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Parents sue Japan over bullied daughter’s suicide

JAPAN: A Japanese couple is demanding compensation from the government over the death of their daughter, who killed herself after being bullied in school, in what media said was the first case of its kind.

Bullying, a perennial problem in Japanese schools, grabbed headlines late last year after a series of suicides by school children that were blamed on bullying. More than a dozen children have killed themselves since September.

Shinji Nakai and his wife Setsuko on Tuesday sued the governments of Japan and Kitamoto, the city just north of Tokyo where they live, in connection with the suicide of their 12-year-old daughter Yumi in October 2005, media reports said.

The two demanded 20 million yen ($166,000) in compensation in the suit filed at Tokyo District Court, saying the school had neglected its safety responsibilities, Kyodo news agency said.

According to the lawsuit, Yumi had been insulted and received letters from her classmates threatening to spread rumours. She jumped to her death from the roof of an apartment building.

“The responsibility of the city school board, which failed to provide appropriate guidance to the bullies and did not clearly explain the cause of our daughter’s suicide, is quite heavy,” her parents were quoted by Kyodo as saying.

They added that Education Ministry policies had contributed to an atmosphere in which bullying was overlooked, Kyodo said.

A court official confirmed that the suit had been filed but declined to give further details, while an official at the Education Ministry said he was not aware of the particulars of the case and could not comment. School board officials at Kitamoto were not immediately available for comment.

A survey of 6,400 students at public high schools conducted last year showed that 52 percent of boys and 54 percent of girls said they had been bullied in junior high school.

Japan’s education system, which emphasises competition and academic achievement, is said by experts to be partly to blame for bullying as it puts students under constant stress.

Tokyo, Wednesday, Reuters

 

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