The recent suicide of TV star and pro-wrestler, Hana Kimura, sent a shock wave through Japan. Kimura, only 22 years old, was the target of cyberbullies. Before her death, she published several messages on social media, but it was already too late before anyone took notice. The story has lifted the veil on a huge cyberbullying problem, encouraging society and the government to take action.
In Japan, it is extremely important to blend in or, more specifically, to not stand out. There is even an expression that says “the nail that stands out, must be hammered.” Those who do not conform to group expectations, or even look different, often become the targets of bullying by their peers.
In fact, Japan is seeing a rapid increase in the number of bullying cases in schools, with more than 540,000 cases reported in 2018, a 30% increase from 2017. Many children are simply not able to handle this pressure on top of academic expectations already imposed by their families, and sometimes revert to extreme measures such as taking their own lives. Statistics show that suicide is the leading cause of death for children aged 10-19.
It is hard not to be overwhelmed by these statistics. Not only do our hearts break for their families, but we get upset by the deception of the enemy, somehow convincing these children that they have no value and no purpose, that there is no hope. This lie from the enemy sharply contradicts the truth we find in Scripture.
For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb.I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
How amazing to see every child through God’s eyes! At ZOE Japan, we are convinced that God wants us to invert the lies of the enemy, show every child that he/she has VALUE, is LOVED and has a PURPOSE. By helping them to recognize their identity in Christ, we can bring healing to bullies and victims!
An analysis of child suicides for the period 2006-2015 by the Japan Support Centre for Suicide Countermeasures shows a significant peak in suicides of 6-18 year olds at the end of August/beginning September, right before the new school year starts.
The time for us to take action is NOW. We call on every Christian to stand with us in prayer as we fight on our knees for the life of every child in Japan.
Please pray that:
- Children will not be deceived by the lies of the enemy
- The Body of Christ will actively engage in sharing HOPE through the Good News
- Government Childlines will have resources and wisdom to provide counselling and support for children who are being bullied or abused
- Parents and teachers will have a sensitive spirit to identify vulnerable children and the wisdom on how to support them.
Written By: Annerie Van Wyk, ZOE Japan Missionary