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Abused Kobe teacher claims 50 forms of bullying from colleagues in report to police

Spicy curry is seen smeared on an eye, the lips and the shirt of a male teacher who was reportedly bullied by a group of colleagues, in this image provided by individuals connected to the case. Image partially modified.

KOBE -- A teacher at a public school who was reportedly subjected to repeated bullying and assault by four older colleagues filed a victim's report with Hyogo Prefectural Police on Oct. 11 describing around 50 different forms of harassment.

The teacher, who is in his 20s and a member of staff at Higashisuma Elementary School in Kobe, western Japan, described abuse including being throttled to the point that he had difficulty breathing and having spicy curry rubbed into his eyes. Prefectural police intend to investigate the alleged acts on suspicion of assault, among other charges.

The victim, who has been absent from work since the start of September due to poor health, is also expected to submit an application for workers compensation for public employees, in accordance with legal provisions for work-related accidents among national public employees.

According to the teacher's legal representative, the victim's report submitted to prefectural police is based primarily on acts for which photographic and video evidence exists.

A male elementary school teacher who was reportedly bullied by four colleagues is seen with his arms pinned back while being forced to eat spicy curry, in this image provided by individuals connected to the case. Image partially modified.

Prefectural police said they intend to proceed with their investigation into the allegations by interviewing three male teachers in their 30s and one female teacher in her 40s, who are together accused of bullying the man. They also plan to speak with their colleagues at the school, and ask the Kobe Municipal Board of Education to supply documents, among other measures.

According to the explanation of events provided by the man's lawyer, the bullying began in the spring of 2018. The victim was reportedly slapped almost every day, had his face pushed toward a kettle filled with boiling water, and had his jeans torn, among other bullying. He was reportedly also subjected to verbal abuse, including that his father was scum, had water dripped onto handouts he was going to give to students, and was warned against coming to observe other lessons on the grounds that he "would make the classroom dirty."

Instances of bullying outside of the school premises are also described, such as when he was made to drink a large quantity of salad dressing, Japanese BBQ sauce and kimchi hot pot base mixture at a staff drinking function. He also claims he was struck on the head with a beer bottle.

In September, the victim began reporting these abusive acts to the board of education and has been pursuing the board to carry out a fact-finding investigation. He has also asked for materials relating to the issue that still remain at the school to be submitted, according to his lawyer.

On Oct. 10, Kobe Mayor Kizo Hisamoto announced plans to set up an investigative team at the city hall's mayoral division comprising third-party experts. An official in the education board's personnel division told the Mainichi Shimbun, "I want the upcoming investigation to expose the facts."

Regarding the victim's current absence from work, his lawyer said that he apologizes to his students and wants to see them again, indicating his wish to return to the classroom. The lawyer said a number of letters seeking an investigation have been sent to the school's principal, Miki Nio.

(Japanese original by Kimi Sorihashi, Shota Harumashi and Kwanghoon Han, Kobe Bureau)

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