Letters to the Editor,
The Daily Yomiuri
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8055
Japan is a violent country. Or, at least, it is no less violent than other nations with more notorious reputations of public safety - the United States comes to mind. That does not mean that Japan is not a nice, safe place to live. But it does mean that Japan is no different than any other country in this regard, which is a good thing. In Japan, violence is widely tolerated, ignored or hidden and only exceptionally egregious cases - the ones resulting in death like the beating death last year of the young rikishi Tokitaizan by his sumo stable mates and with the collusion of his stable master, Tokitsukaze - come to light and exemplify the observation.
So does the problem with bullying in Japanese schools that we so often read about. Personally, I don’t see why bullying is a persistent problem. Bullying is a crime. It’s called assault. Treat it as a crime with arrests, charges, prosecutions and criminal detentions and the problem won’t go away, but the message will get out. So I was delighted to read the May 5th story “2 Students sue classmates, local govt over bullying” and thought, “It’s about time!” And yet I regret that the bullying described in the story only lead to a lawsuit, not to criminal charges.
Published on Friday, May 9, 2008 as “Criminalize bullying to emphasize its illegality.”
There was an editor’s note at the end of this one: “The original article states that the Hyogo prefectural police arrested five students suspected of involvement in the bullying case connected to the lawsuit.” I felt embarrassed.