Japan to set stricter hurdles for indecent teachers to return to school

Teachers dismissed for obscene acts and sexual abuse against children will find it extremely difficult to return to work because they must prove themselves to be no longer indecent, according to draft guidelines compiled by the education ministry toward the enforcement of a new law.

The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry is now working on the basic guidelines based on the law for the prevention of sexual violence by teachers against children, which was enacted in May. These guidelines will be finalized before the new law comes into effect on April 1.

The draft guidelines refer to specific actions to be taken by boards of education, school operators and schools, beginning with the declaration of “the decisive determination not to allow children and students to become victims of sexual violence.”

Under the current law, even if teachers are dismissed for acts such as sexual violence, they can reacquire licenses after three years. However, under the new law, they will be required to submit documents that demonstrate a “high probability that the person will not commit sexual violence again.” The dismissed teachers themselves will bear the burden to prove that there is no obstacle to the reissuance of the teaching license.

As examples of specific proving documents, the draft guidelines refer to a history of attending rehabilitation programs, medical certificates from doctors, petitions from parents and guardians for the return of the teacher, apologies to victims and documents regarding compensation for damages.

In order to decide whether to reissue the license, prefectural boards of education will newly establish an expert council consisting of medical, psychological, welfare, legal and other experts. The draft guidelines indicate that unless the opinions of the council members are unanimous for the reissuance, it will not be approved in principle.

The guidelines will also state that a database will be created of information on teachers stripped of their teaching licenses. The database, which would be scheduled to go into operation in April 2023, will contain names and other information on such teachers, covering at least a 40-year span.

A search by name will also find teachers who have changed their names so as to prevent people listed in the database from hiding their disciplinary history. In the past, dismissed teachers changed their names to be hired in different areas. The ministry will also ask prefectural boards of education to enter information on disciplinary actions taken before the new law’s enforcement and will require them to use the database when hiring teachers.

In addition, it will be forbidden to allow indecent teachers to avoid disciplinary punishment by making them willingly resign.

The ministry will release the draft in the near future, which will be finalized around February after being subject to public consultation.