June 23, 2017

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Nobuto Hosaka

Nobuto Hosaka, born in 1955, is the current Head of Setagaya Ward.

Since he was a child he has had very strong political opinions and could not help but express them in public. During junior high, he used to express his political opinions freely and loudly. For example, during a joint faculty/student meeting, he used to run up to the stage and shout “This school is wrong!” Whenever Hosaka did this, he was soon caught and restrained by teachers, however he never gave up. When he was in his final year of junior high, he was not allowed on campus because his expression of his political opinions was too loud and passionate.

Due to this background, he thought of himself as an underdog (Hosaka versus the whole school), and because of this he became interested in, and a strong advocate for, the issues that minorities including the LGBT community face.

He has always felt sympathy for people who drop out of school and who are different from the mainstream. He advocated for creating “free spaces,” which are safe havens for people who don’t fit in at school. He calls himself a channel for minorities.

After working as a freelance journalist, Hosaka served as a member of the Lower House of the Japanese Parliament for three terms between 1996 and 2009. During his terms as an MP, he worked issues relating to freedom of speech, as well as minority rights issues like rights for foreigners in Japan. He attended the gay & lesbian pride parade in Japan and talked to participants, promising to represent their opinions in Parliament. Hosaka is the first member of Parliament in Japan to attend the gay and lesbian pride parade. He worked on issues including suicides amongst LGBT people with the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. Hosaka also advocated issues on behalf of patients suffering from Steven Johnson’ Syndrome which affects approximately 5000 patients in Japan.   

Because he asked so many questioned, too many some would say, he was dubbed the “King of Questions” at the Parliament.

In 2011, he was elected the Head of Setagaya Ward and has been serving since then.

Hosaka is known as the plaintiff in a famous constitutional precedent called the Kojimachi Junior High School School Report Case, regarding freedom of thought and belief and the right to receive education. This case continued for 16 years and went to the Supreme Court.

In Japan elementary and junior high school are compulsory. Children between the ages of 7 and 12 attend elementary school, and children between the ages of 13 and 15 attend junior high school. Teenagers between the ages of 16 and 18 go to high school. In the public school system, junior high school and high school are separated, so in order to go to high school, you have to take an entrance exam. The faculty of each high school decides which new students to admit based on the students’ exam scores, academic transcripts, and conduct reports. In Hosaka’s conduct report, his teacher wrote that he should not be admitted to high school because Hosaka had started an organization called the Kojimachi Junior high All-Campus Joint Struggle League, which issued a newsletter called Fortier.

Hosaka graduated from junior high school in 1971, but he was not accepted to any high school to which he applied. He filed a lawsuit against Chiyoda Ward and Tokyo claiming that he was not admitted because of what was written in his conduct report. He claimed that the mention of his political activity in the conduct report violated his freedom of thought, codified in Article 19 of the Japanese constitution. He filed the lawsuit when he was 16 years old and it continued for 16 years until it finally reached the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled that the description of Hosaka’s political activity in the conduct report was not about his thoughts or beliefs, but rather the manifestations of those thoughts. The court ruled that one cannot presume the beliefs of a student from the description written in his or her conduct report. Moreover, the court found that it was not even clear whether the high schools who reviewed his application used Hosaka’s beliefs as the justification for their admissions decision.

The Supreme Court rejected Hosaka’s claim that the conduct report was unconstitutional and denied his demand for compensation based on the State Redress Act. Hosaka later went to Shinjuku Metropolitan Night High School, but then dropped out claiming that he would make himself a guinea pig for his experiment to see whether he could be successful even if he ignored the advice of adults.

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