Osaka Governor Makes High School Girls Cry

October 25, 2008

A meeting between Osaka Governor Toru Hashimoto and some local high school students ended in Niagara Falls (by this I mean the lots of crying meaning not the delightful honeymoon spot meaning).

News media are reporting that Hashimoto actually (horrors) responded to them as if they were adults.

At one point a male student of a single mother expressed concern about the possibility of a decrease in public help for students attending private high schools to which Hashimoto responded that if someone chooses to go to a good school, it’ll cost. (I think the implication here is that the kid didn’t have to choose to go to as expensive a private school as he did.)

An exchange with a female student who commented that only a limited number of students can attend public school ended in tears.

A translation of the exchange is as follows:

Hashimoto: Only compulsory education is guaranteed. The wall starts at high school level.

Student: What happens to kids that fall (stumble) there?

Hashimoto: At the end, there’s guaranteed public support (welfare).

In the heat of the discussion Hashimoto said that high school is not structured so that just anyone can go. The girl said he shouldn’t just say it straight out like that and burst out crying.

Just for a little background information, compulsory education in Japan goes up to junior high school. There are a limited number of public high schools in each area. Students that don’t test well or get recommended into public high schools either stop going to school or go to private (more expensive than public) schools. This is a part of the reason that public schools are considered better than private in Japan. The best kids can get a cheaper education in public schools… this is not as cut and dry as it sounds however because several private schools are actually better than surrounding public schools. Some private schools also act as feeder schools for good universities and thus attract some students who could have otherwise been accepted to public schools.

Although Hashimoto’s response was a little callous, he’s making a good point. The education system is not designed to guarantee senior high school education to every citizen. There is a strong push for everyone to complete 8th grade and graduate from the compulsory junior high school level. After that, you’re on your own.

I don’t agree with a lot (most?) of Hashimoto’s education policies, but I don’t know if he’s in a position to guarantee a public high school education to all of the young people in Osaka. It seems that the girl and the boy who spoke before here were more concerned with money than education.

Hashimoto continued to lecture the students on things when other students commented that it’s not fair. He said that in today’s world people have to take responsibility for themselves because no one is going to save them.

When the kids yelled out that that was wrong, Hashimoto responded by saying that that’s the way it is in Japan now and they could either work hard to change the country or go somewhere else.

Most of the responses on the net side with Hashimoto on this issue. (Even though Hashimoto is not exactly popular with the internet crowd.) Some point out that extremely poor families have financial aid options which the girl asking the main questions seemed not to know, implying of course that she was not poor enough for financial aid to have been an option.

(picture from original Japanese story found here)


1 George Donnelly October 25, 2008 at 3:42 pm

Kind of funny. Are these kids sheltered? Did they not know that their are limits in life? Maybe they’re just kept under too much stress.

2 jay October 25, 2008 at 4:07 pm

Thanks for the comment.

Some people on the Japanese news site commented that it was a hardheaded elite educated lawyer/tv personality turned governor versus a product of the new “relaxed” education introduced (and rescinded) during the last decade. The commenter pointed out that the relaxed education kids didn’t stand a chance. They don’t know penalties, hardship, or punishment other than being forced to apologize (sometimes in writing!).

Sheltered may be the way to describe it, but think of the shelter covering everyone under the age of 20… oh, yeah, and it’s invisible to them… then we’re getting close to the kind of analogy we need.