I disdain mentioning the bad and corrupt side of Shiga Prefecture which no doubt has its share of corrupt, inept, incompetent, or unsavory officials, authorities, school teachers, etc.
But the latest scandal can hardly be ignored. We see it every day as the top national news on both TV and newspapers. Shiga Prefecture and the capital city of Otsu have been in national headlines for the past few weeks. The sad story and scandal is about a 13-year-old junior high school student who jumped off a building and committed suicide upon the alleged encouragement of bullies, and the school (Ojiyama Junior High School 皇子山中学校) and Otsu Board of Education trying to cover up the student’s suicide that occurred in Oct. 2011.
It’s also about the local Otsu police who ignored the deceased boy’s father’s repeated request to investigate his son’s bullying in school. The foot-dragging by the school, Otsu Board of Education, and Otsu police has snowballed into a major scandal attracting national attention. The Ministry of Education and the Shiga Prefectural Police have finally taken action to investigate, nine months after the suicide.
Needless to say, it is giving Shiga a bad image and it is causing great shame to us all. People (parents) are now realizing that the school and the Otsu Board of Education were more concerned about protecting themselves than the students. All the school teachers have denied knowing about the student’s bullying at school despite the fact that a few students know that the deceased boy did consult a few teachers about the bullying.
The scandal has marred recently-elected Otsu Mayor Naomi Koshi’s record even though the suicide occurred before her watch. She gave a tearful press conference when she expressed her regrets about the boy’s suicide.
Now the school and Shiga Prefectural Government are receiving bomb threats for being negligent. The school consequently suspended classes on July 10, a little over a week before the school year ends. I can’t imagine what the students (and their parents) are going through at Ojiyama Junior High School right now. What a raw deal they are getting.
Update: On July 31, 2012, Otsu Police arrested a high school boy from Saitama Prefecture for sending a bomb threat letter to the school. He sent a second letter confessing to his crime (and asking to be arrested) in the same handwriting he used in the bomb threat letter.)
Update: On the morning of Aug. 15, 2012, the Superintendent of the Otsu Board of Education, Kenji Sawamura (65), was attacked right in his office at Otsu City Hall by a 19-year-old college student from Saitama city. He was hit by a hammer on the head and sustained injuries while he and another colleague wrestled the attacker to the floor. Otsu education chief attacked with hammer (Mainichi)
Read more here:
Bullies allegedly pressured boy, 13, to practice committing suicide before he did so (Kyodo-Japan Times)
Slow response to bullying (Japan Times)
Bullying a crime that goes noticed, ignored (Japan Times)
Police now probe bullying in suicide (Japan Times)