15 and said, "We feel sorry that the school and the education board were unable to respond to the matter in a coordinated manner." She added, "I was not under the impression that we were asked to reveal everything that was in the report." The education board is set to interview relevant persons once again.

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