Posted by debito on January 30th, 2009
Hi Blog. I received word a couple of days ago from James and AS about a schoolteacher in Mie-ken who dealt with a suspected theft by taking everyone’s fingerprints, and threatening to report them to the police. He hoped the bluff would make the culprit would come forward, but instead there’s been outrage. How dare the teacher criminalize the students thusly?
Hm. Where was that outrage last November 2007, when most NJ were beginning to undergo the same procedure at the border, officially because they could be agents of infectious diseases, foreign crime, and visa overstays? How dare the GOJ and media criminalize NJ residents thusly?
I’m not saying what the teacher did was right. In fact, I agree that this bluff was inappropriate. It’s just that given the sudden outrage in the media over human rights, we definitely have a lack of “shoe on the other foot” -ism here from time to time.
The articles haven’t appeared in English, but no problem. Here are some links in Japanese, and I’ll translate one article. Arudou Debito in Sapporo
2009年1月27日 朝刊 中日新聞
(translation by Arudou Debito)
Homeroom teacher fingerprints all of his students: Mie-ken Kaisei High
Chuunichi Shinbun January 27, 2009, Morning Edition
[Mie-ken Yokkaichi] At Kaisei, a private high school in Yokkaichi, Mie Prefecture, a homeroom teacher (57), who heard accusations from a freshman that somebody had stolen his cellphone memory card during PE, took fingerprints from all 27 students in class, and said that he would report them to the police.
Principal Nishida Hideki was quoted as saying, “This is an issue of human rights”, acknowledging that this action was inappropriate. ”We have apologized to the students and their guardians, and will thoroughly admonish our staff member.”
According to the school, on January 21, during lunch break after PE, the student reported the incident to the teacher. The keitai had been collected from all students as personal valuables before PE in the dojo, placed in a bag left in the dojo, and given back after class.
The teacher that day said, “I’m taking your fingerprints and will let the police analyze them”, forcing all students to put their fingers on red inkan pads and render their fingerprints on pieces of paper. The teacher apparently said, “I did this because I wanted the thief to reveal himself quickly.”
Principal Nishida said, “I think there was definitely a case where somebody in this class was involved in the loss of that memory card, but this was not the way to deal with it. We’re considering disciplinary action.”
Dozens more articles here:
And AS adds:
I caught a story on the news last night (News Watch 9, 9:00pm 1/27 broadcast, channel 1) about the community outrage that resulted from a teacher fingerprinting his students in Mie prefecture.
Apparently what happened was that a boy in the teacher’s homeroom class reported that the memory card for his cell phone was missing. The teacher asked repeatedly for the culprit to come forward, and when nobody did he decided to fingerprint everybody in the class. When asked by the principal why he did this, the teacher said he was disappointed that nobody came forward on their own, and he thought that by doing something so serious and dramatic that it would prompt the offender to confess. The teacher’s logic is very odd since 1) there is no way for him to analyze prints and 2) there is no suspect print for him to compare the samples to, so it’s obviously intended solely as a scare tactic.
Anyway, the part that interested me was the reaction from the community and the school. Everyone agreed that it was completely inappropriate, and that the teacher was treating the students like criminals. One person said that it unnecessarily caused hurt feelings and embarassment among the students, and another said that teachers should treat their students with more trust.
While this case is obviously very different from the fingerprinting of foreign nationals at the border, it does show once again that there is a double-standard in how Japanese view fingerprinting. If the people involved are Japanese, then it is a very serious issue and the dignity of the individual must be preserved. If the people are NJ though then there is little thought given to issues of dignity, privacy, or convenience.
Anyway, I thought you might want a heads-up to look for articles covering this story to add to your archive.