Okawa Elementary School Decision Reached by Court: Money paid to Families (and this will be appealed!)

I subscribe to the Yomiuri Junior High/High School newspaper. While it is easier than their regular newspaper, it’s still hard for me (or rather I should say, time-consuming) It doesn’t have very much furigana, so I have to look up the kanji that I don’t know.

Anyway, I was reading this article (above.) After the earthquake in March of 2011, a huge tsunami hit the coast of northeast Japan. Many students at Okawa Elementary School died due to the tsunami. Of all the horrible consequences of the tsunami, it is definitely one of the most heartbreaking.

The news article says that the court has decided that the school was not adequately prepared in the case of a tsunami. Money must be paid by the government to the families of the victims.

You can read an article about it in English here:



But the government is appealing. I’ll bet this is making them VERY unpopular as it was a horrific tragedy. And yeah, if those numbskull teachers (May They Rest In Peace) had just gone to higher ground, the children would have been saved (and also the numbskull teachers who died in the tsunami would have been saved.) Obviously nobody wants to die. So the numbskull teachers who were killed were just following the school’s numbskull tsunami plan* that the numbskull government had devised.

One good thing about Japan is also its bad thing:  It’s a nation of rule followers. That’s wonderful, except when rules SHOULDN’T be followed (as in the case here. Rather than going to the previously chosen designated spot, the school students and teachers should have gone to higher ground, easily doable because there was a large hill/mountain next to them.) I know that hindsight is 20/20. Yet, when one hears reports that students were begging their teachers to allow them to run up the mountain…and the teachers didn’t listen to their pleas…it’s heartbreaking.



*Upon reading this a few days later, I realize I made a mistake with my wording. The school did not have tsunami plan. They school had an EARTHQUAKE plan. I think that the government, as well as teachers probably, felt that a tsunami plan was not needed because the school was inland enough that a tsunami (from the coast–which was far, but still sort of near) would never hit the school.

This was COMMON thinking. Many people died because they thought they were in a safe location (far enough from the beach.) They didn’t anticipate that the quake was so incredibly big at the floor of the ocean, and they didn’t anticipate that the resulting tsunami would be so incredibly huge.  We see this also in the nuclear power plant. TEPCO did not believe that such a huge tsunami would ever occur, and thus did not make the wall between the power plant and the sea large enough to protect the power plant.

The teachers themselves did not know what was going on–there were reports they were arguing among themselves about what to do. (It must have been horrible.) Remember that the typical time for the tsunami to occur after the quake was about forty minutes or an hour. (This is all the time people had to prepare.)  This is VERY little time, as you can imagine, especially considering nobody knew what was going on, where the epicenter was, etc.



About kireikireikireiI am a mom.

2 thoughts on “Okawa Elementary School Decision Reached by Court: Money paid to Families (and this will be appealed!)

  1. I might have mentioned before when I came over to Japan last year. – I use Okawa as the contrast to the fantastic outcomes at Kamaishi Higashi School. Even here in Australia, the impact of the earthquake and tsumami on policy and practice in school emergency management is significant.
    And somewhat crazily, since last August in Japan I have started a PhD in this space. Woooeee.


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