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210 teachers punished for indecent acts; nearly half targeted own students

The headquarters of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry is seen in this file photo taken in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on July 26, 2018. (Mainichi/Naoaki Hasegawa)

TOKYO -- As many as 210 teachers at public schools were punished for indecent behavior in academic 2017, including 120 who were fired, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology announced on Dec. 25.

The numbers declined from the previous academic year, when 226 educators were punished, including 129 given disciplinary dismissals. Observers and ministry officials say the numbers are still too high.

Of the 210 punished teachers, 57 were suspended from work, up seven from a year earlier; nine received salary cuts, down six from academic 2016. Just one teacher was reprimanded, down from three a year ago. In addition, 23 received warnings, down six from academic 2016.

Fifty-six were punished for touching people's bodies, while 42 were disciplined for peeping or secretly taking photos. Sexual intercourse was the reason for penalties for 38 teachers. As many as 97 educators victimized their pupils and students at their schools, and three targeted alumni. Nearly half of the punished teachers abused their own students.

Since 2001, the education ministry has requested local boards of education that employ teachers to in principle dismiss those who commit indecent acts against their own students. "Exploiting the students' trust (in teachers) is an egregious thing to do," said a ministry official in charge of the matter. "I don't have the impression that the number (of teacher committing these acts) has declined," the official said, adding that the ministry expects boards of education to punish lewd teachers severely.

Meanwhile, 5,077 teachers took sick leave due to psychological issues. The number, up 186 from academic 2016, is the first increase in four years. Around 5,000 teachers have taken similar leave in recent years, reflecting their busy class and other work schedules.

(Japanese original by Takuya Izawa, City News Department)

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