Photo/Illutration Education minister Koichi Hagiuda speaks at a news conference in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward on Sept. 15. (Ryo Miyazaki)

Records dating as far back as 40 years of teachers who were dismissed for committing obscene acts against children and had their teaching credentials taken away will soon be made available for scrutiny.

Currently, local education boards can access the history of teachers subjected to such punishment only as far back as three years.

Under the existing system, it is hard for schools to spot teachers with a history of committing pedophile acts once they reacquire their teaching credentials and keep their pasts secret.

To prevent that from happening, the education ministry on Sept. 15 announced that it will extend the browsing period from three years to 40 years. The extended period is from the date of the initial search.

If a teacher receives a disciplinary dismissal and loses a teaching credential, his or her name and the date that the certificate is revoked will be published in an official gazette.

The ministry in 2018 created an “information search tool” for the gazette and made it available to prefectural education boards and others as a reference in hiring.

The ministry requires each education board to sign and consent to manage such “sensitive private information” carefully.

Starting from November, the system will track records dating back five years. In February 2021, the ministry plans to expand this to 40 years.

It has instructed local education boards to fire any teacher who commits an obscene act against a minor.

However, a teaching credential revoked because of dismissal can be reacquired after three years.

There have been troubling cases in which an individual changed his or her name to obtain a teaching job in a different area and then began preying on children again.

The ministry is also considering revisions to the Education Personnel Certification Law.

According to the ministry, 231 teachers at public elementary, junior high and high schools were dismissed in fiscal 2018.

About 70 percent of them, or 163, were dismissed because of an obscene act. Both of the figures set new records, the ministry said.