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information about Fukushima published in English in Japanese media info publiée en anglais dans la presse japonaise

Facing radiation stigma

November 17, 2016

An NHK video : Facing radiation stigma




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Police warned school about extortion of bullied Fukushima boy in 2011




  • Nov 18, 2016

YOKOHAMA – An elementary school in Yokohama ignored a police report that a transfer student from disaster-hit Fukushima Prefecture was possibly being bullied and extorted by classmates, sources said Thursday.

The local police notified the school in November 2014 that other students were demanding money from the 13-year-old boy — some ¥1.5 million ($14,000) in sum. But the school and the Yokohama Municipal Board of Education both failed to fully respond, the sources said.

The case is sparking a reaction on the internet, where some say adults who spread rumors about nuclear radiation are to blame for the impetus for the bullying.

According to a board of education report, the bullying started immediately after the boy moved to Yokohama in August 2011 while a second-grader.

The boy was called names such as “germ,” an apparent reference to the nuclear contamination caused by the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant disaster that started in March 2011. He eventually started missing school when he was in the third grade, the report said.

In July 2014, the boy’s parents reported to police that grade school classmates were extorting money from their son, and when police questioned him, they found the boy was forking over ¥100,000 at a time, which the bullies spent at game arcades and on other things.

The following month the police notified the school and the board of education about what they had been told.

In 2013, Japan enacted a law to curb bullying at schools, making it obligatory to report to the education ministry and municipalities cases deemed “serious situations,” or when a student is thought to be suffering physically, mentally or economically as a result of bullying.

In this case, the school did not judge that the situation constituted a “serious situation” and did not convene a school meeting to deal with the situation. The board of education also failed to act promptly.

A board official said Thursday: “We should have acted before the Kanagawa Prefectural Police intervened in this case. The school was not fully aware that bullying was taking place and it did not think about (taking actions based on) the law.”

November 19, 2016

School admits botched response to bullying of Fukushima evacuee



YOKOHAMA -- The principal of an elementary school here where a Fukushima evacuee was bullied, causing him to refuse to go to school, has acknowledged inadequacies in the school's response.

The boy, now 13 and in junior high school, was bullied after his family voluntarily evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture and moved to Yokohama in the wake of the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant. The boy wrote in a note that he was subject to name-calling and that his classmates demanded money from him. It was reported that education officials were aware the boy was forced to pay a total of about 1.5 million yen to his classmates, but failed to respond proactively to the case.

When questioned by the Mainichi Shimbun, the school's principal stated that the treatment the boy suffered was something "that should not happen in an educational setting." The principal said it was "heartbreaking" to think of the response at the time and the student's feelings. However, the headmaster refused to provide an explanation when asked how the school handled the bullying, saying, "The media contact is the municipal board of education."

The school's vice principal did not talk about their feelings toward the student when approached by the Mainichi, citing personal information concerns.

Kanagawa Prefectural Police, on the other hand, explained the response to date. They said that they received an inquiry from his parents about money trouble in August 2014, and had questioned relevant parties, including the boy's classmates and the school, by October. They heard that money was exchanged, but judged they couldn't deal with the case as a crime, and informed the boy's parents and the school.

Prefectural police said their response was appropriate and there were no problems with how they dealt with the case.

By Nov. 18, the municipal board of education had received about 180 telephone complaints about how it and the school handled the case. One caller was quoted as saying, "I feel sorry for the victim and I'm brought to tears," while another reportedly criticized the school and education board for their "bad" response.

The parent of one of the boy's classmates commented, "When it was rumored that he had started missing school, parents and the neighborhood association made inquiries with the school and the municipal board of education, but they didn't respond. I'm disappointed."


November 18, 2016

School failed to act on extortion of Fukushima evacuee bullied at school



YOKOHAMA -- Education authorities failed to react to financial and emotional damage incurred by a boy who was bullied at his school here after evacuating from the Fukushima nuclear disaster, it has been learned.

The boy, who is now 13, was bullied at an elementary school in Yokohama after he transferred there from Fukushima Prefecture. Although the school and the Yokohama Municipal Board of Education were aware that the boy was forced to pay about 1.5 million yen to his classmates, they failed to respond proactively to the case. His parents had conveyed the amount to the school and education board after being informed of it by Kanagawa Prefectural Police.

According to attorneys for the student and other sources, the parents consulted with prefectural police in July 2014 about their son's classmates demanding money from him. After checking the footage of security cameras at a video arcade, prefectural police found that at least one of the bullies had squandered hundreds of thousands of yen of boy's money each time.

The money that the victim was forced to pay was spent on travel, dining and entertainment. The student was initially demanded to pay around 50,000 yen at a time, but the sum eventually snowballed.

The bully extorted the victim, saying, "You've got compensation money (for the nuclear disaster), don't you?" The victim could not confide the incidents to his parents and secretly paid the bullies using his family's money budgeted for living expenses.

The victim stopped attending school for a second time in June 2014, and his parents reported the prefectural police's investigation results to his school and the city education board. However, the school didn't deem the case a "serious situation" under the law to promote measure to prevent bullying, and shelved it.

At a Nov. 15 press conference, the city education board admitted that there was money trouble between the students. Superintendent of schools Yuko Okada said, "We should have recognized the case as serious as more than one month had passed since the student stopped attending school and the money and goods issues surfaced."

A third-party panel to the city education board criticized the school and the education board, saying, "There are no traces of their having given sufficient instructions to the parties who 'paid' and 'were paid for,' though (the education authorities) were aware of the exchange of monies in the tens of thousands of yen."




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