Record 196,000 students absent from school in Japan in fiscal 2020

Japan Times -- Oct 14
A record 196,127 students at elementary and junior high schools across Japan were absent for 30 days or more in fiscal 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic, an increase of 14,855 from the previous year, government data showed Wednesday.

Meanwhile, cases of bullying recognized by all schools, also including high schools and those for students with particular needs, fell by 95,333 in the year through March to 517,163, marking the first decline since fiscal 2013, according to the results of an education ministry survey.

Suicides among elementary, junior high and high school students increased by 98 to a record 415, 12 of which were due to bullying, the ministry said.

“While school closures in the spring of last year (due to the pandemic) disrupted the rhythm of life and caused truancy to increase, it also decreased opportunities for face-to-face interactions that lead to bullying,” the ministry said.

To prevent students from becoming too isolated, the government plans to expand counseling services at schools.

Of those who were absent from schools, a total of 30,287 students cited fear of infection. The ministry is working to improve support for online classes and ensure learning opportunities for all students.