TOKYO: Japan’s Minister of Education, HAGIUDA Koichi, on Feb. 2 said the controversial Saga Prefecture mock English text that suggested Muslims may become terrorists if they go to the mosque, was “inappropriate” and “have false perceptions and prejudices about a particular religion.”
Responding to a question from Arab News Japan, Minister Hagiuda emphasized at a press conference in ministry that exam questions “from the viewpoint of respecting human rights, should be fair and without unjust discriminatory expressions .”
The mock test in question was put together in mid January by a group of about 10 teachers who carry out the task every year for high school students’ university entrance exam.
The test 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 in Egypt 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. The minister didn’t indicate whether these teachers were Japanese or not.
“This will result in sending the wrong message to the international society. It is not just a problem in Saga Prefecture only. Related Japanese organizations should acknowledge the significance of this problem,” the minister said.
When asked how the exam questions in Saga had been checked by multiple people and no red flags were raised, the minister said he was “disappointed,” and requested the Saga Board of Education “to take the important task of responding appropriately and to establish a comprehensive oversight system, such as ensuring there are checks by multiple people, and to confirm the appropriateness of the contents.”