Japanese boy from disaster-hit Fukushima bullied by classmates who called him 'germ'

The farmlands of Iitate are now dotted with black bags - called 'flexible container bags'  - holding contaminated soil. Its residents have evacuated since the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant in 2011.
The farmlands of Iitate are now dotted with black bags - called 'flexible container bags' - holding contaminated soil. Its residents have evacuated since the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant in 2011. PHOTO: ST FILE

YOKOHAMA - A boy evacuated from Japan's Fukushima prefecture after the 2011 nuclear disaster was bullied so badly at his new school in Yokohama that he contemplated suicide multiple times, Japanese broadcaster NHK has reported.

His classmates allegedly targeted him because he came from an area affected by nuclear contamination. They are said to have called him a "germ" and extorted money from him.

The boy, who is now in junior high, was in elementary school when he and his family found themselves among the more than 100,000 Fukushima residents who had to leave their homes after a tsunami-hit nuclear power plant went into meltdown.

In 2015, the boy's family asked the Yokohama authorities to look into the bullying.

A lawyer representing the family released a letter written by the boy, in which he described the harassment and fear he experienced.

According to NHK, the boy decided not to kill himself because many lives had already been lost to the earthquake and tsunami that struck Fukushima.

He decided to publicise his notes in the hope that it would encourage other victims of bullying.

"I thought about dying many times, but I decided to live, even though it is painful, because a lot of people died in the disaster," the boy wrote, according to a Mainichi report.

He also wrote: "It was painful because I thought it was because of radiation. I realized that people from Fukushima would be bullied (because of the disaster)."

Ms Fumiko Hayashi, the mayor of Yokohama, was quoted as saying that the bullying was regrettable.