Record 299,048 Children Refuse to Go to School in Fiscal 2022

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The number of elementary and junior high school children who refused to go to school for at least 30 days in fiscal 2022 jumped 22.1% from the previous year to a record 299,048, an education ministry survey showed Tuesday.

The increase apparently reflects the COVID-19 pandemic that disrupted children’s life rhythm and made it difficult for them to form personal relations, ministry officials said.

The number of truant students rose 29.0% to 105,112 at elementary schools and 18.7% to 193,936 at junior high schools. They together represented 3.2% of all students, up 0.6 percentage point.

A sense of lethargy or anxiety topped the list of reasons for refusing to go to school, with 51.8%, followed by disrupted life rhythm, delinquency or a desire to play more, with 11.4%.

The number of recognized cases of bullying at elementary to senior high schools and other educational institutions grew 10.8% to a record 681,948.

Bullying cases came to 551,944 at elementary schools, up 10.3%, 111,404 at junior high schools, up 13.8%, and 15,568 at senior high schools, up 10.0%.

Cases of online defaming totaled 23,920. Serious bullying cases, which harmed victims’ lives or minds or bodies or damaged their properties, hit a record 923, up 30.7%. About 40% of the serious cases were not recognized as bullying in the past.