One of the hallmarks of life for high school and high school students in Japan is participation in an after school club, known as bukatsu in Japanese. These club activities are usually divided into sports clubs and cultural clubs (as an art club, calligraphy club or traditional cultural club), but the number and type of specific offers vary by region and school.
Joining a club is not a casual promise either. Students are usually expected to attend the club of their choice most days after school for a few hours, as well as Saturday mornings. (which also places a heavy burden on teachers). If this is highly anticipated in addition to homework and yet allows young people time to be young, the reader can be sure that the activities of the club are technically optional to do… but are they really?
Precisely for this reason, the Japan Youth Conferencenonprofit organization, March 9 application to the Japanese Sports Agency (JSA; division of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan) to find out what’s really happening in schools across the country. In the petition, they expressed concern about the many instances where high school and junior students are forced to engage in club activity against their will, although current JSA guidelines clearly state that voluntary participation is required.
As next steps, The Youth Conference called on the JSA to inform the whole country about this issue, request a survey of Japanese students to gather more data on the status quo, and better inform teaching staff that students should not be forced to participate in club activities. If the recent slowdown in certain policies in Tokyo public schools is any indication, better implementation of voluntary participation in club activities may be seen in the near future.
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