TOMAKOMAI, Hokkaido – Komazawa University Tomakomai High School has announced that the 27-year-old teacher overseeing its national champion baseball team will be suspended for striking a player in June and August, dislocating the boy’s jaw on one occasion.
Komadai Tomakomai officials made the announcement just two days after becoming the first school in 57 years and the sixth ever to win consecutive titles at the national high school baseball championship.
The school canceled celebrations that were to have been held Tuesday at the Hokkaido Prefectural Government in Sapporo and the Tomakomai municipal gymnasium.
At a news conference Monday evening, Principal Katsumasa Shinohara apologized for the violence and said the school will accept any disciplinary action, including losing the championship flag.
According to Vice Principal Masashi Hayashi, Shinohara spoke to students for about 10 minutes Tuesday morning about the beatings and subsequent events.
“I am the person most to blame for bringing about this situation,” the principal was quoted by Hayashi as saying in the meeting.
Shinohara separately told the players of the situation they now face, Hayashi said.
According to the school, the teacher hit the senior three or four times on June 2 after a team practice and dislocated his jaw.
He is also suspected of striking the student once with a slipper on Aug. 7 at a hotel where the team was staying for the national tournament held at Koshien Stadium in Hyogo Prefecture.
The student’s family has said the school is concealing the truth about the violence. Media reports have quoted the family as saying the youth was hit between 30 and 40 times in June.
The school received an anonymous telephone call Aug. 8 about the incidents but did not immediately report them to the Japan High School Baseball Federation, according to sources.
“We are surprised a school that won back-to-back national titles is involved in such a scandal,” Kazuhiro Tanabe, a senior federation official, said Monday. “We’ll discuss how to deal with this matter after receiving a full report from the school.”
On Tuesday morning, the school notified the Hokkaido High School Baseball Federation of the incidents.
The federation told the school to question the teacher and the student and submit a written report that includes why it did not report the incidents immediately.
The prefectural body said it would report to the national federation once it received the school’s findings.
Team manager Yoshifumi Koda issued a statement saying the victim was not at fault.
“The problem lies with the instructors,” he said. “I should have supervised the teacher (accused of the beating) better.”
Shortly before the championship began Aug. 6, the team from Meitoku Gijuku High School in Kochi Prefecture withdrew after it was revealed that members had smoked cigarettes and older players had bullied younger teammates.
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