A database of teachers who lost their license for committing obscene acts against children began operating in Japan on April 1, 2023. The Act on the Prevention of Sexual Violence by Educational Personnel (Act No. 57 of 2021), which took effect on April 1, 2022, obligated the national government to establish the new database. (Act on the Prevention of Sexual Violence by Educational Personnel art. 15.)
Background to the Establishment of the New Database
The occurrence of obscene acts and sexual harassment by teachers in Japan has recently been gaining more recognition and scrutiny in the country. In 2018, the number of teachers of public schools who were disciplined due to obscene acts was 282. In nearly half of the cases (124), the victim was a student who attended the school where the reprimanded teacher worked. Pressured by activists and a media campaign, the act was enacted in 2021.
The act bans teachers from having sex with students, touching their bodies with obscene intent, and sexual speech and behavior toward them, classifying such acts as acts of sexual violence. (Art. 2, para. 3; art. 3.) The act also obligates the national and local governments, as well as schools, to put preventative measures against sexual violence in place. (Arts. 5–9.)
In addition, activists have demanded that the government take measures to prevent teachers who were disciplined due to obscene acts from returning to teach at other schools. Under the Educational Personnel Licensing Act (Act No. 147 of 1949, as amended), a teacher who was fired for wrongdoing would lose their teaching license, but they could regain it after three years. (Arts. 5, 10, 11.) The Act on the Prevention of Sexual Violence by Educational Personnel made an exception for teachers who were disciplined due to obscene acts. Only when a prefecture education committee finds the teacher has been fully reformed can a new license be granted. (Art. 22.) The act also obligates prefecture education committees to establish a special board of review for such relicensing and to check the new database to see if the applicant was disciplined because of sexual violence against children. (Art. 23.)
Sayuri Umeda, Law Library of Congress
April 12, 2023
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