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200 Japanese teachers punished for indecent acts, sexual harassment in FY2020: poll

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

TOKYO -- A total of 200 teachers and staff at Japanese public schools and kindergartens were disciplined or admonished for indecent behavior or sexual harassment in fiscal 2020, an education ministry survey revealed on Dec. 21.

    This is the eighth year in a row that the number has been in the 200s, but it is 73 fewer than in fiscal 2019, when the figure was the second highest ever. Of the 200, 96 were disciplined for indecent acts toward students or children under 18.

    The survey is conducted every year on teachers and staff at public kindergartens, elementary, junior high and high schools, as well as special needs schools in 47 prefectures and 20 ordinance-designated cities in Japan.

    Of the 200, 113 were dismissed, 45 were suspended, 17 were handed pay cuts, and three were reprimanded, while 22 were given admonitions and the like. The most common act was touching, by 68 teachers, followed by sexual intercourse by 40 teachers, secret photographing or peeping by 35, kissing by 17, and sexual harassment through conversation and other means by 12. In terms of location, 29 incidents took place in classrooms, 25 in the school nurse's office, student guidance office and other areas, and 23 each in hotels and homes.

    In 103 of the cases, either the victims themselves, their guardians, or the board of education filed a criminal complaint, or the investigative agency received the information. In the other incidents, the victim or guardians did not wish to file a criminal complaint in 39 cases, the victim or guardians judged that it did not constitute a crime in 30 cases, and the victim or guardians did not decide whether or not to file a criminal complaint in 28 cases.

    The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology plans to take measures such as urging schools to file a criminal complaint and ensuring that teachers and students do not communicate with each other privately through social media and other means.

    The survey also disclosed that 5,180 teachers and other school workers took leaves of absence due to mental illness in fiscal 2020, 298 fewer than the record of 5,478 in fiscal 2019. The fiscal 2020 figure accounted for 0.56% of the teaching staff, compared with 0.59% in the previous fiscal year.

    (Japanese original by Richi Tanaka, Tokyo City News Department)

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