Land of the rising hand

Corporal punishment is outlawed in Japanese schools, but many parents seem happy to turn a blind eye to the practice

Corporal punishment is outlawed in Japanese schools, but many parents seem happy to turn a blind eye to the practice.

Forty per cent of people in Japan believe that a slap to the face is acceptable "tough love" for school pupils, a survey shows.

Indeed, a majority of respondents called for more such punishment in schools.

It is probably no coincidence that those same people said they had received physical punishment at school. Presumably, they would say it never did them any harm.

Some respondents were willing to go further: they suggested that acceptable punishment included jabs to the head, throwing chalk at pupils, ordering them to run around the playground, and pulling a pupil's hair.

Another possible punishment was making the children sit for hours "seiza- style" - kneeling on the floor with their legs folded underneath their thighs.

That was also the traditional position taken by samurai as they committed hara-kiri. Fortunately, there was no support from the parents for that particular form of punishment.

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