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High school student 'forced' to quit school sues Kumamoto Prefecture for a single yen

28 Comments
By Katy Kelly, SoraNews24

School is supposed to be a place where you learn in peace, foster teamwork skills and build your social life, and ultimately put you on the path to a successful life as an adult. The key phrase there is supposed to; many schools fail to deliver on these counts, and house more bullying and bigotry than actual education. In some schools, the problem is much deeper than it initially seems, and the school itself supports an eco-system of fear and power harassment — along with its staff and senior students.

An ex-student is labeling Seiseiko High School in Kumamoto Prefecture as one such school, claiming corrupt traditions there cost him his education. Seiseiko, a prefectural public high school, is a well-regarded school due to its long history, but the male student in question states that it is also home to archaic and unpleasant traditions that are tantamount to bullying.

In his complaint, the student claimed that he and other newly enrolled students were taken by the school’s cheer-leading team to the school rooftop immediately after their inauguration ceremony in April 2017. Once they arrived on the roof they were forced to sing the school’s song at the top of their lungs for over 30 minutes. Later that same month he and another first-year student at his tennis club were forced to have their hair shaved down to a buzz cut with electric clippers by third-year students, citing it as a “school tradition”.

The boy quit the tennis club in May, and became too depressed to attend school. This led to him being withdrawn from the school in May of last year, as he was unable to proceed into the second year. He has since transferred to a correspondence high school that he can attend from home, and in September of last year he filed a complaint and is suing his former high school.

According to the student the strong pressure he received from upperclassmen is a peculiar hazing ritual common in schools over 100 years old, known as shime. His lawyer stated that while it is rare for unwritten rules such as these ones to be taken to court, it was time to stop following tradition uncritically. He also chided the school for failing to address the student’s withdrawal from school despite being fully aware of the cause.

The case against Kumamoto Prefecture, if successful, will only net the student a single yen — and according to his mother, there’s a reason for that.

The prefecture took a combative stance against the case, stating that there was no relation between the student’s claims and his failed attendance and ultimate withdrawal from school, meaning that the school’s response was appropriate. Kumamoto Prefecture’s statement then explained that they were “confirming the facts” of the claim; Seiseiko High itself has elected to leave all discussion of the matter to the prefecture.

Online responses to the case tend to support the student, and many hold a palpable disdain for the school’s alleged customs. Commenters likened the education system to a military facility and expressed surprise that schools were still like this in the modern day. As one stated:

Students subject to such power structures can feel very helpless, so it’s heartening to see more Japanese youth take the stand against harmful practices, especially ones that have been allowed to thrive for over a century.

Source: Yahoo! News/Mainichi Shimbun via My Game News Flash

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Fukushima teacher threatens students with “Death Note”

-- American English teacher fired from Japanese high school after exposing genitals

-- Japanese teacher criticized for attending son’s entrance ceremony instead of her own school’s

© SoraNews24

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

28 Comments
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This is great news. We need to hear about more of these cases because they are dragging the Japanese school culture into the late 20th century.

17 ( +22 / -5 )

Good on him. Screw the ijime.

16 ( +20 / -4 )

Wish the best for him. They need to stand up for themselves and fight back. Otherwise, these same students will be the same sararimen working 156 hours of overtime a month in Dentsu. Yes, the two cases are totally related because this is where it starts.

20 ( +25 / -5 )

No doubt about it, Japanese youth these days are like youth everywhere else around the world. Soft and flakes of snow. So they had to yell and get a haircut. Oh the horror, how will cope with the real world.

-19 ( +8 / -27 )

Good for him. It is absolutely insane that Japanese schools insist on sticking to century old "traditions" while the country falls behind in the modern world. The whole system is geared to destroying creativity and creating mindless robots. Especially ironic in a country that manufactures actual robots.

15 ( +17 / -2 )

@ article re: "School is supposed to be a place where you learn in peace, foster teamwork skills and build your social life, and ultimately put you on the path to a successful life as an adult. The key phrase there is supposed to; many schools fail to deliver on these counts, and house more bullying and bigotry than actual education.

In addition to many schools are under the impression that what one is to learn at home regarding a students "total" life is also their responsibility, i.e afterschool problems that have nothing to do with school events. The social portion is to give the student the norms of everday communication within each other and student /teacher roles. Parents need to do the rest of their jobs and not leave that to the schools.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

My kids attended a school rivaling Seiseiko. Fortunately, it was a Lutheran school so was rather relaxed, but even there, pressure by the OBs to succeed at sport competition is felt. At Seiseiko, such pressure is immense, pervasive, and incessant.

Choose your kid's JHS and HS wisely.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Man. I'm jealous of his school's hazing rituals. The hazing for the football team, wrestling team, and lacrosse team during my freshman year in high school was far worst. When I pledged during college it was also much worst.

Hazing isn't for everyone. Some things can go way too far. For people that perform hazing, it tends to be seen as a rite of passage into a family. For some that are subject to hazing, we see it as a necessary step to part of a family that you will fight side by side with. But for some, it can come off as bullying, harsh, inhumane, and worst.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

Yes, the two cases are totally related because this is where it starts.

Nail on the head!

But not that nail on the head to hammer down individualism in order to bully people into submission to authority which is, unfortunately, de rigueur in all Asian countries. The best that can be said is that Japan still leads other Asian countries on the long and winding road to democracy.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

When I played American football in high school, all players had to shave to shave their heads to play on the team. If it wasn't short enough, the coaches would shave it themselves. They are still doing it to this day and I have yet to hear about lawsuits. Traditions are traditions but these schools and clubs need to forewarn their students of what is to come rather than forcing it upon them when they arrive.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

The boy in question here joined the "soft tennis" club, tennis played with a squishy ball that is harder to overhit. Tennis is an individual sport, so you cannot use the justification that hazing rituals build team spirit. Team spirit never won a tennis match.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

I wonder how singing 30 minutes and having your hair cut once is going to make you feel depressed...if there is more threat than that it should be mentioned.

They are more frightening things in life than such actions.

I was forced to draw at school and I hate drawing. Shall I sue the art teacher ?

-6 ( +5 / -11 )

Hope this dude can learn English and get the hell out of Japan, as he sure is never going to get a good job here now.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Attention seeking rubbish. This boy needs to stop being such a wimp

-9 ( +5 / -14 )

How else are you going to prepare them for a life spent working at a Japanese company?

6 ( +7 / -1 )

OK, so if the school education board is going down the "tradition route", to mascaraed bullying

1: The head teacher and the staff has failed to educate this student

2: He's brought shame on him self and the school as the student is suing them.

3: Bring out the school tanto, into the court yard, and have a ceremony.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

He has only flimsy evidence, but it's the day to day put downs, shoulder bumps. Laughing, ostasized feelings that are hard to explain and impossible to prove that can and does wear people down mentally. It's without a doubt a Traditional school that enforces a 100+ year old tradition. Time for a makeover for 2020. Might be too much but would love to see it become a school of choice rather that a school of tradition.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I remember years ago when my brother was so happy to become a cadet member of the territorial army (early teens), after a week he refused to go and became withdrawn. Turned out, he refused the initiation 'game' - being held down by older members and having your b*lls covered with black shoe polish and then being chased round the grounds to have more polish rubbed on you. I ask you, where do they get these ideas

9 ( +10 / -1 )

No doubt about it, Japanese youth these days are like youth everywhere else around the world. Soft and flakes of snow. 

Actually standing up to the system that forces you to do stuff you don,t wanna do takes more balls than going along with it like the rest of the sheep. Did you? ...or is it just easier to spout old man,s blanket critisism?

5 ( +8 / -3 )

i can't help but admire this poor, deluded fellow, but he may as well sue the culture of japan for its dysfunctional, archaic attempts at controlling its citizens. not only will he get no support from the law, but the vast majority of citizens are indoctrinated and will fail to understand the importance of this......assuming the media give it any airtime at all.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Sounds like he chose the wrong school for the wrong reasons.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Jonathon:

Many people value their hair. It's a part of them, and not just for women. It can be very traumatic. A friend of mine a few years back nearly threw up when it was his time to get his boot camp shave...and he knew it was coming. Imagine not being prepared. Also injustice and discrimination that only one sx has to have theirs shaved.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Actually standing up to the system that forces you to do stuff you don,t wanna do takes more balls than going along with it like the rest of the sheep. 

He chose to go to that school. He quit the school and now wants it to change a century of tradition that he refused to participate in. Many of these types of traditions are for building comraderie and to inculcate resilience and toughness. Many young people want this kind of experience. Like a recruit who can’t cut it in boot camp he couldn’t handle it and dropped out. Instead of just moving on with his life he seems to want payback for his own failure.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

No doubt about it, Japanese youth these days are like youth everywhere else around the world. Soft and flakes of snow. So they had to yell and get a haircut. Oh the horror, how will cope with the real world.

Agree. If he can't take that kind of "soft" hazing the business world will eat him up and spit him out. Mommy and Daddy can't help you forever.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

I agree. The pu*****cation of this current generation is alarming. It's not that big a deal.

I went through something similar and it was something that all of us shared and later laughed about. It also somewhat bonded us.

The tradition of yelling from the top of the building and getting a buzz cut isn't what brought this boy down. It was something else that had him completely skip school and failed to pass 10th grade.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The writer suggests Kumamoto prefecture's "combative stance" is the reason the suit seeks a mere 1 yen in damages. However, the boy's mother, quoted in the Mainichi's reporting on the story, explains「賠償金が目的ではない。学校はシメ文化を見直し、謝罪してほしい]. In other words, the point is not the money. Rather, what is sought is a reexamination of shime culture and an apology.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I feel sorry for these kids.

I feel sorry for people working at 100% japanese companies (ALTs and such included).

Japan is such a pleasant place to live but the working environment is horrible, there is constant stress in the air you can even smell it. The practices and customs are pretty hard to understand, even if you come to the country already speaking N1 japanese. You are eating and laughing with your colleague, as soon as you step in the office, the smile vanishes and they treat/speak to you in such a cold manner, almost as if they are angry at you (what the??).

After more than 10 years in Japan and 2 failed attempts trying to fit in the japanese working culture I decided to be my own boss. Best choice ever.

This pupil can see through all this bs, guess he will run away from Japan at the very first chance he gets!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Whatever its problems may be, quality of education is not among them. With a "hensachi" of 73, Seiseiko HS is ranked 2nd out of 249 high schools in the prefecture and 49th (of 10,050) nationwide.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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