The boy’s case details intense, unpleasant customs at the school that made him too depressed to attend class.

School is supposed to be a place where you learn in peace, foster teamwork skills and build your social life, and ultimately put you on the path to a successful life as an adult. The key phrase there is supposed to; many schools fail to deliver on these counts, and house more bullying and bigotry than actual education. In some schools, the problem is much deeper than it initially seems, and the school itself supports an eco-system of fear and power harassment — along with its staff and senior students.

An ex-student is labeling Seiseiko High School in Kumamoto prefecture as one such school, claiming corrupt traditions there cost him his education. Seiseiko, a prefectural public high school, is a well-regarded school due to its long history, but the male student in question states that it is also home to archaic and unpleasant traditions that are tantamount to bullying.

In his complaint, the student claimed that he and other newly enrolled students were taken by the school’s cheer-leading team to the school rooftop immediately after their inauguration ceremony in April 2017. Once they arrived on the roof they were forced to sing the school’s song at the top of their lungs for over 30 minutes. Later that same month he and another first-year student at his tennis club were forced to have their hair shaved down to a buzz cut with electric clippers by third-year students, citing it as a “school tradition”.

The boy quit the tennis club in May, and became too depressed to attend school. This led to him being withdrawn from the school in May of last year, as he was unable to proceed into the second year. He has since transferred to a correspondence high school that he can attend from home, and in September of last year he filed a complaint and is suing his former high school.

According to the student the strong pressure he received from upperclassmen is a peculiar hazing ritual common in schools over 100 years old, known as “shime“. His lawyer stated that while it is rare for unwritten rules such as these ones to be taken to court, it was time to stop following tradition uncritically. He also chided the school for failing to address the student’s withdrawal from school despite being fully aware of the cause.

The case against Kumamoto Prefecture, if successful, will only net the student a single yen — and according to his mother, there’s a reason for that.

“The objective here is not to make money. He wants the school to reevaluate the shime custom and apologize for the harm done.”

The prefecture took a combative stance against the case, stating that there was no relation between the student’s claims and his failed attendance and ultimate withdrawal from school, meaning that the school’s response was appropriate. Kumamoto Prefecture’s statement then explained that they were “confirming the facts” of the claim; Seiseiko High itself has elected to leave all discussion of the matter to the prefecture.

Online responses to the case tend to support the student, and many hold a palpable disdain for the school’s alleged customs. Commenters likened the education system to a military facility and expressed surprise that schools were still like this in the modern day. As one stated:

“The reality is that there are many schools like this all over the place.”

Students subject to such power structures can feel very helpless, so it’s heartening to see more Japanese youth take the stand against harmful practices, especially ones that have been allowed to thrive for over a century.

Source: Yahoo! News/Mainichi Shimbun via My Game News Flash
Top image: Pakutaso
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