I am studying the reasons behind the recent rise in bullying in Japanese middle schools. When I was in Japan, I participated in a home stay program and I had a host sister who was in her third year of middle school. About two or three times per week, she would come home with stories of bullying incidents at her school. At first I was not so surprised to hear that bullying occurs in Japanese schools because it is also a problem in America. I was alarmed when the stories continued without any word of consequences or resolutions.

One evening during dinner, I asked my host family why the schools do not do anything to fix this problem. My host sister responded that the school authorities do not have the power to do anything about it. I found this to be an odd answer so I decided to do a bit of research on my own. What I found was shocking. Bullying in Japanese schools is actually a problem that is rooted deep in Japanese society. Starting with these social problems, I would like to analyze why bullying in Japanese middle schools has become such a problem.

YouTube Preview Image


  • 30 October 1890: The Imperial Restrict on Education was issued, outlining post-shogunate goals for Japanese education including producing students who thought alike, acted alike, and had the same store of knowledge.
  • Late 1800s- 1945: According to the Imperial Restrict on Education, Japanese students were educated in a strict system focusing on rote memorization, uniformity, and reverence to the Emperor and the Empire of Japan.,
  • 1970s (post-war Japan): Students began to rebel against this education system by acting violently against fellow students, teachers, and school property.
  • 1980s- 1990s: Japanese students who had been educated abroad began to return to Japan and became targets for bullying by both students and teachers alike for being inherently “different,” because of their foreign views and behavioral patterns.
  • 1992-1996: The number of Ijime (bullying)-related arrests fluctuated at an alarming rate.
  • 1998: The National Diet took action calling for reforms that would end “mind-numbing” and competitive examinations that students were required to take.
  • November 2006: In the span of just 4 days, a string of 5 student suicides across Japan was reported; all cases were linked to bullying.
  • Present: Abuse has taken the form of “Cyber Bullying” in an attempt to bring the bullying outside of school jurisdiction and hide it from the authorities. Methods such as text messages and internet bulletin boards are used to ridicule, torment, and harass students and teachers.


“Sensei” a Mainichi Shimbun Editorial

Calls of complaint came on both Saturday and Sunday: “Students are smoking outside of my house.” As there were also reports of fireworks, people could not help but practice caution while wondering why their safety was in the hands of mere students. The vice-principal of the local middle school was beginning to become irritated.

Fukuoka Prefecture- middle school. The problems arose when in Spring 2007 a third-year male student transferred. Few sympathized with his situation. This is when the real trouble began.

After arriving to school late one morning, the student roamed the halls, kicking the walls and breaking glass.

“I’ll punch your face in, Ki-san!”

Upon hearing this, a teacher rushed to call the police who later arrested the student. Following the incident, the rest of the third years experienced a very hurried and sour graduation from middle school.

The Imperial Rescript on Education

  • Issued in 1890
  • 1890年に作られた教育ニ関スル勅語です。

Japanese Education Since 1945

  • A history of post-war Japanese education.
  • 戦後の日本の教育の歴史です。

Cyber Bullying

  • One of the recent methods that students are using to escape authorities.
  • 最近、警察を避けるために生徒たちはこのいじめ方法を使っています。

2007 Statistics on the Knowledge of Bullying Occurring Between Japanese Children

  • A site dedicated to making it known to the public just how serious bullying has become in Japan.
  • このサイトはいじめがこん何重い問題になってきたサイトです。

Entry contributed by Sarah Taylor