Why is bullying such a problem in Japan?
School culture in Japan is conformity-driven, so bullying singles people out if they’re different. Some scholars believe bullying is a strategy some teachers use, in effect, to outsource discipline to the student body – that a little bit of bullying or pressure to conform from peers will make everyone better behaved. Across Japan, there were 188,072 cases of bullying reported to the Ministry of Education in 2014. The media and government tend to only react to high-profile cases – namely those that end in suicides. But this doesn’t address the more widespread forms of bullying.
LGBT topics don’t appear anywhere in the national curriculum, and LGBT people aren’t mentioned in bullying prevention policies. In fact, the national bullying prevention policy says that one way to prevent bullying is by educating students on social norms. This sends the message that schools are there to enforce norms, including stigmatizing stereotypes that constrain LGBT children’s free expression, while framing it that kids who break norms are in the wrong.