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Kobe gov't proposes salary cuts for teachers put on leave after bullying scandal

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)

KOBE -- The city government here has proposed amending an ordinance to halt salary payments to four teachers on leave over a scandal in which they allegedly bullied a colleague by forcing spicy curry into his mouth, among other acts.

Kobe Mayor Kizo Hisamoto unveiled the proposed punitive measures on Oct. 24 amid mounting criticism from residents and others at the handling of the suspensions for the four schoolteachers.

The western Japan city has been keeping the teachers out of school on paid leave because there are no provisions for forced suspension from work. The four, who taught at the municipal Higashisuma Elementary School in the city's Suma Ward, are alleged to have continuously abused a younger colleague aged 25.

Under the proposed amendment, it will be possible to suspend employees who carry out illegal acts and could be prosecuted for them. During their period away from work, a salary cut of between 40% and 100% can be applied under the changes.

The city government intends to enforce the amended ordinance at the same time it is promulgated, and it is expected that from that point, the four teachers accused of bullying will be on unpaid leave from work. According to the city government, the enforcement of leave of employees who have yet to be prosecuted is rare.

(Japanese original by Kimi Sorihashi, Kobe Bureau)

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