Someone’s getting excessively punished here and its up to the courts to decide who.

Last December a student at Seiwa Gakuen High School in Sendai City was called into the principal’s office and told that he faced expulsion for the offense of engaging in sexual activity with a girl he was dating. However, he was given the option to voluntarily drop out instead.

In Japan, changing schools is especially difficult since, in many cases, the elementary school you enter sets you on a fixed path to your university career. Bearing in mind that this was the student’s final weeks of his final year of high school, the effects of dropping out would be devastating.

Nevertheless, faced with the impossible choice of expulsion or dropping out, he chose the latter and lost his acceptance to his chosen university as a result.

Not only that, but Seiwa Gakuen is also well known for its strong soccer team, of which the young man was a member. All this occurred only days before he was to take part in a major national tournament.

Now a first year university student at a different school, the student is looking back on all that he lost and wondering if the high school even had the right to take it all away. He filed a lawsuit against his former school for about six million yen (US$59,000) in damages on the grounds that they overstepped their authority.

Under Article 11 of the School Education Act there are no standard rules of disciplining students except for the ban on corporal punishment. Basically, private schools are allowed to use their own discretion when applying punishments for behavior that they feel interferes with education.

So the question before the courts is whether the Sendai high school abused the discretion given to them in their punishment of the plaintiff. Seeiwa’s principal says they did not, claiming that a written notice was given to all students in advance that the school had a zero tolerance policy towards sexual activity and dating punishable by immediate expulsion.

Opinions were largely on the side of the student in this matter:

“I think what he did is entirely forgivable.”
“Seriously, that punishment is way overboard.”
“Jeez, half of my classmates would have been expelled if that were my school.”
“This can’t be a great way to deal with the declining birth rate, can it?”

Several comments also pointed out that many of the facts in this case are unknown, especially regarding the woman in these sexual relations. Although it’s not impossible to imagine school administrations to be as draconian as to wipe away a students future for violating a single arbitrary rule, there does seem to be more to this case.

For example, how did the school learn of this young man’s sexual activity? The details of it aren’t clear at the moment but if it got to the point where teachers and staff of the school were catching wind, there may be a case that what happened was disruptive to the school as a whole.

Still, what happened and whether it was worthy of a life-changing suspension or six million yen in damages will likely come to light once the case goes to trial.

Source: Livedoor News, News, Hibiya Station Law Offices, Matome Naver (Japanese)
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