Unseen Japan

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Learn why, after a teacher hauled off and hit a student, many are calling for the STUDENT to be punished. (Picture: Graphs / PIXTA(ピクスタ))

After Teacher Slugs Student in Japan, Many Sympathize with...the Teacher

News   Posted on January 24, 2019 in school, education, violence, crime, society • By Jay Andrew Allen • Read Related Articles

This week, a video dropped onto Twitter that had many people in Japan up in arms...but not for the reason you might think.

The video is pretty graphic and disturbing. In it, a teacher at a high school in Machida, a city of around 430,000 in the Tokyo region, has pulled a student out into the hallway to talk to him about wearing an ear piercing in class. The student is being what can only be described as - and I use the scientific, technical term here - a little shit. He's directly insulting the teacher, saying things like, "Think! Use that tiny brain of yours and think!"

After a few minutes of this, this teacher's had enough: he pushes the student, and then hauls off and slugs him. The student collapses. The teacher grabs him and hauls him around, yelling at him to stop being such an insufferable little bastard. Other students, hearing the noise, run up and try and calm the teacher down.

So far, it seems like a straightforward case. The student was being obnoxious (as teens are wont to do), and the teacher lost his cool and crossed a line that shouldn't be crossed. In ordinary circumstances, the teacher would be fired almost immediately and his career over, and everyone would get on with their lives.

Except there's been an incredible outpouring of support in Japan for the teacher.

Why are people defending violence against a student? Well...it isn't that simple.

The answer lies with who was taking the video. It turns out this camera clip didn't just happen to come from some concerned student who, by chance, happened to catch this spectacular confrontation. The incident was recorded by at least three students from different phones. After the initial video went viral, other videos were uploaded or discovered containing incriminating evidence against the students. In one, the student recording the incident is heard to say, "We're counting on your, Education Committee!" (教育委員会よろしく!) - a reference to the board that would take up disciplinary action against the teacher. In another example broadcast on the TV talk show Sukkiri!, a student is heard to say, "Let's make this viral!" (炎上させようぜ!).

In other words, the entire incident was a setup by the students meant to get the teacher in trouble.

The new evidence has many commentators, celebrities and ordinary citizens debating about the teacher's fate. Sukkiri! host Katou Kouji argued that, while the teacher should have kept his cool, the students should also be punished for instigating the incident, and be taught "Don't make light of grown-ups". Another commentator, former tennis player Sugiyama Ai, said the students committed "verbal violence", and should be reprimanded and punished accordingly. A chorus of support for Katou's and Sugiyama's view rose up on Twitter, arguing that the students should face consequences for their actions.

(JP) Link: Katou Koushi Blows Up at Students in Teacher Assault Video: "Don't Make Light of Grown-Ups" - Others Continue to Voice Agreement

加藤浩次、教師の暴力動画で生徒に激怒 「大人なめんな!」に共感の声が相次ぐ
東京・町田市の都立高校で50代教師が男子生徒へ暴行した問題。暴行の場面がSNSで拡散されて大きな波紋を呼んだが…

Additionally, interviews with other current and former students, as well as comments from students on Twitter, showed strong support for the teacher, who appears to be held in high esteem. Many see this incident of violence as an exception to his behavior, not the rule - and an exception that was instigated by a pack of disgruntled students.

While many were careful not to condone the teacher's actions, at least one celebrity wants to give him a Get Out of Unemployment card. On her Twitter account, businesswoman and Japanese TV personality Dewi Sukarno, known popularly as Madame Dewi (デヴィ夫人; debi fujin), came out in defense of the teacher:

So the students who flung insults at their teacher at the Machida metropolitan high school. The argument escalated over a piercing, and the student's contemptuous attitude was full of ill will. Of course you'd hit such a student. He should be strictly punished. No way should this teacher resign. The school should protect the teacher - why did the principle apologize? The student ought to be expelled.

Rather than backing down after her comment went viral, Dewi doubled down the next day:

That little shit, the one who spit vile at his teacher, should've been expelled along with his piercing. And his parents should apologize for their lack of parental guidance. [The school] should also consider an appropriate punishment for his friends. The principal, as an educator, should take responsibility and stand firm against verbal violence.

Sukarno's tweet has over 33,000 likes and 11,000 retweets, with many of the top responders agreeing wholeheartedly. Others aren't willing to go that far, however, and argue that the teacher should still be disciplined for crossing a line that shouldn't be crossed.

A petition drive has started to save the teacher's job. It's too early to tell if the upswelling of support will be enough to save this man's career. What's clear, however, is that many in Japan aren't willing to tolerate a pack of hoodlum students ganging up on an educator.

I'm the publisher of Unseen Japan. I hold an N1 Certification in the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, and am married to a wonderful woman from Tokyo.

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