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Tormented "germ" from Fukushima

November 10, 2016

Fukushima evacuee student bullied as school failed to act



By KOJI OMORI/ Staff Writer


YOKOHAMA--A junior high school student evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture after the 2011 nuclear disaster is refusing to attend classes due to years of bullying.

At an elementary school, the boy was given a cruel nickname with “germ” added to his name. His tormentors demanded he pay them money from government compensation for disaster victims.

His elementary school failed to take action in the case, which was “tantamount to abandoning the duty of education,” according to a damning report Nov. 9 by an investigative committee of the city's board of education.

“It's really disappointing,” said Yokohama Mayor Fumiko Hayashi at a news conference the same day. “Not everybody fully understands what people in the disaster-hit areas went through. It is our job to keep educating them by all means possible.”

The boy entered a public elementary school here, south of Tokyo, in August 2011, five months after the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. The disaster prompted his parents to flee Fukushima Prefecture.

The boy was a second-grader at the time and the bullying started soon after his arrival at the school.

When he was a fifth grader, a group of 10 or so bullies forced him to pay 50,000 yen ($480) to 100,000 yen on around 10 occasions. They apparently spent the money in game arcades and for other purposes.

“You are receiving compensation (for the nuclear accident),” one bully was quoted as saying, referring to financial efforts to alleviate the plight of evacuees from Fukushima Prefecture. The boy stole the cash from his parents to meet their demands.

He began refusing to go to the school on occasion, and now, as a student in a public junior high school, has stopped going to school ever.

In May 2014, his parents complained to the elementary school that the bullying was escalating.

The school held two meetings of an investigative committee into school bullying but concluded the situation was not sufficiently "serious" in terms of the antibullying law.

The school said the investigation was abandoned, citing a “lack of communication with the boy's guardians.”

The parents asked the city’s board of education in December 2015 to do its own investigation.

The school then finally admitted a “serious situation” existed and the board's third-party investigative committee started its own probe.


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