24 Janvier 2017
January 24, 2017
NIIGATA -- The parents of a student who was bullied after evacuating from Fukushima Prefecture to Niigata Prefecture in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster have expressed distrust toward their daughter's school in an interview with the Mainichi Shimbun.
The first-year junior high school student was verbally abused with the word for "germ" attached to the end of her name after her evacuation to northern Niigata Prefecture in 2012. Her parents said that her daughter had called attention to her plight, writing "the bullying is continuing," but that her school overlooked it.
"It was a clear SOS call from our daughter. Failing to notice the key part means the teacher is not qualified," one of the parents said.
The girl evacuated to the prefecture with her family in the summer of 2012, the year after the outbreak of the nuclear disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant. She was bullied at the elementary school she attended, and in a passage she wrote in class at her junior high school in July last year she gave details of the abuse. She said that the badmouthing was "really tough," and wrote that even after she had started attending junior high "the bullying is still continuing."
According to the girl's parents, the school told them that her message was overlooked because "the Japanese teacher in charge only read it partway through." However, during a news conference by the local education board, educators altered the explanation, saying, "The teacher read the full text afterward, but doesn't recall whether or not they were aware of the bullying."
The parents criticized educators for "trying to hide what makes them look bad."
In mid-December last year, the school provided guidance to 11 perpetrators of the bullying. According to the parents, one of the students saw the teacher watching a video website while they were being made to write apologies, and said, "It made me think that our bullying was just something (light) like that."
During a probe by the school, some of the perpetrators were quoted as saying that they didn't know that the victim was an evacuee. The school subsequently concluded that the bullying was not related to the student's evacuation. The victim's parents, however, argued that everyone would have known she was an evacuee.
Their daughter hasn't been to school once from January, saying "school is scary." They are calling for officials to rectify the situation.
"We want the school to tell the truth, and to create an environment in which our daughter can attend school with peace of mind."