Aikiko Uemura was a 6th grader attending a school in Gunma prefecture neighboring ours. For the last year, it seems that she had been the target of bullying by her classmates. They repeatedly called her dirty because her mother is not Japanese (though her nationality is not known), and ultimately forced the girl into isolation. Though her Japanese father encouraged the school to look into the matter on several occasions, things came to a terrible end when Akiko's mother found she had hung herself with a scarf; the scarf originally intended to be a present for her mom.
We as parents take an interest in what is going on in our children's lives, so when there are issues at school or with other kids, we don't wait for the school to handle it. In the parenting class we've been leading, we've learned that children respond to life's influences out of their heart. It is sad and appalling to think that a child feels so unloved that they would resort to suicide. Many experts point to the growing social concern of Japan's xenophobia that is against anything foreign, yet that is the world we live in. Though people are not taking responsibility for this, ultimately, it is the child who has to make the choice between right and wrong. Even in our own city, there are similar rumblings of bullying. Our desire as missionaries to Japan is to demonstrate there is a better way. Please pray for the Uemura family, the faculty at Akiko's school, and the students who may have had a role in Akiko's final decision. Sadly, this is not an isolated incident. Finally, pray that Horizon International School where our children attend would continue to reach into the community to help troubled students and show them their purpose in Christ.
[video link: YouTube]
[source: Mainichi Japan]