The “Cycle of Bullying,” in Which The Media Participated (32)
2023.12.15 14:47 Nanami Nakagawa
Since I started this series, “Adults in the Student Suicide Case,” I have had a reader who has sent me a message every time. This is Hayato Fukuura’s mother, Saori.
In late 2022, Saori learned that Kyodo News had taken issue with Yoichi Ishikawa’s book “The Sanctuary of Bullying.”
Since then, she has sent letters and written opinions to Kyodo News, stating that the pursuit of responsibility against Ishikawa is irrelevant. However, Ishikawa’s situation did not improve. On May 16, 2023, Ishikawa was removed from his position as a reporter.
Why did Kyodo News push Ishikawa to this point? As Saori read “Adults in the Student Suicide Case,” she learned about the circumstances, which devastated her heart.
Hayato Fukuura’s 7th death anniversary. The bereaved family praying under the tree where Hayato died. (Photo by Nanami Nakagawa on April 20, 2023)
“We will continue to read carefully without turning away.”
Saori works from morning till night every weekday. As soon as she gets home, she starts preparing dinner, does chores, and gets ready for bed, and it’s midnight in no time. But no matter how busy she was, she always shared her thoughts with me after reading the article.
Here are some excerpts.
“It pains me to think that Mr. Ishikawa must have really been pushed into a corner. It is a terrible thing to say that he has defamed the reputation of the Nagasaki Shimbun. If the Nagasaki Shimbun and Kyodo News think so, then they should protest Bungeishunju fairly.”
“Mr. Ishikawa must have been in a very bad situation. He was being treated as a criminal. I was surprised that Kyodo News would do whatever it took to benefit its member companies. It sounds like they are saying to betray the bereaved family for the company. What does reporting mean to Kyodo News? And what exactly are employees? Are member companies gods?”
“It’s clear that Kyodo News wants to paint Mr. Ishikawa as the villain. I’m shivering with rage at what a terrible organization they are, using every means at their disposal. Mr. Ishikawa had to go through it all by himself. It must have been awful.”
“Kyodo News’ methods are so cruel that I can’t even speak out. It’s like bullying by the company. Kyodo News has no right to report on bullying stories.”
“It’s clear that it was already decided that Mr. Ishikawa would be punished before the examination committee was formed. I think the time has come for the news industry to change as well.”
“My family and I were overjoyed at the publication, but we soon learned that something extraordinary had happened: the company was conducting a hearing on the author, Mr. Ishikawa. I anticipated the prefecture and Nagasaki Shimbun would resist to some extent, yet I never imagined that Kyodo News would cut its employee.
“This is not just a problem for Mr. Ishikawa. Why aren’t the member companies of Kyodo News also concerned? The fact that the reporter who listened to the voice of the bereaved family was excluded felt like Hayato’s feelings and the voice of the bereaved family were being excluded, and my heart aches.”
“A case that began with a child committing suicide as a result of bullying did not end there, and the bereaved family was bullied by the school and the prefecture, and in the end, even the local newspaper company sided with the prefecture. Worse, the reporter who wrote the truth was barred from the company and its member companies. I never expected it would turn into such a bullying cycle. It’s heartbreaking that Hayato’s pain and sadness were left out in the cold. I’d like to remind the school, the prefecture, the Nagasaki Shimbun, and Kyodo News that a child’s life should not be treated so lightly.
“Honestly, I’m disappointed that all the media companies completely ignored it. I was even more shocked because there were several newspaper companies that frequently covered our story. Is there not a single company among the member companies that will seriously address this issue?
Saori occasionally heard from Ishikawa about his current situation, but she didn’t know everything. She was confused at times by facts she learnt for the first time after reading Tansa’s series.
“A lot of things came to mind when a photo of Hayato from when he was little appeared in the article, including the hard days and the happy days.”
Still, she was determined to face it.
“It’s really painful because we understand how Mr. Ishikawa is being pushed into a corner. However, we are also involved in the situation, so we will continue to read carefully without turning away.”
Death anniversary sweets
Saori’s driving force was consistent.
“If things continue like this, there will definitely be children who will suffer like Hayato. We, as the bereaved family, want to do what we can to prevent that from happening.”
In order to show society the truth, Saori cooperated with the interviews at all times.
One weekday evening, I had arranged to meet Saori in Nagasaki. I had asked her in advance if I could borrow some photos of Hayato to use in the article.
On that day, it was raining heavily in Nagasaki city. Just after the meeting time, Saori came trotting over. She had an umbrella in one hand and a large paper bag in the other.
“Sorry I’m late! I was busy after work. I brought a lot of photos!”
Saori brought a paper bag full of over 10 albums. Even though she was tired after work, she agreed to be interviewed for more than two hours, including selecting photos.
Even on the anniversary of Hayato’s death, I felt the strong feelings of Saori and the bereaved family.
April 20, 2023 was the sixth anniversary of Hayato’s death. Saori and her husband Daisuke were interviewed by reporters at the park where Hayato died. A few minutes after the interview ended, Daisuke came towards me carrying a white paper bag.
“We are handing this out to the press.”
It was a package of sweets. However, of course, I could not receive compensation for the interview. When I politely declined, Daisuke said”
“Please accept it. Every year, we buy sweets with Hayato’s pocket money, which he has saved, and hand them out to the people who came to interview us as a token of gratitude.”
I’m just doing what comes naturally to me as part of my job. I didn’t receive it. However, when I looked around, all the reporters accepted the gift.
There must have been times when they had negative experiences with the media. Nonetheless, I was inspired by the bereaved family’s determination to get the media to cooperate so that no one else ever felt like Hayato.
If you can’t fulfill your mission, discontinue business
Kyodo News turned its back on the case in which a child was bullied and committed suicide, instead turning to its member company, the Nagasaki Shimbun. Member companies who constitute the Kyodo News’ board of directors sat on the sidelines as well.
Kyodo News has a great influence. As president Toru Mizutani boasts, “The total circulation of member companies’ newspapers is approximately 20 million copies. Our joint articles are distributed in more than 60% of newspapers in Japan.”
I believe that this act of betrayal by Kyodo News has caused Japanese society to lose trust in journalism.
If Kyodo News does not fulfill its original mission of journalism, it should discontinue business as a news organization.
The cost of self-preservation is too high.
This is the end of the “Kyodo News Edition” in this series, and articles related to Kyodo News will be posted from time to time.
(Originally published in Japanese on June 30, 2023. Translation by Mana Shibata.)Adults in the Student Suicide Case: All articles