Japanese responded to record numbers of severe bullying cases last year, prompting a national outcry and calls for legislation. But a proposed bill doesn’t address schools’ intense culture of conformity, critics say.
After months of relentless bullying at the hands of three classmates, 13-year-old Hiroki issued what must have seemed like an empty threat to his tormentors. “I’m going to die,” he told them in a text message. “You should die,” was their response.
In the month before his death, verbal taunts escalated into punching and kicking; his arms and legs were bound and his mouth taped. He was made to eat dead bees, shoplift, and even “rehearse” his own death. When his teachers were finally informed, they issued only a verbal warning.
Soon after, the teenager, identified in the media only by his first name, jumped to his death from the 14th floor of an apartment building in Otsu, western Japan, in October 2011.