Public high schools in Iwate Prefecture have an institutionalized hazing system associated with ouenka renshuu (“cheerleading practice”) in which “cheerleaders” use yelling, threats, humiliation and physical violence to terrify first-year students into absolute obedience and force them to sing a large number of school cheers as loudly as they can with convincingly sincere body language and facial expressions.
At some schools the cheerleaders punch, kick and hit the freshmen into obedience with kendo swords. Some of these “obedience” rituals appear to have nothing to do with cheerleading. All students are required to participate in these rituals, which usually last around two hours per day for the first two weeks of school. The purpose given by school administrators for these practices is to teach gaman (fighting spirit, hierarchal relationships, obedience to authority, group cooperation and, especially, respect for tradition).
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