The recent suicide of the Osaka high school basketball team student who had been regularly hit by his coach is a sad manifestation of one aspect of Japanese culture: intolerance. This takes the form of ignoring or excluding those who are deemed undesirable to the group. Often, bullying is involved as well.
Working as an ALT (assistant language teacher) in junior high, I often saw one student at a time being berated by two or three teachers simultaneously in the corridor at break time. While I never saw any violence, it was a form of excessive intimidation. Surely one teacher would’ve sufficed, or a simple visit to the principal’s office.
There are those like my parents who often speak of their “corporal punishment” experiences as kids, often with something like yearning for times gone-by. While I am by no means advocating a return to the days of the belt and cane, members of my parents’ generation were punished for misbehavior in class.
The school kid in Osaka was beaten and bullied for not coming up to whatever standard was expected of him on his team, and this is what is fundamentally wrong with the Japanese education system. Perhaps now, those esteemed people who make education policy will take a long, hard look in the mirror.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.