Photo/IllutrationGo Kasai, father of Rima, receives a report from an official of the Aomori city board of education on Aug. 2. (Hiroshi Nakano)

  • Photo/Illustraion

AOMORI--A city-run junior high school apologized to the bereaved family on Aug. 2 after a report concluded that bullying drove a 13-year-old girl to suicide in August 2016.

The final report by the city's bullying prevention council concluded that bullying by classmates was the main reason behind the suicide of Rima Kasai.

“The report is filled with my daughter's wish to eradicate bullying,” said Kasai’s 40-year-old father, Go, at an Aug. 2 news conference. “I am grateful (to the council)."

He added that excessive academic competition at schools is fueling bullying among students and demanded change.

The school principal and an official of the Aomori city board of education apologized to him in person after the council submitted the report to the board.

The report found that Kasai had been a victim of bullying by her fellow students, including over the Internet, such as on social networking sites.

It also said that the school “relied on teachers’ individual abilities” to deal with the bullying, and that the situation “reached its limit as no organized action was taken.”

About 20 incidents were officially confirmed as bullying. The report also noted that there were many instances of bullying over SNS, including bad-mouthing on Twitter and groundless rumors circulated among classmates via the Line free messaging app.

The report concluded that Kasai was severely exhausted from being the constant target of slander over the Internet, day and night, on weekdays and weekends, as well as in person. The torment led to profound mental stress and depression that can be triggers for suicidal acts, the report said.

Kasai’s case became widely known when her family in October 2016 publicized her name, allowing the Japanese media to identify her, which is contrary to the convention of protecting suicide victims’ identities.

In addition, a photo of Kasai, taken 10 days before she died, had been selected as the winning entry in a photo competition at a summer festival in Kuroishi, Aomori Prefecture, but the decision was retracted because of the cause of her death.

The prize cancellation triggered a large public outcry, leading the organizer to reverse the decision, and the mayor of Kuroishi apologized. The photo was eventually awarded the top prize.