Adults in the Student Suicide Case

The Legitimacy of The Examination Committee Wavers (24)

2023.10.13 15:46 Nanami Nakagawa

Daisuke and Saori, parents of Hayato Fukuura who committed suicide, submitted a written opinion to an examination committee of Kyodo News. Dai Sasaki, who runs a cram school in Nagasaki City, also submitted a written opinion.

Both letters criticize Kyodo News, which fawns upon its member company, the Nagasaki Shimbun.

On January 10, 2023, Yoichi Ishikawa, author of “The Sanctuary of Bullying,” published by Bungeishunju and a reporter for Kyodo News, will also submit a written opinion to the examination committee.

The first thing it pointed out was the legitimacy of the examination committee.

Kyodo News’ headquarters, Shiodome Media Tower (Photo by Tansa)

“Mr. Ishigame is the chairman?”

Before getting into the main argument in his written opinion, Ishikawa wrote a chapter titled “On the Legitimacy of Your Committee.” This is because something happened that made him believe that the very existence of this examination committee was a sham.

The story goes back to December 6, 2022, when the examination committee was established.

On this day, Ishimawa received an email from Ichiro Masamura, the head of the Chiba bureau to which Ishikawa belongs, informing him of the establishment of an examination committee.

An examination committee was set up in the company today regarding the book. Internal regulations stipulate that the examination committee will investigate the progress of the problem and the facts and review the responsibility and the conditions that should be considered.

According to the regulations, the parties concerned may give a statement in front of the committee or report in writing. What would you like to do, Mr. Ishikawa?

Masamura’s email does not even indicate who the chairman of the examination committee is. He says that it is “stipulated by internal regulations,” but it is unclear which regulations he is referring to.

On December 8, Ishikawa questioned the examination committee through Masamura and asked him what article in the internal regulations was the basis for the establishment of the examination committee and the names and titles of the person in charge of the committee and all the members of the committee. The examination committee’s response came back the same day.

The response stated that its formation was based on “Article 72 of the Employment Regulations for Employees and the Regulations of the Examination Committee,” and, “We don’t disclose them as usual” in terms of the chairman’s and all committee members’ names and positions.

How is it possible not to inform Ishikawa, the subject of the examination, that even the chairman of the committee? Ishikawa became suspicious and looked up the regulations.

According to the regulations, the chairman of the committee would be Takehiko Egashira, Chief of the General Affairs Bureau.

However, Ishikawa received a mysterious email from the examination committee on December 14.

The subject line says “New document from the examination committee.” The sender is Masao Ishigame, head of the Legal and Intellectual Property Office. When Ishikawa opened the email, he found the following message:

Mr. Yoichi Ishikawa

I, Ishigame, the chairman of the examination committee, would like to send you a letter of communication.

“Mr. Ishigame is the chairman?”

According to the rules the examination committee presented to Ishikawa, Egashira, the head of the General Affairs Bureau, should serve as the committee chair.

They withheld the committee chairman’s name at first, claiming “we don’t disclose them as usual,” and then abruptly introduced himself as the committee chairman, which is against the rules. Ishikawa was persuaded.

“Kyodo News is in a state of confusion because it wants to put a good face to the Nagasaki Shimbun as quickly as possible.”

First of all, the behavior of Kyodo News as an organization should be reexamined. In his written opinion, Ishikawa not only expressed his opinion, but also asked the examination committee to answer the following questions:

According to Article 4 of the company’s “Regulations of the Examination Committee,” the Director-General of the General Affairs Bureau serves as the chairman of the examination committee. However, your committee has revealed that its chairman is Mr. Masao Ishigame. Please explain the specific reason why the committee has not been organized as prescribed.

The boss who “concealed important evidence” is going to examine?

Ishikawa also wasn’t sure about the role that Masamura, the head of his department, would play on the examination committee. Ishikawa also asked about this when he inquired about the names and positions of all members of the examination committee on December 8.

The examination committee responded, “We are asking Branch Chief Masamura to be the liaison with Mr. Ishikawa as the head of his department.”

On the other hand, Article 4 of the Regulations of the Examination Committee stipulates that the head of the department will also be selected as a committee member. Is he just a liaison or a committee member? Ishikawa raised the question again in his written opinion.

According to Article 4 of the above regulations, the department head is also appointed as a committee member. In other words, if the regulations are as per the regulations, Ichiro Masamura, the chief of the Chiba bureau to which I currently belong, would also be a member of the committee. The document dated December 8, 2022, states that “Mr. Masamura is a liaison.” Please indicate whether Mr. Masamura is a committee member or not.

For Ishikawa, it was important whether Masamura was a member of the examination committee or not.

In early December, when Hayato’s mother, Saori, learned that Kyodo News was questioning Ishikawa’s book, she sent a letter to the head of the Chiba Bureau, Masamura, stating that the contents of Ishikawa’s book were true. Because after reading the letter, she wanted Masumura to be deterred from pursuing responsibility. In her letter, she included Nagasaki’s specialty, castella.

Yet Masamura only told Ishikawa that the castella had arrived. The existence of the letter written by the bereaved family was hidden from him.

The bereaved family mentioned in the book sent a letter to Mr. Masamura stating that (1) the content of the book is true and (2) they had serious doubts about the reporting attitude of the Nagasaki Shimbun. Mr. Masamura received this letter on December 5, 2022. However, Mr. Masamura concealed the existence of this letter by only contacting me via email to the effect that he had received the castella from the bereaved family.

The letter from the bereaved family is important evidence in examining Ishikawa. There is no way a person who hides this can be in charge of the examination as a committee member.

As stated above, it is questionable whether your committee is established and operated in accordance with the regulations, and if Mr. Masamura is a committee member, there may be someone involved who hides important evidence. This calls into question the validity of your committee. Needless to say, if the committee’s deliberations are not carried out in accordance with the regulations, or if there are issues with the committee members’ quality, all of your committee’s deliberations will be ineffective and invalid. Please answer each of the questions above, including how you handle letters from the bereaved family.

To be continued.

(Originally published in Japanese on June 20, 2023. Translation by Mana Shibata.)

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