Senaiho’s final update on Yamanashi School Bullying Lawsuit: They basically lost, because bullying is an “expected and normal” part of Japanese Education (UPDATED with full court decision text)

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Hi Blog. Speaking of treatment of Visible Minorities in Japanese school textbooks, here is the final update on one of Senaiho’s lawsuits against the bullies who made her feel like dropping out of school in 2018. (Previous Senaiho posts: Original here, Updates One, Two, Three, and Four.)

Senaiho’s family lost, in that the court acknowledged bullying happened, but no compensation for mental suffering was warranted because nobody died or was seriously injured. Bullying is a natural part of Japanese Education, you see, so gaman gaman. It’s only fun until somebody loses an eye.

Conclusion follows:

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

From: Senaiho
Subject: Judgement Update
Date: May 6, 2021
To: “Debito Arudou Ph.D.” <debito@debito.org>

Hello Debito,
Here is an update of our case. Use it wherever you see fit with our permission. Thanks again for everything.
Senaiho

Update on Senaiho Judgment in The Bullying Case

We received a judgment from the Yamanashi Circuit Court in our case against the bullies of our daughter resulting in the school cutting her hair and her dropping out of school. In a Readers Digest version of the judgment, we lost. The court ruled that while recognizing the fact that bullying was present, it did not amount to enough abuse that would merit awarding any damages. A certain amount of teasing is expected and a normal part of the Japanese educational system, in the court’s opinion, so zero amount is awarded.

There is no hiding our disappointment in this judgment, so I won’t try to white-wash it. It sends the message that it is OK to bully others for whatever reason in Japanese education, as long as there are no serious physical effects, such as severe injury, death, or suicide. There was no mention whatsoever of anything related to racial motivations in our case.

There is the option of appealing, but after consideration of all the factors, while there is some moral support to appeal from others who have endured abuse by classmates (and teachers) in the Japanese education system, appealing our judgment would have no benefit to anyone following in this direction, we feel. While there are laws that apply to abuse regarding the Japanese education system, at least in our case, they are not given merit as far as Japanese legal and social welfare is concerned. The decision to follow up legally is a dead end in our opinion. We know of some situations where in a lack of legal justice, the victims have taken matters into their own hands, and while it is easy to understand their feelings, it is not a road we wish to go down.

Also in light of the effects of further legal actions on the mental well-being of our daughter, along with the financial drain of it, we have decided not pursue this any further. We still have the case against the city of Yamanashi pending and we will be focusing our remaining energies on this until its conclusion. Thank you again for your support and well wishes. Senaiho

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

Yet, as Senaiho noted in his Original Post to Debito.org in December 2018:

====================

According to Guidebook of School Dispute Resolution by Kamiuchi Satoru, pg 216-217, The legal responsibilities of compulsory education in Japan are:

There shall be:

1. No provision of reasonable consideration based on developmental disability support law, disability discrimination prevention law

2. No response to bullying, contrary to the ordinance such as bullying prevention measure promotion law, Yamanashi city bullying countermeasure contact council, etc.

3. No School accident judgment incompatible and not pursuant to the “Ministry of Education, Culture, Administration” guidelines on response to school accidents.

What this legalese means in real life, is that the onus is legally completely on the school to make it safe and secure for every student to attend, including making any accommodations for special needs like attention deficit disorder, special training, or bullying awareness, really anything that would hinder any student from being able to participate in their education…

====================

Yamanashi District Court disagrees. So much for expecting the judiciary to help.

Here is the redacted lawsuit decision in its entirety.

Senaiho404判決

Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

======================
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11 comments on “Senaiho’s final update on Yamanashi School Bullying Lawsuit: They basically lost, because bullying is an “expected and normal” part of Japanese Education (UPDATED with full court decision text)

  • Unfortunately this is a pay-per-view newspaper.

    https://mainichi.jp/articles/20200205/ddl/k19/040/209000c

    市立中いじめ訴訟 山梨市など被告、請求棄却求める /山梨
    山梨
    毎日新聞 2020/2/5 地方版 有料記事 314文字
     山梨市立中学時代に同級生からのいじめや教諭の不適切な指導で精神的な苦痛を受けたとして、同市の高校2年の女子生徒(17)が同市と元同級生、その両親に総額約1300万円の損害賠償を求めた訴訟の第1回口頭弁論が4日、甲府地裁(鈴木順子裁判長)であった。被告側はいずれも請求棄却を求めた。

     訴状によると、元同級生は生徒の体臭につ…[この記事は有料記事です。]

    Reply
  • Loverilakkuma says:

    I didn’t like Japanese public school. I don’t like Japanese public school. And I sure will never like Japanese public school whatsoever. Despite the numerous allegations of bullying and violence, the law is essentially for schools to defend their negligence and
    coverups–not for students and parents.

    Japanese public schools are basically shunning biracial children by applying universal standards to penalize them for physical appearance as cause for trouble. Schools could even penalize biracial students for standing up to the bullies.

    Reply
    • Baudrillard says:

      this ” Schools could even penalize biracial students for standing up to the bullies”
      Yes, what if said bullied student goes on the offensive and stops short of takking an eye out? I mean, theyre just following the judging of the court, right? A bit of teasing etc is to be expected?

      I strongly advise the bullied to lift weights or take self defence classes. Or bribe someone to act as a “bodyguard”. A few “jokes” played on the bullies individually might be worthwhile also.

      After all, its just a bit of fun and teasing! Part of Japanese culture says the court.

      ” It was only a slight tolchock.She was still breathing, I swear it!’ Alex, Clockwork Orange.

      Reply
  • Jim Di Griz says:

    I’ve been saying for years that bullying IS Japanese culture/Japan is a bully culture and the apologists have always called me racist.
    Now that a Japanese court has said that bullying is Japanese culture, will the apologists be calling them racist? (Or is it ok when Japanese do racist things, but not NJ? I think we all know the answer to that one).

    Anyway, KUDOS to Senaiho for doing the right thing and standing up for his child’s INALIENABLE HUMAN RIGHTS and by extension the human rights of all our children!
    I for one owe him a well-deserved thank you!
    He can be proud of what he did, however insane the court’s final decision, and have no doubt that he DID THE RIGHT THING.

    HERO.

    Reply
  • You fought the good fight senaiho. No one can ever say you didn’t do all in your power to seek redress.

    Foreigners, and maybe even some Japanese, think that the Japanese legal system is like a western legal system, because it has (most of) the same components as a western legal system. I thought so too, for a while. The trouble is, it operates completely differently. Here are the major differences as I see them:

    Japanese lawyers have no power. They are not considered “officers of the court” and they cannot compel the police to do anything. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen Japanese defense lawyers take money from foreigners accused of a crime and, since they assume guilt of the foreigner, don’t really lift a finger to help but just keep taking money anyway.

    Japanese judges are not appointed after years of outstanding service as litigators or politicians like in the west (mostly), they are earmarked at university while they still have no real life experience and are educated by the judicial branch, which includes secondment to the public prosecutors office!

    In criminal matters, the public prosecutors run the show and the judiciary largely just do what they are told by them. The ultimate goal of the courts is to protect the government and the institutions of Japan. I have deduced this through years of real life rulings. They clearly do not uphold the letter of the law. You might be cynical and say well western courts don’t always rule by the letter of the law either, but it’s very different in this case. My father who was a judge for many years told me that a judge’s worst fear was in being overruled by a higher court because you got the law wrong. Getting the law wrong was something that limited your career in many ways, so it is imperative that you do your best to apply the law as it stands. Not so in Japan, in Japan your career trajectory, as a judge, is in how well you fit in to the system, the contacts you have and your ability to make problems disappear for the elite.

    Know this, and you may save yourself a lot of trouble some day.

    Reply
  • Hi Debito, just a comment. When you wrote:

    “According to Guidebook of School Dispute Resolution by Kamiuchi Satoru, pg 216-217, The legal responsibilities of compulsory education in Japan are:

    There shall be:

    1. No provision of reasonable consideration based on developmental disability support law, disability discrimination prevention law

    2. No response to bullying, contrary to the ordinance such as bullying prevention measure promotion law, Yamanashi city bullying countermeasure contact council, etc.

    3. No School accident judgment incompatible and not pursuant to the “Ministry of Education, Culture, Administration” guidelines on response to school accidents.”

    I think there may have been a translation error there. I have been doing legal translation (J-E) for the United Nations for more than 6 years, and I sense something wrong. Do you have the original Japanese?

    — I didn’t write that. I was citing Senaiho from the original post. Senaiho, comment?

    Reply
    • I translated that from a 2015 edition of the book I sited. If I missed a nuance of the original Japanese, it is my fault. A newer edition of that book came out in 2019 I believe, and we gave the older edition away, so I don’t have it on hand. However, when we hired our lawyer in 2019 we discussed the laws that would apply to our case and he, along with my wife’s son who is a law school graduate, both concurred that laws on the books against bullying in Japanese schools would apply in our case. I am pretty sure our understanding of the law is correct. The lawyer insisted in the suit against the bullies, along with the suit against the City of Yamanashi as it would help establish the case that abuse occurred. That the court agreed with. What the court didn’t agree with was that financial penalties should be applied. Actually the law does not stipulate penalties either, so this is a fuzzy area that every local court can decide for itself. To argue that I mistranslated part of the original Japanese, therefore lost the suit, does a disservice to the whole point.

      The big enchilada is our suit against the City of Yamanashi. While many folks would like to see justice rendered against bullies in Japanese schools, it isn’t going to happen unless a lot more people decide to take them to court all over the country and judgments start to come in favor of plaintiffs which would require a long journey of court battles. We are running out of steam for this. Time to pass the baton.

      Reply
  • “To argue that I mistranslated part of the original Japanese, therefore lost the suit, does a disservice to the whole point.”

    No I would never say that. Sorry if it came across that way. For a start English wouldn’t even enter into the equation of a Japanese hearing about Japanese law.

    I was just talking mainly about this translated part:

    “There shall be:

    1. No provision of reasonable consideration based on developmental disability support law, disability discrimination prevention law”

    It doesn’t make sense. And I am very used to legalese. This is not legalese it is nonsense.

    Good luck in your next case against the city. I really hope you get a win.

    Reply
  • I agree that some level of bullying at high school is inevitable, and difficult to control.

    However, the teacher being the instigator of, or being complicit in the bullying, like in this case, is just completely nuts. That is not normal and not inevitable.

    The court has shown they do not care about protecting children, they care about protecting racist bullying teachers. There is no other lesson to learn here.

    Reply
  • Senaiho, I am extremely sorry that you had to endure this ruling. Thank you very much for updating us, and I really really really wish you get a judge with more sense in your suit against the city. The ruling was a very hard read: I went through some of the pages and the judge excused all the instances of bullying.

    I agree very much with Jim di Griz’s comment about the normalization and sanctioning of bullying, and TJJ’s comment about how utterly unjustifiable it is to have the teacher participate in bullying or start it.

    Reply

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