International Journal of Sport and Health Science
Online ISSN : 1880-4012
Print ISSN : 1348-1509
JSPEHSS Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award 2016
Local Political Issues Related to the “Improvement of Children's Physical Fitness”, Focusing on Conditions in Metropolitan Tokyo and Osaka Prefecture*
Keiko Itani
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2018 Volume 16 Pages A1-A24


In 2002, the Central Education Council published a report entitled “Improvement of children's physical fitness.” The report pointed out that changes in the social environment and lifestyles in recent years had influenced children's physical fitness and movement skills, and that a “comprehensive policy” addressing various aspects was essential for tackling this problem. On the basis of this report, the Ministry of Education and local boards of education are currently undertaking various projects; however, a number of gaps still remain between the findings of the report and what is actually being done to address this issue. The present paper examines the local political issues that have led to differences between the practices of local educational governments and the recommendations of the report by focusing on practices in the Tokyo metropolitan area and Osaka Prefecture after publication of the report. This study revealed that the local governments had been strongly influenced by the results of physical fitness tests in comparison with other districts, counter to the comprehensive policy suggested by the report. This suggests that one of the reasons for the existing gap is the implicit demand for measurable results based on strong promotion of the evaluation system stipulated by the current educational policy. The results also show that most projects to improve children's physical fitness have been undertaken by schools, despite the fact that almost no budget has been allocated for this purpose, thus forcing schools to bear the burden and responsibility alone. Furthermore, it is also evident that competitive sports are frequently used to promote an active lifestyle, even in elementary and junior high schools. In view of the numerous practices aiming to improve performance through sports club activities and competitive sports events, such as long-distance relays for children and Olympic education, it appears that the government in fact has a hidden agenda to promote sports and to improve athletic performance behind the facade of children's fitness as a “social issue.”

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