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3 schoolgirls drown in Fukuoka river on 1st day of summer vacation

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Last week in the sea in a blistering day, I notice that there are so many people around that don’t swim well.

And how easy it is to swim in the sea as opposed to fresh water

Japan needs to push proficiency and education in water safety much more than it does

19 ( +28 / -9 )

Very sad

24 ( +26 / -2 )

Sad, indeed,, may the girl's family and friends find ways to deal with this tragedy.

19 ( +20 / -1 )

In a country with so much water there is no excuse for the lack of high quality swimming classes. Kids here get the worst swimming lessons I’ve seen out of any developed nation. By the time they’re 7 they learn to blow bubbles and that’s pretty much it. It’s so bad that when I take my kids back home, I get them real swimming lessons otherwise they can’t learn.

Go to Australia and see how it’s done.

This is an unbelievably sad tragedy and totally unavoidable, I can’t imagine how the parents are feeling after this. Condolences to them and RIP to these poor children.

10 ( +30 / -20 )

Heartbreaking, 1.3 meters moving river is a little high for a 12 years old with unstable rocks and holes, I am surprised that NO adults were around.

RIP little ones, I pray for you and your families.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

Education is paramount!

During university, I worked as a lifeguard throughout the year at all types of venues, and I rescued so many people of all age groups and backgrounds who simply could not swim.

Afterward, I would always think, ‘What were they thinking? Why did they jump in?” For some, I suspect that peer pressure played a role in the decision. But we really need to emphasize the dire consequences of these seemingly playful decisions.

17 ( +20 / -3 )

It not sad,they should of never been allowed to swim in the first place,a river has current,unlike a lake

-34 ( +3 / -37 )

What a terrible tragedy!

RIP

13 ( +14 / -1 )

It not sad,they should of never been allowed to swim in the first place,a river has current,unlike a lake

Regardless of whether they should have been allowed to swim there or not, it’s still a sad outcome.

28 ( +28 / -0 )

It criminal that they were allowed to get in body of water, without proper supervision

-31 ( +5 / -36 )

Swimming skills are not regarded highly enough in Japan. Every year there are too many kids drowning due to poor swimming skills and no water sense. Swimming is part of the school curriculum in Australia and you must pass it just like any other subject to advance. There is no importance put on swimming skills in Japan. It should not be surprising kids don't learn to swim because most parents can't swim either. It is the responsibilty of the parents to ensure their kids can swim and have water sense. It should not be left to the schools. I taught all my kids to swim from around three years old. I've also ensured my kids have taught their kids to swim as well. It's difficult to say this incident was an accident. Teach your kids to swim people!

13 ( +22 / -9 )

Saw about this in the news whilst eating my dinner, incredibly sad but it seems to happen regularly

-8 ( +4 / -12 )

They really need to teach kids to swim in this country. And the younger the better. By 11 I could not just swim but was taught how to save another in trouble.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

Very tragic for 3 innocent girls enjoying their summer. My prayers.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

the school had requested students not to go to the river by themselves.

Stupid acts leads tragic consecuences..

An avoidable tragedy..

So sorry for the families..

-6 ( +5 / -11 )

I wish they had gone to a pool, instead of this dangerous river.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Poor parenting at its finest!! It’s shocking that not a single one of their parents had come along to keep an eye on them!

-1 ( +9 / -10 )

Sad story all around. These poor families. I hope they can find a way to get some sleep.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Stupid acts leads tragic consecuences..

They were 6th graders. Sure it was poor judgement but to call them stupid is vicious, cruel, and heartless. They were young kids.

9 ( +16 / -7 )

I don’t live that far from where this occurred just absolutely heartbreaking, but it’s actually amazing to know that a lot of people in this country do not know how to swim, a life saving skill that every person (child) should know. My kids took lessons from the age of 5 and the main reason for me was because of possible natural disaster tragedies like this, it’s gives me a peace of mind because you just never, ever know.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

It's a real sad. As for swimming skills, I think there are fewer people in Japan who cannot swim. In my own experience, out of 120 students in swimming class of my school, only around 5 could not swim 15 meters. Most elementary and junior high schools have swimming pools. Well, even if we can swim 15 meters, it is very dangerous if we get stuck in the rapids of the river.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

The headmaster "requested" students not to go to the river? He should have BANNED them from going! The more emphatic statement might have made a difference.

-7 ( +5 / -12 )

Shocking and tragic news. Rest in Peace to the poor girls.

Rivers are pretty much the most dangerous place children - or adults - can swim in - apart from a beach. You have zero idea what current may be under the surface, the depth, or any objects underwater.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

The photo doesn't look like a dangerous place. Having difficulty seeing how three 12 year olds could die there. I guess it just shows, you can never be too careful. And we shouldn't necessarily be blaming the parents, at 12 my parents were not always accurately informed of my actions and whereabouts.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

Every school pool in Japan is basically only 1 to 1.5 meters deep. That is one of the biggest problems.

8 ( +13 / -5 )

See, this is the problem with Japan and their inability to enforce a rule instead of "requesting" for something to be done or not done. Especially with kids who need clearer guidelines. It also baffles me how there are so many drowning tragedies involving kids in Japan. Are they not taught swimming in schools and educated about the dangers of bodies of water? They live on an island for goodness sake!

8 ( +15 / -7 )

First of all you don’t go into unknown rivers, lakes or sea areas, still independent of any swimming skills, never. I can swim and even took part in many competitions as a youngster but have in all that time developed enough experience and respect for waters’ power not to go into if it’s not completely visible like pools or safe like beaches with active lifeguards. It’s permanently dangerous for everyone including even pros. Please, everyone, don’t overdo and challenge it, always remember that we are in the water only helpless humans, not skilled fish. Rest In Peace, little girls, you haven’t deserved this heartbreaking tragic and avoidable outcome.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

I see many here pointing to swimming skills.

But as someone raised with a lake 20 metres out our back door every one of my siblings and friends were extremely strong swimmers.

But Rule number ONE was never never never go swimming without adult supervision!

This was drilled into our heads from before we could swim.

This is tragic, sad devastating for the families but Where were the Adults?

4 ( +11 / -7 )

Even good swimmers can drown. There should always be lifeguards present at popular swimming locations to rescue swimmers who get into difficulties. And prominent notices to warn swimmers not to swim at dangerous rivers or lakes. Will the Japanese government please act on this comment in Japan Today?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Those little angels are in God's Grace in Heaven now. RIP

2 ( +5 / -3 )

First of all you don’t go into unknown rivers, lakes or sea areas, still independent of any swimming skills, never.

Staying home is safe but heatstroke will be a danger.

An assessment of waters is enough to decide specially for rivers and lakes. Seas have hidden currents that can not be spotted. rivers such as the one of this article do not have any trap.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Tragic.

Kids being kids on the first day of summer holidays.

Yes they shouldn't have been playing there.

Yes they were warned.

No point condemning parents as more than likely they weren't aware they were going "swimming".

But water survival skills in Japan and a general sense of awareness of water safety are lacking.

As others have said - swimming in shallow water a few metres in a crowded school pool will NOT prepare kids for untimely dangerous situations in rivers, lakes and the sea. It just won't.

According to last nights news report it seems the kids suddenly found themselves out of their depths ie. couldn't touch the bottom. Rivers are notorious for sudden changes in depth.

A basic skills survival course as a required part of school swimming program would help - not perfect, but a big help.

Others noted the attention to water safety in Australia.

I can attest. As a teacher and swimming instructor years ago in Australia, the emphasis from the 1980s esp has been on water safety/survival developing confidence and calmness in kids, while of course developing their swimming strokes and abilities.

Panic kills.

A sad story for that community that will impact many forever.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

I guess there’s a mixture of who are responsible. But something is very wrong that this can happen. All these girls in the river alone by themselves. It’s really tragic news. We can only hope the country as a whole will take note and remember. Very sorry.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Living in a group of islands, all people should need to learn to swim, or understand the dangers.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Living in a group of islands, all people should need to learn to swim, or understand the dangers.

A true statesmen would use this announcement to enact positive change, Kishida should use this as initiative to make sure every child learns to swim and respect the water...but no.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

A true statesmen would use this announcement to enact positive change, Kishida should use this as initiative to make sure every child learns to swim and respect the water

Huh? Are there any schools in Japan that don't teach kids to swim? I've never seen one myself. When we went through schools for my kids, they all had pools.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

The headmaster "requested" students not to go to the river? He should have BANNED them from going! 

How do you suppose the headmaster could have enforced a ban? people following 24/7 every student? There is only so much a school authority can do about things happening outside of it. He could have done more, but a ban is not a measure that could have been realistically put in order under his authority.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

They really need to teach kids to swim in this country. And the younger the better. By 11 I could not just swim but was taught how to save another in trouble.

That is good, then who better suited as a volunteer swimming and rescue teacher?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

R I P

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Afterward, I would always think, ‘What were they thinking? Why did they jump in?”

Its the allure of the water, swimming is an incredibly fun and beautiful thing to do. Especially when it's hot.

People just don't understand that not being able to swim, really means, you cannot swim, they probably just think they will work it out as they go, until they panic and it's too late.

Those girls proabably just kept wading in until they couldn't feel the bottom and then...boom, it's too late. Probably didn't even mean to go to a place they couldn't stand up.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Kishida should use this as initiative to make sure every child learns to swim and respect the water...but no.

The mindset indicated here is that we need government to tell us what to do & how to take care of ourselves and our children -- and that we are utterly incapable of doing it on our own.

This government-be-all-and-end-all mindset is not one I would ever adopt or recommend to anyone.

If Kishida did say something about learning how to swim & respecting the water, no one would be saying, "Wow, he's right. I never would've thought of that if he hadn't told me."

No, their much more likely response would be, "No kidding. Tell us something we don't know."

5 ( +7 / -2 )

In a country with so much water there is no excuse for the lack of high quality swimming classes. Kids here get the worst swimming lessons I’ve seen out of any developed nation. By the time they’re 7 they learn to blow bubbles and that’s pretty much it. It’s so bad that when I take my kids back home, I get them real swimming lessons otherwise they can’t learn.

Not sure it would've helped in this tragic case, though. It's a river. The water is flowing, unlike in a pool, and it would be risky even for a child who was a good swimmer.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I just need to comment on how amazed I have been that so few of my Japanese friends can swim. Like most of them can’t. This, I think, has a lot to do with lack of Summer vacations as youths, but at the same time it seems so many schools have pools. Idk. Maybe it’s like english, it is taught but no one is expected to learn.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

I am so sorry for the loss of these three young girls and my heartfelt sympathy is extended to their families. I wonder if they had swam there before as they are all locals.

Local authorities and the wider Japanese community will need to do more about water safety and education.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

A couple of things. First, I am certain that their parents would have told them countless times to stay away from the river. Two, they aren't babies. When I was their age, I roamed far and wide in a day by myself on my bike - in fact, pretty much all day, I'd be home for lunch and dinner, so you can't necessarily blame the parents here - they need a little autonomy at this age.

Three, my kids are currently attending swimming school here and I'm impressed with the way they are being taught - it's logical, sequential and effective. My kids are strong in the water already for their age as we are a beach family and they have grown up around water, but still, I am impressed with what I am seeing. However, this needs to be taught to all kids in Japan as part of their Elementary schooling because there is water everywhere in this country and people are drowning on a daily basis right now. It's just not good enough.

Four, it's an absolute tragedy.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

You don't have to have poor swimming skills to drown in a river. They are incredibly dangerous places if you don't know the hazards.

I feel incredibly sorry for the girls, their families, and their friends. It's such a tragedy that this happened.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Kids here get the worst swimming lessons I’ve seen out of any developed nation.

School Swimming lessons in Japan may compare poorly to Australia (don't have personal experience with either), but I go to an international school in Hong Kong (Canadian system) and I definitely had ZERO education in swimming. The local school system AFAIK doesn't have swimming lessons (swimming clubs are another matter) either, so if any is provided it's already a one up.

Tony W.Today 09:13 am JST

The headmaster "requested" students not to go to the river? He should have BANNED them from going! The more emphatic statement might have made a difference.

What was he supposed to do? Even if he can catch them, should he apply the school disciplinary system against kids that are not on school premises or under the direct supervision of a teacher, not on school hours, in summer vacation no less. I thought usually the Japanese school system is already considered too interventionist on what students can do after school hours.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Very sad. Please convey our sincere condolences to bereaved families.

Shouldn't we do take appropriate measures to prevent such tragedies.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

How do you suppose the headmaster could have enforced a ban? people following 24/7 every student? There is only so much a school authority can do about things happening outside of it. He could have done more, but a ban is not a measure that could have been realistically put in order under his authority.

A ban is exactly what could have been put in order because of the head master's authority.

-9 ( +0 / -9 )

An uncle taught me to swim when I was about 4 years. Ex-naval deep sea diver. He took me to the local public pool and just threw me in. I have been swimming ever since. Guess he would have jumped in if there was a problem. We had a weekly swimming lesson at school. Swimming was important because we lived near the sea, and many lakes and rivers.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Headmasters have no authority over students outside of school time. Would they have listened anyway?

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Are some people here seriously suggesting a headmaster should be able to interfere in the private lives of students?

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Are some people here seriously suggesting a headmaster should be able to interfere in the private lives of students?

Do you have any clue whatsoever how Japan works?

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Headmasters have no authority over students outside of school time. Would they have listened anyway?

Read the below:

Do you have any clue whatsoever how Japan works?

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

Do you have any clue whatsoever how Japan works?

Yes, I've had 3 kids grow up here. Apart from the 'how many days can you not watch TV thing' the schools never dictated what my kids should or should not do, other than homework and attend designated school days. And if they'd tried, I would have had the final choice whether it was a good idea or not. Did you just roll over?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Sven is totally right.

A good "swimmer" is rather someone who knows his/her own limits about water.

I am about 99% sure they panicked because could not swim AT ALL.

I was told to swim 10 meters at 5 with just a few hours of swimming playfully with a buoy. Did it because I had too !

Then breathing and learning how to stay head above water, which is rather very easy in fact.

So sad Japan does not learn from education mistakes

RIP to 3 little girls who were just playing nearby one of thousands of Japanese rivers.

I still believe their parents should have ensured they know how to staywell in water by 11. I had personnally many occassions to check my kids could swim and tried them.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

How do you suppose the headmaster could have enforced a ban? people following 24/7 every student? There is only so much a school authority can do about things happening outside of it. He could have done more, but a ban is not a measure that could have been realistically put in order under his authority.

Anyone in Japan knows.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Some children will defy what adults tell them.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Swimming lessons at elementary schools are so weak, and nobody ever gets to practice. It is sad for an Island country.

Please practice

1 ( +3 / -2 )

A real tragedy. Dont anyone pretend this is a Japan only problem though.

When we were kids we used to do way dumber, more dangerous stuff than this, far removed from our parents.

Maybe we had more common sense, maybe we were just luckier.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

See, this is the problem with Japan and their inability to enforce a rule instead of "requesting" for something to be done or not done. 

It is summer vacation, are teachers supposed to stand out by a river and form a human shield?

Go to Australia and see how it’s done.

Sorry to rain on your country's swimming superiority parade. When I stayed at my friends' condo in Gold Coast, they wouldn't join me to swim in their property's pool because they couldn't swim. We are talking 2 adults and 2 elementary aged kids. There are also many drownings in Australia as well every year. Must be foreigners I guess.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Such sad news. A lot of assuming in the comments that the girls couldn't swim. There could have been a hidden drop off which causes one to suddenly sink and inhale water, who knows. I was a strong swimmer in High School, but when friend and I swam across a river one summer, I just remember that it was the scariest thing I have ever done. Rivers are strong, even peaceful looking ones.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

It's the organizer/school to be blamed and responsible for this sad tragedy; they should know better that kids are always kids, adults ignored risk factor while allowed kids to be at risk must be held accountable.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Swimming lessons for kids and adults are not over until the swim student can rest peacefully in water over their heads for at least ten minutes away from any wall or support. Strokes don't provide safety and therefore are not necessary. Knowing how the water works with your body--how you float--is absolutely essential to safety. If you're one of few who don't float, it's not an emergency. But you have to know how it works.

As many commenters have said, this story was preventable. But many people teaching swimming lessons and many people in charge of family water safety are not well-enough trained to convey correct messages about learning to swim. The information they need is known and available.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

It's the organizer/school to be blamed and responsible for this sad tragedy; they should know better that kids are always kids, adults ignored risk factor while allowed kids to be at risk must be held accountable.

The school obviously was not involved in the event, it had absolutely no way to enforce the warnings made by the headmaster for the students not to do it. The whole point is that children went and put themselves in risk without any adult supervision.

Even the people that claim the school could have prevented this with a band were unable to explain how they could actually do it, that is because there is nothing the school could realistically do to enforce such a ban.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Virtually unlimited sums for promoting tech education; scraps only for tackling the appalling standard of water safety awareness. Not helped by city swimming pools only being open two months of the year, shutting them at 5pm, nor their charging non city residents double, which discourages those not from the same area gathering together. In a place not known for thinking outside the box, there’s a crying need for not simply throwing the responsibility back on parents, a blind leading the blind approach if ever there was one. How about free trains to pools and beaches, and free swimming lessons. Pay for it by reducing the 300 billion yen for 111 schools tech splurge by 10 billion yen.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The school obviously was not involved in the event, it had absolutely no way to enforce the warnings made by the headmaster for the students not to do it. The whole point is that children went and put themselves in risk without any adult supervision.

You obviously dis not understand the main pioint, and not being in Japan is one of the causes for your misunderstanding.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

You obviously dis not understand the main pioint,

Baseleesly claiming someone else did not understand, while at the same time being completely unable to argue how this is the case means this is baseless. How about trying to demonstrate the argument is wrong using actual arguments on your own.

and not being in Japan is one of the causes for your misunderstanding.

This is another fallacy, imagining something about other commenters and then trying to make an argument about those imaginations means you already gave up trying to argue. Do you have any proof about where any of the commenters here live? if not, then this baseless accusation is still completely invalid.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Japanese kids have been conditioned not to swim in natural bodies of water so I am surprised these girls did.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Young children and water is a dangerous mix. They should be supervised or their parents should insist sternly they are not allowed near deep water unless supervised. I am not sure if water safety is taught at schools to young children. I'm guessing it is not.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I have a son the same age. He's always inside playing with his ipad. While I applaud the students for playing outside, it is a tragic outcome. Not sure if there was horseplay or peer pressure involved, that is only speculation. What is fortunate is that the number was not 4 dead. The river appears calm. There are houses in the background. Where were the nosy neighbors? On a side note, a few years ago my son, wife and I went to a river on the outskirts of our city. There is a pretty strong current in one area with a clear sign that you might die. My wife and I were on the shore watching our son. He got into a bit of trouble, not in the danger area, but we could not tell. He was lucky to get out of it, but he felt that he was going to die while mommy and daddy were looking on. So that fourth girl was super lucky. The unfortunate 3 while drowning separately entered the spirit world together. I sometimes hope that my son, wife, and I die together in a plane crash or something. There is a bit of poetry in it while being morbid at the same time.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

And so the count begins on the complete neglect of swimming areas and rivers here.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Baseleesly claiming someone else did not understand, while at the same time being completely unable to argue how this is the case means this is baseless. How about trying to demonstrate the argument is wrong using actual arguments on your own.

As another poster wrote:

Do you have any clue whatsoever how Japan works?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

As another poster wrote:

Do you have any clue whatsoever how Japan works?

That is still not an argument, is an excuse for not being able to explain how this could be realistically done.

If you can't even argue how a ban could be enforced that clearly shows even you understand there is no way.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

That is still not an argument, is an excuse for not being able to explain how this could be realistically done.

I didn't see an argument either.

I only read a statement of fact. Why deny something you cannot experience because you are not living in Japan?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I didn't see an argument either.

That is the whole point, without an argument the claim remains debunked, no argument was made to refute the fact a ban is not something that could be realistically enforced, therefore a useless measure.

When a "statement of fact" is refuted, and no argument is given to defend it, that means the statement is to be considered mistaken or false.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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