The Yomiuri Shimbun
SHIZUOKA–Alleged sexual transgressions by teachers in Shizuoka Prefecture have become so common that the area’s leading educational administrator recently declared himself helpless to stop them.
There have been five disclosed cases of alleged sexual improprieties committed by school teachers in Shizuoka Prefecture, including a school principal, since August alone. In those cases, the teachers were fired for sexual harassment or arrested for voyeurism.
The latest came on Oct. 17, when a 47-year-old teacher at Shizuoka Prefectural High School of Science and Technology was arrested on suspicion of indecent assault on a female student.
The prefectural board held an urgent meeting of school principals on Thursday. At that meeting Toru Abe, chairman of the prefectural board of education, said with a bitter expression, “Speaking for myself, there’s no longer anything I can do.”
The board has taken such measures as revealing the names of offending teachers who received disciplinary dismissals and conducting training sessions for teachers. It also has organized study sessions with outside instructors and held group study meetings in an effort to prevent such incidents.
However, a high school teacher who had been through a training session was arrested on suspicion of using a camera to look up a woman’s skirt in September. The teacher, who was arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting the female student, had also gone through a training session.
Students have harshly criticized teachers and the authorities, saying: “Who will protect us students?” and “What the hell are teachers doing?” But some school officials have voiced sympathy for the chairman’s remark, which reflects a sense of helplessness.
The chairman told the about 120 school principals, “I want you to build human relationships with a sense of solidarity in your schools.”
Abe said, “My remark that there’s nothing more we can do was a slip of the tongue.” Abe said he was hit by a sense of helplessness, as teachers had been urged on numerous occasions not to cause such scandals.
“When I made the remark, I was thinking about how I’d had to say the same thing in similar situations again and again [with little apparent impact],” Abe said.
He added: “I regret the remark and think it was improper. I still have to consider effective measures. We have started discussing practical actions.”
Hiroshi Asaba, principal of prefectural Shizuoka Senior High School and also chairman of the prefectural association of high school principals, voiced sympathy for the board chairman saying, “The words reflected his stress.”
But he added: “We school officials have not given up on taking measures. Though there may be no quick remedy, there are still things we can try.”
A senior official of the prefectural board of education said: “The problems are not ending, even though we have taken measures. I wonder what more we can do than we are doing now.”
A 17-year-old male second-year student at Shizuoka Prefectural High School of Science and Technology said: “Many female students have begun to distrust their male teachers because of these incidents. When our school held a meeting to explain the situation to all students, a girl began weeping, and I couldn’t face the scene.
“If the prefectural board of education has given up and said there is nothing to do, who in the world will protect us students?”
An 18-year-old third-year high school student said, “Because scandals have occurred despite measures by the prefectural board, students just distrust teachers more.”
A 15-year-old male student said: “What the hell are teachers doing? I don’t trust teachers anymore.”
Educational analyst Naoki Ogi said: “Control by superiors alone has limited effects. Ad hoc measures, which are like a cat-and-mouse game, can’t work. The authorities should have teachers receive mental health checks by experts.
“The administrative authorities should not see teachers as the only cause of the evil, but consider what they themselves lack. They should improve the situation while reflecting opinions from workplaces.”