OTSU--Otsu Mayor Naomi Koshi met Wednesday with the father of a 13-year-old boy who committed suicide last October after being bullied at a municipal middle school, and apologized for a "sloppy" survey covering all of the school's students that the municipal board of education conducted after the boy's death.
Koshi met the father and his attorneys for the first time at the city hall, and said: "It was a sloppy and inadequate survey. I must sincerely apologize." About an external investigative committee the city plans to establish, the bereaved family side proposed that both sides appoint the same number of members with an aim of ensuring fairness.
At the beginning of the meeting, with two Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry officials dispatched to the city also present, Koshi apologized, saying, "We should have conducted the resurvey when the suit was filed in February after my taking office [in January]."
About the external committee, she said the city would look into whether there are any shortcomings.
The father and his attorneys requested that the committee meetings should at least be open to people related to the case if it is hard to open them to the general public in light of protection of private information. As Koshi said the priority of the committee is to unravel the facts, they insisted on clarification of the city's negligence liability as well.
The bereaved family side recommended three people as committee members:
-- Hosei University professor in clinical pedagogy and education analyst Naoki Ogi, who is originally from Shiga Prefecture.
-- Wakayama University Prof. Yoshimitsu Matsuura, who is an expert in bullying problems.
-- Lawyer Yoshiyasu Watanabe, who represents the legal team for bereaved families of the 2001 fatal crash on an overpass in Akashi, Hyogo Prefecture.
The city side promised to consider appointing them, saying the committee members should have expertise and objectivity and be able to find time to conduct a fresh survey on the case.
After the meeting, Koshi expressed her intention to set up the committee as soon as possible. The father released a statement, saying: "The mayor showed an attitude of seeking the truth. If our requests are accepted and fairness is maintained, we can trust the findings [of the committee]."
Police hear from boy's teacher
The Shiga prefectural police heard from the boy's homeroom teacher on Monday for the first time since the beginning of the investigation, it was learned. The police plan to interview the teacher several more times, in light of interviews with students, an investigative source said.
The teacher, who was the homeroom teacher of the boy when he committed suicide, is one of the few who arrived at the scene when a student told them that the boy was being bullied in a toilet on Oct. 5 last year, only six days before the suicide. According to the city education board's survey, the teacher explained that it seemed to be a fight rather than an incidence of bullying.
side-eyeing the teacher so much...
Well, there's a progress there, though I think it's not fast enough. What do you think, arama?