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

Japanese National Track and Field Championships Preview

The 101st edition of Japan's National Track and Field Championships takes place Friday through Sunday at Osaka's Yanmar Stadium Nagai. It's a strange time in some ways. Despite the overall upward trend spurred on by the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the count of athletes who might make the London World Championships off their performances at Nationals is low. The marathon, walks, combined events and relays aside, based on current qualifying times only the men's 100 m, women's 5000 m and women's 10000 m could field full three-member squads, and not many events look set to join that list. The progress over the last few years in men's distance on the track seems to have stalled, with nobody qualified for London in the 5000 m and the only man qualified in the 10000 m already a scratch. Is it a just a hiccup or a sign of problems in the buildup to 2020?

Visit the JAAF's National Track and Field Championships website for entry and start lists, live results, photos an…

Ageo City Half Marathon Leads Weekend Action - Preview

by Brett Larner

Rainy weather lies ahead for a busy weekend of racing across the country.  Track is a part of the calender from April through December, and this weekend features several large time trial meets including the Shizuoka Long Distance Time Trials Meet and, closer to Tokyo, the Nittai University Time Trials Meet.  Men's 5000 m is the focus at Nittai with 37 separate heats in one day, the fastest heat led by 12 Japan-based Africans including Bedan Karoki (DeNA RC), Ronald Kwemoi (Team Komori Corp.) and Paul Kuira (Team Konica Minolta).

The main action this weekend, however, happens on the roads, and there's no question that the Ageo City Half Marathon is the main event.  Ageo, the race that university coaches use to thin their rosters ahead of deciding their lineups for January's Hakone Ekiden, is one of two Japanese half marathons vying for the title of world's greatest half, locked in a duel with March's National University Half Marathon to produce the d…

JAAF Announces Preliminary Team for London World Championships

A day after the end of the 2017 Japanese National Track and Field Championships, the JAAF announced its preliminary team for August's London World Championships. No men made the team in long distance, while no women were named in any event except long distance. Top-placing athletes at the National Championships have until July 23 to chase standards in hope of being added to the team, but excluding the marathon and race walk, the team as announced on June 26:

Women's Long Distance
Rina Nabeshima (Japan Post) - 5000 m
Ayuko Suzuki (Japan Post) - 5000 m / 10000 m
Mizuki Matsuda (Daihatsu) - 10000 m
Miyuki Uehara (Daiichi Seimei) - 10000 m

Men's Sprints
Abdul Hakim Sani Brown (Tokyo T&F Assoc.) - 100 m / 200 m
Shuhei Tada (Kwansei Gakuin Univ.) - 100 m
Aska Cambridge (Nike) - 100 m
Shota Iizuka (Mizuno) - 200 m
Takamasa Kitagawa (Juntendo Univ.) - 400 m

Additional Relay Members
Yoshihide Kiryu (Toyo Univ.) - 4x100 m
Kenji Fujimitsu (Zenrin) - 4x100 m
Kentaro Sato (Fujitsu) -…