Senaiho Update 2: School Bullying in Yamanashi JHS: How people who file complaints for official harassment get harassed back.

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Hi Blog. Here’s a second update from “Senaiho”, who has given Debito.org important updates (previous ones here and here) about 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 at the beginning of this year, 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.

The update is that The BOE is simply engaging in obfuscation and coverup. After attracting some (domestic) press attention (which didn’t itself cover the racial-discrimination aspect of this happening to a child of international background, for having the wrong natural hair color/texture), the local government has decided (as you can see below) to investigate not the case (to prevent something like this from ever happening again to another student), but rather how not to get sued. Official transcripts are also indicating testimonies grounded in rumor, not fact, without direct input from the victimized family.  And for good measure, we now have the time-worn bureaucratic tactic of smothering claimants with documents to consume all their free time. All while Senaiho is attempting to take this out of local lackluster investigative hands and into criminal court, by filing a criminal complaint.

The interesting news is that according to a recent article in Japan Today (full text after Senaiho’s dispatches) is that forcible hair cutting like this is seen as (generally distasteful) corporal punishment (taibatsu) elsewhere (in conservative Yamaguchi Prefecture of all places, home constituency of PM Abe).  In that case, apologies were forced by the students, top-down pressure put on the teacher to reform, and the teacher being relieved of some of his duties.  Let’s keep an eye on Senaiho’s case, for if his criminal complaint succeeds, it will be a template for others on how to take cases of abusive teachers out of the hands of evasive, “see-no-evil” Boards of Education, and protect diverse children from the cookie-cutter conformity of Japan’s JHSs and SHSs.  Debito Arudou Ph.D.

/////////////////////////////////////////
From: Senaiho
Subject: officials meeting transcripts
Date: March 25, 2019
To: Debito Arudou <debito@debito.org>
Hello Debito,

On the way to the prosecutors office yesterday we picked up a copy of all the documents the city office has concerning us. We made the disclosure request about a month ago. We have gone over most of it and I can report to you and your readers about the contents.

I have to begin by saying that we are only allowed to see documents that relate to us directly, so in the picture I sent, you can see we have the minutes of meetings between elected officials and heads of departments and their staff. Everything that does not relate to us is redacted, however if you hold the copies under a strong light, it is readable. I won t dwell on any of that for now. What I can say without a scientific survey, is that about 90% of the discussion about us in these meetings discussed how to avoid being sued. There was never anything discussed about how to make things right, or how to do anything properly, it was all a discussion on how to avoid, confuse, delay, and obfuscate. There was a small discussion on who might be personally responsible if a suit occurred, and the impression I got was they were all out to minimize their own personal responsibility by shifting the blame to some other department or person other than themselves. There was some discussion on the effect of the mass media, again trying to strategize a way to make themselves look better in some light. The remainder of the discussion was about a rumor some official had heard from someone in our neighborhood that we requested the teacher to cut our daughter’s hair and that we were in fact glad that they cut it. How ludicrous! We now know who the source of this non fact is.

Since some of these comments were made by elected officials, we have the right to demand clarification from these officials on the exact meaning of some of their statements which we will soon do.

So anyone who has ever wondered what these well paid officials do with some of their employed hours, now you know. Senaiho

/////////////////////////////////////////
From: Senaiho
Subject: council meeting transcripts
Date: March 27, 2019
To: Debito Arudou <debito@debito.org>

Hello Debito,
We got another major data dump from the city office yesterday and are trying to sort through that now so have several balls to juggle. I think this might be a little difficult for your readers to grasp, so I will try to explain what these meeting transcripts are about and the issues we have with it.

1. There is an elected official on the town council by the name of Takei Toshihisa, you can find his name in the documents. He states several times in meetings that he has heard a “rumor” that he keeps repeating that my wife gave permission to the teacher and in fact asked her to cut our daughters hair. This is an outright lie. At first they tried the narrative that my daughter gave permission to the teacher to cut her hair, but now they are trying to make my wife the trouble maker by supposedly asking the teacher to cut our daughters hair. This is the tactic of shifting the blame from the perpetrator, i.e. the teacher and trying to place the focus of the cause of the trouble onto the victims, or in other words blame the victim for the accident. This was the strategy from the beginning by the B. of E. and the town council member is just following that line.

2. This town council member also tries to change the language of the incident and insists on downgrading the title of it from a “school accident” to something less serious, like “school incident”. By doing this he thinks it will lessen the seriousness and their liability in case they are sued. Just calling something by what it is not, will make it go away or lessen the impact of it. Here he shows that he has no understanding of what his job is as a member of the town council. Their job is oversight of the functions of the city government. When the B. of E. was not doing their jobs and following the law we petitioned the town council to oversee them and make them do it. You can see by these transcripts they are in fact not doing it.

3. Its not in these transcripts, but another member of the town council who happens to support our cause told us that she heard from this Takei san regarding us as people; “These people are a problem.” I suppose he has some deep seated hatred of mixed marriages and their offspring residing in “his” town. We plan on filing a complaint petition about what he says and the job he is doing which is our right as a citizen. I hope more people will do the same in their area.

If our case is taken up by the prosecutor it will be because of the fact that we have mountains of evidence showing what we claim. As you may know most cases get dismissed because of a lack of evidence. We started collecting it from the day we suspected our daughter was being bullied. We have recordings, pictures, statements from witnesses, documents, many bytes of stuff all on google drive. Without it we would be nowhere today. I cant stress this enough. Senaiho
/////////////////////////////////////////

Japan Today article:

High school teacher in hot water after forcibly giving male student a buzz cut
Apr. 4, 2019, courtesy of JDG
By Koh Ruide, SoraNews24 TOKYO
https://japantoday.com/category/national/high-school-teacher-in-hot-water-after-forcibly-giving-male-student-a-buzz-cut#comments

Not too long ago, teachers from a Japanese school made media headlines when they went to the extreme of cutting off 44 students’ hair for not meeting the dress code. And it appears a similar incident has happened again, this time in Kudamatsu Technical High School in Yamaguchi Prefecture.

In late autumn last year, a male teacher in his forties allegedly grabbed an electric hair clipper and gave one of his first-year male students a buzz cut, causing the boy take a leave of absence from school shortly after.

When approached by the principal in December, the teacher claimed he did it because his hair was too long.

But it seemed the problem ran deeper, as the educator had often hurled verbal abuse at his homeroom class, calling them “morons”, “idiots” and “stupid”, earning him a stern reprimand from the principal. When classes resumed in January after the New Year holidays, the teacher’s personality had apparently changed for the better, an improvement the principal thought not important to warrant reporting to the local Board of Education.

But all 40 pupils of that class and their parents had not forgotten that the educator forcibly cut someone’s hair, and furiously launched a petition to the board in February this year calling for his disciplinary dismissal.

In an effort to appease them, a meeting between school, Board of Education, students and parents was held on March 15, where the teacher officially apologized for his mistakes.

“Forcibly cutting students’ hair amounts to corporal punishment,” a board spokesman said firmly.

The educator’s role has now been shifted from homeroom teacher to assistant teacher, away from tasks that involve student-teacher interactions. “The current situation is still under investigation, and we will consider the feelings of the parents and students with regards to the teacher’s future,” said the principal.

“I deeply regret that it has come to this. I failed to report to the Board of Education because I thought the issue was solved with the teacher correcting his behavior, but I should have done so,” the principal apologized.

Source: Nikkan Sports via My Game News Flash

ENDS
/////////////////////////////////////////

Nikkan Sports original article, courtesy of AnonymousOG:

教諭が生徒の髪を丸刈り 保護者らが懲戒免職を嘆願
[2019年3月25日 日刊スポーツ]
https://www.nikkansports.com/general/nikkan/news/201903250000810.html

山口県立下松工業高の40代の男性教諭が昨年秋、担任するクラスの1年生の男子生徒の髪が長いからとバリカンで頭を丸刈りにした上、「病院に行け」などと乱暴な言動をしたことに端を発し、クラスの生徒40人全員と保護者が2月、同県教育委員会に同教諭を懲戒免職にするよう嘆願書を出していたことが25日、分かった。同校は嘆願書を提出されるまで、教育委員会に事態を報告していなかった。

男性教諭は18年秋、当該男子生徒の頭をバリカンで丸刈りにした上「病院に行け」などと言い、その後、生徒は同12月に学校を休んだという。高橋等校長(57)は、日刊スポーツの取材に「バリカンで生徒の髪を切ったのは事実。教諭からも『髪が長いから切りました』と報告があった」と認めた。その上で「生徒が休んだ理由の1つに(バリカンで髪を切ったことが)あるかもしれない」と語った。

県教委の関係者も、嘆願書が提出された事実を認めた上で「一般論として、了承を得ずに髪を無理矢理切ったなら体罰」と言及した。それを受け、高橋校長は「なぜ切ったかは現状はっきりしておらず、県教委が生徒にヒアリングを行っています」と、当該教諭が生徒の了承を得て髪を切ったか否かは調査中だとした。

当該教諭には、以前から生徒に「ボケ」「アホ」「バカ」などと乱暴な言動を浴びせるという情報が学校に寄せられていたという。そのため、高橋校長は18年12月に当該教諭に対し「事実か分からないが、もし子どもたちにそういうことを言っているなら改めなければならない。(クラス)全体がいる中で『病院に行け』などという言葉はいけない」などと指導したという。

その後、今年1月に入り、同教諭の生徒指導が「人が変わったくらい」(同校長)改善されたように見えたため、教育委員会へ一連の事態について報告しなかったが、2月に嘆願書が出された。学校側は15日に教育委員会同席の上で生徒、保護者と分けて説明会を行い、教諭は謝罪したという。高橋校長は「子どもたちにとって12月までの言動、考えが変わったのだろうか? と疑問があったのでは」と説明した。

同教諭は嘆願書の提出後に担任を外れ、生徒に関わらない業務をしており、ホームルームなどは副担任が対応しているという。高橋校長は、同教諭を来年度、担任から外すことを検討していることを明かし「今の状況だと難しいと判断している。生徒、保護者の気持ちを踏まえて配慮する」と説明した。

その上で「学校が、こういう状況になっていること自体、大変申し訳ない。私が見て(教諭の生徒指導が)変わったと思い、県教委に報告しなかったが、昨年12月の段階で報告すべきだった」と謝罪した。
ENDS

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21 comments on “Senaiho Update 2: School Bullying in Yamanashi JHS: How people who file complaints for official harassment get harassed back.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Keep going!
    Obviously they are now terrified of being the one ‘left without a chair when the music stops’.
    Clearly, their focus on responsibility and avoiding it shows that they now fear someone will be held accountable and lose their job or more.
    And it doesn’t matter who ends up losing their job (or more), the fact that someone did will make sure that no one will do this again.

    Rumors? Yeah, that’s nice, but any evidence? No? Then it’s meaningless. Acting on rumors? Seriously, WTF?

    Reply
    • Jim Di Griz says:

      Maybe you should ask them about a ‘rumor’ you ‘heard’ that the teacher in question has an ‘unhealthy interest’ in your daughter, and see if they want to act on that, or if they agree rumors have no value?

      Reply
      • One thing I sort of hinted at and I think most of the sharp people here got is the narrative they tried at first claiming my daughter gave the teacher permission to cut her hair. Someone more sophisticated obviously pointed out that she is a minor so that won t fly, so they changed it to the “rumor” story to her mother asking the teacher to cut it.

        I would normally be tempted to do the eye for an eye rumor thing, but they have done a pretty good job of digging holes and falling into them themselves.

        Reply
        • lol. true enough, so far. But if anyone tries that ‘rumor’ thing in front of you, here is how to deal with it.

          “Well I heard a rumor that her mother gave permission to cut her hair”

          “Who did you hear that from?”

          “I can’t remember who I heard it from but I definitely heard it”

          “If you can’t remember who said it then your memory is not reliable.”

          “Well I remember but I can’t tell you the name because this is a subject of an ongoing legal case (i.e. yours)”

          “There is no law in Japan that says you can’t tell me the name of someone who told you something. It is not against the law for you to tell me. It is just your decision not to”

          “I can’t tell you because it is not fair to put their name in public”

          Anyone can lie anonymously and only a fool would believe such a lie. If you state your name to back up your claim then maybe I would pay it some attention, otherwise not.

          Reply
          • In the press conference the B of E gave the end of Feb. a reporter asked the head of the B of E that question and he replied “a neighbor.” What he failed to mention is that this neighbor was at the time a member of the B of E so we know exactly who this rumor mill is. It’s all recorded for posterity.

      • seems classic passive aggressive, but how many of the below so clearly describe Japanese societal norms?
        “Other examples of passive-aggressive behavior might include avoiding direct or clear communication, evading problems, fear of intimacy or competition, making excuses, blaming others, obstructionism, “playing the victim”, feigning compliance with requests, sarcasm, backhanded compliments, and hiding anger.”

        — Sarcasm, not so much. 🙂

        Reply
  • D in Aichi says:

    Keep it up.

    Two things you should (always) keep in mind (which I’m sure you’re doing)

    a) ask questions in writing and get answers back in writing, (signed, stamped etc) — keep written records for EVERYTHING

    b) should you speak to anybody – RECORD the entire conversation – get their names on the recording as well as the day/date and time

    fwiw

    Reply
  • We have taken this to the next step yesterday by hiring a new lawyer who will shortly be starting the court process of suing the perpetrators for racial discrimination and bullying. A long process but necessary as the three year statute of limitations will run out for our case in the next month or so.

    Reply
    • We got a call from the former lawyer we had today. She wanted a piece of the law suit we will be soon filing against the Yamanashi city government. Not sure how she found out about that. I assume all lawyers in a small country like Japan talk to each other. Anyway we gave her some document fetching chores as crumbs to placate her. She was the one who totally folded in the face of the finger pointing by the B of E, so called, third party investigation committee. Not my favorite flavor of lawyer.

      Reply
      • Not sure how she found out about it? I wonder if your new lawyer knows about their duty of confidentiality to the client? (which is one duty that japanese lawyers do have)

        Ask them whether they know about their duty of confidentiality to the client and whether they have been using your name when talking about your case to their friends. What would the bengoshikai think about that kind of behavior? Perhaps your lawyer thought you were just gaijin so it didn’t matter.

        Reply
        • I hate to tell you how many lawyers we went to who refused to help us. Then this lady lawyer agreed hesitatingly to take us on, I paid her, then when a hot wind blew she dried up and blew away. In the meantime my wife went full bore on social media and the lawyers came out of the woodwork to offer their services. After we filed the criminal complaint , and that was in the papers, a few lawyers started contacting us asking to have a piece. Our lady lawyer friend was among these. They seem to be a very privileged class in Japan able to pick and choose work that suits them. Wish I could do that.

          Reply
          • Supporting you and your smart family Senaiho!
            You seem to be on the cusp of a good chance now for a little bit of long-awaited vindication. I wish you nothing but success and will follow your trial.

  • The trouble with lawyers in Japan is that us westerners think that lawyers are on our side because that’s how our legal system works. No, they work for the Japanese legal system. Sure, they want our money, but at the moment when the Japan’s interests outweigh yours, they will abandon you.

    Reply
    • I Should have expressed what I said above in more detail.

      The trouble is that westerners expect Japanese lawyers to have the same powers, and to be bound by the same rules of ethics, that western lawyers are.

      But Japanese lawyers don’t and aren’t.

      Japanese lawyers don’t have any powers over police matters. None. So they can’t make sure Japanese police interrogate you in the correct manner. They can’t even do that simple thing. Western lawyers can make sure the police follow all the rules of disclosure of evidence and so forth, but Japanese lawyers can’t. They don’t have that power.

      Japanese lawyers also don’t have the same ethical duties that western lawyers have. There is no cab rank rule in Japan, for example. The cab rank rule says that if you are qualified to take on someones case and are not otherwise constrained then you have to take on that person’s case, regardless of how you feel about them. It is because everyone deserves legal representation.

      No such rule in Japan. A lawyer can refuse to represent you for no reason at all.

      Japanese lawyers collude with each other to their own benefit, over the benefit of their own clients, and that would be illegal in any western country. We saw this in the Seinaho case where one lawyer was appointed to an investigative committee because he had access to the plaintiff’s lawyer and could persuade him to abandon his client. I have seen similar cases happen before where a senior partner hit another subordinate lawyer in the face and no other lawyer would take up the assault charge.

      Reply
      • All it took was another lawyer pointing their finger at her and she wilted away like spit on hot asphalt. And this was AFTER I gave her a lot of money to represent us.

        Reply
        • Can you get your money back? Hired a J lawyer for an immigration issue a decade ago. Went to detention to see a friend, the lawyer basiclaly just accompanied me and I had to do all the questioning and making sure the friend was OK etc. The lawyer just said “so desu ne” to everything the police Japan’ Splained to us.

          Friend appealed. Same answer immediately (No). Was deported/ 5 years later, still not allowed in (despite the ban being for 5 years).

          Reply
  • I really wish you all the best Seinaho, especially your daughter.
    Really rooting for you on the sidelines, and also very thankful for all the data you are sharing with us (and Debito is publishing & hosting).

    If the Ministry or the legal system end up taking the correct steps, this may be a catalyst for improvement and against bullying. And that will benefit all kids in this country.

    Reply
  • “…who has given Debito.org important updates (previous ones here and here) about overzealous enforcers of school rules in Japan’s compulsory education system…”

    It should be noted that they are not overzealous enforcers of school rules. They are unrepentant transgressors of school rules. The school rules say no dyed hair. Yet they enforcers want to force kids to dye their hair. Absolute nonsense.

    Reply

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