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Last Updated: Monday, 13 November 2006, 12:19 GMT
Suicide of 'bullied' Japan pupils
Bunmei Ibuki
Pupils threatened suicide in letters to the education minister
Two Japanese children killed themselves over the weekend because they were being bullied at school, say police.

The deaths of the 12-year-old girl and 14-year-old boy bring the number of children in Japan who have committed suicide since August to five.

The girl, who jumped from the eighth floor of her family home, was said to be being bullied because of her height.

The boy hanged himself after his classmates reportedly tried to extort money from him.

Meanwhile, a head teacher has been found hanged in a forest after he was criticised over his response to an extortion incident involving a pupil at his school.

Bullying is a serious problem in Japan and the authorities have been trying to come up with ways to tackle the problem, but finding agreement on the way forward is not proving easy.

Last week, several schoolchildren wrote to the Education Minister, Bunmei Ibuki, threatening to kill themselves.

Mr Ibuki responded by urging students not to write to him but instead to try and find people they could talk to about their difficulties.

It is not clear if the two children who committed suicide over the weekend were among those who wrote the letters.

The BBC's Chris Hogg in Tokyo says suicide in Japan is not just seen as an easy way out - traditionally, it was regarded as a responsible way to deal with a problem when faced with no other option.

Country profile: Japan
26 Sep 06 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Japan
26 Sep 06 |  Country profiles
Court battle over Japan school books
09 May 01 |  Asia-Pacific
Japanese teaching 'lacks flair'
09 Feb 01 |  Education
Disorder in Japan's schools
23 Mar 99 |  Education

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