Sunday, July 12

Japanese boy’s suicide sparks bomb threats

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TOKYO: The suicide of a 13-year-old boy in central Japan has sparked a series of bomb threats against his school and the local government over claims of negligence in the case, police said yesterday.

The boy’s death has snowballed into a national scandal amid reports that bullies routinely forced him to “practise” killing himself before he took his own life, and that his teacher brushed off the abuse as a joke.

A letter sent to the boy’s school in Shiga prefecture threatened that the building would be bombed unless the pupils and teachers involved apologise, local authorities said.

“The school called police Monday after receiving a threat in the mail, which demanded pupils and teachers involved in the bullying publicly apologise,” a local police officer told AFP.

Other threats included bombing regional government buildings, a local education board and even the police department, but it was unclear if one person was behind all the threats, police said.

The boy leapt to his death in October from an apartment building in the city of Otsu in central Japan, which has one of the world’s highest suicide rates.

His death has since gained national prominence after reports said the school conducted a pupil survey that revealed the boy was routinely subjected to a litany of abuse by bullies.

The school has disputed any link between the allegedly abusive pupils and the boy’s death but the survey reportedly said his teacher was aware of the bullying and ignored it.

Neither the school nor local authorities have fully disclosed the results of the survey, drawing heavy media criticism. — AFP