TOKYO: A mock test in Japan’s Saga Prefecture aimed at preparing high school students for actual university tests has come under fire for suggesting that poor Muslims are likely to become terrorists.
The test, which was used in early January, was for reading English text based on a fictional diary of a high school student who had visited Egypt to see their father. The student wondered, “why children were persistently chasing tourists to sell post-cards? What would happen if the boys could not earn that money? I felt sad and asked my father who answered ‘If they can’t, they will go to a mosque for their food and become terrorists.” There were other expressions linking Islam to terrorism in the text.
After the prefectural exam, some students and their relatives shared their negative impression, making comments such as: “It was full of prejudice and lacking consideration” and “High school students believe there is a link between religion and terrorists.”
The Education Board of Saga sent a notice to 38 junior high and high schools, warning that the question in the examination can promote discrimination and prejudice about particular religion. The principal of Saga Nishi High School, Shigeki Watanabe was quoted by the local daily Saga Shimbun as admitting that the sentences were inappropriate, and said he will provide post-examination guidance on human rights to students who took the exam.
The prefectural mock exam is held twice a year for the purpose of improving students’ academic ability and faculty and staff’s questioning ability. The test in question was held at 24 schools in the prefecture in early January, and about 3,100 first-year students took the exam, Saga said.
Saga Prefecture is bordering Nagasaki Prefecture in the west, and about 900 kilometers southwest of Tokyo in a straight line. The distance from Saga coastline to the Korean Peninsula is about 200 kilometers.