Volleyball coach beats boy; video goes viral

AFP-JIJI

A video showing a volleyball coach repeatedly slapping a high school student — just days after Tokyo was awarded the 2020 Olympics — is the latest example of brutality to tarnish Japanese sports.

A short clip posted on YouTube showed the teacher at Hamamatsu Nittai Senior High School in Shizuoka Prefecture smacking the student’s face at least 13 times in 16 seconds. It was authenticated by the school.

The episode was captured on a mobile phone by another student during a practice game in Gifu Prefecture, on Sunday. By lunchtime Wednesday it had garnered nearly 1.5 million viewings.

“Don’t joke around, kid! Do you understand? You’re stupid,” the teacher yells in the video as he repeatedly slaps the child’s face.

According to the school, the teacher has admitted the physical abuse of the second-year student, saying: “I wanted to shake him up, but I went about it the wrong way.”

Second-year high school students are 16 or 17 years old.

Toshitaka Shiozawa, the assistant principal, said the 41-year-old teacher had also beaten another student the same day. He declined to reveal the teacher’s name.

Neither student suffered any lasting injuries in the attacks, Shiozawa said, adding the school was considering punishing the teacher.

Japan banned corporal punishment in schools after World War II, but it remains far from uncommon, particularly in sports education, despite a number of high-profile cases.

In December, a teenager killed himself following repeated physical abuse from his high school basketball coach in Osaka.

Earlier this month, world judo champion Shohei Ono was suspended from his university for physically abusing junior members of the judo squad.

Japan’s judo community was rocked in January when it emerged that the coach of the national women’s team was found to have beaten athletes, sometimes using a bamboo sword, calling his charges “ugly” and telling them to “die” in the runup to the London Olympics.

The new incident comes less than two weeks after Japan won the 2020 Olympic Games, and after the announcement that Japan is to form a sports agency to boost elite athletes’ performance.

  • Mark Garrett

    “Neither student suffered any lasting injuries in the attacks, Shiozawa said, adding the school was considering punishing the teacher.”

    Should read “neither student suffered and lasting PHYSICAL injuries”. There is most certainly lasting mental trauma.
    The school is CONSIDERING punishing the teacher???
    This is everything wrong with the Japanese education system in one viral moment. If this country truly hopes to turn the corner on this kind of behavior it needs to send swift and severe retribution to offenders.

    Someone please explain to me (again) why this perpetrator’s name is being withheld??
    There is nothing alleged here. He’s on video and he admitted it. He needs to be shamed and humiliated (at the very least!).

    People here need to wake up to what’s going on in the schools here. This is not an isolated incident. It continues to happen throughout Japan on a consistent and regular basis. The only thing unique about this case is that someone had the guts to film it. That kid is a hero in my mind.

  • Electra CV

    @mark_garrett:disqus ‘Should read “neither student suffered and lasting PHYSICAL injuries”. There is most certainly lasting mental trauma.’

    My thoughts exactly! I guess whatever psychological scars these kids are left with don’t really count..

  • NiceDude

    Its a different culture and none of our business. Let them handle it the way they want to handle it.

    • Ron NJ

      You can’t shut down discourse by saying “well, they’re different” or “they’re not us” otherwise you’re effectively saying that no one should comment on anything that occurs outside the borders of the societies they are from. Complete bollocks, especially for those who have emigrated to foreign countries.
      Moreover, we’re not talking about something that can be hand waved away as inconsequential or some sort of cultural misunderstanding – we’re talking about non-guardian adults beating children. Even from the domestic Japanese viewpoint, that is wrong – and has been – since the government enacted legislature stating as much post-World War 2, as the article states. How you can possibly suggest that it’s “not our business” or “a different culture” just blows my mind, especially when many of us have children enrolled in schools here and are very much entwined in the daily goings in this country. Does my ethnicity or citizenship mean I can’t speak up when teachers are slapping my kids around at school, because it’s “not my culture”? Absolute nonsense.

    • Selchuk Driss

      That’s not Japanese culture any more than it was our culture just 50 years ago! It was banned in Japan like in the west.

      • johnny cassidy

        What do you mean “it was banned… in the west?”

      • Selchuk Driss

        I mean corporal punishment was banned in the west and in Japan.

      • johnny cassidy

        Thanks for explaining. I was wondering because corporal punishment is unfortunately still lawful in 19 US states (Maybe the US is more part of the Wild West than the West).

      • Selchuk Driss

        I’m surprised. That kind of goes against the American individual freedom thing.

    • tomado

      Ah. Moral relativism. I am not my brother’s keeper. Nice!

      • http://getironic.blogspot.com/ getironic

        You can reject “brother’s keeper-ism” without being a relativist.

      • tomado

        Yes and my comment doesn’t suggest a necessary relation between the two.

    • Damn-Skippy

      It is our business. Some of us non-Japanese have children in the public school system here.

    • ロエンゲレン与吾紀矛

      International treaties ratified/acceded to by Japan:
      Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) 22 April 1994

      According to Article 19 paragraphe 1 of CRC:
      1.States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.

      All this means that it not legal to hit a child.

      Source: http://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/crc.aspx

    • Glen Douglas Brügge

      We are all human being; we all feel mental and physical pain. To claim that one form of treatment impacts one group of people differently than the other is quite a stretch. It can be perceived differently, but it still results in a negative impact on those who experience it. The human mind is like putty. Some internalize it, and commit suicide, others internalize it and then begin to perpetrate the violence themselves.

  • Mike Wyckoff

    Reminds me of the infamous Bobby Knight, who coached NCAA basketball for over 40 years, and retired as the most decorated coach in NCAA history. When a school’s team has a winning reputation, no one ever bothers lift up the sheets. I wonder if this was also the case?

    • Mark Garrett

      It’s easy to make the comparison between Bobby Knight and this, but there are a lot of significant differences. Knight was a university coach with 18-22 year old kids most of whom could easily defend themselves if they felt seriously threatened. There’s a reason why 20 year olds having sex is consensual and 16 year olds having it is statutory rape. Mentally and physically they are not fully developed.

      Also, as bad as Knight was made out to be, his actions and antics never reached a level anywhere close to what this kid and many others like him have been subjected to. Even his infamous choking incident pales in comparison. Go back and watch it sometime.

      Knight’s downfall was his lack of respect for the changing climate surrounding corporal punishment as well as his anger management issues. While I don’t condone his methods or even approve of them (I personally dislike him as he reminds me of my own father who also could not control his temper), his knowledge of basketball and track record of graduating successful young men, almost all of whom speak highly of him, is exemplary.

      The coach in this video, the basketball coach in Osaka, and countless other adults in positions of authority and responsibility for our children are clinging to an antiquated and proven faulty method of education that has been addressed in nearly all other economically and morally developed countries. It needs to change swiftly and decisively here too.

      • Kenny Yoshikawa-Egger

        Honestly, I don’t really think age is a factor when it comes to self defense especially in sports. I assume it’s more about a student’s fear that any kind of retaliation would immediately result in being cut from the team. Actually, there are still issues in the NCAA with athletes being abused by coaches. This actually happened recently with Rutger’s basketball coach Mike Rice, who physically abused (not as severely as the video above) and shouted homophobic slurs at his players. In fact, one of the players was Lithuanian, and was compelled to transfer schools because he couldn’t take the racist insults by Rice. Initially, the university’s athletic director only gave him a 3 game suspension and a $50,000 fine, but eventually after this article aired on ESPN, they chose to fire him. It’s kind of sad how the decision to fire him was made only after it garnered media attention…

        Here’s the source: http://espn.go.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/9125796/practice-video-shows-rutgers-basketball-coach-mike-rice-berated-pushed-used-slurs-players

      • Mark Garrett

        Yes, I’m well familiar with that story. I still contend that there’s a big difference between physically and mentally abusing children, and a college coach lashing out at 20 year old young adults. As you noted, the Mike Rice incidents, while shocking, were nowhere near the level of that in this video and what takes place throughout Japan. As you also alluded to with the case of a few of the Rutgers players, college kids have the option of transferring.

        Please do not in any way think that I feel violence of any kind is acceptable by teachers or coaches to their subordinates regardless of age. I find it all appalling and nothing more than a show of weak mindedness.

  • sandapeter

    Ever been to an elementary school-aged sporting event? I have seen adults yelling like this, and striking faces, at dodge ball events. I’ve watched karate sensei yell at 7-8 year olds like this. I also believe that almost all Japanese parents would not approve of the physical contact. But they do allow their children to be verbally ‘punished’ like this way too often, especially in sport’s clubs at school. The sport’s club culture at schools needs to be changed. And this teacher needs to be fired now.

    • tomado

      As in the case resulting in suicide a few months back, the school knew of the coach’s violent abuse and tacitly approved of it.

  • Digger

    There needs to be a new policy. When coaches beat kids, the kids’ dads go to school and punch the coach’s face in.

    • tomado

      It seems to me that in this case, as in the previous case that resulted in suicide, the school (and perhaps the parents) were aware and approving of the violent abuse. It’s a heartbreaking situation when no one will stand up for these abused children.

  • Rolo

    The school is CONSIDERING punishing the teacher???
    To me this is decision making in a nutshell in Japan. This is only one example but it goes to every segment of the society. Japanese don’t MAKE decision, they consider making decisions, and that can take forever to years.
    That is seen in companies, politics etc. People here are affraid to take responsibility, so they don’t make a decision until they have backup from every corner of their institution – so they can share the responsibility with others.
    I believe that the political view on this kind of abuse is considered okay, and a way to harden the children and learn them deciplin. But of course the politicians need to say they are against it or the outside world will condem it and it will create a bad reputation. So they make a rule and forbid it to happen, but the rule does not put any statement regarding punishment. That is how rules are made over here (Make a rule only for the purpose of making a rule, not to directly to make it have any effect.
    Hopefully this video can create some debate about this topic as it seem to loose interest short after every incident seen of it lately.

  • Catherine Simmions

    This is an absolute disgrace, it is a physical assault and the “coach” should be sacked immediately. However, unless the video will have a dramatic effect, no action will be taken – a coach in Kumamoto hit a student with a baseball bat and his punishment was to be moved on to another school !! All teachers are normally moved every 3 to 4 years anyway, so bad apples can lie under the radar.