OSAKA – A public school principal who recently made controversial remarks calling on women to bear and raise children rather than pursue careers defended his words Tuesday, saying he has not directly heard any complaints from students or parents.
“I have yet to confirm whether anyone was hurt by my speech. If such a person does indeed exist, I will explain (my intentions) again,” Hisao Terai, the 61-year-old head of Mattakita Junior High School in the city of Osaka’s Tsurumi Ward, told reporters.
In his Feb. 29 remarks made before a school assembly of about 600 students, he said that giving birth to two children or more is the “most important thing” for a woman and “more valuable than building her career.”
After receiving an anonymous phone call about his comments, the education board, which called them “indiscreet,” questioned the principal to determine whether it should take disciplinary action against him.
Terai said he has spoken around 30 times at school assemblies over the past year, and on such occasions he explained “both child-rearing and building a career are worthwhile.”
“I made the speech (in question) as a wrap-up, so if you listened to all my speeches they were not inappropriate,” he said.
The principal admitted, however, that the speech he gave on Feb. 29 was “problematic as a single speech.”
Terai earlier defended his remarks by saying he made them “out of a keen sense of crisis over Japan’s falling population.” He also said, “The greatest joy for women is child-rearing.”
Katsunobu Kato, the minister for promoting dynamic engagement of all citizens, who also serves as the minister in charge of female empowerment, said at a news conference Tuesday that teachers in general “must be mindful of students’ reaction when they speak before them.”
“When a school principal speaks, it could affect the children’s lives. You have to give it good consideration when you speak,” Kato added.