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HOME  > Past issues  > 2021 February 17 - 23  > Youth group: Lack of democracy in schools causes Japanese youth to become disillusioned with politics
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2021 February 17 - 23 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Youth group: Lack of democracy in schools causes Japanese youth to become disillusioned with politics

February 17, 2021

Akahata ‘current’ column

The Osaka District Court recently issued a ruling ordering the prefectural government to compensate a female plaintiff, who was a student at a prefecture-owned high school, for damage caused by school rules forcing her to dye her naturally-brown hair black. The court ruling, however, recognized the school rules as legitimate.

In Japan, violations of students’ human rights frequently occur at schools. Students, for example, suffer sexual harassment and verbal and physical abuses from teachers. Students are required to comply with irrational school rules stipulating students’ hair color, hair style, and even the color of underwear. In addition, students’ efforts to revise such rules through student council activities are often ignored.

The Japan Youth Conference (JYC), a youth group working to reflect young people’s opinions in politics, last month submitted its proposal for “democracy in schools” to the Education Ministry. In the proposal, the JYC pointed out that students’ opinions are disregarded and thus they cannot exercise their right to democracy in practice, which constitutes a major factor contributing to political disillusionment among youth.

Irrational school rules and school management may instill a feeling of powerlessness in children. This is supported by a JYC survey. In the survey, in response to the question, “Do you think that your opinion can influence your school operations?”, about 70% of students surveyed said “No, I don’t think so.”

The JYC proposal calls for ministry action that meets students’ demands, such as instructing schools to incorporate rule revision procedures in their school rules, promoting students’ participation in school operations, and introducing the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in teacher certification programs. The youth group also proposed that the ministry conduct a nationwide survey of schools regarding their school rules and their student council’s activities.

Young people are trying to make their voices heard in politics and a society as evidenced in the controversy over the Tokyo Olympic head’s sexist remarks. Putting more importance on opinions of young people and children is the first step to be taken now toward creating a society which actually values individual human rights.

Past related articles:
> Some Japanese school rules allow teachers to check even the color of female students' panties [March 30, 2018]
> Forced dark-dying hair at school violates human rights: JCP Kira [December 6 & 10, 2017]
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