In 2012, a high school student who was the captain of a school basketball team committed suicide after suffering repeated corporal punishment from the head coach, who was a physical education teacher.
This sort of tragic incident always prompts discussion about the current state of Japanese sports clubs. However, although such incidents occur repeatedly, Japan has not been able to eradicate violence in sports clubs.
The purpose of the present study was to examine the reasons why Japanese society has tolerated corporal punishment by coaches or seniors in sports clubs, focusing on a popular belief that the roots of these practices lie in behavioral patterns that were prevalent in the old Japanese military during the Second World War.
Initially, the paper proposes reasons why many people in Japanese society have believed and shared this view for a long time, although it has not been proven. Secondly, an attempt is made to reveal this as a problem for ordinary people who have consciously or subconsciously accepted corporal punishment as an intrinsic aspect of sports clubs, rather than considering it as an issue specifically for coaches or seniors.
The following points were clarified:
1) For critics of corporal punishment, the “military origin theory” supports their opinions powerfully. Because this logic demonstrates the relationship between sports clubs and the old military, it is able to emphasize the problematic and inhuman nature of corporal punishment in sports clubs. This is one explanation for why this belief has been shared by many Japanese people for so long.
2) The “military origin theory” is a way of shifting the responsibility for violence in sports clubs away from the perpetrators. This has been supported by the general feeling of Japanese ordinary people against the old Japanese military.
3) The existence of violence in sports clubs reflects a degree of maturity in the general public viewpoint about sports by a considerable proportion of Japanese who do not or can not distinguish between hard training and violent behavior.
Consequently, this belief negates the chances that many Japanese people consider corporal punishment in sports clubs to be their own problem.