Lesson Number Two: Japan Calls on Professor Poo to Teach Children to Pay Taxes | Japan

The Japanese government hopes that children’s fascination with bodily functions will help them understand the importance of paying taxes as adults.

Years after fueling huge sales of textbooks, Unko-sensei [Professor Poo] was enlisted by the finance ministry’s tax agency to appear in a brochure as part of a campaign to instill appreciation for the role of the treasury among the country’s youngest citizens.

The character, who is shaped like the eponymous emoji and sports a handlebar mustache and round glasses, explores topics such as the consumption tax – a 10% levy on goods and services that children pay every time. they buy a bag of candy. One of the questions he asks children in the pamphlet is: What do poo and taxes have in common? The answer: fertilizer, since both are used to grow things.

The character behind the brochure, which is to be distributed to elementary schools across Japan, will be familiar to millions of children who must thank him for their ability to memorize hundreds of kanji characters.

A series of kanji study books featuring Unko-sensei became a hit when released in 2017 by the Bunkyosha Publishing House.

The books have sold around 5 million copies, according to the publisher, which means two in three Japanese schoolchildren own a copy.

The scatology-inspired Unko Doriru (poo exercises) workbooks proved so popular that officials in the rarefied corridors of the finance ministry would have been receptive when Bunkyosha founder, former Lehman Brothers employee Shuji Yamamoto, approached them with the idea. Now they are counting on Unko-sensei to do for taxes what he has already done for kanji components and AVC controls.

“We hope the exercises will inspire elementary school students to take an early interest in taxes,” a ministry official told the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper.

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