OSAKA (Kyodo) Eight years after a man barged into an elementary school in Ikeda, Osaka Prefecture, and stabbed eight children to death, parents whose kids attend schools in the city are still seeking ways to protect them from intruders.
Monday was the eighth anniversary of the killing rampage at Osaka Kyoiku University Ikeda Elementary School. In the intervening years, public schools in the city have posted security guards, renovated sections to provide better visibility and monitoring, and made their fences higher.
But the city decided to stop posting guards this fall because “it is unclear how much we need to upgrade security to ensure safety,” a city official said.
Local resident Akiko Shimizu, 66, who has been keeping watch over children attending the school where the massacre occurred, agrees.
“Parents and teachers tend to depend too much on security guards,” she said.
Parents and other local residents have kept a watch on the 11 city elementary schools and the routes that students take to and from them. But the number of monitors varies from only a few in an entire district to one every 20 meters.
To spread security knowhow to schools and the community, the city plans to dispatch a “school guard leader” to each school starting in September who will advise the neighborhood watch about effective security measures.
Teachers from the school where the attack took place began offering classes this spring focusing on safety to teach students how to protect themselves against strangers and traffic accidents.
The teachers observed classes at schools in South Korea and Taiwan that have been designated as “international safe schools.”
But parents are still concerned.
They have submitted a petition to the city with some 4,600 signatures of parents who want school security guards to stay on even after the fall.
They are also skeptical of plans to install automatic locking doors, fearing intruders can enter the school pretending to be parents.
“There is a limit to what the city administration can do,” said Yoshitaka Masuno, who heads Ikeda’s crisis management division. “Rather than depending on security guards and other infrastructure, we want to involve the local residents.”
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