Senaiho Update 3: Civil suit to be launched over school “Hair Police” forced-haircut bullying of student in Yamanashi JHS

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Hi Blog.  What follows is an update to the Senaiho Case of Junior High School bullying in Yamanashi, where a student three years ago had her hair forcibly cut by her Japanese school’s “hair police” (i.e., her teachers) against her will, resulting in trauma to the point where she could no longer attend.  Debito.org has been covering this case for years now, and you can see previous entries here, here, and here. (And compare it with this.)

The news is that the family, working through “proper channels” to no effect (in fact, the opposite — officialdom harassed the victims further), are officially taking the bullies to court.  Here’s Update 3.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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From: Senaiho
Subject: Senaiho Update 3
Date: November 1, 2019
To: Debito Arudou <debito@debito.org>

Hello Debito,
Since the Yamanashi Nichi Nichi published an article today (below) re the suit we will be shortly filing, I will go ahead and send this to you for your blog.

I will try to include some information not in the article.

The update:

Since my last update stating that the prosecutors office found insufficient evidence to proceed with charges, we have been working on the basis of filing a civil suit against the city of Yamanashi seeking a monetary amount of 7 million yen and a suit against the guardians of the perpetrators of the bullying seeking 5 million yen. This suit will be filed on the 8th of this month. This will be followed by a press conference at the press club office in the prefecture building.

The basis of the suit will be that our daughter was bullied and as a result of this, the school teachers cut her hair without her consent. This resulted in her being traumatised to the point of not being able to attend the last two years of her middle school education and requiring professional counseling, along with medical treatment for insomnia.

Since the original incident in ’16, many of the people involved have retired, transfered, divorced, and even been imprisoned, such as the former mayor of Yamanashi (for unrelated crimes). This however does not decrease the liability of the city or the perpetrators. It does make it difficult for those in charge though who have to catch up, but that is their problem.

This will be a long process though, probably two years at least and there is no guarantee we will come through as we wish, but if our daughter understands that what happened to her is not her fault, it will be a victory.

Thank you all here at debito.org for your continued support.

Sincerely, Senaiho

(Courtesy Yamanashi Nichi Nichi Shinbun, 11/2/19 edition, p. 26.)

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10 comments on “Senaiho Update 3: Civil suit to be launched over school “Hair Police” forced-haircut bullying of student in Yamanashi JHS

  • I wanted to add that several newspapers have asked me for my opinion on these issues of Japan, bullying, official corruption, etc., so I have prepared the following statement which is being translated.

    Japan likes to think of itself as a modern, civilized country. If you ask any Japanese, they will probably be insulted if you don t agree with this assumption. In fact, Japan has spent most of its modern history trying to catch up with the “civilized” countries. If you agree with this, let me ask you, in what civilized country in the world, do the citizens of that country have to sue their public officials to get them to obey the law?

    If I, as a foreign person, go down the street, and even for a very minor infraction, the police will stop me, fine me, and maybe even arrest me for not carrying proper identification, or even wearing the wrong kind of foot-ware. However; in our experience, we have done everything possible to try to get public officials (those in public office and charged with enforcing the laws of Japan) to follow those laws. Instead of doing that, these same officials have done their best to avoid, confuse, ignore, and evade these same laws that I as a lowly foreign citizen must obey, or face very serious consequences. In what so called civilized countries does this situation exist?

    In my country we have an expression; ” No one is above the law.” I have sadly come to discover that even in a country like Japan, that likes to think of itself as modern and civilized, this is in fact not the case.

    Reply
  • I would like to add to what has been referred to in the YNN article. The defense the school officials have been using from the beginning was that our daughter gave the teachers permission to cut her hair. This never happened anyway but when they realized that even if she did give them permission, she is a minor so that dog don’t hunt. Then they changed their story to her mother gave them permission to cut her hair. This originated from a neighbor of ours who happened to be on the board of education at the time. She made up this story to help her fellow officials cover up the misdeeds, at least that is what we suspected for a long time but had no proof that it was in fact her idea.

    Then a few months passed and out of the blue, another neighbor of ours who is sympathetic to our cause sends an email to us stating that so and so s husband put up on his Facebook page that his wife discussed the “permission” angle at a board meeting! He very quickly took it down, but we managed to save a screen shot of it before he did. This is a no no. Public officials are NOT supposed to discuss ANY matter outside of their official duties, even with spouses, even though everyone knows they do anyway.

    Fast forward a few more months and the present mayor it turns out can t seem to find anyone in his office who will give him the straight shimmy on what really went on back in 16. Remember the former mayor is in prison, the former head of the B of E is retired, the education board member lady has resigned, or finished her term. So the present mayor calls our sympathetic neighbor and asks if he can fill him in on what the background of this whole thing is. That brings us to the present. The article of the impending lawsuit appears, the mayor is perplexed, so he gets to try to play catchup. In the meantime we have a sidebar to our case where the neighbor/B of E member, had defamed us und violated a non disclosure rule/law about discussing official business with her spouse who after having a few drinks, decides to post it on Facebook for all the world to see. Lovely

    Reply
  • This resulted in her being traumatised to the point of not being able to attend the last two years of her middle school education and requiring professional counseling, along with medical treatment for insomnia.

    yes PTSD in Japan is real; I have suffered from it also. It should be at least a civil tort and punishment for the crime of enjoying harassing others. Before others cry and complain, “oh your just pushing PC culture on to Japan” Japanese will take several weeks from work and it is allowed in the law as long as they get a doctors letter, which we all know if you pay 5000 yen anybody can get. Gaijin not included however

    Reply
  • I just got finished going through the initial court filing we will be doing the end of this week and am very pleased to say it places the accusation of racism for being a smelly “half” squarely in their faces. We will see how it flies.

    Reply
      • Hopefully we can get closure on this dark chaper in our lives. Unfortunately I have a feeling it will open another can of worms.

        Reply
        • You tried every official avenue for redress that you could but were rebuffed by a system that is built to protect itself and its members.

          A public awareness campaign like the one the P&G is supporting might force the system to change. But I can also see how that doesn’t give you redress for the harm already caused.

          Reply
  • Senaiho, you probably know about it already, but I just found this excellent January write-up from Mr. Hirotaka ABE, Director of the NPO Youth Guardian:
    https://www.mag2.com/p/news/382319/4 (in Japanese)

    He has no qualms about calling this racism. Mr. Abe also sees discrimination in how they labeled your wife a monster parent: they seemed to dislike her not being a subservient woman but rather simply demanding the school do their job. And he also takes issue with the victim-blaming: the BoE apparently said your family ‘didn’t have bonds with the community and that’s why this happened’ (he argues that’s just prejudice and you’ve actually been well-supported by that same community).

    His conclusion about the School Director and BoE is damning: “A change of mindset is impossible… It should be disbanded. If a BoE is really necessary, it would be better to change the members and the structure”.

    I wish they would publish this in the Yomiuri or another of the big newspapers.

    Reply
    • Yes thank you. We are in frequent contact with Mr. Abe and have been for some time.
      He is working on a report now that I can’t say much about, but will be out soon.

      Reply

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