Adults in the Student Suicide Case

“You Defamed the Reputation of Nagasaki Shimbun.” (3)

2023.06.04 16:01 Nanami Nakagawa

In November 2022, Kyodo News reporter Yoichi Ishikawa published a book from Bungeishunju. It follows the case of Hayato Fukuura, a high school junior at Kaisei High School, a private Catholic school in Nagasaki City, who committed suicide after being bullied.

In the book, Ishikawa criticized the reporting attitude of the local newspaper, the Nagasaki Shimbun. He spelled out the fact that the Nagasaki Shimbun failed to fulfill its mission of journalism.

The Nagasaki Shimbun was enraged by this content. It strongly protested against Kyodo News, to which Ishikawa belongs, rather than Bungeishunju, the publisher.

On November 14, in response to the protest, Kyodo News called Ishikawa and began a hearing.

Hayato Fukuura (left) and his older brother (right). The Fukuura family visited the Nagasaki Penguin Aquarium when Hayato was one year old. (Provided by bereaved family)

The day after the book was published

It all started on November 11th, the day after the book was published. Ichiro Masamura, the head of the Chiba Bureau to which Ishikawa belongs, contacted Ishikawa saying, “There are protests coming from outside,” and it was decided that Ishikawa would be interviewed three days later.

A few hours later, Ishikawa received an email from Shuhei Masunaga, the Legal Director in charge of the hearing. Ishikawa asked about the point and content of the protest. However, Masunaga did not tell him, “I will talk about that on the day.”

On November 14, the hearing was held at the Chiba Bureau office. Shuhei Masunaga, General Manager of the Legal Affairs Department, and Kentaro Shimizu, Planning Committee Member of the Human Resources Department, General Affairs Bureau, both from Kyodo News Headquarters attended as well.

Masunaga said at the beginning of the hearing.

“As it turns out, the Nagasaki Shimbun is strongly protesting us over the book.”

However, after this, the specific content of what Masunaga told him was off the mark.

Disappointment of the bereaved family, Nagasaki Shimbun subscriber of 25 years

The first thing Masunaga mentioned was that he described a certain act of the Nagasaki Shimbun as “ignoring” in his book.

On November 17, 2020, Ishikawa reported from Kyodo News, “Kaisei High camouflages suicide as ‘sudden death’ / Nagasaki Prefecture also confirms, suspected violation of national guidelines.”

This is the scoop reported by Ishikawa.

After Hayato committed suicide, Kaisei Gakuen proposed to the bereaved family that they explain to the others that Hayato had “died suddenly.” This was completely unacceptable to the bereaved family. Moreover, Nagasaki Prefecture’s General Affairs Department Academic Promotion Section approved the proposal from Kaisei Gakuen. At that time, Osamu Matsuo, who was serving as a counselor in the Academic Affairs Division, told the bereaved family that he could barely accept the term “sudden death.”

Ishikawa’s article got public attention. On the day the article was published, it appeared on the top page of Yahoo! News and temporarily became the most accessed.

The media requested interviews one after another to the bereaved family. Hayato’s father, Daisuke, politely responded to the interviews, and it was immediately reported on the TV news after the evening.

The bereaved family recalls this time as follows.

“We felt good about the response, so naturally, I expected this topic to be published in the morning paper the next day.”

However, the next morning’s report failed the bereaved family’s expectations.

The Nagasaki Shimbun, which has the highest market share in Nagasaki Prefecture, did not report it at all.

On the other hand, in the morning papers outside the prefecture, at least 15 newspapers, including the head of the social section of the Tokyo Shimbun, reported on it.

The family thought something was wrong. They turned again to the Nagasaki Shimbun, which they had subscribed to for 25 years. But the article is nowhere to be found.

“We couldn’t understand why the responses of prefectural officials, which were viewed as problematic in other prefectures, were ignored in Nagasaki Prefecture. The dispute between the bereaved family and the school was widely reported, but I wondered whether there was hesitation if the administration was the subject of criticism.”

Based on these facts, Ishikawa wrote in his book that the series of events had been “disregarded by the local media” and added the subheading “Local media ignores.”

But Masunaga doesn’t agree.

“I’m not sure what the foundation is for the accusation that Nagasaki Shimbun ‘ignored’ it.”

“What you wrote here defamed the reputation of Nagasaki Shimbun.”

An hour had passed since the hearing began.

Yoichi Ishikawa, “The Sanctuary of Bullying: A Complete Record of Parents Who Challenged the Darkness of Catholic School.” (November 10, 2022, published by Bungeishunju)

To be continued.

(Originally published in Japanese on May 22, 2023. Translation by Mana Shibata.)

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