Survey on Fukushima-linked bullying reveals hundreds more cases
TOKYO (Kyodo) — A government survey prompted by the bullying of a boy from Fukushima Prefecture has unveiled hundreds more cases in which evacuees from areas hit by the nuclear crisis were targeted, data released Tuesday showed.
The first nationwide survey on bullying of children who evacuated Fukushima Prefecture due to meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in 2011 showed there were 129 cases in fiscal 2016 ended this March and 199 more cases in previous years.
Among the total, 13 had apparent links to the nuclear disaster or the major earthquake and tsunami that triggered it.
Education minister Hirokazu Matsuno indicated there could be other cases that may have gone undetected, saying, “It is difficult to conduct a survey that covers them all.”
“We will consider our response in light of the possibility that (some) bullying has not surfaced,” said Matsuno.
The latest survey targeting roughly 12,000 evacuees showed some of those who were bullied in relation to the nuclear crisis were told to go back to Fukushima or stay away, as they would contaminate others with radiation.
The incidents included the highlighted case in which classmates of a boy who relocated to Yokohama in Kanagawa Prefecture demanded he give them cash, and called him a “germ.”
After the case in Yokohama surfaced in November, a slew of similar incidents were brought to light in other parts of the country, prompting the government to request schools that accept evacuees check whether they have been bullied or not through interviews and other means.
Survey: 204 bullying cases of Fukushima evacuees
A survey by Japan’s education ministry has found more than 200 cases of bullying involving children who fled Fukushima Prefecture after the nuclear disaster in March 2011. But the survey attributes fewer than 10 percent of these cases to the accident, prompting the education minister to admit the need for further studies.
The ministry surveyed more than 11,800 school-age evacuees through regional education boards in March.
The results show 204 cases of bullying occurred since April 2011. One pupil was told to go back to Fukushima soon after entering elementary school. Classmates also told a junior high school student to stay away because radiation is contagious. But the ministry’s survey linked only 13 of the bullying cases to the nuclear accident.
In comparison, a recent NHK survey of more than 740 families showed that at least 54 children were bullied because they were “nuclear accident evacuees.”
Education Minister Hirokazu Matsuno said on Tuesday that the ministry will consider additional studies to bring hidden cases to light. He said that if children were bullied because they were nuclear evacuees, they might have found it difficult to respond to the survey.
Professor Naoki Ogi of Hosei University said the failure of teachers to take the effect of the nuclear accident sufficiently into account has resulted in an extremely superficial appraisal of the problem.