The number of reported cases of bullying at elementary, junior high and high schools rose to a recordacross Japan in fiscalup 36, from the previous year, according to an education ministry survey released last October. But the panels have at times clashed with family members over neutrality.
Her family requested that the panel shut down because they felt it was operating on the premise that no bullying had occurred. But the Toride Board of Education, which interviewed her classmates, concluded in March that there was no evidence she had been bullied. The board, however, retracted the decision after the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology ordered a review of the case.
The board-commissioned third-party panel of six members, including education and legal experts, began its probe in July only to be disbanded a year later.
Another third-party panel was looking into the suicide last August of year-old Rima Kasai, a junior high school student from
Extreme cases of bullying city of Aomori.
The panel showed a draft report to her family in April saying that while her death involved bullying, it could not be determined that it was the direct cause of her suicide and that she suffered from juvenile depression.
Dissatisfied with the draft, the family asked the panel to replace two psychiatrists on the panel. They said one of them had previously judged in a separate case that a girl had taken her own life due to multiple reasons, including an eating disorder. The Aomori Municipal Board of Education refused to replace the members.
The board plans to choose a new panel with members from outside the prefecture. To ease concerns, education ministry officials plan to visit regional governments to offer advice on how to work on such sensitive matters.
The key for gaining trust would be selecting panel members with no existing interest in the case, he said. Midori Komori, head of Gentle Heart Project, a nonprofit organization working to stop school bullying, said experts on school bullying should also be included on the panels.