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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 January 2007, 11:31 GMT
Japan schools to rethink beating
Japanese school children
Bullying has become a cause for concern in Japanese schools
Japanese schools should rethink their decades-old ban on corporal punishment, a government-appointed panel has urged.

The report, submitted amid growing concern over bullying, stopped short of overtly backing beating, but suggested an end to a policy of leniency.

Bullying was found to be involved in 14 of 40 youth suicides from 1999 to 2005 in a country where pupils are also under great pressure to perform well.

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called the report "wonderful".

He said what was important now was to carry it out, though it could take some time.

Alarmed by the trend of bullying deaths, the panel, chaired by the Nobel laureate Ryoji Noyori, urged schools last November to punish classroom bullies and crack down on teachers who ignored the problem.

Around the same time, the education ministry received dozens of anonymous letters threatening suicide believed to have been sent from pupils.

Japan's education minister had previously denied bullying was a factor in the youth suicide rate.

Public service

The report urges an end to the recent policy of leniency in schools, which had been initiated in response to the growing pressures on children to get high scores on tests, but which critics blame for a drop in standards.

Bunmei Ibuki
Pupils have threatened suicide in letters to the education minister

It also suggests increasing class hours, compulsory public service and a switch in the start of the school year from April to the autumn.

Since 1947, anything from punishing children by making them stand out in the hall to physically striking them is banned.

Elsewhere in the region, China and Taiwan have made corporal punishment illegal in the school system. Globally, 109 countries have banned punishing children by beating them.

In the United States, 22 states still allow corporal punishment in schools, and the most recent statistics show more than 300,000 American schoolchildren were physically disciplined between 2002-2003.

Japan's deadly bullying problem
06 Dec 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Japan schools warned on bullying
29 Nov 06 |  Asia-Pacific

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