“Bullying” or “ragging” as it is referred to in India is not something unique only to Japan – am sure countries all over the world deal with this. But, it certainly seems pretty common in Japan. I can not fathom how the normally polite, reserved, law abiding Japanese, can resort to such mean methods of bullying (physical as well as emotional) and worse still how the people around choose to look the other way.
I’ve heard horror stories about kids from other countries getting ragged in Japanese schools for looking different. Even “hoikuen” or three to four year old pre-school kids are known to gang up on a meek or different looking child. Refusing to sit next to the child, making fun of the child’s snack, refusing to include the child in any game during playtime, saying stuff like “iya da, kitanai” (hate it, dirty) to the face – all this is fairly common.
“Bullying”or “Ijime”as it is called in Japan is not restricted to schools but extends to workplace as well. One common method of bullying a foreigner at workplace is talking in real fast Japanese. And then saying something like “arrey, nihongo shitteirutte iwanakattakke” (oh..thought you said you knew Japanese) to the zapped foreigner. Sarcastic comments and dumping work are all par for the course.
Though foreigners tend to become easy targets, Japanese targeting other Japanese for no particular reason is quite common too. The more “meek” a person is perceived to be, the greater the chances of the person getting bullied.
“Ijime” in my view should be addressed at the “hoikuen” level itself. Beyond that stage kids have already formed their firm opinions on everything and it becomes that much more difficult to correct them. Nip the bullying tendency at the bud. Both the “victim” and the “bully” should be given counselling along with their respective parents.
All that said, I still don’t know how “Ijime” has become so prevalent in a country like Japan where the crime rate otherwise is so low?