Arielle Busetto, JAPAN Forward

It was the end of a blissfully-long Golden Week holiday in May, but one young man was already thinking of back-to-school blues.

Yutabon, a 10-year-old YouTuber, recently became a bit a net sensation in Japan. Wearing a straw hat like the anime character in One Piece manga series, Monkey D. Rufy, he took the internet by storm with his cheerful yet obstinate stance.

On May 6, Yutabon published a video with the controversial title, “Don’t Go To School!” The YouTube clip emphasized that kids shouldn’t be made to go to school against their will. The young man, who currently lives in Okinawa, according to the information on his YouTube page, stopped going to school in 2017.

He said: “If kids say, ‘I want to go to school, parents have a duty to make sure they do. But if the child says, ‘I don’t want to go to school,’ parents have no obligation to make them do so.”

He justified his stance in part by alleging that he was beaten by a teacher for not turning in his homework. He argued in a December 4, 2018, video that he didn’t want to “become a robot,” referring to the public school system which, in his opinion, creates people who lack individuality.

Yutabon’s father, Yukiya Nakamura, works as a psychologist who said he himself didn’t go to school. He defended his son’s decision in a piece contributed to The Sankei Shimbun’s Opinion pages, saying, “I support what Yutabon does because, as a parent, I respect what my child says as a fellow human being.”

He further claimed he was the one who encouraged his son to start a YouTube channel because the boy had previously said, “When I grow up, I want to become a comedian.”

JAPAN Forward spoke to people on the streets of Tokyo to ask what they thought about children not going to school. We also asked whether they thought homeschooling was a good idea, and whether they would support their own child starting a YouTube channel.

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What Does the Law Say?

As 32-year-old German IT systems engineer rightly pointed out: “Whether it’s right or not, it first depends on the law, because, ultimately, that is what they have to follow.”

Japanese lawyer Tomonori Takahashi, who spoke with The Sankei Shimbun, explained that the law supports Yutabon’s claim that a child who doesn’t want to go to school can’t be forced to do so.

He said: “The law states that education is free, and that the guardian has the obligation to create the circumstances for the child to go to school. But in the event that a child doesn’t wish to go to school, or stops coming to school, you can’t force [him or her] to go.”


By - Ben K.