Adults in the Student Suicide Case

The Nagasaki Shimbun Defended the Prefecture (4)

2023.06.14 11:35 Nanami Nakagawa

On November 14, 2022, Kyodo News reporter Yoichi Ishikawa was at a hearing conducted by Shuhei Masunaga, General Manager of the Legal Affairs Department, and Kentaro Shimizu, Planning Committee Member of the Human Resources Department, General Affairs Bureau.

Four days before the hearing, Ishikawa published a book from Bungeishunju. The Nagasaki Shimbun, which had been criticized for its reporting attitude in the book, had strongly protested against Kyodo News, which Ishikawa belongs to.

During the approximately two-hour hearing with Ishikawa, Masunaga repeated the claim nine times that the description in the book defamed the Nagasaki Shimbun.

However, Masunaga made irrelevant claims to protect the Nagasaki Shimbun.

Voices of bereaved family ignored

It’d been almost an hour since the hearing started. Masunaga said.

“In addition to the term ‘ignoring’ used earlier, you wrote ‘an alibi-like article’. What was your intention?”

What Masunaga was referring to was Ishikawa’s description of the article in the Nagasaki Shimbun as “a tiny article that appears to be nothing more than an alibi.”

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.” It was featured on the top page of Yahoo! News, and the Nagasaki Prefectural Office was inundated with calls to protest.

On the following day, the 18th, the prefectural general affairs department held an emergency press conference. Osamu Matsuo, who was serving as a counselor in the Academic Affairs Division, admitted that his remarks were inappropriate.

Some local media, such as the Nagasaki Shimbun, ignored Ishikawa’s scoop on the 17th and did not report it in the morning paper on the 18th. However, following the press conference, each media outlet could no longer ignore Ishikawa’s scoop. In the morning paper of the 19th, the day after the press conference, many major media companies reported.

Nishinippon Shimbun

<Nagasaki High School Junior Bullying Case; Proposal by the School / Prefecture Accepts Suicide as “Sudden Death”>


Yomiuri Shimbun

<High School Junior Suicide; Apology Over Explanation / Nagasaki Prefecture Accepts Proposal of the Term “Sudden Death”>


Asahi Shimbun

<School’s “Sudden Death” Proposal to Beareaved Family, Confirmed by Prefectural Official / Kaisei High School Student Suicide>

All of them reported the fault of Nagasaki Prefecture.

The Nishinippon Shimbun and the Yomiuri Shimbun also published comments from Daisuke, the father of Hayato Fukuura, who committed suicide.

“I was surprised that both the prefecture and the school seemed to be pushing the term ‘sudden death.” (Nishinippon Shimbun)


“I felt uncomfortable with the remarks made by the prefecture. I hope that similar remarks will not be made in the future.” (Yomiuri Shimbun)

However, the Nagasaki Shimbun was different. The following headline appeared small in the space of one column of the paper.

<“Sudden Death” Confirmation Report; Prefecture Denies “Actively” Confirming it / Kaisei Student Commits Suicide>

The article defended the prefecture. Ishikawa’s scoop was described as “a media report,” and the explanation at the press conference of the prefectural general affairs department was emphasized. The comments made by the prefecture such as, “I don’t think the prefecture actively confirmed the proposal of the school as correct,” and “I think they may have taken the expression ‘sudden death’’ a little lightly by emphasizing that ‘transferring schools is strange,” were picked up in the article.

The bereaved family’s remarks were completely ignored.

The headline of the article in the Nagasaki Shimbun was “‘Sudden death’ confirmation report; prefecture ‘actively’ denies / Kaisei student commits suicide” (November 19, 2020)

A phone call from the reporter of the Nagasaki Shimbun

The bereaved family was contacted by friends, after an article in the Nagasaki Shimbun defending the prefecture was published.

“Is the Nagasaki Shimbun on the side of the prefecture?”

The bereaved family thought that “our feelings are not strange” from the reaction of friends at this time.

Hayato’s mother Saori says, “Other newspapers and web media reported that the prefecture’s response was not appropriate, but only the newspaper company in the town where we live protected the prefecture. I knew the influence the Nagasaki Shimbun had in Nagasaki was big, so I was very disappointed.”

But why does the Nagasaki Shimbun defend the prefecture?

After the article was published, the bereaved family received a phone call from a person who held the answer. This is Koichi Doshita, the author of the article.

To be continued.

(Originally published in Japanese on May 23, 2023. Translation by Mana Shibata.)

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