24 Novembre 2016
November 24, 2016
By KOJI OMORI/ Staff Writer
A boy from Fukushima Prefecture wrote about killing himself because of bullying at a Yokohama school. But he didn't want to become another victim of the 3/11 disaster. (Dai Nagata)
YOKOHAMA--A Fukushima boy derided as “germ” and “radiation” by his elementary school classmates here has taken solace in the fact that his story may be saving the lives of other victims of bullying.
The boy himself had often thought about killing himself after his family moved to Yokohama following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. But he decided to live through the pain and cruelty inflicted by his classmates at the public school.
“I am aware that many children in Japan suffer bullying, but I appeal to them that they should never ever choose to die because there are people out there who will extend a helping hand,” his parents quoted the boy, 13, as saying.
The parents, speaking on condition of anonymity, held a news conference in Yokohama on Nov. 23 in response to requests by reporters. It was held after the boy’s notes about his ordeal were made public on Nov. 15 through his lawyer.
The notes resonated with a number of children facing similar circumstances.
One person posted on the Internet: “His notes gave me the courage to live.”
According to the parents, their son read the post and said he felt “rewarded by his perseverance.”
The boy’s bullying case stood out from others because of the questionable response by school officials and local education board officials, the handing over of money, and the taunts related to the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
When the boy was a second-grader, he and his family fled to Yokohama from Fukushima Prefecture in August 2011. Although their home was outside the central government-designated evacuation zone, the family was worried about radiation from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
Soon after he entered the school in Yokohama, the bullying started.
In May 2014, when the boy was in the fifth grade, he paid his tormentors about 1.5 million yen ($13,600) to cover their expenses for outings at game arcades and amusement parks, according to his lawyer. The children insisted that he should pay, citing the compensation they believed his family received for the nuclear accident.
The parents told the news conference that they brought up the bullying at a meeting with school officials in June that year.
They suggested that a third-party panel look into their son’s “grave case” in line with an anti-bullying law that went into force in 2013.
But the school officials dismissed their suggestion.
According to the parents, the officials said the boy took the initiative in taking his tormentors to game arcades.
The mother said she feels it is inevitable for people to associate residents of Fukushima Prefecture with compensation payments.
She said the family has received “only hundreds of thousands of yen” in compensation, and that the money was used to cover relocation and other costs.
The money the boy took from home came from a loan the parents received from relatives, the mother said.
She said she also wonders what her son’s bullies talked about with their parents at home.
“I am afraid that only parents would mention the compensation money,” she said.
The boy graduated from an elementary school this spring and now attends a “free school,” an alternative institution for absentee children.