Adults in the Student Suicide Case

Nagasaki Shimbun Reporter Urges “It Will Become a Problem For the Prefectural Press Club” (5)

2023.06.16 11:06 Nanami Nakagawa

On November 14, 2022, Kyodo News reporter Yoichi Ishikawa was in a hearing conducted by the company about a book he published. One of the interviewees was Shuhei Masunaga, General Manager of the Legal Affairs Department. Masunaga criticized Ishikawa for writing that the Nagasaki Shimbun “had the attitude of following the prefecture.” Masunaga claimed it was defamatory.

However, the content of the article in the Nagasaki Shimbun clearly defended the prefecture.

After the article was published, Hayato Fukuura’s father, Daisuke received a phone call from Koichi Doshita, the reporter who wrote the article confirming that the Nagasaki Shimbun did protect the prefecture.

“The prefecture is not at fault”

On November 19, 2020, the Nagasaki Shimbun published an article titled “‘Sudden Death’ Confirmation Report; Prefecture Denies ‘Actively’ Confirming it / Kaisei Student Commits Suicide.”

Regarding Hayato’s suicide, Kaisei Gakuen, a private high school in Nagasaki, proposes to the bereaved family that it be a “sudden death.” This was an article following a press conference in which the prefectural General Affairs Department admitted that it was “inappropriate” for Osamu Matsuo, who was a counselor in the Academic Affairs Division, to confirm the proposal by the school. Other media outlets wrote articles criticizing the prefecture, but only the Nagasaki Shimbun defended it.

A few days after the article was published, at around 10:00 on a weekday morning, Daisuke received a phone call from Doshita while he was at work.

Daisuke thought, “It’s probably about the article from the other day.” Doshita had contacted him every time before publishing an article about Hayato’s case up until now. But this time there was no contact. Daisuke speculated that it was probably because the content was intended to protect the prefecture, not the bereaved family.

When he answered the phone, as Daisuke had expected, Doshita began talking about his article on the 19th. Yet, he was taken aback by its content.

“It is the school that must comply with the Act on Promotion of Measures to Prevent Bullying, not the prefecture.”

“The prefecture is not at fault. Therefore, as the Nagasaki Shimbun, we published such an article.”

The Prefectural Academic Affairs Division has jurisdiction over private schools. As a counselor of the Academic Affairs Division, Matsuo has been communicating with Kaisei Gakuen since the day after Hayato committed suicide, and has been advising the school on how to respond. Daisuke couldn’t understand a word Doshita was saying.

Nevertheless, he did not refute Doshita’s one-sided assertions.

At the end of the five-minute phone call, Doshita said, “I will step down from your son’s case.”

Daisuke was disappointed.

Daisuke had been told by Doshiata, “Please give me the information before any other media,” and “The deadline for the morning edition is 8:00 p.m., so please send information to other companies after 8:00 p.m.”

Daisuke wanted to treat all media equally. Still, the influence of the Nagasaki Shimbun in the local area is massive. Doshita has written several articles criticizing Kaisei Gakuen’s attitude. Daisuke followed Doshita’s direcetions.

Nevertheless, he announced so casually that he is leaving the case. There is no introduction of a replacement reporter. Daisuke felt, “There is no handover, so I guess they won’t be chasing Hayato’s case anymore.”

This was the last exchange with Doshita that Daisuke had. Why does Doshita criticize Kaisei Gakuen but not the prefecture? A question remained in Daisuke’s mind.

Just for asking the Governor

Reporter Ishikawa of Kyodo News continues to follow Hayato’s bullying suicide case.

On December 25th, about a month has passed since the last conversation between Daisuke and Doshita, Ishikawa asked Hodo Nakamura, the Nagasaki Governor at the time, about his view as the head of the prefecture on the approval of the term “sudden death” at a press conference.

“It has been revealed that Osamu Matsuo, who was in charge of the affair on the prefectural government side at the time, and the current principal of Nishisonogi High School, confirmed the school’s proposal to cover up a suicide. How does the Governor react?”

In response, Nakamura said, “I am not aware of the details of the exchange, but I understand that he did not confirm it.”

Kei Ota, the General Manager, intervenes, “I will respond.”

The person Ishikawa is asking is Governor Nakamura. Although Ishikawa said, “Excuse me, I’m asking the Governor,” Ota ignores Ishikawa and continues talking.

“I will just talk about a matter of fact. As for the facts, I have heard from him that he did confirm it, however, he did not mean it. He does acknowledge that it was an inappropriate statement.”

Ishikawa continued to hang on to Governor Nakamura after that, but he had no choice but to end the question because there were questions from other reporters.

Is it “defamation” if the name of a prefectural executive is mentioned at a press conference?

After the press conference was over, Ota ran to Ishikawa.

“It’s against the rules to ask the Governor something like that!”

Ota suddenly yelled at Ishikawa.

“Matsuo Osamu said that sudden death is barely permissible in a series of events. Could you not cut out just a part of it and stop asking about it here?”

Ota’s claim makes no sense. On November 18, Ota himself held a press conference and admitted the fault on the prefectural side in front of reporters in the first place. On top of that, Ishikawa is only questioning the Governor’s opinion.

As Ota became agitated, Ishikawa got into an argument with him.

Then a person approached them.

It was Doshita of the Nagasaki Shimbun. He cut in between Ota and Ishikawa and said to Ishikawa.

“Because the press conference gets streamed on YouTube, it might be defamatory to put out someone’s name. You may ask questions on your own, but it could become a problem for the press club. Be aware of that. As a prefectural press club, we can’t overlook your behavior if you go too far.”

Doshita was referring to Isikawa mentioning Matsuo’s name at the governor’s press conference. However, when prefectural officers or public schools are reshuffled, their names are announced by the prefectural government itself. Moreover, Doshita approached him under the shelter of the press club.

Why does Doshita defend the prefectural side even if it makes no sense? Like Hayato’s father, Daisuke, Ishikawa had doubts.

The reason would be revealed a year and a half later.

Hayayo Fukuura in his childhood (Provided by the bereaved family)

To be continued.

(Originally published in Japanese on May 24, 2023. Translation by Mana Shibata.)

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