February 9, 2023
TOKYO – The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry has issued a notification to schools nationwide urging them to consult the police when serious cases of bullying occur.
The National Police Agency has informed prefectural police headquarters across Japan about the education ministry’s notification, which was issued on Tuesday.
National, public and private schools are advised to notify the police immediately about serious bullying cases that could constitute a crime and seek support from the authorities, according to the notification, which states that protecting the lives and safety of children and students is a top priority.
The document included 19 specific examples of bullying that could constitute a criminal violation as schools have been hesitant about filing reports in the past due to a lack of awareness about where the line is drawn regarding police involvement.
According to the notification, if a student harms a classmate with scissors or a box-cutter while in an uncontrollable emotional state, it could be treated as a bodily injury case. Sharing pictures or videos of a naked classmate among a group by posting files on social media constitutes a violation of the law against child prostitution and child pornography.
Go Kasai, the father of a suicide victim who had been bullied, said: “People tend to make light of bullying. Sending the message that bullying could constitute a crime can serve as a deterrent.”
His daughter, Rima Kasai, left a suicide note revealing details about bullying she experienced in 2016 when she was a second-year student at a municipal junior high school in Aomori City.
“Ultimately, the ideal measure to prevent bullying is through education in schools,” said Kasai, 44.
Midori Komori, the head of the antibullying nonprofit organization Gentle Heart Project, said: “The most important thing is for bullies to acknowledge why they hurt others. I hope the [ministry’s] notification does not send the message that bullying is not good because it violates the Criminal Code.”