A male teacher at an elementary school in western Japan has complained of being bullied by four senior colleagues, claiming they daubed curry on his body and rubbed spicy soup against his eyes, a local education board said Friday.

The teacher in his 20s at Higashisuma Elementary School in Kobe has been on leave since last month following the harassment by his co-workers -- three men and a woman in their 30s and 40s -- that began last year, according to the city's education board.

The four admitted to bullying the male teacher as well as three other junior co-workers also in their 20s. The board said it removed the four -- all involved in the school's bully prevention program -- from teaching positions earlier this week and is considering taking disciplinary action against them.

The first victim complained that the senior teachers rubbed spicy ramen noodle soup against his eyes, forced him to drink alcohol and text obscene messages to a female teacher through a messaging app, got on top of his car and spilled drinks in the vehicle, and hit him on the bottom, according to the board.

The three other victims -- a man and two women -- also reported suffering verbal abuse and sexual harassment from the four, the board added.

The bullying of the first victim was reported to administrators of the school in June by other teachers. The school told the education board the following month there had been "trouble among staff members but it was resolved internally."

In September, a relative of the first victim informed the board of the bullying.

The school briefed students' parents about the matter on Thursday night, and some expressed concern about the absence of five teachers and future management of the school.

The board said three teachers will be transferred to the school on Monday to fill in.

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