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Japanese schools have long been notorious for strict rules. Photo: Shutterstock

Japanese school suspends teacher for slapping student over failure to bring softball jersey

  • Teacher allegedly hit the 16-year-old’s face, leaving her with a dislocated jaw, and continued to subject her to hardline treatment
  • Principal apologises for the incident, as school pledges to investigate whether teacher was involved in other instances of professional misconduct

A Japanese secondary school has suspended a teacher after he slapped a student, leaving her with a dislocated jaw.

The teacher, 41, at Himeji International School in the western prefecture of Hyogo, allegedly hit the 16-year-old’s face in anger over her failure to bring her softball jersey.

The student, who had difficulty opening her mouth since the September 24 assault, was suffering from traumatic trismus – a condition of limited jaw mobility – which will take a month to heal.

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Principal Masahiko Suruga apologised for the incident, saying “this must never happen”.

“We’d like to address the student’s psychological care and measures to prevent a recurrence,” Suruga was quoted as saying by the Mainichi newspaper on Monday.

Suruga added the teacher, who also serves as an adviser to the school’s softball club, would appear before a disciplinary committee.

The institution said the teacher became enraged after the girl’s mother told him her daughter had forgotten her jersey for a regional softball tournament.

He reportedly told the woman that he would beat the girl and later slapped her in front of fellow softball club members. The teacher also taunted her, saying “go home”.

The teacher’s alleged abuse continued for a second day where he berated her and kicked her in the backside and hit her head. The girl has since apparently stopped attending school due to mental agony.

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The incident surfaced after a guardian of the student sought a meeting with the teacher and the instructor reported his own actions to the school on September 26.

The teacher, who has been ordered to stay at home, expressed regret. “This was undoubtedly my fault. I’m really sorry.”

The school found the teacher had repeatedly subjected the student to hardline treatment following interactions with other club members. It pledged to investigate whether he was involved in any other instances of professional misconduct.

Japanese schools have long been notorious for strict rules. In some cases students were subjected to the indignity of a daily check of their underwear to ensure it was the regulated colour. Students elsewhere reported their schools expressly outlawed dyed hair, but also ordered them to colour their hair jet black if it was naturally a lighter shade.

In recent years, however, there has been a backlash against regulations that many consider to be petty and restrictive, leading to many schools gradually relaxing some rules.