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200 teachers disciplined for sexual offenses in Japan

A total of 200 teachers at public schools in Japan were punished, such as being dismissed, for committing obscene acts or sexual harassment in fiscal 2020, which ended last March, an education ministry survey showed Tuesday.

The annual figure fell from 273 in fiscal 2019, which was the second largest on record, but stood at or above 200 for the eighth straight year. “Countermeasures that have been put into place were effective to some extent, but the latest figure was still high, so the situation is regrettable,” the ministry said.

In fiscal 2020, 96 teachers were punished for obscene acts against students, including those at their own schools, down from 126 in the preceding year. The ministry is instructing schools to dismiss teachers who have committed obscene acts against students. But five of the 96 were merely suspended.

In the fiscal 2020 survey, the ministry for the first time looked at whether criminal complaints were filed. In 39 of the 200 cases, criminal complaints were not filed, because the victims themselves or their parents did not want the measure to be taken. In 28 different cases, no judgment was made as to whether a criminal complaint should be filed.

The ministry said it wants to make sure that necessary action is taken in coordination with law-enforcement authorities.

In May, Japan’s parliament enacted legislation to allow boards of education to deny new teaching licenses to those applying for them after being dismissed for sexual offenses against students.

The fiscal 2020 survey also found that 5,180 teachers, or 0.56% of all public school teachers in Japan, took leave for mental disorders, down from the record high of 5,478, marked in fiscal 2019. But the figure stood above 5,000 for four years in a row.

The ministry said that it hopes to further beef up mental health measures and promote work-style reforms for teachers.

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