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Hi Blog. What follows is an update about Senaiho’s case, i.e., overzealous enforcers of school rules in Japan’s compulsory education system acting as what Debito.org has long called “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. Debito Arudou Ph.D.
Subject: Yamanashi hair police special report
Date: February 10, 2019
To: Debito Arudou <email@example.com>
Things have developed much sooner than I expected. I am including by attachment my report and a picture of the identities of the special third party investigation committee. As I write this we are communicating with several newspapers and news services regarding it. I wanted to get this to you asap. Please use freely as you see fit. Sincerely, Senaiho
UPDATE: Japan Hair Police in Yamanashi
The identities of the Special Third Party Investigation Committee are revealed as stacked against us
Special Report for Debito.org by Senaiho, February 10, 2019
Original report at https://www.debito.org/?p=15489
On the evening of 2/9/2019 we received from our Ombudsman the identities of the special investigation committee set up by the Yamanashi city board of education. While we are still looking into the backgrounds of these four people, right off the bat we can make several assumptions. I don’t want to repeat what I have already stated in our previous post here on Debito.org, but I need to go into a little background to make it easier for the reader to follow.
In January of 2018 with the help of our Ombudsman and several others, we circulated a petition, and on March 27, 2018, we along with our lawyer presented to the Yamanashi board of education our petition, along with 1500 or so signatures, asking them to do an internal investigation into the case of our daughter’s bullying and hair cutting by the teachers which caused her to be so traumatized that she dropped out of school for the next two years. Up to this point we had been hoping and tried to go the most civil route possible in order to minimize relationships within our community and the school. We put good faith in the public servants of the board of education to do what was right for us and our daughter and on behalf of other bullied and truant children in our town. The board of education agreed to do an investigation and make the results of it known to us. We left this meeting feeling satisfied that things may work out for the better, and we put our trust in them. How wrong we were.
Here is the name list of the special third party investigation committee hired and set up by the board of education:
I will go down the list and just refer to them as #1, #2, etc. Their names and job titles are all there in open view. Keep in mind, they could have chosen any four people in the country as an impartial third party investigation committee, but they chose these four people:
#1 is a lawyer. It just so happens that this lawyers office is located DIRECTLY in front of our lawyers office. They can wave to each other from their office windows. They know each other professionally and informally, run into each other in the courthouse all the time. Lawyers in Yamanashi are a close knit group and work hard to not step on each others toes. Do you suppose the board of education chose this lawyer to intimidate our lawyer? No wonder our lawyer became so hesitant to assist us after this committee was formed. We since have hired another lawyer.
#2 is the boss at the counseling center where my daughter has spent many, many hours, receiving counseling and treatment and help in dealing with the trauma of her experiences. He is not her personal counselor, but as this person s boss he would have access to very private and personal information given by our daughter in the course of her treatment. He would also have access to any and all reports made by her counselor regarding her case and he would have been in a position to put pressure on my daughter s counselor to decide treatment in one fashion or another.
#3 is the boss at the Eastern Yamanashi area education office. This just happens to be where my wife and daughter spent many hours discussing personal and private information regarding her experiences at school and how to deal with problems there. They also advised us about how to get her back to school and dealing with all matters related to the school. As with #2 is not the person we dealt with directly but would have access to all private information and reports regarding our case along with being able to bring pressure on the lower level person dealing with us.
#4 is listed as a doctor but to be honest we have not been able to find the connection with us directly except he may have been an instructor of our lawyer during her time in law school. Another effort to pressure our lawyer? A personal friend of someone? He does seem to have qualifications in psychology which would make him somewhat qualified to be on this committee but his specialty is ADHD which is not relevant in our daughters case.
So there you have the “impartial” investigation committee set up and chosen by our “trusted” public servants at the Yamanashi city board of education. No wonder they were so hesitant about revealing the identities of this committee.
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94 comments on “UPDATE: Senaiho on the stacked Board of Education committee investigating his Yamanashi jr. high school Hair Police complaint”
Another thing we learned after I submitted this report. #2 and #3 are both former school principals. OF COURSE they would be totally impartial in ruling in a case like ours in our dispute with the school.
In case anyone out there is not aware of it, there are criminal laws in Japan about public officials using private information gotten in the course of their jobs in the public trust, but some are above the law, I suppose, at least we may find out if this is so.
#2 and #3 are surely vested interests in this case?
What that might be we have no idea. As public servants they are not allowed to take payment for services other than their salary so its not hard to imagine them possibly getting something under the table. that is why the previous Yamanashi city head is sitting in prison now, for taking bribes along with giving tax money to his wife s stone carving business. You understand though that is just speculation on my part 🙂
Thanks for the update Senaiho! Just a quick question – You said “Here is the name list of the special third party investigation committee hired…”. Doesn’t “hired” mean paid employment? And then you later said they can’t accept payment for services other than salary. I am a bit confused. Are the investigating committee paid or not?
Anyway it’s not a major issue for me. Quite clearly some of the committee are not impartial by any standard.
Before we knew the identities of the committee, our Ombudsmen was aware of money being used for it. That’s his job. That is one reason he filed for opening the name list. Since we know now who is on it and that two of them are public servants the question becomes where did the money go and to who? The Ombudsman knows that is why he is so angry.
On another note, our daughters counsellor until yesterday had no idea his boss was on this committee. He is not happy about that and feels betrayed. We don’t know what he will do. The prosecutors office is also interested in this commitee and their doings which we will be assisting them with of course.
I want to add the fact that #2 and #3 were even asked to be on this committee stinks. They should have refused but they didn’t. There are laws about civil servants passing on information they got while performing their duties. They can go to prison for doing that. they both would be in a position to ask their underlings say, can you tell me a little bit about that foreigner who s daughter you are treating? or they wouldn’t even have to ask directly, they could just go to the file and read it. The fact that our counsellor didn’t even know his boss was on this committee until we told him yesterday stinks.
Now just suppose for a minute you were #2 or #3 and the head of the board of education came to you and asked you to be on this special committee, what would motivate you enough to risk your job and maybe go to prison if you were caught leaking private information about someone? What if this information that you leaked was probably going to be used against that person? Would you do it as a personal favor? maybe. Would you do it for a handout? maybe. Would you do it if this person had dirt on you? hmmm. You might do it if this person promised that your identity would never get out. You get my point. They both should have never been asked and most certainly should have refused their services.
By the way, for anyone who claims, “Public workers deserve privacy” the correct answer is “No, public workers deserve absolutely zero privacy about any actions they commit during work hours, that is the trade-off they agreed to when they signed-up to get paid double, triple, quadruple higher salaries, higher bonuses, plus the extremely higher benefits of special “Public Worker health and pension” which covers far more than “regular private slave health and pension”.
“Although it is a cliche often mentioned by folks in the process of complaining about the actions of public workers, the fact is: we the tax-payers all actually are indeed paying for those public workers to enjoy their risk-free, zero-sales-pressure, zero-worry-of-being-fired, zero-worry-of-their-employer-going-out-of-business, annual 1000man yen lifestyle (and yes, such city hall and board of education and similar level public workers do indeed enjoy annual 1000man yen lifestyles, especially when one includes into the calculation the financial benefits of the special “Public Worker health and pension” (example source: my wife’s mother, a retired city hall public worker who enjoys such extremely high publicly-funded benefits).”
“This low-risk high-return compensation for low-stress paper shuffling is the reason why public workers can easily dry their tears about their lack of privacy with all those 10,000-per-hour yen-notes they unfairly receive thanks to the tax-payments (paid upon threat of imprisonment) by all us regular 2,000-yen per-hour or 1,000-yen per-hour slave tax-payers.”
The monthly salary of the head of the Yamanashi city board of education is between 560,000 and 610,000 plus bonus, plus travel expenses, plus pension, plus hardship expenses. A real sacrifice of a job.
Yamanashi prefecture board of education officials have it even worse, starting at 800,000 yen per month, plus bonus, plus pension, plus, whatever they can squeeze out of their positions.
Wow! I’m shocked! Those guys are way overpaid for public servants! Not surprising that this kind of information isn’t more widely known, gotta keep putting the squeeze on the masses for more tax!
So, these rank-and-file prefectural BOE are paid more than the head of city BOE. And very few of those are showing willingness to investigate the case, while most American public school teachers are working like slave facing mounting bureaucratic harassment from governors and state politicians while getting paid less than half compared to these bunch of goofs? Gosh.
Seems like a “noruma” system, a pyramid scheme (Amway doing well in Japan) or organized crime, i.e. their salary depends on how much they can extract from the people “below” thm in the hierarchy, dependent on protection money rackets, or in this case, taxation, etc.
This sounds horrible.
Wow. Just wow.
Interesting, I’ve been following this since you first posted it and this is the first time at least the city/district is identified. Yamanashi is a surprisingly diverse prefecture for having such a small population. There are many completely non Japanese families with children in the public schools (2 Napalese and 1 Algerian family have children in the elementary school my children attended) as well as many mixed race couples of all descriptions. With Japan’s policy of rotating teachers every few years it’s no longer a concern of mine but rather for the community at large because this teacher, if left unchecked, has probably moved on to a different school in a different district by now.
Something I am curious about is what the schools problem with his daughter’s hair originally was? 2 of my children have decidedly non Asian hair, one’s hair is even brown, and it has never been a problem. The only problem we had was my son’s decision to shave the sides of his head in high school which resulted in us having to get his whole head shaved (a uniformly and fairly enforced school policy btw, he and a number of his friends got to shave their heads after that stunt.) I’m curious what the problem with the daughters hair was and why the teacher thought it needed correction after her mother cut it? (Note this is idle curiousity, the teacher should have sent the girl home if there was a problem, cutting her hair is tantamount to assault.)
Our daughter has never had any issues with her hair at school. No perms or dyeing. It was long at the time and unkempt (unwashed) not brushed because she was suffering so would just go to bed on occasion. It was long enough to reach her lower back but tied. Her mother cut it up to shoulder length, the next day The teachers cut it more. The teachers thought cutting it would decrease the bullying so they cut it but the reason and logic given by the teachers changes every time we asked about it.
After they cut it and seemed to have some remorse for what they did, I was pretty sure their intentions were not evil, they just made a mistake. That is why we didn’t pursue anything criminal but tried to work with the school and b of e to correct things. Now after all this time they want to blame us and not only that have marshalled public resources against us to make us be quiet and give up. That is what really gets my dander up and is why we filed the criminal suit.
Intentions don’t matter here. They should not have touched your daughters hair without your informed consent. You need to keep that in mind. I’m sure lots of people have good intentions and regrets but that is not a mitigating factor in what they’ve done.
What happened with your police complaint? Did any action get taken?
We talked to the police a few times, but they seem to have their own agenda. Also the town officials and the police are too close, if fact we are suspicious of the police in this local. We filed a complaint with the Kofu city prosecutors office and are waiting to see if they accept it or not.
The police of Japan routinely refuse to “accept” the filing of rape reports of Japanese citizens (what a country, in which police can choose to refuse crime reports) so chances are even lower that they will “accept” the filing of this rare haircut-assault-by-a-teacher report, especially since a “forever mortal enemy” (“gaikoku race person”: the father) is involved.
There is also the problem that public police and public prosecutors (and even public judges) anywhere usually don’t like to bring justice to other public workers, since they consider themselves to all be in the same public worker team. Bringing scrutiny to one public worker might later bring scrutiny to all public workers so they have an unspoken (often even unconscious) agreement to turn a blind eye to offenses done by folks in their team, the police blue line basically extends to protect all public workers from justice as much as possible.
Plus, in addition to the possibility you mention about this particular town’s officials and police being corruptfully too close, and in addition to the “public workers not wanting to bring justice to public workers” factor, there is the further problem which Debito has been trying to bring light to for many decades: the fact that Japan’s culture has Embedded Racism which culturally prioritizes protecting “people who are Yamato race” from any criticism/justice, regardless of the validity of the complaint, regardless of the suffering of the victim.
When the victim “is not pure Yamato race” and the perpetrator “is pure Yamato race”: Japan’s culture more often than not prioritizes its Embedded Racism hierarchy over justice.
IIRC Colin Jones wrote an excellent article in the Japan Times years ago about this; how the use of the English word ‘police’ doesn’t actually describe what keisatsu do. They don’t ‘uphold the law’, they swear to ‘maintain the peace’, which is why they see their job as making as many crimes go unreported as possible, blaming victims for being ‘trouble makers’ and a preoccupation with with slam-dunk infringements of minor laws and regulations to hit arrest targets.
I can’t find the article in question, can anyone else? Maybe the new regime at JT have disappeared it?
The wonderful world of Japanese law: Yōkoso to endless discovery
Warped culture. Maintain the conservative Wa (peace) at all costs is thus a conservative agenda to ensure the LDP as the “natural” party of J Govt. Those pesky socialists/communists etc are thus heavily policed.
The Rule of Law doesnt really come into it, as PRC China, I mean Japanese police regularly ignore their own laws.
So much for being in the Western G7 camp.
Here’s the article you mentioned:
Yes, in that article Colin Jones does say: “law enforcement in Japan often seems directed primarily at ‘keeping the peace’…”
But I would phrase things differently.
The Japan police officers do NOT keep the peace. Ignoring victims of crimes is not keeping the peace.
Colin’s articles seem to me to often fail to criticize the the appropriate extent, which feels like a limited-hangout controlled-opposition action, akin to admitting some bad guy is doing some small offense but not admitting that bad guy is also guilty of serial murder.
And in this particular article, while slightly criticizing the police of Japan, Colin has chosen to apply the “keeping the peace” phrase which in my opinion is half-criticizing yet half-excusing the actions of Japan’s police officers.
An insufficiently wary insufficiently critical reader might walk away with the impression that Japan’s Police Officers are “keeping the peace” and thus are akin the “Peace Officers”, which actually if true would be a wonderful positive since “Peace Officers” are by definition better than “Police Officers”.
“Peace Officers” by definition care about whether there is a victim, and if there is a victim, “Peace Officers” arrest, jail, try, then imprison the person who hurt the victim.
“Police Officers” by definition do that PLUS something which logical thinkers strongly disagree with: enforce money-making policies about victim-less statue infractions and then CREATE victims by imprisoning people who refuse to pay or literally can’t pay fines for infractions in which there never was an actual victim in the first place.
Look both ways, walk across the street when absolutely no cars were even on the street, you haven’t hurt anybody and you haven’t hurt anybody’s property, yet suddenly a policy officer demands you you must pay $500 or be raped in prison.
Choose your own feeling, eat a medically beneficial plant when absolutely nobody else is in your home, you haven’t hurt anybody and you haven’t hurt anybody’s property, yet suddenly a policy officer demands you you must pay $5,000 or be raped in prison.
Nobody should be in jail if they never actually hurt the body, feelings, or property, of another human, but millions are now being imprisoned each year (and billions are feeling the stress due to the risk of being imprisoned each day) due to the policy-enforcing Police racket of “hey, pay the state for some victim-less statue infraction, or we will imprison you” unjust imprisonment when the imprisoned has not hurt anyone.
So, when comparing “Police Officers” and “Peace Officers”, by definition I would choose a land of only “Peace Officers.”
Anyway, Japan’s “Police Officers” are definitely not doing the “keeping the peace” work which “Peace Officers” do.
Meaning, more often then not, Japan’s police officers do NOT protect victims by arresting those who hurt the victims.
Japan’s police officers are NOT “keeping the peace” as Colin put it, but rather they are “maintaining Japan’s status quo” of protecting the relatively richer powerful yakuza type old Japanese men, and NOT protecting victims, especially if the victims are young or weak or poor or women or minorities, and instead that are concentrating mainly on fining and imprisoning the young and weak and poor and women and minorities.
Thanks guys! I spent ages trying to find that!
“Policy Officers”- I think it was a typo but its exactly right! They carry out Govt agenda policies.
Talked to the koban (keystone) cops or actually followed through with an official complaint at the main station? If you didn’t follow through with a formal complaint at the main (and often multiple) station which will involve hours of intrusive questioning and attempt to disuade you all you did was talk to them. I believe Debito once reported on a fellow who was maced and the police caught the person responsible but because they didn’t follow up with a formal complaint nothing happened. Japans system seems designed to try to make it as difficult to file a complaint as possible for the victims. People unfamiliar with the system often think just calling and complaining and not following through and getting a formal written complaint filed is enough.
— You’re thinking of the Peter Barakan Case.
This is a quick update on some of the latest developments in our case.
After receiving the names of the third party investigation committee, which you posted, we had planned to attend a press conference on 2/13 that our Ombudsman had scheduled. We found out Monday evening that this press conference had been cancelled by the powers that be (Pref. offices) so we sent out press releases to all the papers who s meishis we have, and got nothing published. Our ombudsman thinks it is being squashed by higher powers.
Late in the evening of 2/21 we were informed that the Board of Education will be reporting the results of this investigation committee this coming Monday 2/25 at the city offices. This was spoken of like an invitation to be there but of course our first reaction was to decline to be in attendance.
We were also informed that the B of E will be holding a press conference on 2/26 at the city offices but this will not be open to the public and only press with credentials will be allowed to attend.
Since these are future events, I guess I am writing this to ask the opinions of the very knowledgeable folks at Debito.org for their advice.
1. Should we attend the meeting on 2/25 to voice our objections? or would being there only add legitimacy to the investigation?
2. I am sure we will not be allowed into the room of the press briefing on 2/26, but since it is the Yamanashi city offices, a public facility, I don’t think they can keep us from at least being in the vicinity carrying placards that say “investigation committee is unfair!” or something to that effect. Is this a good idea or too confrontational and will undermine our support? Any other suggestions?
I didn’t understand when I wrote this but it seems the B of E MUST report their findings to us for them to proceed to the next step, i.e. Holding a press conference and closing the investigation which they probably want to do by the end of March. Also we learned that the head of the B of E will be quitting the end of this fiscal year.
Sorry for this is all new to me.
Senaiho, I wish I had the specialist knowledge to give you sound advice on this specific event, unfortunately I don’t.
Isn’t there a Debito.org reader with more specialist skills/personal experience that could help? Senaiho is taking on the system here all by himself.
I am no in no way, shape, or form an expert of any sort, but I can’t see how passing up the event on the 25th (well, today) would be of any advantage to you.
Worst case scenario, you just hear a bunch of stuff that makes you angry, but at the very least you’ll know the line of BS they’re arguing, and perhaps you’ll have a chance to raise questions. Anyway you look at it, it will be more information, which is what you need right now.
I don’t see the line of “We think the investigation was a sham so we decided to forego participating entirely” resonating with anybody. If it were I personally, I would absolutely go, and record the entire thing, and do my best to ask questions. The whole investigation, sham as it may be, is at least superficially predicated on the notion that it is for your benefit. Take that and run a million miles with it if you can.
Best of luck to your and your family.
We have decided to do what you suggest, attend the announcement and voice our objections, try to get more information. This meeting has been postponed till a date in the near future. Hopefully we can muster a small support group to attend with us to document, etc. I will keep you informed. Thank you for the input.
That’s the spirit! Keep the pressure on them.
Good choice. I would attend and do everything that they reasonably ask of you. Otherwise they can always turn-around and claim they triiiiiieeeed to do XYZ but the gaijin didn’t show up so we couldn’t do it!
Well that WAS the plan but we just heard they are going to go ahead with the press conference tomorrow 2/26 in spite of not making it available to us. I hope to be in the vicinity. They just want to end their part in spite of all the deception.
shingetsu news agency just published an article on our situation.
The B of E reported today to the Yamanashi city representative government a 56 page report from the special 3rd party investigation committee regarding the school accident regarding our daughter, the contents of which we have no idea of and question the legitimacy.
They will be holding a press conference tomorrow 2/26.
This is a blow by blow account.
I attended the press conference and videoed everything today. As I write this, it’s been reported on two local tv stations and even NHK which is great. Images of B of E officials bowing and apologizing on local news. Nobody asked me anything or even would make eye contact with me. I felt like a non person. NHK even mentioned the fact that we filed a criminal complaint.
I could make the press conference video available if there is any desire.
— Please. firstname.lastname@example.org.
What disappointed me in it today is that racism and abuse of others (nj) was never even brought up in explanations or follow up questions by the press. It was all just a little mistake according to the powers that be.
I had to go back and listen to this several times, but at about the 42 minute mark he answers a question from the Yomiuri reporter about the cause of the futokou. He answers that the investigation did not go deeply into the cause of the bullying, i.e. being a smelly half-gaijin.
I also have a recording of a lecture given by the school nurse in which she states “Foreigners have a different smell than we Japanese, so because there are more foreigners running around these days we just have to put up with their odor” I will make that recording available shortly.
Why all the theatre. Can’t they just punnish the so-called teacher who assaulted your child and made her life a misery? Why can’t they do that?
They won t/can t because that would be an admission of guilt and then they would have to do something to make amends. The whole strategy here is to lie about my daughter giving permission to the teacher to cut her hair, which they still insist she did. You can see that in the press conf. video, then put the blame for her distress on us as incompetent parents with their sham investigation.
Your daughter is legally a minor, so how can they have expected her to give informed consent to that? Why didn’t they give her a form requesting parental permission for the teacher to cut her hair, and ask you to sign (hanko) that? You know, a permission slip?
They’ve got something like that all made up and stored on the computer for printing, right?
No? They haven’t?
That’s because they would never dream of doing something like this to a ‘Japanese’ child- the parents would go crazy!
But this isn’t about hair, it’s about racial discrimination and racist bullying by children and teachers.
Incidentally, don’t you need a license to be a hair dresser in Japan? That’s a multi-million ¥ vested interest right there! I wonder what their cushy job for life governing body and members would think about unlicensed teachers giving out haircuts?
You (or rather, They) can’t just let people without the right hanko stamps and licenses go around doing as they please, it undermines their whole system of control.
What if the unlicensed teacher had injured the child with the scissors? What does the school insurer and the teachers union have to say about that?
How is ‘we have to endure stinky gaijin’ not hate speech?
IHMExperience it has occasionally been the other way around. This is just hatred of difference.
To many detractors, they believe their speech do no harm by saying it explicitly to deny its association. Classic knee-jerk behavior common to apologists and contrarians. Other examples: Trumptards, Proud Boys, Alt-Right/Nazi hate group, NRA, anti-BDS lobbyists, evangelical christian leaders, pundits and clueless politicians on both left and right.
So you’ve still got the criminal case pending, I hope. It’s not a win for you if they just apologise and then go on doing what they’ve always been doing. Japan needs to understand that adults bullying kids is not normal behaviour, but is demonstrative of mental illness.
once again, as if some Japanese do not reek. https://www.sde.co.ke/article/2000216056/smell-harassment-smelly-employees-seminar-in-japan
Here is the Yamanashishi B of E press conference 2/26
Apparently NHK had a report on the national news last night. I only saw the local NHK, but many comments we are getting are congratulations because the officials apologised, but if you watch the video carefully, You will understand that they are NOT apologising because they did something wrong, they are apologising because things have gotten so out of hand leaving the impression that WE are the problem makers. If all these pesky gaijins are not around, Japan will return to its peaceful WA.
I understand this comment completely.
Yes, the old ‘sorry we didn’t put a lid on this quicker’ non-apology rather than apologizing for what was actually done wrong. You’ve got a fair point there, and you’d be well within your rights as a human being to not be satisfied with that at all.
It’s a passive-aggressive approach that avoids having to address the actual issue that caused this to happen; your daughter was bullied and her inviolable human rights infringed upon.
However you decide to take this forward (my personal feeling is that English language news media embarrassment is the most effective leverage, so I was glad to see SNA cover this), I believe that you may find a great deal of satisfaction in the fact that you stuck by your guns and didn’t let ‘the system’ cower you; you did ‘the right thing’ by your daughter. Other people’s failings, the system’s failings, aren’t yours. With a clear conscience you can say ‘the system is broken, I did my part’.
Children rarely appreciate (mainly because they don’t know) of the sacrifices and efforts parents make on their behalf, but one day when your daughter is older, she’ll understand what you’re going through, and how much you love her.
My respect to you as always Senaiho.
These are all much appreciated comments. Thanks so much for the support.
One question: you say: “English language news media embarrassment is the most effective…” any suggestions on how to do that? I don’t think first person accounts are accepted by the media, I tried but got nowhere except here and SNS.
Well, I’m not an expert, but Japan has never voluntarily effected any social change. Ever.
It’s only ever happened due to meeting irresistible external forces, or the anticipation that a spotlight on Japan will reveal embarrassing facts.
Dr. Debito presumably has international news media contacts, who may be able to assist you in your struggle against the BOE’s Kafkaesque refusal to address the issue at stake.
Alteranatively, don’t you know anyone who could contact the media on your behalf? It may be a case that you have to seek an activist group in Japan or overseas that shares an agenda related to your case. I’d start with the UNCHR (specifically the inspector who’s visit to Japan for investigation was canceled/delayed last year) and Amnesty International.
I second with JDG’s suggestions. Many informants use FCCJ as a starter. I learned that Shingetsu News Agency’s founder Michael Penn used to be a former vice president. You can find him in LinkedIn. It all depends on which points you want to emphasize most(BOE’s irresponsible behavior, school’s indifference to racism, Japanese school’s failing accountability., etc.,) in press conference. Other possible option may be Australia’s ABC News and the Amnesty International.
The Day After
While there was a bunch of tv reporting and video of officials bowing, the newspapers are m.i.a. Maybe the Trump Kim summit knocked it off the radar, or some other reason, the answers to inquiries are: “the editors desk is busy with other things” oh well, since this is an ongoing issue, the press conference the B of E held yesterday is not the center of the universe. I don’t have a problem with that.
Just got off the phone with someone in the Ministry of Education. He called us. Not sure where this will go if anywhere, they said they called the Yamanashi B of E and told them they need to follow the guidelines for doing an investigation. Ho Hum!
bureaucrats telling other bureaucrats how to do their jobs. That’s what we pay our taxes for.
There is one statement made by a member of the Yamanashi city council to us that keeps resonating in my mind, “the city head doesn’t understand his own responsibility in all of this.”
I have been informed that according to 2 Chan I MUST be a 2nd generation Korean.
I welcome their support.
Person claiming their daughter was discriminated against due to race of parent is attacked with racism for doing so!
These rightwingers aren’t the brightest bunch are they? Idiots.
You have my support. The criminal suit is still in play I hope?
Yes it is. They just need the testimony of my daughter which is the broken link. Pray she finds the fortitude to find her own voice.
The Ministry Of Justice has just announced that it will give free consultations and support to NJ who have had their human rights violated;
Take them up on their offer and see if they want to protect the system (by brushing you off) or their newly created jobs-for-life instead (by doing what they claim they will do).
Believe me we have spent hundreds of hours talking with bureaucrats. They are all self- serving slugs.
My cynicism is based on my experience, not just on the fact that I was born as a second generation Korean. 😉
I can’t believe an investigation committee admitted that they “didn’t investigate the causes deeply” and expect to be let off the hook? Do they understand their job?
My thought exactly. It just resonates with “Internal Committee” that is supposed to investigate the data irregularities over MHLW wage scandal. The entire committee is a joke, consisting of do-nothing-boys from LDP.
The answer to that is no they don’t and not only that they don’t understand the RESPONSIBILITY of their jobs until it kicks them in the groin. They like the perks but hate it when things get off the smooth easy trail.
Yeah, I think that in the absence of any specific legal advice from trusted counsel, my action plan would be;
1. Contact the office of Special Rapporteur of the UNHRC David Kaye for ‘advice’ (he already has had a spectacularly poor experience with Japan).
2. Contact Amnesty International for ‘advice’.
3. Contact the governing body for hair dressers in Japan and ask them what the qualifications are to set up in business is, what the legal requirements to do so are, and what are the legal penalties for operating without meeting those requirements.
4. Contact the teachers union and ask them how they would the support a teacher who injured a pupil with scissors whilst giving a haircut.
5. Contact the insurance company that the teachers union uses, and ask them what cover do they provide to teachers? Are they covered for injuring students with scissors whilst cutting their hair?
Effectively, this is a search for a vested interest with leverage over teachers/Boards of Education and the incentive to use it. Exploit their system.
The hyper sensitivity of rightist J snowflakes triggered! ” Academics’ Alliance for Correcting Groundless Criticisms of Japan, a group of uptight university professors. ” Lol.
“an ultra-conservative newspaper. It took offence at this finger-wagging by a foreigner.”
1. “He is just a foreigner so does not matter?” (Ishihara quote) CHECK.
2. You have hurt China/Japan’s feelings. CHECK.
3. Japan’splaining. CHECK.
4. “Its worse in America/Botswana/N. Korea.” CHECK
5. Rude to the Erai hito/Oyaji conservatives. CHECK.
Yes, more Japan’spaining about “misunderstandings. IS it just me, or does it feel like when Japan left the League of Nations in the 30s? Seems to be at odds with the World body most of the time. And left the whaling body.
“The Japanese government is desperate to hit back at special rapporteurs’ reports out of concern that they could spread what the government views as “misunderstandings” across the international community.”
I have just filed a complaint with the UNHRC. I contacted AI several months ago but never heard back from them. We contacted the teachers union but they work FOR the teachers so a brick wall. Contacted the insurance company many months ago they said they only work with the school in the case of accidents so we should file a claim with them. I think you understand where we are with that. We have not contacted the hair dressers union because the teacher never set up a “salon” in the school or out so wasn’t running a business.
I appreciate the suggestions and support but believe me we have done them all and a lot more. The only thing that has any effect is foreign media coverage but I wonder if even this will do much except excite the 2 Chan crowd.
The only people with leverage over bureaucrats is bureaucrats higher up the food chain. We at the bottom just get their droppings on our heads.
If you are thinking of getting the information out in writing, my best bet is to consider submitting your entire document about the incident to The Asia-Pacific Journal(Japan Focus). It’s a peer-reviewed online journal. You may have several roadblocks for publication, but I think it’s worth trying. Since you have an exhibit A (a video-recorded press conference) and related documents in Japanese, your work provides a lot of substance.
I agree. No matter what the education board reported, what the teacher did was totally against the norms of international attitudes towards human rights. The Japanese know this and are just burying it, hoping that the troublesome ‘foreign’ family will go away.
We’ve all seen the benefits a little gaiatsu has on Japan’s token behavior and this is definitely a case that deserves a bit of outside pressure.
I think in the the first post I made here on Debito.org, I said we took every Civil action it’s possible to take. That is why we are where we are. Keep in mind, we have been at this for three years.
I appreciate everyone who has expressed support for us. I will be preparing an update on our situation by the end on this month. There are several things in the works that I can’t let out of the bag just yet. Thanks again.
A few developments I can share.
Last Friday the Yamanashi city B of E called an emergency meeting according to an article that appeared in the Yamanashi Nichi Nichi paper. According to the article the meeting was for principals of all the elementary and middle schools in Yamanashi city. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss “school accidents” Not sure what to make of this.
According to one of our local council members the B of E is not answering any inquiries made to it. An official of the Monbusho in Tokyo called us and told us that his calls regarding the investigation the B of E did were not being returned. We know the head of the B of E is resigning at the end of this month but we have also been told that they have not been able to find a replacement yet. It seems no one wants the job. What do you all think?
Wow. Can’t say for sure, but you may be shaking up the (corrupt) system.
The most important thing though is that you daughter sees that some justice is done and her feelings are vindicated.
I hope the best for you in this fight.
I appreciate the sentiment, but just shaking up the system is not good enough. As you said what we want is our daughter to understand that what happened to her is not the fault of her existance. We want a REAL apology. If that means it costs some financial/loss of prestige for some teachers and bureaucrats, so be it.
I will try to give an update to the best of my understanding. We filed for a disclosure of information regarding our case with the Yamanashi Pref. B of E. two weeks ago. W have not gotten this information as of this writing. We requested all information on file with the Yamanashi city office. According to them, they do not have copies of several letters sent to the city head by our lawyer about the middle of last year, however we have replies to these letters signed by the head of Yamanashi city. By signed, I mean they have his hanko on them. This means the head of the B of E probably wrote the letters and put the hanko of the head of the city on them without his knowledge. So today we filed a report with the local police for forgery of the hanko of the head of Yamanashi city. We will see if this goes anywhere.
I should add, nothing in Japan is a silver bullet, we are building our case, and it will all be evidence.
Really, well done and don’t give up. I know, for you, this is highly personal, but this is an issue that is crucial to the relationship of Japanese nationals, as a whole, with their state and the laziness / arrogance of the Japanese state towards their nationals. You’re chances of winning, is a separate issue.
We suspect that the parents of the bully perpetrators made some financial gift to the B of E to find the results of the investigation they did. A common tactic in Japan to keep the records of bullies clear of any offences that might haunt them later in life.
We spent over 4 hours at the prosecutors office today, our daughter gave them over two hours of statements that we were not allowed to be present for. Many questions about the perpetrators which we can only be hopeful about. Will keep you posted.
Well done to your daughter!
A teacher forcibly cutting a students hair is corporal punishment according to this Board of Education.
What does your board of education have to say to that?
Thanks Jim for your good contributions, as always.
At first I couldn’t find in the original NikkanSports article, that useful “Corporate Punishment” quote.
But finally, I found it the original Japanese quote – JapanTimes simply changed the quote’s position.
So, this is indeed an interesting phrase Senaiho might want to use, good idea Jim. 🙂
Since the board of education doesn’t want to admit the full-severity of what happened here (imprisonable “criminal battery”) perhaps they will admit to this slightly less-severe description: merely firable “corporal punishment”.
Thank you for your kindness.
The ‘beauty’ of this is that Senaiho’s BOE will now have to explain how either the Yamaguchi BOE is wrong (not likely) or that they have been deliberately trying to play this down and make it go away. The Yamaguchi BOE is very unlikely (to say the least) to reverse its decision, and the onus is now on Senaiho’s BOE to explain how it is at odds with another BOE.
Typical Japan; they’ve trapped themselves with their own BS systems.
Unfortunately Senaiho’s BOE will probably reply, “That teacher over there in that other prefecture was angrily yelling at the students while doing the cutting, which is why some BOE employee (not a BOE spokesperson by the way, Japan Today mistranslated into English, the original Japanese language article said just some anonymous BOE employee 県教委の関係者…言及した) unofficially commented that in their personal opinion the angrily yelling teacher’s actions should be seen as corporal punishment, and even then the angrily yelling teacher over there was merely demoted to desk work … but this teacher over here was always nicely speaking and showing concern for the poor girl whose “long, unkempt, unwashed, not brushed, waist-length (repeatedly allowed by the irresponsible musekinin parents to go to bed without washing, without shampooing, without conditioning, without even showering ‘on occasion’ it seems) hair” was becoming a victim of teasing due to this “too depressed to wash” trend caused by overly-lax “let her choose to have matted clumps if that’s what she chooses” parenting, and thus out of genuine concern for the poor girl, the caring female teacher without any anger at all righteously asked the parents to trim the lower stinkiest parts of the matted/dready/clumpy hair, and then the next day without any any anger at all the caring teacher lovingly cleaned up by cutting some of the remaining matted/dready/clumpy hair which the irresponsible parents allowed to remain, and thus this teacher over here was being nice and caring and not at all angry, so our prefecture will neither fire nor demote such a wonderful caring female teacher whose good intention (as even the father has admitted online, it seems) was innocently trying to minimize the poor girl having to hear complaints from fellow students about the smell of the admittedly unwashed long hair.”
That’s my fear, that they will claim “cutting while yelling ‘Baka’ might be corporal punishment, but cutting while cooing ‘Kawaii-sou, chotto tetsudatte ageru wa’ is not corporal punishment”.
But hey, it’s worth a shot, since they refuse to admit their teacher committed imprisonable criminal assault, then perhaps there is a small (very small) chance they might admit “了承を得ずに髪を切ったなら体罰” “cutting without permission is corporal punishment.”
Then again, they also might be claiming (using a lying teacher and lying students) that the teacher said quickly “chotto kitte ii?” and that the student uttered a quiet “…un” or a made a silent nod with a 3 millimeter head movement or some story like that.
And who knows, maybe such a story might even be true, since often in these cases of force (force by police, force by bosses, force by teachers, force by whoever in Japan) the victims often do unfortunately lack the courage to say strongly “Yamete, sawaranai de, okotowari shimasu, anata wa watashi o sawaru to anata wa hanzaisha ni naru yo, zettai sawaranai de!”
And unfortunately, not having the strength to so loudly clearly say NO, is often taken here in Japan as implicit agreement. Silence equals YES, in this perverted thinking.
Just as many women in Japan have found, the police in Japan often refuse to accept criminal reports of rape or sexual assault because, “She didn’t resist with enough strength, or she didn’t receive sufficient injuries, so she must have been consenting by default.”
Anyway, Senaiho, no matter what excuses or lies the BOE puts forth, hopefully your daughter can go on the record to honestly say, “I didn’t give my permission, I said no.”
Maybe the teacher can be found guilty of lying to the police officers, and thus guilty of obstructing an investigation, which is an imprisonable offense.
But the whole thing has risks, since if 3 folks lie and say, “She gave permission” then the police could use the testimony of the 3 liars to suddenly claim your daughter is “guilty of lying to the police officers, and thus guilty of obstructing an investigation, which is an imprisonable offense.”
It’s simple for us arm-chair commenters to type our theories and our advice, but the bottom line is: it’s your daughter and your family who must choose what to do, how to do it, and how long to fight this fight for justice.
No matter what, give your daughter extra hugs, together with your sons, together your spouse. Seriously, all 6 family members together in one big family hug at once is the best.
Don’t let the bad people outside your family circle divide you or foist any more stress upon your family.
Love and cherish each other even more, your family will survive and thrive and become more united and even stronger as a family. 🙂
You have this stated very well, and it fits with what I believed for a long time, that the teacher was acting in what she thought was in the best interests of her students. As a teacher and parent I sympathize with that strongly. However, if you cause an accident while driving a car, your intentions are not regarded as relevant, until sentencing, after all you didn’t intend to cause an accident while driving down the road, but what you did, while driving, in fact, resulted in an accident. That’s what this is about, but now with so many compounding factors related to race and bullying, I am personally at a loss. I truly appreciate your sentiment always.
As to the whole student giving permission issue I would just like to say that shit like that would not fly in a normal country. The power imbalance between a teacher and a student, particularly in a Japanese high school, makes it clear that a teacher can tell a student what they are going to do and the student is probably not going to fight against it even though it is grossly humiliating and against their will.
“So we’re going to cut your gross hair now in front of the whole class (instead of studying btw!) OK!!” could not easily be refused by most polite and obedient schoolgirls.
Adults here need to take responsibility instead of claiming that a highschool girl agreed to be bullied.
What Senaiho should have done was to form a children’s human rights citizen’s group, then hire a lawyer to represent this group and demand the Yamanashi BoE revise their regulations on acceptable hair color because it violates the human rights of the students.
Why am I suggesting this approach? Because it worked wonders in Gifu for getting rid of articles in school regulations dealing with:
Engaging in political activities.
Joining communities or an assembly outside school.
Stipulations about students having to get permission from their school to travel or spend a night outside their home.
The acceptable color of student underwear.
Central Japan high schools delete rules on student underwear color
And how the hell were they enforcing the law on underwear color?
I don’t know how the underwear color rule is being enforced, but I can tell you that ‘black school rules’ (i.e. stupid school rules like the underwear color rule) have been on the rise — so much so that a movement called the “Black kosoku o nakuso! Project” has arisen to try and get rid of them:
Movement against irrational, draconian school rules building up steam across Japan