It’s 1:50 p.m., just five minutes before the fourth period is set to start at Tanashi Daini Junior High in western Tokyo. From one of its classrooms reverberates the sound of frustrated teachers, who surround and stare anxiously at a large screen set up to replace a green chalkboard that, under normal circumstances, would be commanding the attention of students in the room.

At the center of the scene is Megumi Kurihara, a veteran Japanese-language teacher who is supposed to begin her class in just a few minutes.

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