Skip to main content

Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. Head Coach Masaaki Watanabe and Eight Students Transfer to Nittai Ebara H.S.

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20140401-00000062-mai-spo

translated by Brett Larner

Having led Aichi prefecture's Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. boys to the National High School Ekiden Championships for fourteen straight years through 2011, former head coach Masaaki Watanabe, 51, became the new head coach and a health and physical education teacher at Tokyo's Nittai Ebara H.S. as of the start of the academic year on April 1.  Along with Watanabe, eight students including five members of Toyokawa Kogyo's team at last December's National High School Ekiden transferred to Nittai Ebara.  Past instances of large numbers of top-class athletes transferring en masse include the 2012 transfer of ten students from Sendai Ikuei H.S. to Toyokawa H.S., but it is safe to say it is unusual.

Watanabe became head coach at Toyokawa Kogyo in 1993 and developed it into one of the country's most powerful high school ekiden teams.  In January last year his use of corporal punishment against students came to light, resulting in a disciplinary four-month suspension.  He left the school last spring after transferring to another high school, but, still maintaining his strong reputation for leadership, Watanabe continued to privately coach part of the Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. team including the eight athletes who went on to be part of the transfer to Nittai Ebara H.S.

The eight transferring students include seven boys, six third-years and two second-years [sic], and one girl.  The National High School Championships rules specify that "students are prohibited from competing within six months after transferring to another school," meaning that the likelihood that members of the group will be barred from competing in this summer's National High School Track and Field Championships is high.  Nittai Ebara H.S. officials commented, "[Hiring Watanabe] was an overall comprehensive decision.  The athletes who transferred wanted to remain with him."

Translator's note: This is the first article on the Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. corporal punishment scandal I've seen that specifically names Watanabe.  In 2009 he was reprimanded for beating team members with the handle of a deck brush to the point that they needed stitches.  In 2012 he hit another student in the head and damaged the student's eardrum, an injury that required weeks of medical treatment.  In last year's investigation twelve Toyokawa Kogyo students confirmed having been beaten by Watanabe, two quitting the school as a result.

Comments

Anonymous said…
I wonder, Brent, what the real reaction to the allegations against this man was behind the scenes - it doesn't seem right that he be allowed to keep any kind of coaching position, let alone be given further opportunities. It just seems like this move is part and parcel of "the system" in Japan - conformity and reluctance to speak up against those in authority, who, if they are in a high enough position, can basically act with impunity. And at the heart of this are all the young athletes, those who feel that they have to follow him and those he is coaching at the new school. How many of these will be lost through the attrition that is the school running scene in Japan - through burnout or abuse. At least he was named in the article...
yuza said…
He has had tremendous success as a coach, but one does wonder how much longer this kind of behaviour will be tolerated.

What irritates me the most about instances like this in sport is that it is almost always an elderly man abusing children or women; it is just very poor form.

I am curious to know how many of his students have gone onto become really successful athletes? Do you have any idea Brett?

Most-Read This Week

Toyo University Leads Defending Champ Aoyama Gakuin on Hakone Ekiden Day One

The team that brought Japan's greatest race into the modern era with its historic 2012 sub-3 min/km win, Toyo University came out swinging to win Day One of the 2018 Hakone Ekiden.

Intensely popular with fans, Toyo has struggled this season with its entire senior class out with injury. With its fate in the hands of its younger members Toyo 1st-year Kazuya Nishiyama, freshly 19 in November, stepped up and took control of the race with both hands. Midway through the fast First Stage Nishiyama surged hard to go out front alone, 2017 World University Games half marathon gold medalist Kei Katanishi (Komazawa Univ.) and relative unknown Yuhei Urano (Koku Gakuin Univ.) the only ones to try to go with him. Nishiyama covered the 21.3 km stage in 1:02:16, equivalent to a 1:01:40 half marathon, with Urano and Katanishi around 15 seconds back. 3-time defending champ Aoyama Gakuin University was 25 seconds behind in 5th at the first exchange, 2017 Izumo Ekiden winner Tokai University another …

Kawauchi Breaks Sub-2:20 World Record in Sub-Zero Temperatures

Battling freezing temperatures and wind chill that took things down to -23C, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) ran a 2018 world-leading 2:18:59 at the Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, taking 30 minutes off the course record and breaking American Doug Kurtis' historic sub-2:20 world record with his 76th career sub-2:20.

Kawauchi spent Dec. 29 to 31 training on the Boston Marathon course ahead of his upcoming appearance as part of the John Hancock Elite Athlete Team and planned to run Marshfield at the tail end of his trip. The Marshfield Road Runners club, organizers of the marathon, had their longstanding race USATF certified ahead of his appearance.


Wearing full-length tights in a marathon for the first time, in Marshfield Kawauchi planned to run the first of the hilly course's two laps in 1:09 flat to give himself room to work with in breaking 2:20. But in the wind and cold he struggled to stay on pace, ice crystals coating his face as he hit halfway in 1:10:29…

Aoyama Gakuin Runs Down Toyo for Fourth-Straight Hakone Ekiden Title

In a rare reversal of Day One standings, Aoyama Gakuin University ran down Toyo University early in on Day Two to win its fourth-straight Hakone Ekiden title. At both the Izumo Ekiden and National University Men's Ekiden this season, Toyo struggled to cope with the absence of its entire senior class due to injury, running up front much of the way but lacking the depth to keep the lead in the final stages. Hakone played out like an opera-scale version of the same familiar story, its brilliant Day One win backlit by the headlights of rapidly approaching fate.

Second on Day Two's opening stage, the 20.8 km Sixth Stage with around 800 m elevation loss, both of the last two years, AGU 3rd-year Yuji Onoda just missed the course record en route as he ran down Toyo's Shunsuke Imanishi and put AGU almost a minute ahead by the time he handed off. AGU's next two runners Keisuke Hayashi and Yuta Shimoda both won their stages, Hayashi, a relative unknown on the roster, running 1:0…