Please view the main text area of the page by skipping the main menu.

Tokyo court orders local gov't to pay 7.6 mil. yen to woman bullied in elementary school

The building which houses both the Tokyo district and high courts is seen in this file photo. (Mainichi/Naotaka Ito)

TOKYO -- A woman in her 20s who developed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from being bullied as a young student was awarded 7.56 million yen in damages on Jan. 22 in a Tokyo High Court ruling that overturned a lower court decision.

The high court ordered the Fuchu Municipal Government in Tokyo to compensate the woman for bullying she suffered in her elementary school days, which the principal and teachers had dismissed at the time.

"The bullying issue was concealed and left shrouded in darkness," Presiding Judge Hiroshi Noyama said, deeming the school's response to the problem illegal.

According to the ruling, when the plaintiff was in elementary school, she was repeatedly subjected to violence by three boys in the same year. It was reported that they threw buckets of water over her head, that they put her into headlocks, and that they hid her shoes to the point that there were even occasions when she had to walk home without them. She stopped attending school after complaining of having a sleeping disorder, and was diagnosed with suspected PTSD.

The Tachikawa branch of the Tokyo District Court dismissed her claim in a ruling handed down in March 2018, but in the latest high court ruling Presiding Judge Noyama focused on the exchanges that the principal and two teachers had in a face-to-face meeting with a doctor.

Although the doctor reportedly explained to the educators that the victim's PTSD had been caused by bullying, the principal and others are said to have refuted the conclusions, maintaining that their own investigations showed no bullying had occurred and that it was just children messing around. The judge said this showed a continued avoidance of responsibility.

"There were almost no countermeasures under consideration based on the assumption that bullying may have been taking place, and the principal was at the forefront of continued denials of the existence of any bullying. This response prolonged the complainant's PTSD symptoms," the presiding judge said.

The woman continues to receive treatment for PTSD, and said after the ruling through an attorney: "It does not take away my hurt, but I think from now I can move ahead in life." Fuchu's board of education said, "We will carefully examine the court's decision and provide a response."

(Japanese original by Kenji Tatsumi, City News Department)

Also in The Mainichi

The Mainichi on social media