A basketball coach accused of assaulting a schoolboy who later committed suicide was sentenced to one year in prison, suspended for three years by the Osaka District Court on Thursday.
The court heard that Hajime Komura, 47, who was the basketball coach at Sakuranomiya High School in Osaka, assaulted a 17-year-old high school boy who hanged himself at his home last Dec 23. An investigation found that the coach slapped the boy at least 10 times on the day before his suicide, although the boy told his mother he had been hit 30-40 times.
The boy reportedly left a letter to the teacher along with a suicide note, in which he wrote that he could no longer handle the physical punishment he was undergoing.
During the trial, Komura told the court, "I hope to spend the rest of my life reflecting on the burden I now carry," Fuji TV reported.
The prosecution had called for a sentence of one year in prison. A prosecutor told the defendant: "Blame must be placed squarely on your shoulders. You were in a position of responsibility, and you perpetrated violence against a young person in your care."
Komura admitted beating the boy and apologized to his family in the wake of his death.
Presiding judge Kenta Onodera said the former teacher "blindly believed" that use of physical punishment was effective, despite complaints from parents of students.
"The suicide shows the victim suffered physically and mentally," Jiji Press news agency quoted the judge as saying. "The use of violence because the student did not play (to Komura's) satisfaction was unreasonable."
Violence in Japanese sport has been thrust into the spotlight in recent months after a series of high-profile cases.
A video emerged last week showing a volleyball coach repeatedly slapping a schoolboy, just days after Tokyo was awarded the 2020 Olympics.
Separately, world judo champion Shohei Ono was banned for three months for physically abusing junior members of his university judo squad.© Japan Today/AFP