Respect for teachers – Japan at the bottom of the heap

According to a quiz question on Sekai no Hate Made Itte Q (The Quiz Show that Goes to the Ends of the Earth [for answers]) Thailand, Indonesia, Brazil, Turkey, The Philippines and Romania rank first (with 100%) as countries in which their tecahers are respected most by their students. Second was Italy and Third was Venezuela. The average for the fifty-one countries surveyed was 93%.

At the bottom was Japan with 41.8%.

There are two things which should be noted:

  1. The average is skewed heavily to the top, and
  2. There are at least 196 countries in the world.

One must be suspicious of the results from these numbers, especially if you are a statistician. Firstly, with the above information Japan must be an outlier in statistical terms. Secondly, was the countries for the survey randomly selected. Lastly, Korea was second from the bottom (is there a Asian connection here? Thanks A.E.).

From experience I would have to say Japanese students are rather disrespectful of teachers, often without reservation. But also how many cultures have “respect” grammaticalized as the Japanese language has.

≪学校の先生を尊敬する国ランキング≫ (in Japanese)

1位 (100%)


2位 (99.1%)


3位 (99%)





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5 responses to “Respect for teachers – Japan at the bottom of the heap”

  1. A study would be great, but I only know about English corpora but very little about what is out there in terms of Japanese Corpus resources. Preferably something web-interfaced is ideal.


  2. A corpus study would be fun and useful. Perhaps a collaborative study is at hand? :)


  3. I wonder if these ideal versions in the media reflect deep seated beliefs about what a teacher must do in this society. Of course economics plays it part in influencing the role of a teacher, but maybe not core beliefs.

    I guess from a corpus approach, it would be interesting to compare which words collocate with “sensei” pre and post bubble. Maybe there is a change in attitude towards teachers.


  4. The respect-disrepect thing can be dysfunctionally bipolar in this country. The truth is closer to Gokusen than Kimpachi Sensei, at least in 2012, I think.

    No more ideal versions of Japan that still lingered twenty years ago. I think that ended as suddenly as a Bubble burst.


  5. Hi Warren,

    Thanks for posting this. It is good to remind people that stats usually presented in the media are sometimes skewed and used more for sensationalism than a true reflection of reality.

    I think the notion of respect can be rather ambiguous for teachers in Japan. In fiction (especially on TV) there are plenty of examples of teachers either being heroes or villains.( 金八先生 Kinpachi sensei for example) For my own experience I have encountered my share of “disrespect” along with lots of respect as well.


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