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Corporal Punishment Uncovered at Ekiden Powerhouse Toyokawa Kogyo H.S.

translated by Brett Larner

An official with renowned high school ekiden powerhouse Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. in Aichi Prefecture revealed during an interview that the teacher serving as the team's head coach, 50, had repeatedly beaten and performed other acts of corporal punishment on team members.  On Jan. 25 the Prefectural Board of Education instructed the coach to exercise more self-control and restraint in his leadership of the ekiden team.  On the afternoon of Jan. 26 the Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. administration will hold a meeting with school club coaches and other adult guardians to explain its policies.

According to the Prefectural Board of Education and other associated parties, the coach frequently hit team members, including across the face with an open hand.  On Jan. 11 in response to accumulating rumors of the use of corporal punishment at Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. the Board opened an investigation at the school.  Questionnaires distributed to students at the school confirmed that some had been beaten.

In July, 2009 the coach had beaten team members with a deck brush, some requiring stitches to injuries on their heads.  The Prefectural Board of Education issued a reprimand at the time but did not make an official statement on the details of the case.  A Board official commented, "It's unfortunate that corporate punishment has been used repeatedly.  We want to be sure to explain our policies carefully to those in authority at the school."

The coach, who was not named, developed the Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. ekiden team into one of the best in the country, making fourteen-straight National High School Ekiden Championships through 2011.  In 2004 the team finished 2nd.

Translator's note: Toyokawa Kogyo H.S.'s head coach is Masaaki Watanabe, age 50.  Two members of the Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. team ran on the 3rd-place Aichi Prefecture team at last weekend's National Men's Ekiden.

This story and the Aichi Prefecture Board of Education's Jan. 11 investigation of Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. come shortly after the Jan. 9 announcement of the Dec. 23 suicide of the 17-year-old captain of the national-level Sakuranomiya H.S. basketball team in Osaka.  The Sakuranomiya H.S. student athlete left a suicide note citing being repeatedly beaten by the team's 47-year-old head coach, who confirmed that he had slapped the boy in the face on more than one occasion.  The issue of the reality of corporal punishment in Japanese schools is currently receiving national attention as a consequence.


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