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Human Rights Watch report documents abuse of child athletes in Japan

By Jack Tarrant

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No surprise. Bullying in Japan is systemic, top down, and part of the social fabric.

31 ( +33 / -2 )

Why now? In reality things are SLOWLY getting better here, generations of adults went through some brutal crap growing up playing sports, and this coming out now? Right Olympics...my bad

-6 ( +6 / -12 )

"The specific abuses we documented include punching, slapping, kicking or striking with objects (and) excessive or insufficient food and water,"

In Japan, people in upper position of hierarchy can do almost whatever they like.

Why now? In reality things are SLOWLY getting better here, generations of adults went through some brutal crap growing up playing sports, and this coming out now?

Things are getting slightly little better in Japanese private sector since in Japan, before pandemic they have labour shortage issue, so it's not easy to keep employee. So in Japan private sector they try to improve treatment to their employee, still need lot to do.

15 ( +15 / -0 )

Japanese has a systemic culture of bullying. I was watching information on the news and read an article this morning. The reports say that they completed this a while go and Japan was suppose to make certain changes like offering a way to allow victims to come forward. The creators of the report followed up and found that the channels created were designed to make hard for any abused athletes to come forward, so Japan was being dishonest in light of the original report. I believe that is why it has now been released to the public because of Japan's confirmed cover-up. Sounds just like their handling of COVID-19!

Other countries also have similar issues, but the Japan is the only country trying to push an Olympic event during a pandemic! More egg on J-govs face! The number of Judo deaths were shocking!

This news has gone global.

I wonder when Aso will step forward and pull out the old you are "attacking our culture" defense!

30 ( +30 / -0 )

give me a break, check China and Russia first

-31 ( +5 / -36 )

Why now? I guess because people are no longer dumb enough to assume that strict discipline ("Sparta" in Japanese) is the only possible approach and that hitting someone is "character-building".

As the article says, it happens in other countries too.

18 ( +18 / -0 )

Japanese has a systemic culture of bullying.

and No surprise. Bullying in Japan is systemic

Gotta love the generalizations.

-9 ( +9 / -18 )

give me a break, check China and Russia first

Go ahead, wallow in the cess pit, then.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

If I ever see anyone engaging in such abuse - especially with a child - I will tear their ears off ... literally if necessary.

Would that be to prove the effectiveness of violence in teaching and deep learning? You just justified violent methods. Why? Do you think perhaps its the only way some people are ever going to learn? Or was that more about getting your own emotions out? Or to prove you can do abuse even better?

6 ( +8 / -2 )

I would not like tear anything off a Judo instructor, particularly when the have a history of crippling and killing their own students.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

I would not like tear anything off a Judo instructor, particularly when the have a history of crippling and killing their own students

Japans MOJ won't punish that crime. Guess they won't punish you either for committing the same crime to the perpetrator.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

This should be added another long lists of Japanese violations of human rights, which the US purposely ignored for the sake of keeping their geopolitical stations in Japan.

The US never removed the Zaibatsu families, political dynasties and Imperial Family for the crimes of WWII. The US kept the flawed, fascist democratic state of Japan for the sake of control in the East Asia. Japan is an authoritarian nation for a long time, and it is crumbling down as the economy gets worse every year.

The US may soon pursue Vietnam and India as the better authoritarian alternatives. The story will repeat as Human Rights become ignored by the US, and those nations with authoritarian tendencies will suppress human rights furthermore - Vietnam has a Communist state, and India has PM Modi who acts like a fascist.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

The report comes in the week that would have marked the start of the Tokyo Olympics

The contents may very well be true, but it's worth asking why Japan of all countries is being singled out by an international NGO given that there are far worse global offenders.

When you untangle the web of NGO financing you often find that these types of targeted reports are created with the aim of extorting wealthy governments and organisations into donating or hiring the same or other affiliated NGOs as consultants to 'fix' the problem in time for the next report.

The largest sponsor of Human Rights Watch is the Open Societies Foundation. In 2018 another global NGO called the Centre for Sports and Human Rights was created and draws its funding from governments around the world (Note the Japanese government is not yet a sponsor). The CSHR is administered by a fourth NGO called the Institute for Human Rights and Business which, surprise surprise, is also funded by the Open Societies Foundation. This looks like another typical NGO shakedown.

-11 ( +2 / -13 )

As a recovering jock (little league to NCAA level) and former coach, few things in this country disturb me more than the way youth sports are handled. The insanely long practices, the lack of true games and seasons, the abuse by coaches, the focus on seniority over ability, the insistence on only one sport all year, the "no pain, no gain" attitude towards injuries ... it is ridiculous and a shame and I can't see why people put up with it. I had very long talks with my son's and daughter's coaches and told a lot of them "Thanks, but no thanks" until I found clubs that I thought put the children above the sport.

But, perhaps the worst part is that many of the kids develop what is akin to Battered Woman Syndrome. From a psychology book (the insertion of "athlete" by me):

With battered woman (athlete) syndrome, a woman (an athlete) may develop a learned helplessness that causes her to believe she deserves the abuse and that she can’t get away from it.

And two of the stages:

Denial: The woman (athlete) is unable to accept that she’s being abused, or she justifies it as “just being that once.”

Guilt: She believes she has caused the abuse.

Youth playing sports should not be developing this.

15 ( +15 / -0 )

@ collegepark30349

that's a deep insight there.

you made me research about the Battered Woman Syndrome all morning.


4 ( +4 / -0 )

I see no surprise in this,Japan was never and probably will never be a champion of human and animal rights.

Their thinking and imprint is too strong to be changed,unless they will be pushed (again) from external forces.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

If the Olympics is a front for abuse in multiple countries then it is more trouble than it is worth....

5 ( +5 / -0 )

No surprise. Bullying in Japan is systemic, top down, and part of the social fabric.

All warrior-based cultures have bullying. Japan, Mongolia, Turkey, Spartans, Romans, etc.

British and French bullying is more subtle and revolves around class and accents.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Why does have to take the HRW to expose this? Surely japan must have some NPO/NGO that actually cares and wants to expose it?

maybe schools need to include social studies in their curriculum to foster a more moral next generation?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

give me a break, check China and Russia first

Yes, please do set the bar low.

5 ( +5 / -0 )


Agree with bokuda — great insight there.

Been here for 37 years now, and have seen and been victim to similar group dynamics as described in the article, but in the work place — both American and Japanese institutions. Just thought I'd add another psychological lens with which to view the dynamics of bullying behavior particular to Japan.

Even more than than most other 'developed' countries, the education system here seems to reward compliance to authority over creative problem solving, and in authoritarian contexts, what the individual would be ashamed to do as a more or less autonomous moral agent, is more easily justified as 'win one for the gipper' ... or more often, for the in-group.

As social primates, all humans jostle for social currency, but I can't help but to think Japanese culture is obsessed with ranking things (from the cheapest, best ramen shops to the best waterfalls, mountains, tourist views), institutions (educational, corporate, medical), and individuals (sempai, kohai, sensei, etc.). If one is at working age in Japan, but without a meishi name card, you are all but invisible.

But ranking may serve a dual purpose as a proxy for collective/communal narcissism and a sublimation of 'the nail that stick up' individual narcissist. Although I am guessing this to be a universal phenomenon, it appears more salient here because the concept has not yet even been translated into Japanese, much less parsed and applied to current problems. Although the Wiki read on 'Dark Triad' personality types ... which would attract would-be coaches as well as CEOs and politicians (for that matter, anyone attracted to power for power's sake) has a Japanese translation, 'Collective Narcissism' does not, and neither does 'flying monkey' enablers. Might as well be asking a fish what 'water' means. 'Gainen ga nai'.

I find this particularly intriguing because I would assume that Far Eastern cultures, more influenced by the Confucian social engineering ideal of harmony, rather than the Enlightenment Era ideal of individual autonomy, would have more nuanced and profound insight into collective phenomenon. Or perhaps these ideals are merely conceits used by dark-triad bosses and the ruling class?

But then again, 'collective narcissism' would also run counter to the narrative of 'cultural exceptionalism' upon which Japan Inc. and every little tourist town now heavily depends for financial sustainability.

A less sophisticated angle, and one that I assume diminishes as time passes, is that authoritarian bullying might be seen as compensation that came with a humiliating defeat in the Pacific War. But that doesn't explain America's currently dangerous flirtation with facism, or its own bullying culture in sports. But with both Japan and the states now losing technological clout is some markets in other countries, there still might be a bit of that compensation and consolation to be found in 'bread and circuses'. JMHO.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Hi Lamilly

Yeah there is plenty I like, but I tried to restrict my comments to the article, which shows a rather dark side of Japan.

Cheers from Kawasaki — steve

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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