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Wednesday, 8th May 2013
In General Japan News,

Report on teen suicide in Japan highlights issues surrounding corporal punishment

The use of corporal punishment in Japanese schools was called into question recently following the suicide of a pupil who had reportedly received physical punishment from a basketball teacher. 

Board of Education officials announced last year that an unnamed 17-year-old pupil at Sakuranomiya high school had taken his own life following the incident. 

His mother found a suicide note in which the boy had hinted that he couldn't handle the shame of being physically punished by his basketball coach. 

The teacher was subsequently questioned by school officials and he admitted slapping the boy in the face reportedly to toughen him up. 

Osaka City Board of Education has released the final report on the suicide. It concluded that pupils and parents did not protest against corporal punishment, which is banned in Japanese schools, because Sakuranomiya high has a reputation for its sports club activities. 

So-called whistle-blowers who may have had reason to question the use of corporal punishment within the school would have been handled by education board officials and the school principal. The report hints that this system may have meant issues were left unresolved. 

Corporal punishment in sport in Japan became the subject of newspaper headlines in September 2012, when 15 female judo athletes filed a complaint against their coach Ryuji Sonoda. 

The women complained to the All Japan Judo Federation about their coach slapping, kicking and beating them. 

Subsequently, the athletes took their complaint a step further to the Japanese Olympic Committee. 

Despite being initially retained as head coach following the accusations, Mr Sonoda was eventually forced to step down from his position on February 1st. 

There is some concern that the suggestion that corporal punishment is a problem in sport in Japan could harm Tokyo's bid to host the 2020 Olympics. 

The Japanese Olympic Committee states on its website that Mr Sonoda's actions are "most regrettable" and it is keen to clarify that it believes violence in sport "directly contradicts the values of the Olympic Movement".

Related news stories:
OECD report shows high gender pay gap in Japan (21st December 2012)