No jail for hoops coach who triggered suicide in Osaka


The Osaka District Court on Thursday found a former senior high school teacher guilty of assaulting a student who committed suicide shortly after and sentenced him to a year in prison, suspended for three years.

As the student’s basketball coach at Sakuranomiya Senior High School in Osaka, Hajime Komura, 47, slapped the 17-year-old team captain on the head and face for failing to follow instructions on Dec. 18 last year, the court said.

Komura, also frustrated with the student’s failure to answer questions, slapped him at least 10 times on Dec. 22, it said. The student hanged himself the following day.

“It was outrageous that the defendant assaulted the student for failing to play basketball to his satisfaction,” presiding Judge Kenta Onodera said. “The student’s suicide shows he suffered deep psychological pain as well as physical pain.”

At the first hearing of his trial on Sept. 5, Komura apologized to the victim’s family for his actions. “Physical punishment was the wrong method and it caused both mental and physical injuries,” he acknowledged.

After the judge handed down the ruling, Komura, without saying a word, bowed to the family members in the courtroom.

The student’s mother said after the ruling that it is regrettable Komura won’t do any prison time for his actions.

  • El Anon

    what do people in authority have to do to earn jail time in Japan? Seems that criminal negligence in a nuclear meltdown, bullying kids into suicide, stealing millions from your corporation, none of this is enough to get more than a slap on the wrist.

    • Digger

      Just be a foreigner.

  • Mark Garrett


  • Richie Bartlett

    I actually agree that the court made the correct decision in this case…

    I also agree with the family that Komura should have held better restraint while reprimanding the team captain for failing to follow instructions.

    Regardless of all these circumstantial details, it seems to me there is a deeper matter not discussed at all in this column…

    Perhaps the family could have done a better job in teaching their child to handle failure as a means to learn success. Or, perhaps they could have raised a child that would handle real-world pressures more effectively.

    Any child that commits suicide is demonstrating how the culture at home is severely lacking in emotional education. It’s great to focus on knowledge and memorization of important details. But in the end, if you can not manage the emotional side of the world, it will quickly overwhelm all that knowledge.

    • Mark Garrett

      The coach physically abused the student. The other players witnessed it and the coach admitted it. The student hanged himself the following day leaving a note explaining that he could no longer sustain the abuse.
      Please show where there is anything circumstantial about this??

      The coach did not “reprimand” the student, he assaulted him. Big difference.

      While I also hold the family culpable, I fail to see where a high school basketball game amounts to “real-world pressure”.

      “Any child that commits suicide is demonstrating how the culture at home is severely lacking in emotional education.”

      Really? Which medical journal did you get that factoid from? The majority of child suicides are caused by either depression or substance abuse. I think we can probably eliminate the latter in this case. This boy was suffering from severe depression brought on by bullying. He said so in his suicide note!!

      In order for there to be significant change with regards to corporal punishment, bullying, and physical assault in schools, authorities need to take a hard stance on offenders. This decision will do nothing to curb this type of behavior and we can expect this to continue (as evidenced by the recent case in Hamamatsu). As a parent of a young child, I am VERY concerned.