Close

Donate today to keep Global Voices strong!

Watch the video: We Are Global Voices!

We report on 167 countries. We translate in 35 languages. We are Global Voices. Watch the video »

Over 800 of us from all over the world work together to bring you stories that are hard to find by yourself. But we can’t do it alone. Even though most of us are volunteers, we still need your help to support our editors, our technology, outreach and advocacy projects, and our community events.

Donate now »
GlobalVoices in Learn more »

Japan: The Bully and the Bullied

The problem of bullying is a recurring theme in Japan, one that makes periodic appearances in the media driving up ever-increasing levels of alarm. An incident in which videos of bullying in a Hokkaido school were posted on YouTube (and subsequently removed) made headlines in late 2006. A government survey released last week [ja], which found that that the number of cases of bullying has increased sixfold [ja] over the result of the year before, has exacerbated fears yet again. While this increase is attributed in part to a change in the way bullying is defined and measured [ja], the rise is nonetheless telling: from 20,000 cases in 2005 the number ballooned to an estimated 125,000 cases in 2006, including six cases of bullying-related suicide [ja].

Not everybody is taking the news sitting down. Japanese world boxing flyweight champion Naito Daisuke is tackling the problem by talking at schools to children [ja] about his own experiences being bullied as a child. Pressure has also been put on schools [ja] to change the way that they deal with bullying.


Bullying-induced suicide at Takigawa school

Blogger tekicho makes a perceptive observation about the problem:

敏感な言葉をいうけど、いじめは無くならない。根拠は大人同士でもいじめがあるという誰でもよく知っていることです。

This is a touchy thing to say, but bullying will not go away. The basis [for saying this] is that even among adults, as everybody well knows, there is also bullying.

But how has this culture of bullying developed? Blogger nano3000xp delves into its origin:

いじめは、なくならない。昔からいじめはあったし、今後もいじめは続くはずである。なぜなら、いじめることで、自分の欲求不満を解消するからである。それが、個々の人間の本質だからである。会社でも、社会でも、学校でも、人が集団になって、ある場を作れば、そこに必ず、人間関係という相互作用の場が生じるからである。

Bullying will not go away. It has been around for a long time, and naturally it will continue from here on. The reason is that bullying is a way of letting off frustration. This is the true nature of every individual human being. At work, in society, and at school as well, when people [join together] to form groups, and make a place for themselves, then a place of interaction of human relationships is necessarily born.

難しい言葉をつかったが、つまり、相手を認知し、相手からも自分が認知される交流の場が生まれるのである。その場が固定されれば、ある基準に対して、相対化(順番)が出てくるのである。会社や組織で言えば、階級なのである。警察や自衛隊では、その階級の差が絶対であり、上官や上司の言うことは、その場にいるかぎり、絶対となるのである。

I've used difficult words, but to put it another way, a place of exchange is born where a person acknowledges other people, and is acknowledged by other people. Once that place is fixed, a relativizing (ranking) is established based on a certain standard. At work or in an organization, this would be things like a person's rank. In the police or self-defense forces, differences in rank are absolute, and as long as you are in this place, what the superior officer or boss says is absolute.

人類の歴史を見る限り、この相対化がなかった事例はないし、どんな社会制度(資本主義でも共産主義)でも、必ずなんらかの階級制度は存在しているのである。

As far as one can tell looking at the history of humankind, there are no cases in which this relativizing was not there, and in every social system (capitalist as well as communist) there exists some kind of hierarchical system.

It is easy to theorize about a phenomenon without an actual case to compare to. On one message board, a 15-year-old girl writes about her experience being bullied and provides such a case:

私は今学校でいじめられています。
一度先生に相談して止めるよう言ってもらったんですけど、それが逆効果だったみたいで・・。
もっとひどくなってしまいました。

I am being bullied right now at school.
I once went to the teacher so they could tell them to stop, but that seems to have had the opposite effect.
It's become even more horrible now.

男女問わずほとんどの人に悪口を言われます。
すごく苦しくてつらいです。学校をやめたいと思っています。
フリースクールに通うとか、何とか学校には行きたいんですけど。
(高卒じゃないと就職ってやっぱり大変だろうし・・・。)

Both boys and girls, I'm being called names by nearly everybody.
It hurts a lot and it's really difficult to take. I'm thinking of quitting school.
I'm thinking of attending freeschool, I want to go to some other school.
(But if I haven't graduated, I suppose finding work will be really terrible…)

働いたほうがいいんですか?
それから、親にはまだこの事を伝えてません。反対されそうだし、どう伝えていいのかわからなくて。この先すごく不安です。・・これから私はどうしたらいいですか?

Would it be better if I started working?
As well, I haven't yet told my parents about any of this. They would be against it, and anyway I don't know how I would tell them. I am really anxious about what will happen next. … From here on, what should I do?

A blogger from an educational NPO that works with children provides a second-hand account of another case of bullying:

小学3年生からいじめの悩みについて
メールや電話で相談を受けています

I receive inquiries by Email and phone
from a third grade student worried about bullying.

1年のときからいじめられてる
靴を隠されたり嫌なあだ名を言われたり

Bullied from the first year of elementary school.
Their shoes were taken and hidden away, and they were called nasty nicknames.

親に話すと怒って学校に行っちゃうから言えない
先生も皆の前で話すからばれちゃうから言えない
友だちも仲良くしていてもいじめっ子の方についちゃう

If the student tells their parents, the parents will get angry and come to come to school, so they stay quiet.
The teachers will talk about it in front of everybody, and it will get out, so they stay quiet.
Even close friends follow the bully.

どうしたらいいんだろう?
毎日楽しく学校に行きたいよね?
そのためにはどうすればいいだろう?
と聞いてみたら

What would be the best thing to do?
You want to enjoy going to school, right?
What would be the best way to do that?
I ask these [questions] and see.

道徳の時間に皆でいじめのことを考える
授業をやってほしい
と言いました

In ethics [class], think about bullying with everybody else.
I want to do it in class.
This is what [the student] answered.

自分がいじめられてるとか
誰がいじめてるとか
そういうことじゃなくて
クラスの皆でいじめのことを考えることの大切さを
子ども自身が実感していること
そのまっとうな感覚に驚きました

Instead of whether they are getting bullied or
who is getting bullied,
they really felt the importance
of the whole class thinking together about bullying.
And this decency completely took my senses by surprise.

1つ1つのいじめについて対応しようとすると
被害者は誰か
加害者は誰か
誰が責任をとるのか
などどいう次元の話で終始しがちです

When I try to respond to acts of bullying one by one,
then the conversation has a tendency to begin and end with things like:
Who is the victim?
Who is the perpetrator?
And who will take responsibility?

そうすると二重に傷つけられたり
子どもの心の取り扱いも
大人の人間関係も
非常に難しくなります

When you do this, then they get hurt yet again,
And dealing with the children,
as well as their relationships with adults,
becomes much more difficult.

目の前のいじめをすぐにやめさせることも大切ですが
簡単ではありません
それよりもクラス全体の共感意識を高めたり
いじめのことを一緒に考える
予防教育がもっとも大切だというのが
当会の考え方です

While it is important to stop the bullying that happens right before your eyes,
it is not that easy.
More than this, raising shared awareness among all students in the class,
thinking together about bullying,
and prioritizing preventative education,
this is the thinking of the members [of our organization].

Finally, blogger ojezal69 provides some more encouraging thoughts when he writes about Naito Daisuke, the Japanese world champion boxer who was bullied as a child:

内藤選手は、すごいです。中学時代、いじめられっ子で、その事実を消したい、そんな思いで頑張ってこられた結果の世界チャンピオン
今いじめと戦っている子供達に勇気を与えたと思います。
そんな思いを抱えて彼は頑張ったと言っています。

Naito is amazing. When he was in junior high-school, he was bullied, but he wanted to erase that fact, so with that thought in mind, he worked hard and managed to become the world champion.
I feel that he has brought courage to kids who are struggling right now with bullying.
He says that he worked really hard with that memory [of bullying] in his mind.
The number one cause for suicide is untreated depression. Depression is treatable and suicide is preventable. You can get help from confidential support lines for the suicidal and those in emotional crisis. Please visit www.befrienders.org to find a suicide prevention helpline in your country.

World regions

Countries

Languages