Adults in the Student Suicide Case

The Bereaved Family, “I feared that the dignity of my child who suffered from bullying would be erased by the school, the prefecture, and the Nagasaki Shimbun.” (20)

2023.09.08 11:27 Nanami Nakagawa

Hayato Fukuura’s mother, Saori, and father, Daisuke, submitted a written opinion to the examination committee of Kyodo News. They wrote a nine-page essay stating that it was right for Yoichi Ishikawa, a reporter of Kyodo News, to criticize the Nagasaki Shimbun in his book “The Sanctuary of Bullying.” Saori was in charge of the writing.

In her statement, Saori describes an article in the Nagasaki Shimbun that she felt “fear.”

Only “our town’s newspaper company” defends the prefecture

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.” The article appeared on the top page of Yahoo! News and was reported on TV many times. The Nagasaki Prefectural Office was inundated with calls to protest.

On the following day, November 18, the prefectural general affairs department held an emergency press conference. The prefecture acknowledged that ”confirmation” was inappropriate and apologized to the bereaved family.

In the morning paper of the 19th, the following day, each company, including the Nagasaki Shimbun, published articles.

However, there was a significant difference in the way it was reported between the Nagasaki Shimbun and other media.

The Nishinippon Shimbun and the Yomiuri Shimbun allotted several columns of space for their headlines, pointing out the fault of the prefecture. They also included comments from the bereaved family.

On the other hand, the article in the Nagasaki Shimbun emphasized the prefecture’s explanation. The comments made by the prefecture, such as “we don’t think the prefecture actively confirmed the proposal of the school as correct,” and “we 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 headline was also printed in a small size in the space of one column of the page.

Saori wrote in her letter that she was surprised when she read this article in the Nagasaki Shimbun. She enclosed a copy of the article when she sent the letter to Chiba Bureau chief Ichiro Masamura, but she also provided it to the examination committee this time. Masamura even hid the fact from Ishikawa that he had received the letter. She was uncertain whether Masamura had shared the article with the examination committee.

The press conference held by the prefecture and the fact that the situation was broadcast on the news had an effect, and on the next day, the 18th, all the newspapers in the prefecture published it all at once. Regarding the content, I have already sent it to the Chiba Bureau Chief, but I will provide you with the same article again this time.


If you read the articles of each company, you will understand that they reported that the prefecture acknowledged the inappropriate remarks.


Nevertheless, only the Nagasaki Shimbun published an article from a different point of view. It wrote that at a press conference, the prefectural government said, “We don’t think the prefecture actively confirmed the proposal of the school as correct.”


About 160,000 copies of the Nagasaki Shimbun are published, and there are probably many readers in the prefecture. We have been subscribing to the Nagasaki Shimbun for about 25 years, since we got married.


We were shocked when it was asserted in the paper that “the prefecture had not confirmed it.”


Even though TV news, newspapers, the Internet, and various other media reported that the prefecture’s response was inappropriate, only the newspaper company in our town defended the prefecture.

“Incomprehensible remarks by Doshita”

Koichi Doshita, the reporter who wrote the article, admits that the Nagasaki Shimbun sided with the prefecture. Saori wrote about a phone call she received from Doshita a few days after he published the article.

In the midst of my frustration, we received a phone call from the reporter in charge of the Nagasaki Shimbun (Koichi Doshita) at the time.


Doshita expressed his impressions of the article in the Nagasaki Shimbun on that day as follows:


“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.”


From this day forward, Mr. Doshita was no longer in charge of our case.

Neither Saori nor Daisuke could understand Doshita’s remarks. The prefecture itself acknowledged its fault and apologized to the family. How could the Nagasaki Shimbun say that the prefecture is not at fault?

We could not understand the Nagasaki Shimbun article or Doshita’s remarks. The Act on Promotion of Measures to Prevent Bullying is a law to protect children. I believe that everyone has a duty to abide by this law. The prefecture is in a position to guide private schools. It is impossible that the prefecture does not have to follow this law.


In fact, several friends who read the article in the Nagasaki Shimbun asked me, “Is the Nagasaki Shimbun on the side of the prefecture?” I believe it’s not just our sense that it’s strange, but it’s proof that there were many people who had similar doubts about the attitude of the Nagasaki Shimbun.


We could only answer the above question with “I think so.”


We were disappointed with the article in the Nagasaki Shimbun, as we know from our experience the influence of the press. To make matters worse, we were never introduced to a successor reporter for Doshita, and there was no contact with the Nagasaki Shimbun.


We still wonder why only the Nagasaki Shimbun dared to publish an article defending the prefecture and why it was necessary to keep pace with the prefecture.

The Nagasaki Shimbun’s reporting approach reveals a deeper issue: it is not just the Nagasaki Shimbun; the prefecture and Kaisei Gakuen High School are also powerful parties torturing the bereaved family. Saori wrote the following about state of mind of the bereaved family as they found themselves in this composition:

I feared that the issue of the live and the dignity of my child who suffered from bullying would be erased not only by the school that proposed the sudden death but also by the prefecture that made the statement to confirm it, and the Nagasaki Shimbun that publically reported the prefecture did not confirm it.

Hayato Fukuura on his 6th birthday (Photo provided by the bereaved family)

To be continued.

(Originally published in Japanese on June 14, 2023. Translation by Mana Shibata.)

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