For years Japan has been hailed as one of the world’s leaders in education, under all the hype and the stereotype a festering tumor has been growing. Nearly two decades ago Japanese Lawmakers decided to take any and all forms of disciple out of the hands of the teachers after several of students died due to corporal punishment. This total reversal of the discipline policy in the public school system caused one facet of the problems now facing the Japanese educational system. Within the same period lawmakers dealt a second blow to the educational system by passing a second law which banned schools from expelling disruptive students, their excuse was that every child has the right to study or be in school. These two laws combined with the age old Japanese system that everyone passes, meaning there is no pass/fail system with in the educational system in Japan. These three factors would create a deeper drop in students willingness to study as students became aware that they did not need to study, listen to their teacher and could be as unruly as possible with no consequence for their action. A forth and fifth variables to be added into this equation are the parents themselves and the so called PTA system. As Japan’s economic bubble burst in the late eighties and early nineties many parents have had to take on the dual role of provider and parent, in this case parents have decided to force the parenting aspect on to the teachers. Thus when a student gets out of line, breaks the societal norm, turns to delinquency, etc the parents who are suppose to be equal members of the PTA accuse, blame and ridicule the teachers for making their children delinquents. In a majority of case instead of working hand and hand with the teachers the parents rather try to take an authoritative role, not listening or taking the advice of their child’s teachers.
All students was system an educational ideal that predates the Meiji period in Japan, in a time when only the elite families of the country were allowed to gain an education. During this period the students study out of a need to create some honor for their family name, to gain a higher position with in the government or military. As it was in the Edo period all students passed with little problem from grade to grade but at the end of the educational system there was the formidable exit exam in which case failure meant not only a persons family would be disgraced but also the possibility that the failing person whole family would be stripped of their societal rank and thrown into poverty. After the Meiji Revolution when the societal stratus was torn asunder and all members of Japanese society were allowed to obtain an education the system of all student pass remained. Within this though the discipline of the former bushi educational system also remained to counter an negative aspect that the all pass policy may have produced at the time. Both of these systems kept the balance in the Japanese Academic sphere until the last two decades. As Japan moves onto the international scene and tries to keep up with the rest of the world it has forced parents into becoming for the most part working drones. This coupled with the educational discipline system being totally thrown to the other extreme of the pendulum as created the conditions for Japan’s academic meltdown.
No discipline and no barring of students from school came amid controversy in the late eighties when the Japanese media reported on a total of eight student deaths due to excessive punishment by teachers. According to reports three of the deaths were cause by fatigue or heat related as the disciplining teach had the students stand outside the school for long periods of time. The remaining five deaths were reported to be physically inflected, though only one of these five cases had been verified. As the populace heard these reports there was a nation wide out-cry to lawmakers to out-law corporal or excessive punishment. With in the next session the Japanese parliament passed a law that banned any form of discipline in public school, but they did leave one loop-hole that many school started to use, that being expulsion. Soon another problem would appear as more and more parents were maintaining full time jobs there was no one at home to watch over the expelled student. This allowed unruly adolescents to run the streets and cause further disruption with in their communities. Once again Japanese looked to the members of parliament to come up with a solution, this they did by passing a law that banned school from expelling student unless in extreme circumstances (e.g. where police must be called in to deal with the situation). This is why cases of bullying have nearly tripled over the last two decades and the amount of attempted and committed suicide quadrupled in this time period. To complicate this matter even further the government only allots approximately twenty percent of its national tax revenue to the educational system, this alone only pays for the various Prefecture and City Board of Education staff and teachers wages and health care. This is why many Boards of Education are understaffed and cannot enforce the policies in which they or the Ministry of Education create, thus many school are left to their own fate in a form of unneeded autonomy that has driven many teachers to the point of alcoholism and even suicide. Nine out of ten Jr. and Sr. High school teacher interview revealed that they have turn to alcohol to try to reduce stress and depression, this compounded by six out of every ten teacher admitting that they have thought about suicide. Approximately 390 Jr. and Sr. High school teacher committed suicide in 2009 up from 230 in 2008. Also because the government sparsely fund the education system parents for the most part have to pay for their children to go to public schools and in most cases many of the public school are old and run down. An example of how under funded the education system is in Japan approximately eighty percent of public elementary thru high schools do not have heating or air conditioning in the classrooms. Furthermore the Ministry of Education in Japan has broken down the jurisdiction of each region’s Board of Education. City Boards of Education oversee the policy to be implemented in preschool thru Jr. High schools whereas Prefecture Boards of Education oversee public community/junior colleges and Sr. High schools. This is made even more complicated by the fact that between the City and Prefecture Boards of Education there is little to no communication or sharing of constructive ideas, in contrast there is a lot of political in-fighting.
Why parents don’t take a more positive role in their child’s life? In seventy percent of the cases it is due to the parents place of employment. Japan has sound labor laws in place but very few companies abide by these laws, most worker out of fear of losing their livelihoods do not press labor law infractions in the judicial system, or the judicial system has turned a blind eye on the workers and has not or is not willing to enforce the laws. This allows companies to pressure worker into working long hours with little to no reward. In most cases a worker will start work around eight or nine in the morning and will not finish until sometime between seven to ten in the evening, with many worker having to work six days a week. Thus this factor combined with elevated prices of living many family are forced into a situation that both parents are working full time jobs. These two factors are the driving reason behind Japan’s low birth-rate and why most parent put pressure on the public school system to teach their children to be respectable members of society. How does a nation turn itself around when society is headed into an abysmal pit of no return? As each generation passes conditions in the Japanese Academic system worsens.