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Murder of boy prompts schools, officials to reflect

Date Posted: 2003-07-18

The death of 13-year-old Tsutomu Zakimi in the hands of a 14-year-old schoolmate has prompted nearly all junior high schools in the prefecture to hold meetings and discussions among students and teachers about the incident. Chatan Town Assembly also had an emergency meeting about the murder, which resulted in a declaration of the aims of education in the town schools.

The declaration of the town assembly states “It is the duty of adults to ensure happy and safe environment to all young residents of the town. To achieve this goal adults must make sure that the help is there whenever a young person needs support and advice.”

Some people point fingers at the school saying that teachers did not do enough for the boy although they had been aware of his problem with bullying. “Parents these days don’t know much about their children’s everyday lives and problems. In most cases the nearest person is the teacher, so they bear heavy responsibility,” a neighborhood resident said.

Teachers at the school say that they did their best, and their efforts at reaching at Tsutomu had seemed lately to pay off. “We had been looking for him when he was absent from the school, and suddenly about a month before he was killed, he started showing up at the school and talking to his teacher,” Tsutomu’s teacher said, adding “He said that he was sorry that he had been away and promised that he wouldn’t be absent any more. After that he came to school every day.”

The teacher said Tsutomu definitely seemed to have changed for the better. They even often sat together for lunch, and talked about all things that were going on in Tsutomu’s life and about his future. “About a week before he was killed he even told me that he was in love with a girl from the same school and intended to confess his feelings to the girl. He was definitely opening up,” the teacher said.

The teacher said that Tsutomu had plans to take part in Chatan Town’s “Working Experience” program. “He was scheduled to ride in a street cleaning car the next week, but he was killed before he had a chance to do that. I cannot stand the thought of it,” the teacher said.

Two notebooks and a dozen pens were identified on the spot where Tsutomu’s body was found. In one of the books was a message to the murdered boy, apparently written by the mother of his accused killer. In part the message said “I’m so awfully sorry that I couldn’t prevent this from happening. I believe it was very hard for you to die that way. I feel like dying myself and then being able to meet you again and apologize. I was so happy when you visited my house and than you for the good memories. I thought you were my son’s best friend, and I cannot understand or forgive him for beating you that way. I will pray for you every day for the rest of my life. I have brought this notebook and pens for you to write a message to me, as I would like to know what are your feelings now.”

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