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Principal of school where student attacked teacher criticized for half-hearted apology

33 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

Many people in Japan are still trying to wrap their heads around an incident that occurred on September 28 at Hakata High School in Fukuoka Prefecture, in which a student violently assaulted his teacher after the educator confiscated a tablet on which the boy had been watching movies during class time. As the other students looked on in silence or giggled, the boy kicked the 23-year-old teacher in the back multiple times, threw a punch, and grabbed the man by his shirt.

Video of the incident was initially uploaded to Twitter and sent shock waves through Japanese social and mass media. The student has since been arrested, and the first thing visitors to Hakata High School’s website currently see is a written apology from the school’s principal, Kazuhiro Ayabe. However, some critics are calling the principal’s statement a tone-deaf gesture that diverts attention from the real problem.

The statement reads:

"An apology regarding the behavior of one of our students, and our response going forward

During class on September 28, an incident occurred in which one of our school’s first-year students comitted an act of violence upon a new teacher. The incident was recorded and uploaded to social media, and knowledge of the event spread throughout the Internet.

We deeply apologize to our current students, their guardians, alumni, and all other individuals connected to our school for the discomfort caused by this incident and information that has been spread on the Internet.

Our school has always promoted moral education and taught that violence is absolutely unacceptable. We have also informed students on the dangers of using social media. Regardless, we regrettably failed to prevent this incident. Our guidance was imperfect, and this is truly inexcusable.

We are taking this incident very seriously, and are planning ways to further improve the manner in which we educate students on IT morality, and also to enact a thorough system of faculty coordination and follow-up procedures in order to create a proper educational institution.

We apologize for the disturbance and distress we have caused our current students, their guardians, alumni, and others connected to our school, and ask for your understanding and cooperation going forward."

Polite platitudes aside, some online critics are taking Ayabe to task for his multiple references to social media issues in what they argue is a plain-and-simple physical assault. Complaints have included:

“This apology misses the point in so many ways.”

“It’s like he’s saying Twitter is the real villain here.”

“Does he think the student who uploaded this to Twitter did something bad?”

“Trotting out the ‘the dangers of social media’ story line here is too stupid for words.”

“Social media is just really good at exposing hidden injustices.”

“The incident doesn’t have anything to do with IT morality.”

There’s at least a bit of traditional Japanese cultural values at play in the principal’s choice of words. As a group-oriented society, a stain on a school’s reputation can turn into a stigma that all of its students are saddled with as they continue their educational or even professional careers. It’s possible that Ayabe felt the need to include reminders on the effects of social media to encourage students to reflect on the possible ramifications of uploading such videos to the Internet, where they can be seen by anyone in the world without context, as opposed to presenting them to the faculty or authorities first. None the less, the fact that social media technology is mentioned more times than violence in his statement can definitely be construed as him shying away from the more direct message of “It’s wrong to kick teachers in the back because they took away your toys.”

Source: Hakata High School

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

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

-- Fukushima teacher threatens students with “Death Note”

-- Chiba teacher arrested for threats to “blow up government buildings” because of Saturday classes

© SoraNews24

©2018 GPlusMedia Inc.

33 Comments
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Well the kids in the video are laughing and jeering - not one of them stands up to intervene and do the right thing in the circumstances. So, the culture of the school is clearly deficient in a decent moral code amongst it's cohort.

Also, no mention of the fact that a kid is using an entertainment device during class time. Why? Why is that OK?

Sounds like a thoroughly inept educational institution to me.

23 ( +23 / -0 )

Is he talking about the student using his tablet in class? Surely he can't be so obtuse as to try to shift the attention onto social media...?

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Sounds like they need a new principal. This guy is clueless.

20 ( +20 / -0 )

Did anyone actually expect this principal to do the right thing here? Like rip open his belly with a knife and let the vice principal slice off his head in and honorable manner to atone for his mismanagement?

3 ( +5 / -2 )

ridiculous, he should have directly said that no such acts will be allowed and next student to do that will be off to a juvi same second, and maybe also receive physical punishment.

I dont get this whole trend of handling kids with fur gloves... physical punishment has always worked really well in our society , there is absolutely no reason to abolish that.. these days there is this trend and the kids stop understanding right and wrong...

-1 ( +8 / -9 )

physical punishment has always worked really well in our society , there is absolutely no reason to abolish that.. these days there is this trend and the kids stop understanding right and wrong...

Pity some adults can't understand right and wrong, either. That physical punishment is abuse.

The head though has got his priorities wrong:

*We deeply apologize to our current students, their guardians, alumni, and all other individuals connected to our school for the discomfort caused by this incident and information *that has been spread on the Internet.

Sounds like he's more concerned his shabby set up has been rumbled.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Also, no mention of the fact that a kid is using an entertainment device during class time. Why? Why is that OK?

Tamarama is the previous article it stated they were using the tablets for an exercise they were doing. The kid attacking the teacher was watching movies instead.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

We are taking this incident very seriously, and are planning ways to further improve the manner in which we educate students on IT morality, and also to enact a thorough system of faculty coordination and follow-up procedures in order to create a proper educational institution.

Hmmm, I think someone's trying to muddy the waters here.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

The student can bundle the classroom video with his CV when he applies to join the local yakuza, where I am certain a bright future awaits him.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

The kid and his parents should make a public apology to the school and the teacher.

14 ( +14 / -0 )

paradox box: "Sounds like they need a new principal. This guy is clueless."

Why? All the principals here are just PR tools, often just City Hall lackeys who've inherited what a kind of lower-end amakudari position. They drink tea in separate rooms and entertain guests; unless it's a private school (then they fleece the guests for money). It's the vice-principals that actually do the hard stuff.

In any case, as I said would happen, the response to this has been a joke. Love the comments by posters online!

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

We have also informed students on the dangers of using social media. 

Yes. The danger is social media might reveal the truth about how awful Japanese schools are. And that's much worse than violent assault, of course.

These tax-sponging parasites are a disgrace to education.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

mmmm...should be too late to save this person's job. There is a severe problem in that school. They need a new start with a different tone.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Well the kids in the video are laughing and jeering - not one of them stands up to intervene and do the right thing in the circumstances

yes. Going with the flow is what we saw here. Ok maybe too much to expect from kids but in general, this country needs 'heroes' (hope that's the term I'm looking for, here). People who will break the shackles of shyness, awkwardness and do what needs to be done. Not what suits the general appearance in the scheme of things. Pity is that you tend to become more apathetic, the more you try to blend in. On my daily walk to the station one morning saw this 90 or so year old lady trip and fall on the road face down. She quickly collected herself, although still on the ground (looked too weak to stand up herself) put her glasses back on and wiped her face only to realise it was pouring blood from her lips and nose. While I picked my pace towards her, I saw not less than 4 men and 2 women all young and able bodied simply walk past her. Act as much as they would, I know each one of them had noticed the incident. Only after I had physically lifter her to stand, did a couple of ladies come along and (I think) said it's ok and that they'd reach her to wherever she wanted. Why do people wait till it's too late when the opportunity to do a smashing good deed stands right before? Back to this case, my message for the principal is "sir, no apology would be fine too, as long as you set a good example for the kids to become good humans. And not necessarily punitive, whatever suits you"

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The student has since been arrested

Can someone confirm this? Some people say he was arrested and others say he was taken in for questioning and immediately released.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@smithinjapan

As usual, you take an incident and turn it into a condemnation of the entire society.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

If I were the teacher, I would find the principal's "apology" absolutely galling.

The victim of the violence is barely mentioned -- a brief word at the beginning, but then the principal switches to talking about how video was uploaded ot the internet and how it brought shame upon the school, and apologizes to students, their guardians, and various other parties, but *not to the *teacher.

Not to the one who was kicked and punched and humiliated in his own classroom.

If I were this teacher, I might even feel more humiliated by being figuratively stabbed in the back by my own boss than anything that piece of garbage student did to me.

The teacher should apply for stress-based medical leave today. His employer threw him under the bus.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Jordan TsangToday  05:29 pm JST

Also, no mention of the fact that a kid is using an entertainment device during class time. Why? Why is that OK?

Tamarama is the previous article it stated they were using the tablets for an exercise they were doing. The kid attacking the teacher was watching movies instead.

Most of the many Japanese news versions of this incident I saw said the students have each been issued a tablet that is used for their studies but that they weren't used for this particular class.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

At least one kid helped the situation! by posting the video.

Agree a principal's position in Japan is more like an honorary chairman. The real boss is MEXT, but we haven't heard from them?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

As always, what has the unexpected behaviour of one pupil to do with the responsibilty of the head master.

The pupil and his parents indirectly are the sole guilty ones who should apologize and pay damages.

Taking responsibility implies fault. None was done by the teacher, who as duty tells, did the right thing to confiscate the tablet.

The video put on Twitter is anecdotic altough it shows he is not leading his class. I would have defend myself and brought or have brought him to the principal. The kid is a potential criminal.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Why the principal apologize to students parents, alumni, and other ? The principal's so clueless

The student and the parents of student is one must be apologize to the teacher's.

Really the attitudes and behavior of the student is so suck.please respect your teacher cuz what you to do to other people will be back to you

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This kid is a serious bully and needs to be taken down a few pegs as an example. I have read several other articles here about the bullying culture in Japan schools and by the reports of the other students laughing and cheering as a means of encouragement then that culture does not look like it will go away any time soon.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Having seen this video, I am shocked at the moral and social decline of Japan.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Having seen this video, I am shocked at the moral and social decline of Japan.

You were able to determine not only that the entire country of Japan is declining morally, but the degree to which it's happening, from this single video? Impressive.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The teacher then tried to continue on teaching..... are you kidding? What type of a message does that send. You call the Principal's office and have them send in the Gym Teacher... then drag the little piece of crap out of the classroom and expel him for good. That sends a message.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Although the principal sends his apology, a regulation or a directive should be put to place such cases like this happens again. Where are the parents of this boy? they should also need to apologize to the teacher and to the school. Lastly, this boy should publicly apologize (within the school) this kind of behavior should never be tolerated.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This kind of thing has always been around. I personally witnessed three kids attack teachers in three different schools when I was a JET. The issue here comes back to the parents and the rules. Students have a "right" to be in classes which is why this student was not kicked out. "Suspensions" are very rarely handed out and when done so, they are in school suspensions which means they sit in a room, often with a teacher supervising them. What exactly do people expect the other students to do? Stand up and tell this brat to stop hitting the teacher? Then they would get hit by him. What did thy expect the teacher to do? He is legally not allowed to hit the kid back and no doubt, based on this kid's actions, had he hit back, the brat's parents would've been in to complain about the teacher. Teachers here are stuck in no win situations due to students/parents being customers. Even public schools are fighting over students now in fear they get closed down. Principals here do NOT stand up for teachers - hence the pathetic apology. Until MEXT actually starts giving teachers power back to run the classes as they should be, meaning kicking out students like this punk, this type of thing is only going to get worse.

There never seems to be able middle ground here. You get the punk students and then you get the punk teachers who scream and hit students - yeah, yeah, illegal I know but tell that to the parents of the kid who killed himself in Osaka a few years ago after being repeatedly hit by his basketball coach. I worked with a kendo coach who used to smack kids. He got a desk job at the BOE rather tan be fired and have his pension taken away. Meek teachers, like this teacher (let's be honest, students only do this to certain types), really have no business being in the classroom. Thing is, no one in their right mind wants to teach these days because of the stress, the workload and the BS from parents, students and admin.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Our school has always ... taught that violence is absolutely unacceptable

If this is true I assume the student has been expelled. If not, the principal should explain why he allows "unacceptable" behaviour in his school.

The "apology" reads more like a whiney individual complaining about the internet. What the principal finds most "regrettable" is the fact the assault was posted on social media, not the assault itself.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

domtoidi

@smithinjapan

As usual, you take an incident and turn it into a condemnation of the entire society.

I am sick of people saying this, every time someone says something negative about Japan they are told to stop making sweeping statements about the society and that Japan is fantastic.

I work at two JHS in Japan and i have worked at Kindergartens and ES as well, and i can state that what smithinjapan said is correct.

Principals do very little except waffle on about pointless rubbish at meetings and attend myriads of pointless events and meetings, they barely ever defend their staff and they never criticize the board of education as most of them work there and get indoctrinated into a system that only seems to care about its appearances and not the actual education of students.

The further up the hierarchy you go the less work gets done and the more useless and out of touch people seem to be. 

As my workmate says, “the board of education are a bunch of incompetent twits who couldn’t organize a piss up at a brewery”

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Principals do very little except waffle on about pointless rubbish at meetings and attend myriads of pointless events and meetings, they barely ever defend their staff and they never criticize the board of education as most of them work there and get indoctrinated into a system that only seems to care about its appearances and not the actual education of students.

I'd say this is arguably the same with most heads of companies. It's not unique to Japan either.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Never worked in education in Japan... but if you read what szero25 wrote... you only climb the ladder in Japan by kissing ass and not rocking the boat. Basically.... no change... continue as is. This is Japan... they erect barriers at ever level... barriers that protect those that came before. It is ingrained in just about all levels of Japanese society. Don't believe me.... try working in a Japanese environment and then ask if they could try to do something in a new way....

1 ( +1 / -0 )

All Schools should have classroom security surveillance cameras. And not simply rely upon the posting of a video taken by another student.

Acts of violence, either against the Teachers, or conducted by them, should be recorded and passed onto an independent review board which should have the mandate to either refer the matter to the Police, or the local authority.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I'd say this is arguably the same with most heads of companies. It's not unique to Japan either.

Could you point out where anyone suggested this is unique to Japan?

I will actually point out that in many other countries, principals also teach classes. So do VPs. This is not the case in Japan. Principals are at meetings or locked away in their office. VP's often sit at the front of the teacher's room and read the newspaper. Most are old Japanese men who bark at anyone who they think is wrong. Which is why many teachers will NOT approach either for support with students. I was lucky that when as a JET I had a handful of good principals and VPs. The most though? Useless, unsupportive and unavailable. Japan needs to start demanding more from parents when it comes to the behaviour of their kids. This passing the buck to teachers needs to stop because teachers are far too busy and stressed to parent all the kids they teach.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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