The Yomiuri ShimbunThis is a translation of the Henshu Techo column from The Yomiuri Shimbun’s May 5 issue.
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Writer Mizuki Tsujimura’s novel “Kagami no Kojo” (The isolated castle within the mirror, Poplar Publishing Co.) is a story about a junior high school student who suffered truancy due to bullying, or ijime in Japanese.
However, Tsujimura said she did not easily use the word ijime in the novel. “What happened to me was neither a quarrel nor ijime. It was ‘something’ I cannot name. I get so upset the moment it is analyzed or pointed out as ijime,” a line in the novel goes. In a dialogue article once carried in this paper, she said she writes about complicated matters in complicated ways because forms of suffering differ from each other. The seriousness of bullying is the same throughout the world.
A bully named Julian appears in the novel “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio that tells of the everyday struggles of a boy with facial abnormalities. (The Japanese translation of the book is published by Holp Shuppan Publications Ltd.)
The novel became a bestseller, and the slogan “Don’t be a Julian!” emerged online. In response to simple reactions from society, the writer depicted Julian’s feelings in depth in a sequel. Ethics will become an official subject at junior high schools in the 2019 academic year. The move was prompted by the suicide of a junior high school student from Otsu who was bullied. The protagonist of “Kagami no Kojo” seizes the chance to recover, but the issue of bullying is a difficult one to resolve.