What follows is an update about Senaiho’s case, i.e., overzealous enforcers of school rules in Japan’s compulsory education system who essentially become the “Hair Police”. This phenomenon particularly affects NJ and Japanese of diverse backgrounds, who are forced by officials to dye and/or straighten their naturally “Non-Asian” hair just to attend school.
Bullying is rife in Japanese education, but when it’s ignored (or even perpetuated) by officialdom, this feeling of powerlessness will leave children (particularly those NJ children with diverse physical features targeted for “standing out”) and their families scarred for life. (As discussed at length in book “Embedded Racism”, pg. 154-5.) As reported on Debito.org last month, after months of playing by the rules established by the local Board of Education, Senaiho finally lodged a formal criminal complaint against his daughter’s school officials, and it’s smoking out hidden documents. This blog entry is an update to the case, where he has managed to uncover just how stacked the system is against him, and why he was entirely correct to pursue this issue through criminal, not Board of Education, channels.
This is one of the worst-kept secrets about Japan — its underdeveloped civil society generally leaves the government to do everything, and the cosy relations between government officials means a lack of independent investigation and oversight. Coverup becomes Standard Operating Procedure. Hence “kusai mono ni futa o suru” (“put a lid on that which stinks” — instead of actually cleaning it up) isn’t a bellyaching grumble — it’s a PROVERB in Japan.
Your kid having trouble in Japanese school? Keep an eye on this case and learn a few alternative avenues for recourse.