Education in Japan (Natalie Collar)
In November of 2016, it was announced that many Sapporo-area elementary and junior high schools contained asbestos in their insulation materials. This caused a suspension of school lunches in thirty schools for a couple weeks.
The Board of Education in Sapporo examined each school and determined whether the asbestos found presents major dangers to the students and staff. Upon verification that the asbestos was harmless, many of the schools were permitted to return to normal daily activities within a week or two of the initial asbestos discovery, and school lunch was reinstated. However, almost half were left with little idea of how they would furnish school lunch in the near future.
Less than a month later, nearly seventy additional schools in Sapporo were found to have asbestos appearing in its walls and stovepipes. This news was announced just as students were dismissed for the winter holidays, but there was no mention as to how the situation will affect the normal operations of schools. While the results of the rest of the city’s schools are yet to be announced, the city says that it will set out to repair all chimneys containing asbestos over the new few years.
Hokkaido is not the only region in Japan experiencing asbestos outbreaks. Nearly 1,500 kilometers away in Osaka, Kanaoka high school was discovered to have over 100 places with traces of asbestos. The school closed off areas containing blue asbestos, a more hazardous form if inhaled in large amounts. Because these findings also occurred just before the winter break, these areas in the school are able to be properly cleaned and restored before students return.
Although these detections of asbestos are likely to be handled promptly, the sudden increase in affected schools creates some questions concerning its impact on students’ education in the near future.
- YOMIURI ONLINE「札幌アスベスト問題 煙突劣化、新たに６８校」, 2016/12/28. http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/hokkaido/news/20161228-OYTNT50015.html
- YOMIURI ONLINE yomiDr.「アスベスト問題で停止の給食、１７校で復活へ…残る１３校めど立たず」, 2016/11/4. https://yomidr.yomiuri.co.jp/article/20161104-OYTET50008/
- 産経WEST「大阪の高校でアスベスト検出も『学校生活に支障なし』と府教育庁」, 2016/12/29. http://www.sankei.com/west/news/161229/wst1612290037-n1.html