One of four teachers accused of bullying their colleagues at a western Japan elementary school also encouraged pupils to defy authority and create chaos in class, the principal of the school said Wednesday, citing one of the bullying victims.
Miki Nio said at a press conference in Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture, that the teacher told children to rebel so as to "ruin class." The teacher denied making the remarks.
A local education board revealed last week that a male teacher in his 20s at Higashisuma Elementary School complained of being bullied by four senior colleagues, claiming they daubed curry on his body and rubbed spicy soup against his eyes.
The three other victims -- a man and two women -- also reported suffering verbal abuse and sexual harassment from the four since last year.
The principal offered a "heartfelt apology" over the failure to recognize the harassment among teachers and pledged not to allow the accused four to teach at the school, but did not mention any other punitive measures.
According to Nio, who took on the principal role this spring, the bullying had been mentioned to the previous principal in February. When a teacher expressed concerns about the way colleagues were treating the male teacher, the then-principal approached the target of the bullying, but dropped the matter after he claimed to be all right.
Another teacher reported the bullying to Nio in June. She confirmed that the male teacher had been subjected to abusive behaviors such as being hit on the bottom, but did not take the matter to the education board.
The education board says it became aware of the bullying in September after receiving complaints from family members of the male teacher.
Aside from harassing colleagues, the four teachers -- three men and a woman -- are also suspected of having made abusive remarks to children and using physical violence such as yanking a chair out from under a student to cause a fall.