I remember during my school days in the United States, we would have a “Code Red” drill once a year where we would practice the proper protocol in the event a gunman came to school. We were taught the proper way to build a barricade using desks and chairs in our classroom, the best place to build it, and the different announcements and signals that we could expect to hear should such a situation occur. But the thing is, there was never an actual gunman or anyone playing the part of a gunman during the drill.
In Japan, they do Code Red drills a little differently. First of all, there is no fictitious gunman, instead there is a fictitious crazy person trying to stab people. Since gun control laws are very strict in Japan, it’s hard for the common psychopath to get his hands on one. So when people in Japan start to go on a rampage, they usually use a knife or other pointy object (add links to such incidents).
Okay, so far, so good, just substitute gun with knife and you’ve got yourself a Code Red drill like back in the States. Sorry, there’s a little more to it than that…because during a Code Red drill in Japan, there is an actual man playing the part of a psychopath who goes around the school actually trying to stab the teachers and students.
Here is a conversation I had with the English teacher at school in English:
English teacher: Just so you know, a crazy man is coming to school today and he’s going to try to stab us.
English Teacher: You can stay and fight him if you want, but you’re going to miss your bus.
Neglecting to fill me in on the context in which this situation was occurring, my coworker nonchalantly informed me of a planned attack by an unknown assailant (Thanks buddy. I could have used a little background information). During a Code Red drill in Japan, the fake attacker is an actual police officer, dressed to look similar to one of the yakuza (Japanese mafia). There is an announcement over the intercom, informing the students to barricade the doors as the fake yakuza man slips into the school. The intruder then proceeds to try and break through the barricades to get to the children and homeroom teacher inside each of the classrooms until the remaining teachers are able to subdue him.
Each school is equipped with a special pole for apprehending an intruder. Here’s a picture:
Its intended use is simple: run at the intended target and sandwich him between a wall and the rounded part of the tool. My first thought when I saw this pole was, “that would never work if the guy had a gun.”
I haven’t had the opportunity to participate in one of these “stabber runs amuck on campus” drills myself (damn!), but I’ve been asking around and collecting stories from other teachers. Here are a few:
- The homeroom teacher who was barricaded in with the students began verbally berating the intruder when he tried to break down the wall of desks to get into the classroom.
- The social studies teacher, who has practiced kendo (Japanese sword fighting) for many years, kendo chopped the assailant in the head with a wooden rod, stunning him. The PE teacher (and wrestling coach), who is twice the size of a normal Japanese man, then came in and tackled the guy to the ground, rendering him immobile.
- The girls in the second grade classroom were so scared when the intruder tried to get into their classroom that they started crying.
- Three of the male teachers each respectively grabbed a wooden pole, a chair, and a metal rod and began running at the intruder. Fearing for his life, the intruder fled.
- The English teacher who I teach classes with was sad that he had to stay in the teacher’s room to man the intercom and didn’t get a chance to subdue the intruder.
And remember, this “intruder” is an actual police officer.
You would think the Code Red drill would be like a pantomime of what should happen if an attacker came onto the school campus. No powerful blows would be dealt and everyone goes home happy without any bumps or bruises. But teachers go all out, kicking the crap out of the poor police officer. Maybe this is a way for teachers to relieve stress…
Using this same logic, fire drills would include real fires, someone would actually have to drown during a CPR class, and some kind of machine would have to be invented to shake a building during an earthquake drill.
I love you, Japan, but sometimes I just don’t get you.