Even in a country that values following the rules, many say cutting off lines of communication following disaster is going too far.

While it didn’t cause devastation on a scale anywhere near that of 2011 Tohoku or 1995 Kobe quakes, last Monday’s Osaka earthquake was the strongest ever recorded in the prefecture. Measuring 5.3 on the moment magnitude scale and a 6 (out of a maximum 7) on the Japanese seismic scale, it not only damaged infrastructure and left commuters stranded, it also caused the deaths of five people who were struck or crushed by falling debris.

Among those who lost their lives was a nine-year old girl who was caught underneath a crumbling exterior wall while walking to school. Even if they hadn’t heard that tragic piece of news, no doubt parents across Osaka were worried about their children’s safety and desperate to make sure they were OK, which brings us to a tweet from Japanese Twitter user @sho_gachan, which was sent out on the night of June 18, the same day as the Osaka quake.

“My school’s earthquake response today was unbelievable. Even if school rules don’t mobile phones, shouldn’t it be OK for students to use them to check in with their families and tell them they’re all right? Some students got their phones taken away by teachers when they rang, probably with a call from their worried parents.

I mean, you teachers are obviously using your smartphones in the teachers’ office to check in with your families, and to watch the news and get information about what’s going on, right?”

@sho_gachan doesn’t make it clear whether students’ phone were ringing during class or breaks (some schools prohibit the use of mobile phones at any time the students are on campus), but in either case, apparently administrators felt they were a distraction. But though Japan is generally a rule-abiding society, many commenters felt like this is was a case which definitely warranted an exception, expressing sentiments such as:

“Schools need rules, but they also have to be able to act in accordance with individual circumstances.”

“I hate how school rules have stopped being about protecting the students from harm, and become about protecting the teachers from nuisances instead.”

“Ordinarily, school rules should be obeyed, but they should be relaxed in times of emergency. Especially rules about mobile phone use.”

“That’s just how teachers are. You have to learn how to directly tell them that using your mobile phone in that situation is perfectly reasonable.”

Not everyone was immediately ready to criticize the teachers, though. As strong as the shaking was, many parts of Osaka suffered no damage, and while @sho_gachan doesn’t specify where exactly his school is located, its’s apparently in a part of the prefecture that was unaffected enough that classes weren’t even cancelled for the day. “I think the earthquake may have rattled the teachers enough that they weren’t using the best judgement,” theorized one commenter who didn’t necessarily agree with the teachers’ actions, but could at least see why they might have acted as they did.

With some fearing the earthquake may have been a foreshock to an even more powerful quake yet to come, many parents will want to keep a potential line of communication with their children open while they’re at or on their way to school. Whether or not those schools will let them, though, is a separate matter.

Source: Twitter/@sho_gachan via Nico Nico News/Shiabee via Jin
Top image: Pakutaso