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注冊日期 : 2023-04-12

Girl’s death in Japan prompts probe of alleged bullying Empty Girl’s death in Japan prompts probe of alleged bullying

周三 4月 12, 2023 3:34 pm
Tokyo — When Akino Imanaka attended her junior high school graduation earlier this month, the whole community turned out to celebrate. It wasn't just that Imanaka had ranked at the top of her class — she was the class. Imanaka was the sole student on the island of Oteshima, a tiny speck of land in Japan's famed Inland Sea.

"It was a little lonely, but really fun," the 15-year-old told CBS News, recalling her experience as the only elementary school and then junior high student on Oteshima, about 10 miles north of the main island of Shikoku, in western Japan.

TOKYO (AP) — A Japanese city will reinvestigate alleged bullying that was denied by education officials two years ago after a 14-year-old girl was found dead in a neighborhood park.

Saaya Hirose, an eighth grader, disappeared from her home in Asahikawa on the main northern island of Hokkaido in February. Authorities said she was found dead in the park and there was no sign of a crime.

The Weekly Bunshun magazine, citing police autopsy results, said she likely died of hypothermia soon after going missing.

Her death and a statement by her mother that she had been bullied prompted Asahikawa Mayor Masahito Nishikawa to instruct education authorities to reinvestigate the case.

On Thursday, the city’s board of education said a panel including a lawyer, psychiatrist, social worker and scholar will begin the investigation later this month.

Bullying is a persistent and growing problem at Japanese schools, which are often criticized for indifference to children persecuted by their peers.

Last year, a record 612,000 bullying cases were reported at elementary, junior high and high schools, according to the education ministry. It said there were 479 suicides among students, a new record partly attributed to financial and psychological difficulties during the pandemic. Six were specifically linked to bullying.

In Japan’s highly competitive but conformist society, school bullying often involves long-term harassment by a group of students of someone who may be seen as weak or different. Children with outstanding talent, physical handicaps or a foreign upbringing can also be targeted.

Saaya’s alleged bullying started in the spring of 2019 soon after she entered a city-run junior high school in Asahikawa city, officials said.

The case initially surfaced in 2019 when a number of classmates forcibly took nude photographs of her and posted them on social media, according to the Weekly Bunshun magazine. She begged them to stop and tried to persuade them by jumping into a river to kill herself, it said.

She was rescued and the incident led to an internal investigation by the school and city education authorities. They concluded that there was no bullying, board of education official Hiroki Tsujinami said. Results of that investigation have not been released.

Saaya transferred to another school in the city, but became reclusive and developed suicidal thoughts, according to the magazine.

In late April, Education Minister Koichi Hagiuda called for a full investigation of her death.

Saaya’s family said in a statement last month that they hope the new investigation will reveal the truth and that there can be a world without bullying.

Bullying often goes unnoticed at Japanese schools, where teachers typically handle classes of about 40 students and are busy with afterschool activities and other work. Bullying is considered an embarrassment for schools.

Tutoring the teen over the past few years was a team of no less than five instructors, each responsible for two subjects. Among them was Kazumasa Ii, 66, who taught Japanese language and social studies. Trying to create any semblance of normal class life prompted the staff to take on some unusual duties: Besides lesson plans and grading papers, they occasionally had to stand in as classmates.

"We expressed our opinions and offered opposing views" so their star pupil could experience class discussions, Ii told CBS News.

Like much of rural Japan, Oteshima faces almost-certain oblivion. When Ii moved to the island 30 years ago with his young family, his kids had plenty of playmates, all watched over by village elders. These days, stray cats — which greedily swarm the dock three times a day when the ferry arrives — vastly outnumber the several dozen permanent residents, most of whom earn a living by fishing for octopus and sand eels.

In this age of global travel and internet communication, meeting and even getting seriously involved with someone from outside your country is a very real possibility. For that matter, how do Japanese women and men rate as romantic interests? Takako Matsushita, a Japanese cabin attendant who has also appeared on TV and in magazines, offers her perspective on how Japanese women may get higher marks than Japanese men in the international dating market. And her message? Japanese men need to watch out, or all the nice ladies in Japan may be snatched up by foreign men.

In a commentary published on the website zakzak, Matsushita writes that Japanese women ranked as one of the most popular in the world, while Japanese men have ranked very close to the bottom in popularity. This has apparently been mentioned in articles in foreign magazines and on Japanese TV and also seems to be true among her acquaintances as well. She goes on to explain why she thinks this may be.

One factor she feels that contributes to the popularity of Japanese women is that they tend to be dainty in appearance and are very fashion conscious. Even the average Japanese girl is likely to look stylish by global standards or at least cute in their own way.

Another important factor is that Japanese women are used to going out of their way to be helpful and pleasant to men. (Although Japanese men may not entirely agree) Japanese women in general treat their men with a great deal of consideration, for example when serving food or drinks at social gatherings or even at the office, where Japanese women are often expected to serve coffee or tea to male colleagues. Thus, things that come as second nature to Japanese women may seem very considerate and helpful to men from other countries.

Matsushita admits sometimes this can go too far when interacting with foreign friends or colleagues, as was the case when she was dining with some crew members and after pouring drinks for male pilots, she ended up being warned by other attendants that this wasn’t appropriate behavior unless you were the man’s wife or you were in a profession that provided a “different” kind of service all together. Still, the fact remains that Japanese women do have a standard of “womanly” behavior they are expected to adhere to, which could well make them attractive to foreign men.

Now, whether this is sexist or not in the context of Japanese society is a different matter, and one that probably can’t be fully discussed in a single article. (To me, it seems women in Japan are in some ways allowed a great deal of social freedom and personal choice compared to many countries in the world, but at the same time there exist some very strong preconceptions about how women should or shouldn’t behave, all of which is just a part of life in Japan.)

On the flip side, what does this mean for Japanese men? Matsushita says that Japanese men are used to being treated well by Japanese women, spoiled in a way, and simply unaccustomed to doing certain things for women. This could very well make them unpopular with foreign women.

So, based on Matsushita’s reasoning, you could say that to foreign men, Japanese women can seem particularly kind and attentive by just doing what would normally be expected of them, and to Japanese women, foreign men can seem extra considerate by simply treating women the way they usually do.

Matsushita warns this could be bad news for all the Japanese guys out there — all the attractive Japanese ladies may want to look elsewhere for boyfriend/husband material. (Maybe Japanese men can take a hint from our past article on how foreign guys make Japanese girls fall head over heels.)

So there you have a Japanese cabin attendant’s take on the popularity of Japanese men and women. You may or may not agree, but I think it does give us some interesting points to consider. Well, no one ever said relationships were easy, and when it comes to the search for true love, we need all the good advice and luck we can get, don’t we?

A Louisville bank employee armed with a rifle opened fire at his workplace Monday morning, killing five people — including a close friend of Kentucky's governor — while livestreaming the attack on Instagram, authorities said.

Police arrived as shots were still being fired inside Old National Bank and killed the shooter in an exchange of gunfire, Louisville Metro Police Department Chief Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel said. The city's mayor, Craig Greenberg, called the attack "an evil act of targeted violence.”

The shooting, the 15th mass killing in the country this year, comes just two weeks after a former student killed three children and three adults at a Christian elementary school in Nashville, Tennessee, about 160 miles (260 kilometers) to the south. That state's governor and his wife also had friends killed in that shooting.

In Louisville, the chief identified the shooter as 25-year-old Connor Sturgeon, who she said was livestreaming during the attack.

“That’s tragic to know that that incident was out there and captured," she said.

Meta, the company that owns Facebook and Instagram, said in a statement that it had “quickly removed the livestream of this tragic incident this morning.”

Social media companies have imposed tougher rules over the past few years to prohibit violent and extremist content. They have set up systems to remove posts and streams that violate those restrictions, but shocking material like the Louisville shooting continues to slip through the cracks, prompting lawmakers and other critics to lash out at the technology industry for slipshod safeguards and moderation policies.

Nine people, including two police officers, were treated for injuries from the Louisville shooting, University of Louisville Hospital spokeswoman Heather Fountaine said in an email. One of the wounded, identified as 57-year-old Deanna Eckert, later died, police said Monday night.

One of the wounded officers, 26-year-old Nickolas Wilt, graduated from the police academy on March 31. He was in critical condition after being shot in the head and having surgery, the police chief said. At least three patients had been discharged.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said he lost one of his closest friends in the shooting — Tommy Elliott — in the building not far from the minor league ballpark Louisville Slugger Field and Waterfront Park.

“Tommy Elliott helped me build my law career, helped me become governor, gave me advice on being a good dad," said Beshear, his voice shaking with emotion. "He's one of the people I talked to most in the world, and very rarely were we talking about my job. He was an incredible friend.”

Also killed in the shooting were Josh Barrick, Jim Tutt and Juliana Farmer, police said.

“These are irreplaceable, amazing individuals that a terrible act of violence tore from all of us,” the governor said.

It was the second time that Beshear was personally touched by a mass tragedy since becoming governor.

In late 2021, one of the towns devastated by tornadoes that tore through Kentucky was Dawson Springs, the hometown of Beshear’s father, former two-term Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear. Andy Beshear frequently visited Dawson Springs as a boy and has talked emotionally about his father’s hometown.

Beshear spoke as the investigation in Louisville continued and police searched for a motive. Crime scene investigators could be seen marking and photographing numerous bullet holes in the windows near the bank’s front door.

As part of the investigation, police descended on the neighborhood where the suspect lived, about 5 miles (8 kilometers) south of the downtown shooting. The street was blocked as federal and local officers talked to residents. One home was cordoned off with caution tape. Kami Cooper, who lives in the neighborhood, said she didn’t recall ever meeting the suspect but said it’s an unnerving feeling to have lived on the same street as someone who could do such a thing.

“I’m almost speechless. You see it on the news but not at home,” Cooper said. “It’s unbelievable, it could happen here, somebody on my street.”

A man who fled the building during the shooting told WHAS-TV that the shooter opened fire with a long rifle in a conference room in the back of the building's first floor.

“Whoever was next to me got shot — blood is on me from it,” he told the news station, pointing to his shirt. He said he fled to a break room and shut the door.

Deputy Police Chief Paul Humphrey said the actions of responding police officers undoubtedly saved lives.

“This is a tragic event,” he said. “But it was the heroic response of officers that made sure that no more people were more seriously injured than what happened.”

Just a few hours later and blocks away, an unrelated shooting killed one man and wounded a woman outside a community college, police said.

The Moscow-appointed leader of Crimea said Tuesday the region is on guard for what may be an impending Ukrainian counteroffensive.

Sergei Aksyonov told reporters that Russian forces in Crimea had built “modern, in-depth defenses” and had “more than enough” troops and equipment to repel a possible Ukrainian assault after 13 months of war following Russia's full-scale invasion.

“We cannot underestimate the enemy, but we can definitely say that we are ready (for an attack) and that there will be no catastrophe,” he said.

His comments came days after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy reaffirmed Kyiv’s intention to take back the Black Sea peninsula that Russia illegally annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

Aksyonov first announced the beginning of fortification works in Crimea in November, without giving details. In February, at a security meeting chaired by Russian President Vladimir Putin, he said that the works were set to finish by April.

Satellite photos from Maxar Technologies show a complex web of trenches and other fortifications dug near Medvedivka, a small town near a crossing between Crimea and mainland Ukraine, suggesting Russian concerns about a possible Ukrainian attack there.

Military analysts expect Kyiv to take advantage of improving weather to seize the battlefield initiative with new batches of Western weapons, including scores of tanks, and fresh troops trained in the West.

Ukrainian forces could seek to break through the land corridor between Russia and Crimea, heading from Zaporizhzhia toward Melitopol and the Azov Sea. That might split the Russian forces in two.

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Kyiv’s forces face a formidable challenge to dislodge Russian forces, however. Their armor likely will encounter minefields, anti-tank ditches and other obstacles, while extensive trench systems provide cover for Moscow’s troops.

The Kremlin wants Kyiv to acknowledge Russia's sovereignty over Crimea and also recognize September's annexation of the Ukrainian provinces of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia. Ukraine has vowed to drive the Russians out of all occupied territories and has ruled out any talks with Moscow until it fully reclaims control of its land.

The Ukraine-held parts of the four provinces have felt the brunt of Russian bombardments in recent months, and seven civilians were wounded by Russian shelling in Donetsk and Kherson on Monday and overnight, the presidential office reported Tuesday.

Russia on Tuesday also used Su-35 aircraft to launch strikes on two towns in the Zaporizhzhia region, the head of the Ukrainian presidential office said.

Andriy Yermak said in a Telegram post that local authorities were assessing the damage in the towns of Orikhiv and Huliaipole, each of which had a pre-war population of just under 14,000.

Russian artillery also hit a church in Kherson, blowing out its windows and damaging its roof and walls, the Ukrainian regional military administration reported on Telegram. It said there had been no casualties.

Around half of unmarried people under 30 in Japan have no interest in having children, a recent survey by a pharmaceutical firm showed, with respondents citing economic concerns and the burden of childbirth and parenting as their reasoning.

Of the 400 respondents between 18 to 29 years old, 49.4 percent said they do not want children, the highest percentage in any of the last three annual pregnancy white paper surveys conducted by Rohto Pharmaceutical Co.

By gender, it found that 53.0 percent of men and 45.6 percent of women are not interested in becoming parents, citing such reasons as the high cost and anxiety about Japan's future, the Osaka-based company said in late March.

The results of the online survey conducted in January came after government data showed the number of babies born in the country last year dropped below 800,000 for the first time since records began in 1899.

To reverse the trend of the declining birthrate in the rapidly aging country, the government in April launched the Children and Families Agency to oversee child policies, also including child abuse and poverty.

The company's fiscal 2022 survey found that 48.1 percent of married men and women wishing to have children were cooperating with their partners' fertility efforts, according to the study also covering 800 married couples aged between 25 and 44.

The figure marked a significant drop from 60.3 percent in the fiscal 2020 survey, with a company official speculating that people are spending less time with their partners as life gradually returns to normal following the coronavirus pandemic.


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