10 Months After 84 Died or Disappeared at Ōgawa Elementary Following Tōhoku Earthquake, School Takes Responsibility for Emergency Response Failure, Apologizes

Ishinomaki BOE ApologyPrincipal Teruyuki Kashiwaba and Chief of Municipal Education Sakai bow their heads in apology at a noon press conference in Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture. Photo by Naoki Maeda.

Ishinomaki Elementary Escape Route
This graph shows the path the students and teachers took to high ground following the tsunami. They moved west, directly approaching a river and dike. There was a mountain south of their school.

10 Months After 84 Died or Disappeared at Ōgawa Elementary Following Tōhoku Earthquake, School Takes Responsibility for Emergency Response Failure, Apologizes
Yomiuri Shimbun: 84人が死亡・不明の大川小、責任認め謝罪
January 23, 2012

After holding another investigation into the response to the Great Tōhoku Earthquake at Ōgawa Elementary School (Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture), where 74 children and 10 staff went dead or missing after March 11’s earthquake and tsunami, the Ishinomaki Board of Education held its first meeting with parents on the issue in 7 months yesterday, and for the first time, it acknowledged problems with its disaster response instructions and apologized.

The roiling discontent of parents who lost their children for the school’s failure to take responsibility and insufficient explanation of what happened lead the municipal board of education to declare at a press conference after its last meeting with the parents that it would gather those with knowledge of the events and conduct another investigation.

This was the third meeting between parents and the board; the other two were in April and June. Today’s conference was held at another elementary school, and about 80 parents and guardians participated. This was the first of the conferences to be open to the press.

The chief of municipal education, Naohiko Sakai, apologized to parents in his opening statement: “We sincerely regret that children suffered at a school we managed. We should have done the utmost to ensure their safety, and we should have taught crisis response measures in the event of a tsunami.” Ōgawa Principal Teruyuki Kashiwaba then apologized as well: “This was the consequence of my incompetence as principal. We had not prepared a manual, and we did not teach our staff crisis response measures. No matter how much I apologize, I cannot be forgiven, but I will continue to apologize from the bottom of my heart.”

Original/原稿:
84人が死亡・不明の大川小、責任認め謝罪

記者会見で頭を下げる(手前から)柏葉校長、境教育長ら(22日午後、宮城県石巻市で)=前田尚紀撮影

 東日本大震災で児童74人と教職員10人が死亡・不明になった宮城県石巻市立大川小学校の避難対応を再調査していた同市教委は22日、約7か月ぶりとなる保護者説明会を開き、学校側の避難誘導に問題があったことを初めて認め、保護者らに謝罪した。

 我が子を失った親からは学校側の責任を問う声や説明不足に対する不満が噴出していたが、市教委は説明会後の記者会見で「有識者を交えた検証を検討したい」と述べた。

 説明会は昨年4、6月に続き3回目。この日は同市内の別の小学校で行われ、保護者ら約80人が参加。初めて報道陣にも公開された。

 冒頭で境直彦・市教育長が「最も安全であるべき学校管理下で児童が被災し、津波に対する危機意識を高めておくべきだったと悔やまれる」などと謝罪。大川小の柏葉照幸校長も「校長としての至らなさに原因がある。マニュアル不備や職員の危機意識を高めてこなかったことなど、いくら謝罪しても決して許されるものではない。心から謝罪を続けていく」と述べた。

(2012年1月23日07時16分 読売新聞)

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