National / Social Issues

Ibaraki principal's plan to launch school esports club ahead of Japan Games tourney stokes controversy


The principal of a school in Ibaraki Prefecture who proposed establishing an extracurricular esports club has faced criticism from his teachers.

In January, Takahiro Inose, principal of Oarai High School, proposed setting up a competitive gaming club.

“After-school club activities are one of the catalysts for students to come to school. It’s good to see students enjoy themselves,” Inose said.

His proposal came ahead of an interprefectural esports competition, as part of the Japan Games national sports event, which Ibaraki is due to host later this year.

Inose held an esports trial session for students and teachers last month in an effort to rally support for his proposal.

But the idea is facing strong opposition from the school’s educators.

“I feel uncomfortable with doing gaming as part of school education. I’m strongly opposed,” one teacher said of the principal’s proposal.

Several teachers are strongly against using public money to purchase game titles.

Satoru Kaneko, principal of Johoku Tsubasa High School in Aichi Prefecture, which launched an esports club last year, gave a positive assessment of its effects.

Esports activities “led to increased communication among students, especially during competitions,” Kaneko said.

There are roughly 100 million esports players worldwide, according to the Japan Esports Union. Esports will be an official medal event at the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. Esports is being touted as a new growth industry in Japan.