A 14-year-old’s heinous act shook the whole country.
On November 24, Yuzuki Ito, 14, a junior high school student, was attacked with a knife by his classmate, A, 14, at a municipal junior high school in Yatomi City, Aichi Prefecture. The Aichi Prefectural Police arrested him on attempted murder charges. Ito died at the hospital where he was taken. A source close to the investigation told us
The murder weapon was a sashimi knife with a 20cm blade. A single thrust penetrated the liver, indicating a strong intent to kill. The motive for the crime was bullying. He testified that he was harassed, saying, “I didn’t like it when someone interrupted me when I was talking with my friends,” and “I was forced to give a speech in support of Mr. Ito in the student council election last September, when he was running for an executive position. The final deciding factor was a school trip in mid-November, when Mr. A brought in his smartphone, which had been banned, and it was confiscated. He told us that there was a leak from his classmates, and he felt alienated.
However, in the course of the interview, what emerged was a simple personality far removed from the horrific incident.
A-kun was a quiet boy who liked to play online games. He was a member of the volleyball club. In elementary school, he was on the soccer team with Ito. Ito, on the other hand, was the leader of the class. He was a big Hanshin Tigers fan and was active in the baseball team he joined in junior high school.
A man who lives nearby said that the family was close.
A man who lives nearby said, “I heard that he had a good family relationship. I heard that he had a good family relationship with his parents, grandparents, and great-grandmother. My grandfather and grandmother were both former city officials. My father was the head of the local community until four years ago. We were a bit of a prominent family in the neighborhood.
He was just an ordinary boy from a wealthy family. Why did such a boy, A, commit such a crime? Narumi Sasaki, a former lieutenant of the First Investigation Division of the Saitama Prefectural Police, tells us.
He said, “Unlike adults, children with little life experience tend to accumulate even small grievances. In recent years, the trend in juvenile crime has been that the perpetrators are not always children who have had problems in the past or have been convicted of crimes. Rather, there has been an increase in “spontaneous crimes,” in which a quiet child suddenly commits a deviant act.
We are not aware of any trouble.
On the night of the incident, the school held an emergency press conference. Along with the circumstances of the incident, the focus was on whether or not there was bullying. The principal who attended the press conference explained, “We are not aware of any trouble. However, at a press conference held five days later on November 29, that statement was overturned.
In a questionnaire conducted in February of this year, we found out that A-kun had answered that he had been bullied. It was also announced that the city’s board of education had not been informed of this fact, and that the questionnaire, which was conducted the month after the speech in support of the school in September last year, was lost.
At the press conference, the school reiterated that they were able to respond with appropriate guidance. In fact, however, this is not the first time that the issue of bullying has come to the surface at the junior high school. In 2009, another male student had trouble with a classmate who was violent and suffered a serious injury to his right arm. The student complained to the school about the bullying, but it was ignored, and he was left with permanent disability in his injured right arm. The incident led to a claim for 21.71 million yen in damages in July ’12. The case was settled in December 2001 with Yatomi City paying a settlement of 1 million yen.
The day after the second bullying incident occurred at the junior high school, I approached the principal as he left his house to go to school.
–Why did you initially say that you had no idea about the cause of the incident?
Why did you initially say that you had no idea what caused the incident? My homeroom teacher was also being interviewed, so I couldn’t confirm this.
–Why did the questionnaire disappear?
The day before the press conference, all the staff searched for it. I can’t answer that question except that I didn’t find it.”
–Once again, was the school’s guidance appropriate?
Yes, they were. The measures taken were definitely appropriate.
Hiroki Yamamoto, an associate professor at Tokyo Denki University who studies pedagogy and juvenile crime, pointed out the school’s response.
The basic bullying prevention policy set forth by Yatomi City includes the obligation to report to the Board of Education and the obligation to keep the questionnaires, but this time the school failed to fulfill these obligations. This is a clear failure. From now on, a third party committee will probably be formed to investigate where the problem lies, including the Board of Education.
An investigation into the truth is needed as soon as possible.
From “FRIDAY” December 17, 2021 issue
Photo by： Naoto Kato