The Feb. 1 article “Two sides to corporal punishment practices in Japan” mentions the rising problem of abusive Japanese sports coaches. Recent incidents include the suicide of an Osaka high school basketball team captain after he had been physically punished by his coach, and the physical harassment of female Olympic judo athletes by their coach.
In press conferences, both coaches have indicated that they were unable to distinguish between abusing their students and “pushing them to the limit for their own good.” This seems to be a common problem in the Japanese sports world.
As a former member of a Japanese swim team, I distinctly remember many of my team members crying after a swim meet if they did not get a good time. They weren’t crying because of the bad result but because they feared their coach’s anger.
After leaving this team because of the bad atmosphere, I settled on an international swim team where the coaches were kind but educationally strict. In this environment, I learned to be hard on myself. I wanted to get a good result for the sense of personal achievement, not because I wanted to avoid a coach’s punishment.
Although many teachers and parents believe corporal punishment is necessary to bring up a child, I don’t agree. It causes anxiety and fear in pupils without improving their character or skills. The Japanese government should seriously consider criminal penalties for educators who abuse students. Such a change would demonstrate to these abusive educationists how morally corrupt corporal punishment can be.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.