Skip to main content

Nittai University Head Coach Masaaki Watanabe Fired Over Abuse Scandal



On Sept. 12 Nittai University announced that it will fire ekiden team head coach Masaaki Watanabe, 55, over the current power harassment scandal surrounding him. According to the university's public relations office, interviews by the alumni association with five current and one former team member reported multiple acts of violence by Watanabe including kicking athletes' legs and grabbing them by the chest.

The interviews also reported that Watanabe verbally abused and threatened student athletes and attacked their character. When runners fell off pace during workouts he was reported to have shouted, "Get the hell out of this university!" and, following the runners in a car, "I am going to f*cking run you over and kill you." Injured team members were also reported to have been subject to verbal humiliation by Watanabe, including, "Look at this f*cking cripple," and "You f*cking deserve it." Watanabe admitted the accusations but said that he did not consider his words and actions to be abusive.

Watanabe submitted his resignation on Sept. 11, but having determined that he was "not suitable to oversee students," the Nittai Athletic Department chose to fire him with his title of head coach still in place. Although the Nittai team is scheduled to open its season in less than a month at the Oct. 8 Izumo Ekiden its replacement head coach has not yet been chosen.

Watanabe became head coach of Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. in 1993 but left the school in 2013 after revelations of abuse surfaced. According to the Aichi Prefectural Board of Education, between 2008 and 2012 Watanabe committed 33 reported acts of violence toward members of the school's boys' and girls' ekiden teams including beating one with a broom badly enough to require stitches and striking another in the head hard enough to damage the student's eardrum. As a result he received a four-month suspension.

Meanwhile, in recognition of his success in transforming the teams into a national powerhouse the high school's PTA organization collected 38,000 signatures on a petition asking that he remain as head coach. Nevertheless he left the school, taking a position as a physical education teacher at Nittai Ebara H.S. before being hired by his alma mater Nittai University in 2015 to coach its ekiden team. Less than six months into Watanabe's first season as head coach star fourth-yeat Hideto Yamanaka and four other team members quit. The team placed in the top ten at the Hakone Ekiden all three seasons Watanabe coached them.

Translator's note: Despite Nittai's outstanding decision to reject Watanabe's resignation and instead formally fire him, given the circumstances of his departure from Toyokawa Kogyo H.S. the question of responsibility for having hired him at Nittai in the first place still remains.

source articles:
https://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/etc/20180912-OHT1T50100.html
https://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20180910-00000017-ykf-spo
translated by Brett Larner

Buy Me A Coffee

Comments

Metts said…
I thought it was bad where I am just west of Japan.
CK said…
2 years ago I was invited to a reunion of a sporting (non-athletics) junior high squad and their coach. Now all about 50 years old this group were still fearful (and respectful it must be said) of their octagenarian former coach who had hit them all, male and female, as teenagers. "He did it because he loved us, etc". One is now teaching/coaching at a high level in school (has had future senior national champions); one is still a high-ranking masters player; one who had graduated from Nittai was openly describing hitting and slapping her own teenage (male and female) proteges in the 1990s; and one of them curiously seemed to have a more recent yakuza history(!) And one and all they defended the accused coaches in the plethora of recent abuse stories in the Japanese media. ...It's going to take a long time for Japan, and especially sports factories like NittaiDai to deinstitutionalise attitudes to some of these practices.
Andrew Armiger said…
A just ending and, indeed, he was not employable as a coach long ago.
sonny said…
You think he would have moved to issue an apology of some sort and at least tone it down!
Metts said…
Former short track speed skate coach, from a country just west of Japan, has received a 10 month sentence for similar abuse. Also got a lifetime ban from the skating union earlier in the year.

Most-Read This Week

Kusu Runs Steeplechase World-Leading Time, Yabuta and Yoshimura Break National Records, Tanaka Just Misses Fukushi's NR - Kitami and Liege Highlights

Wednesday afternoon and evening saw the fourth meet in this year's five-part Hokuren Distance Challenge series, this time in the town of Kitami. The program included the little-raced 2000 m steeplechase as a tuneup for Monday's series-closing Abashiri meet, and in both the women's and men's races the national records went down. A top collegiate steepler while at Kyoto Sangyo University, Yui Yabuta (Otsuka Seiyaku) ran 6:27.74 to break the women's record. In the men's race 1500 m specialist Yasunari Kusu (Ami AC) surprised many by breaking the Japanese national record with a world-leading 5:31.82 despite little experience in the steeple.

The women's 3000 m in Kitami was more explicitly set up as a national record attempt, with four of the ten fastest Japanese women ever over the distance lined up to gun for the great Kayoko Fukushi's 8:44.40 record dating back to 2002. From the gun it was out at NR pace, with pacers Hellen Ekalale (Toyota Jidoshokki) an…

Lemeteki and Aoki Win Shibestu Half

Kenyan Razini Lemeteki (Takushoku Univ.) and relative unknown Nanami Aoki (Iwatani Sangyo) took the top spots in hot and sunny conditions at the Shibetsu Half Marathon in Hokkaido. With Kenta Murayama (Asahi Kasei) doing early frontrunning in the men's race only to fade to a 20th-place finish in 1:06:40 Lemeteki had little competition for the win in 1:03:25. 2017 Shibetsu winner Tsubasa Hayakawa (Toyota) was the top Japanese man at 2nd in 1:03:42, beating MGC Race Olympic marathon trials qualifiers Daichi Kamino (New Balance) and Naoki Okamoto (Chugoku Denryoku) - by 4 seconds and 11 seconds. Other MGC Race qualifiers Masato Imai (Toyota Jidoshokki), Yuji Iwata (MHPS) and Ryo Kiname (MHPS) all struggled, none of them breaking 66 minutes.

Aoki won the women's race easily in 1:15:12 by almost a minute over Mai Nagaoka (Sysmex). MGC Race qualifiers Reia Iwade (Under Armour) and Keiko Nogami (Juhachi Ginko) were listed to start but apparently did not run.
33rd Suffolkland Shibets…

Koike Runs Japan's Third Sub-10, Niiya Clears Doha 5000 m Standard - Weekend Track Highlights

Japanese athletes were busy on the track overseas this weekend. At Friday's Stumptown Twilight meet in Portland, indoor mile Asian record holder Nanami Arai (Honda) took 2nd in the men's 1500 m in 3:39.58, his second time this season breaking 3:40. It used to be a rarity to see a Japanese man clear 3:40, something that happened once every couple of years, but so far this season four Japanese men have done it a total of six times. If the distance had even a fraction of the prestige of the Hakone Ekiden, or of that it has in the U.S., there's no doubt there'd be more.

Speaking of distances with prestige, on the first day of London's Muller Anniversary Games Diamond League spectacular Yuki Koike (Sumitomo Denko) became the third Japanese man to join the sub-10 club, running 9.98 (+0.5 m/s) for 4th in the men's 100 m final. Koike also ran 2nd on the Japanese men's 4x100 m relay team, which clocked a season best 37.78 for 2nd despite featuring only two regulars…