Insufficient Care” and “No Screening”: Iki City High School Death Case: Islanders Reveal the Dark Side of the “Remote Island Study Abroad Program | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Insufficient Care” and “No Screening”: Iki City High School Death Case: Islanders Reveal the Dark Side of the “Remote Island Study Abroad Program

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It was on March 20 that Hayato Shiina, 17, a second-year student at Iki High School, was found dead on the shore of Iki Island, Nagasaki.

Mr. Shiina left his hometown of Ibaraki and came to Iki when he was in his second year of junior high school, taking advantage of a program to study abroad on a remote island. After the incident was discovered, “Bunshun Online” reported allegations of abuse by Shiina’s homestay foster parents.

Although the prefectural police have yet to announce the cause of death, some Iki Islanders have pointed out problems with the remote island study abroad system. A man living on Iki Island said.

We are very saddened by what happened to Shiina, but now, rather than blaming someone else, we are going to do something about it. However, rather than blaming someone else, I think we should hurry to improve the remote island study abroad program.

The remote island study abroad program recruits students from all over Japan to remote islands, which are facing problems of depopulation and declining birthrates, and accepts them as international students. Children can experience independent living in the rich nature and unique culture of the remote islands. There are two types of remote island study abroad programs on Iki Island: the “Ikkiko Study Abroad Program” (led by Iki City) for elementary and junior high school students, and the “Remote Island Study Abroad Program” (led by Nagasaki Prefecture) for high school students.

Leaflet for recruiting students for the 2023 academic year for the Nagasaki Remote Islands Study Abroad Program

What are the problems with the remote island study abroad program?

The Ministry of Education should be involved in the education of children, but the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism is promoting study abroad programs on remote islands. The purpose is to ‘revitalize the remote islands. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism is promoting study abroad programs on remote islands with the aim of ‘revitalizing the remote islands.

For example, in adoption, foster parents are screened for their annual income and savings to determine if the environment is healthy enough for the child to grow up in. Yet, there is no such screening when accepting students for study abroad on remote islands. There are not enough foster parents to begin with, so anyone can become a foster parent if they raise their hand, even if their household income is zero or they are in their 70s,” he said.

This man said that he had interacted with many students studying abroad on the islands.

He said, “Many of the children who come to the islands are not attending school, have family problems, or are troubled, and they need care both physically and mentally. There are elderly foster parents who see several children at the same time, but I don’t know if they can provide the right kind of care for each individual.”

Students from remote islands move to the islands and attend schools on the islands. There are problems with those schools as well. Yuriko Takehara, a member of the Iki City Council, explains.

The high school designated for remote island study abroad in Iki City is Iki High School. Foreign students can enroll in two courses: one majoring in history and the other majoring in Chinese. Since there are no math and science courses, even if they want to return to their parents’ home in the middle of their studies, they cannot transfer to another school due to lack of credits in science and math. Furthermore, your options are limited when applying to universities. The school doesn’t properly explain these things to you when you enroll. Because of the difficulty of transferring schools, children who attend here will not be able to easily say, ‘I want to go home.’ …… We should give more thought to the life plans of children living away from their parents.”

A man living in Iki City who agreed to be interviewed expressed his anger at the city and the Board of Education for “not feeling seriousness” in the reform of the system. When this magazine contacted the Iki City Board of Education, the person in charge gave the following reply.

Iki City is currently planning to establish a third-party committee to review the remote island study abroad program for elementary and junior high school students, the “Ikkiko Study Abroad Program,” and to examine the support system for foster parents and students. By August, we will review the system and announce what we will do in the future. The “study abroad program on remote islands” for high school students, which the deceased high school student used, is an initiative of Nagasaki Prefecture, and I have heard that the prefecture will continue to review the program.

Dozens of new international students have been coming to Iki Island since this spring. We will continue to pay attention to the moves of Iki City and Nagasaki Prefecture regarding the improvement of the remote island study abroad system.

Iki Island, where you can enjoy the sea and spectacular scenery

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