School pays for attack by pupil
The Tokyo High Court has awarded pound;170,000 to the parents of a fatally stabbed schoolboy, reports Michael Fitzpatrick.
A LANDMARK High Court ruling has made Japanese schools liable for violence on their premises.
Against the background of an alarming rise in school violence, a Tokyo judge has overturned a lower court ruling and ordered a high school in Nagano, central Japan, to pay 33 million yen (pound;170,000) to the parents of 17-year-old Jin Onodera, who was stabbed to death by an older student at the school in January 1992.
The assailant's name has been withheld because he was a minor at the time of the incident.
The boys' parents had filed a suit shortly after the murder, demanding 75 million yen (pound;420,000) in compensation for the Nagano education board's failure to provide guidelines on security measures to prevent such attacks.
Following a rejection of the claim by the Nagano District Court the parents appealed to the Tokyo High Court.
Judge Sueo Kito said: "The school should have conducted security checks to safeguard students. By not suspending or expelling the student, the school failed to prevent violence from taking place within its grounds."
According to the ruling the boy's killer had a long record of attacks against other students.
"The school neglected to take adequate measures against a student known to have committed violent acts against others in the past, while also failing sufficiently to meet its supervisory duties," said Mr Kito.
The number of stabbings in schools has risen sharply since the beginning of 1998. One of the most prominent cases involved a 13-year-old boy who fatally stabbed his English teacher earlier last year after she scolded him for being late.
The education ministry re-ported in August 1999 that vandalism in schools is up 40 per cent, truancy up 21 per cent, and violence and bullying up 26 per cent since last year. In reaction to the rocketing violence the ministry said it is planning to bring back from retirement a number of particularly tough teachers and pair them off with younger teachers to help deal with the escalating problem.
Education minister Nobutaka Machimura has also condoned school searches, brought in last year by some schools, to prevent students bringing in knives. "Such measures are socially acceptable," he said.