Japanese high school students seen shooting at US military base in sign of military-style education
Published: Mar 12, 2023 07:57 PM
People take part in a protest in Okinawa, Japan, May 15, 2022, the 50th anniversary of Okinawa's reversion to Japan from the control of the United States. Photo:Xinhua

People take part in a protest in Okinawa, Japan, May 15, 2022, the 50th anniversary of Okinawa's reversion to Japan from the control of the United States. Photo:Xinhua

Japanese high school students who were on a study trip in Okinawa under the name of "Thinking about Peace" have been observed shooting at a US military base, in a sign of the country's war-oriented education and a re-emergence of pre-war militarized school education, GT learned from Okinawan scholars and residents.

Kyoto Municipal Saikyo High School students experienced shooting with an air gun at Kubasaki High School at US Army Camp Zukeran (Foster) as part of their fieldwork in Okinawa in October, 2022, according to reports from local media outlet Ryukyu Shimpo

In an interview with the Ryukyu Shimpo on Wednesday, the Kyoto City Board of Education explained that the shooting course and JROTC (Reserve Officer Training Course) was meaningful in terms of acquiring a multifaceted perspective. 

Experts pointed out that there was a discrepancy with the intention of the fieldwork to understand Okinawa, and that the school had inadequate procedures such as grasping the program in advance and giving meaning to it. "Some children feel guilty about using tools to kill people," Ryukyu Shimpo wrote in the report.

Kubasaki High School, which is run by the US Department of Defense and serves the children of US troops stationed in Okinawa, was previously closed after a school shooting. 

Besides, the JROTC program has been plagued by scandals. The US media previously revealed that the program has become a nightmare for many teenage women, and that former US military officers in the program have engaged in sexual assault and harassment under the pretext of conducting military training.

According to local media reports, Nishikyo High School in Kyoto arranged for its students to visit Okinawa from March 5 to 10, as part of an exchange with Kubasaki High School and to experience the JROTC program. 

However, according to the current schedule, shooting training will be canceled this time, and exchanges with US military members who handle explosives will be adopted instead. The Kyoto Municipal Education Commission stated that it was "unclear about the reason for the cancellation of the shooting training" because "the content of the communication is determined by the US military."

In response, some Japanese netizens said on social media that it was inconceivable that these young high school students on a school trip would take part in shooting training at a US military base without the knowledge of the school or the parents.

The incident has given the Japanese public a real understanding of the current direction of school education in the country, Masaie Ishihara, an honorary professor at Okinawa International University, told the Global Times.

The "Battle of Okinawa" was a disaster for the local people, said Ishihara, adding that the Japanese government is still using the Nansei Islands as a missile base against the wishes of the local residents, and it is also intensifying military exercises between Japan and the US.

Kyoto Municipal Saikyo High School is a well-known high school in Japan, and many of its graduates have been admitted to prestigious universities such as Kyoto University, and even entered the Japanese political arena.

Some Okinawans expressed concern to the Global Times about exposing Japanese high school students to US military practices, as it could lead to the emergence of warlike politicians.

"This is a sign of Japan's war-oriented educational activities and a 'reappearance' of militarized education in pre-war schools, which is highly likely to become a direction for Japan's education to follow in the future," Ishihara told the Global Times, noting that the US military is "happy to see" young Japanese people get military training at high school.

Takeshi Yamaguchi, a professor of education at the University of the Ryukyus, said that there can be no real peace as long as there are military-related activities in Okinawa.

Global Times