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

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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.

/////////////////////////////////////////////////

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.)

UPDATE NOVEMBER 14, 2019, FROM SENAIHO (PDF FORMAT, CLICK TO DOWNLOAD)

SenaihoAsahi111419

Hello Debito,
I am including an article that appeared in today s Asahi Shinbun. It s not my intention to put up every article that concerns us, but I am sending you this one because I think it is important in that it features an example of how people in officialdom abuse their power over those they view as their inferiors. I mentioned this aspect in a recent post.
My translation:
===========================================
Yamanashi School Hair Cutting Incident/Student Absence
Subtitle: A household who was a former member on the Yamanashi City Board of Education bashes the guardians by SNS of the student who s hair was cut by school officials.
Asahi Shinbun, November 14, 2019
In the spring of 2016, a second year student who s hair was cut by the school officials, was bashed by the household of a former member of the Yamanashi City B. of E. by way of Social Media (Facebook). The posted comment has since been deleted, but the Yamanashi B. of E. this month has received a copy of the deleted post from a concerned citizen of the local community, and have confirmed its contents. Mr. Kagami, the current head of the Yamanashi B.of E. said; “We are examining whether a leak of private information occurred and studying our response to this.” On 11/4 of this month, the guardians of the victim filed a 7.7 million yen lawsuit against the city of Yamanashi at the Kofu Municipal Court. The suit claims that the school officials, the B. of E. and the city are responsible, along with the perpetrators of the bullying of the victim, which resulted in the damages. As a result of the incident, the former B. of E. member manipulated information received obtained from their position on the Board, and used it to further bash the guardians of the student victim. The family member of SNS site claimed they heard the information from the former B. of E. family member “The parents of the victim gave permission to the teachers to cut her hair” they said in the posting on the SNS. The guardians of the student claim they did NOT give the school officials permission to cut their child s hair. The B. of E. without any investigation, accepted the word of the former B. of E. member at face value. The household of the former B. of E. member responded; “That was posted one year ago and has been deleted” they said. The household admits that the claim may have been based on speculation based on gossip. “It s possible we are mistaken” they said, also that it was “inappropriate to have done this.”
===========================================
All The Best 
Senaiho

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

  • 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
    • Good luck with everything!

      In the above blanket response to press, you wrote, “… 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?”

      Well, actually this happens quite a lot in the U.S., for example. Police accountability groups, and First and Second Amendment groups, encounter public officials on a regular basis who refuse to do their jobs. The most notable culprits in the U.S. are police themselves, but the badness is not so limited.

      It happens in other countries, too. When I lived in Qatar, if I went to the government office to do Important Paperwork by myself, it would just not get done, somehow, even though I had all the right papers and documents. But if my company sent their “Can Do Guy”, then he would chat with the clerks, and my paperwork would get processed. That was normal, my coworkers explained. In Qatar at that time, if you wanted things to happen, you needed a Can Do Guy to chat with the staff. He wasn’t bribing them or doing anything specific, but because he was there, they did their job.

      In summary, there are many public servants all over the world who will refuse to do their jobs, refuse to obey the law, and you can’t do much about it, and you can get screwed as a result.

      Reply
      • You are correct. My apologies. I am not familiar with too many other of the “civilized” countries. This was an English translation of a Japanese handout I gave at the press conference in response to a request for something from the “foreigner” by the Japanese press.

        My purpose was to state my opinion, and to shame, not a factual reality.

        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
    • Mr. Abe called the principle of this article today to get their reaction and to it. He then contacted us to tell us their reaction was;
      “You outsiders are a bunch of noisy B_______S”!
      Very insightful into the Japanese mindset.

      Reply
      • Sigh. I don’t even know what to say.
        ‘Let’s despise foreigners, women, outsiders… anybody who dares question why we slip anything bad under the rug.’

        And these are people tasked with educating children, among the most vulnerable in society. I felt my blood boil when I read that the teacher tasked with the remote schooling for your daughter was… the same who forcibly cut her hair.

        Thank you for the link. So glad to see people like Mr. Abe too fighting the good fight.

        Reply
    • Loverilakkuma says:

      Thank you for sharing the link. I just read it through. In an increasing visibility of bullying scandal and its cover-up by the school community in Japanese news today, it’s not really surprising to see what the Yamanashi BOE have been doing up until today. It’s just like watching a corrupted charter school board trying to run away in the aftermath of sudden school closing, from fund embezzlement scandal or the lawsuit by parents whose kids were tortured by no-excuse charter schools.

      It’s quite nauseating to see these perpetrators smacking racist thinking and group mentality while wading in quasi-neoliberal norm of Japanese school system. Yamanashi BOE really needs to be dismantled for gross neglect, inexcusable excuse after excuse, and unaccountable accountability.

      Reply

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