• Mobara, Chiba

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Regarding Debito Arudou’s March 24 article, “Punishing foreigners, exonerating Japanese“: Although I have never had to deal with Japan’s criminal justice system, a small anecdote about two relatively minor incidents at a public junior high school does serve to support one of Arudou’s major points.

In my first time teaching a given homeroom, I divided the class into groups to play an introduction game. Two friends were put on different teams. They showed their displeasure by overturning their desks, kicking out the room sliding doors, then assaulting me with punches and kicks outside of class. A few weeks later at the same school, a Japanese teacher was attacked for trying to break up a quarrel between a very big student and his ex-girlfriend. That incident brought two police cars and two city hall vehicles to the school and resulted in a one-week suspension for the student. My incident did not even result in the offending students being brought into the principal’s office. The only thing that came of it was that my contract was not renewed the following year since there was opposition to my wishing to have the police called if I was attacked again. The students in question stalked me in the halls and repeatedly kicked in the doors in the rooms where I was teaching.

Later I happened to work with a teacher who had been at the same junior high school the semester before me. It turns out he, too, was attacked, and the woman who came after him quit after two weeks of harassment. I later learned that the person who had followed me was soon hospitalized for a stress-related disorder.

It seems that along with baseball and soft tennis, the most popular club at this school was foreign-teacher beating, yet nothing was ever done. Do the good people of Japan really want their junior high students graduating with the lesson that violence is fine, as long as it is directed at non-Japanese?

kevin gaffney

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