Latest News

Tuesday, 5th February 2013
In General Japan News,

Resignations continue following Japanese judo team abuse allegations

The head coach of the Japanese women's judo team is set to resign following allegations of beatings.

His resignation comes as the All Japan Judo Federation (AJJF) admitted that their investigations revealed Mr Ryuji Sonoda had committed the assaults on members of the team.

Initially Mr Sonoda was quoted as saying that he would "mend the things that need fixing".

Mr Sonoda stated that he would be resigning from the sport as the allegations against him were "more or less true".

"I deeply regret that I have caused trouble with my behaviour, words and actions. It will be difficult for me to continue coaching the team," he said.

The reverberations of Mr Sonoda's alleged behaviour continue apace as today (February 5th) it was announced that a board member of the AJJF who hired Mr Sonoda would also be resigning.

Kazuo Yoshimura took on Mr Sonoda as head coach of the team back in 2008.

Tsunekazu Takeda, the president of the Japan Olympic Committee, stated that action would be taken to ensure "something like this never happens again in Japanese sport".

This latest announcement comes after the lawyer for the 15 athletes who have alleged the abuse reported that his clients were "deeply scarred both mentally and physically by the violence and harassment inflicted by coach Sonoda".

Attorney Nobuyoshi Tsujiguchi hinted that the women wanted the AJJF to insist on a "fundamental change" to the entire coaching staff of the team, suggesting that the resignation of Mr Sonoda would not be enough.

Despite the Olympic committee's protestations that the event would mark an end to similar incidents, Noriyuki Ichihara told the Kyodo news agency that the incident was "just the tip of the iceberg".

"I think this sort of thing is happening and will keep popping up," he said.

A statement by the alleged victims stated that it is "not until athletes are provided with safe environments to train in, this is when society will truly understand the spirit of sports, and we believe Japan will be rooted in a sports culture appropriate to hold the 2020 Olympics".


Written by Susan Ballion