Japanese schools in U.S. step up safety measures

Kyodo

Japanese schools in the United States are on alert following the Dec. 14 shooting massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, that left 26 students and adults dead before the gunman killed himself.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Monday that gun control legislation is part of the solution to prevent shooting rampages, but the principal of a local Japanese school in the U.S. Northeast is skeptical and says there is no way to totally eliminate the risk posed by an individual who is determined to attack a school.

That’s why Yasuo Ono’s supplementary school in New York, which holds classes for local Japanese children on weekends, conducts drills to protect them from fires and assaults each year.

In April, it conducted a drill aimed at handling an intruder. The school sounded a coded alarm over the public address system that warned teachers to keep the students locked in their classrooms.

The school, which also issues passes to all parents so security guards can confirm their identity at its entrance, is now taking extra measures to respond to the Sandy Hook carnage.

The suspect, Adam Lanza, 20, entered the school building by shooting out a window and climbing in, raising the ante for school security measures.

The weekends-only school actually operates out of a rented school building, so it is difficult to increase safety on its own. “It is quite hard to come up with perfect protection,” Ono said.

A day after the tragedy in Newtown, a minute of silence was observed at another Japanese school, in Hartford, Connecticut.

Some of the students’ mothers wept as Principal Yoko Karato told them: “Kids about your age died while waiting for Christmas.”

The school is being locked up more frequently, but that doesn’t make Karato feel any better about the situation.

“Schools are supposed to be the safest places by nature,” he lamented.