Adults in the Student Suicide Case

8 calls in 2 hours (2)

2023.05.29 15:37 Nanami Nakagawa

On December 3, 2022, Saori Fukuura, who lives in Nagasaki, sent a letter to Ichiro Masamura, chief of Kyodo News’ Chiba bureau. She wanted to help Yoichi Ishikawa, a reporter who belongs to the Chiba bureau.

Ishikawa pursued a case in which Saori’s son Hayato, who was in his second year of high school, committed suicide after suffering from bullying. In November 2022, Ishikawa published a book from Bungeishunju, detailing the incident.

However, the Nagasaki Shimbun was angry at the content. This is because Ishikawa had criticized the reporting stance of the Nagasaki Shimbun, which was in support of Nagasaki Prefecture, not the bereaved family. The Nagasaki Shimbun protested to Kyodo News, and in response to the protest, Kyodo News began a hearing of Ishikawa.

Saori’s letter thanked Ishikawa for reporting. Through Masamura, she hoped that Kyodo News’ evaluation of Ishikawa would improve.

Hayato Fukuura’s sixth anniversary of a death. Bereaved family members praying under the tree where Hayato died, and reporters. = (Photo by Nanami Nakagawa on April 20, 2023)

Reason for sending castella

In the evening of December 5, 2022, Saori’s phone rang. When she saw a number on the display that she didn’t recognize, Saori was struck. “It’s Kyodo News!”

When she answered the phone, she heard a male voice.

“My name is Masamura, Kyodo News Chiba bureau chief.”

Saori’s prediction was correct. Two days ago, Saori sent a letter to the Chiba bureau chief, with Nagasaki’s famous Bunmeido castella cake. She received a call from Masamura, the bureau chief, to thank her.

Masamura seemed to have seen the word “castella” written on the shipping label and said to Saori.

“Thank you for the castella.”

Saori was relieved. She thought that the letter would be mixed with other mail, so she sent it with castella. She thought her plan had been successful.

Saori replied, “Please eat the castella with everyone at the office,” but what she really wanted to give was not the castella. It was the letter. She hoped Masamura and other executives of Kyodo News would read the letter and be persuaded not to punish Ishikawa.

However, Masamura didn’t seem to notice the letter inside. Saori continued her words.

“We expressed our feelings as bereaved families in the letter.”

However, her intentions did not reach him.

Masamura told Ishikawa to come to pick up the castella, but he did not mention anything about the letter. It was when Ishikawa got in touch with Saori that Ishikawa found out about the existence of the letter.

Saori wondered where the letter sent to Masamura went after.

“Was the letter shelved?”

Saori felt let down after being delighted that her letter got to Masamura.

Legal representative attends the meeting

Why didn’t Masamura tell Ishikawa about the existence of the letter?

In fact, things were already progressing without Saori’s knowledge.

On November 11, 2022, just after noon, Ishikawa was at a beauty salon in Chiba City. He had an interview with Shukan Bunshun, a weekly magazine, on that evening as he recently published the book.

At that moment, his company cell phone rang. But he couldn’t answer the phone because he was just getting a haircut. His phone rang repeatedly after that, but he was unable to pick it up.

Ishikawa went back home around 1:50 p.m.. When he checked his phone, there were 7-8 incoming calls on both his company and private cell phones. It was all from Chiba Bureau Chief Masamura.

Ishikawa had been on childcare leave since October, a month ago. He just had a baby in March. Why did the company contact him so suddenly when was on a leave?

When he tried to call back, he got an email from Masamura. The email said to call him back because he had an urgent matter.

Ishikawa made a phone call as instructed.

Masamura said, “There are protests about the book from outside, so I would like to hear the circumstances immediately.”

However, Ishikawa couldn’t go to the office because he had an interview that day. They decided that he would go three days later.

Three hours after the phone call with Masamura, around 5:00 p.m., Ishikawa received an email from Shuhei Masunaga, director of the Legal Department of Kyodo News. Masunaga wrote that he would also attend the meeting with Masuura three days later. Ishikawa asked Masunaga who was protesting what. However, Masunaga replied, “I’ll talk about that on the day,” and didn’t tell him the specifics.

Ishikawa could not understand this situation well. If it was related to the content of the book, the first thing they should do is contact Bungeishunju, the publisher. However, Ishikawa has not heard of any such protest from Bungeishunju.

On November 14, Ishikawa went to the Chiba bureau office by bicycle without being told about the details or the required time.

The meeting was supposed to start at 1 p.m., but he was a minute or two late. Masamura, who was waiting in front of the reception room on the third floor of the building, scolded him for being late, and Ishikawa entered the room while profusely apologizing.

Director Masunaga from the Legal Department and Kentaro Shimizu from the Human Resources Department of the General Affairs Bureau were waiting in the room.

Ishikawa was told, “As it turns out, the Nagasaki Simbun is strongly protesting us over the book.”

To be continued.

(Originally published in Japanese on May 19, 2023. Translation by Mana Shibata.)

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