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Kobe education board worker jumps to death from bridge amid teacher bullying scandal

The sign of the Kobe Municipal Education Board is seen in Kobe's Chuo Ward. (Mainichi/Kimi Sorihashi)

KOBE -- A subsection chief of this western Japan city's education board, who was in charge of responding to a bullying scandal among teachers at a municipal elementary school which came to light in October 2019, jumped to his death from a bridge on the morning of Feb. 9, police said.

According to the Hyogo Prefectural Police's Ashiya Police Station, an officer witnessed the 39-year-old man living in the city of Ashiya jumping from a bridge in the city at around 6:15 a.m. on that day. The man landed in a park and suffered bruises all over his body. He was later confirmed dead at a hospital. According to the police station and the Kobe Municipal Board of Education, the deceased was a subsection chief at the general affairs section who was in charge of responding to the scandal at municipal Higashisuma Elementary School, where a teacher was bullied by his colleagues.

According to the police station, it received an emergency call from the wife of the subsection chief at around 4:10 a.m. on the day, saying, "A note was left by my husband who has gone missing." The officer found the man near the scene and spoke to him. Just after that, he ran about 10 meters and climbed over a 1.1-meter-tall bridge railing before plunging to his death in a park located about 25 meters beneath the bridge. The message he left apparently implied he would take his own life.

According to the education board, the subsection chief was involved in organizing board meetings, contacting board members and arranging their schedules. After the scandal came to light in October 2019, his overtime work increased, sometimes to as late as midnight. The man had worked at his office until Feb. 7. The education board will investigate his work situation.

(Japanese original by Kwanghoon Han, Kobe Bureau)

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