Controversial Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto recently announced that Osaka’s elementary schools will restart Saturday classes. His stated reason is poor performance and delinquency. In the past, Hashimoto has blamed tattoos, teachers, public servants in general and, now, the children of Osaka for Japan’s failings.
How much is too much? When do the people of Osaka, and the people of Japan as a whole (given his recent flirtations with entering the national stage), stand up to Hashimoto, former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara, and the other scapegoating, revisionist nationalists, and tell them to go away?
There are problems with Japan’s education system; this cannot be denied. But spending more time in class will not do a thing unless the classes themselves are reformed.
Discipline in Japanese schools is virtually nonexistent and the prevalence of so-called monster parents tying the hands of the teachers is a major problem.
Pushing both the students and the teachers to the point of exhaustion will not help improve Japan’s failing education system. Already students are in school from 8 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon, followed by club activities and cram school. Many don’t return home until around 9 or 10 o’clock at night — only to wake up bright and early the next day so that they can do it all over again.
Saturdays are frequently occupied with more activities or more cram school lessons, and the result is that these children get almost no time to themselves. Overworked students and rampant bullying are a major cause of Japan’s embarrassingly high suicide rates among the young. Under these circumstances, can anyone truly say that they are surprised?
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.
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