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Nagasaki teacher harassment lawsuit settled after requiring written explanation of response

The plaintiff, Shinichiro Sato, expresses his thoughts at a press conference after the settlement, in Nagasaki on Sept. 9, 2022. (Mainichi/Takehiro Higuchi)

NAGASAKI -- A lawsuit filed by a male teacher at a Nagasaki municipal school, claiming that he suffered emotional distress due to power harassment by a senior teacher, was settled on Sept. 9.

    Shinichiro Sato, 53, sought 1.5 million yen (about $10,500) in damages from the Nagasaki Municipal Government. The terms of the settlement at the Nagasaki District Court on Sept. 9 include a requirement that the city government must provide a written notice of the results of its response to the consultation to anyone who asks for help concerning power harassment.

    According to the written complaint and other sources, Sato was loudly reprimanded by the senior teacher for many hours between July and August 2019 over his response to a student who had started to skip classes. This caused the plaintiff to have persistent insomnia and forced him to visit a psychosomatic medicine clinic.

    In October 2019, Sato consulted with a fellow teacher who serves as a counselor for harassment within the school. Later, the vice principal told him that the senior teacher's comments "amounted to harassment," but there was no report as to whether any guidance was given to the offending teacher. In March 2021, Sato filed the lawsuit, claiming that the damage would be repeated unless the situation was properly resolved.

    Under the terms of the settlement, the city government acknowledged that the senior teacher's words and actions were inappropriate and expressed regret. The city then amended its guidelines for the prevention of power harassment at municipal schools to include a requirement that the results of consultation responses be explained in written form to the consulting party.

    Sato commented, "If the victim is informed of the results of the response in writing, they can take action at that time, such as gathering new evidence."

    Kazuhito Kawachi, head of the school education division of the Nagasaki Municipal Board of Education, told the Mainichi Shimbun, "We will work hard to make the workplace better, as we promised in the settlement."

    (Japanese original by Takehiro Higuchi, Nagasaki Bureau)

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