The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe started discussions Thursday on education reform, which he says is essential for building a stronger nation.
“To re-create a strong Japan, it is essential to revive the education of the children who will be responsible for the country’s future,” Abe said during the first meeting of a 15-member panel on education reform. “The revival of education is a top priority, just as much as economic revival.”
The meeting marked the restart of the Education Rebuilding Council, which was created in 2006 under the first Abe administration. The panel will meet twice a month.
During his previous stint, Abe, known as an advocate of education reform, engineered changes to the Basic Act on Education, putting more emphasis on instilling a sense of patriotism in students.
The panel, consisting of scholars, business leaders and education-related Cabinet members, discussed measures to prevent school bullying, among other issues, at its first meeting.
Based on the panel’s discussions, the government and the ruling parties will aim to enact legislation to deal with bullying during the next Diet session.
The panel will also seek to reform boards of education across Japan after the Osaka board drew criticism recently for its slow response to a case in which a high school basketball captain committed suicide as a result of being beaten by his coach.
The council is tasked with recommending whether to change the nation’s 6-3-3-4 education system as well, which refers to six years in elementary school, three in junior high school, three in high school and four in college.
Criminal complaint filed
The family of a high school student who killed himself in Osaka last month filed a police complaint Wednesday against his basketball coach, who has admitted beating the youth repeatedly at practices.
The Osaka Prefectural Police accepted the complaint and will question the 47-year-old coach, who is also a teacher at the school, police sources said.
The family claims the coach of Sakuranomiya Senior High School’s basketball team physically abused the 17-year-old student during practice Dec. 22. The student, who was the captain of the team, hanged himself at home the next morning.
According to an investigation by the Osaka city board of education, the student told his mother after returning home Dec. 22 that the coach had beaten him 30 to 40 times that day.
The student left behind a letter to the coach that said he couldn’t fulfill his role as the captain the way the coach demanded and that he felt terrible because he was apparently singled out for punishment, whereas his teammates weren’t targeted.
In 2011, the Osaka Municipal Government received a complaint about physical abuse concerning the same teacher, but the board of education and the high school concluded, without speaking with the team, that no such punishment took place.