Wednesday, February 06, 2013

The Unwritten Essay On Japan's Judo Crisis

This Guardian story on the crisis in Japanese judo is a good start. (Link)

However, the story of purported mentors and leaders succumbing to the spell of committing acts of violence upon young athletes should be expanded further, including:

- politicians getting caught flat-footed, with Minister of Education Shimomura Hakubun having to deal both on the level of sport and education with adult-on-child violence, not the child-on-child bullying violence he has his nostrums for...and all reactionary politicians trying to feel their way around what is the national consensus on corporeal punishment (taibatsu)

- Hashimoto Toru's sudden swerve into absolutism against violence in the Sakuranomiya High School case, seemingly only after he realized the case could be used in his war against the Osaka City school board

- the role of gaiatsu still seems to play in reform, with the international judo federation and the International Olympic Committee putting pressure on the Japan national judo federation to go beyond its earlier investigations and disciplinary measures

- how quickly the Japan Olympic Committee, desperate to win the 2020 Olympics for Tokyo, simply overran the national judo foundation in bringing the scandal to light and forcing resignations

- the role the internationalization of judo, with the continued blind eye being shown to the spoiling techniques Japanese judo despises, has played in pushing Japanese judoka to overcompensate with pure aggression (Ever watch Matsumoto Kaori, Japan's only gold medalist in London, psyche herself up?)

- the national crisis that already existed in the provision of judo instructors for youngsters, after the passage (when guess who was in charge) of an education reform bill that blindly made the learning of a martial art mandatory - without anyone having checked beforehand whether there were enough teachers trained in the teaching of children or that the martial art could even be practiced safely (Link)

Judo is a Japanese sport enwrapped in a host of mystical and ahistorical associations that has gone global. No need for a hook.


Ἀντισθένης said...

Just when does Japan realize that the sheer ubiquity of bullying, school, workplace, harassment of women... is a cultural marker? This is a culture where bullying is an essential component. Why is it always on the news, and always in the schools, and always in the workplace, and on the trains to women, and there is a connection to the fact that the infirm or pregnant are rarely given seats - even those designated thus. There is not only a severe empathy-gap in Japanese culture, there is a certain delight in cruelty. When I have pointed out that bullying exists but is not ubiquitous elsewhere, and that nobody on crutches would be left to stand an hour on a train, and that this defines Japanese culture, well, I never get an argument, but my Japanese friends cannot allow themselves to come to agreement.

Those women judoka are my new heroes. Very 'un-Japanese' not to put up with it. More women like them might give a hope for this country.

MTC said...

Ἀντισθένης -

Bullying may be forever (sorry Ourmani, but corporeal punishment seems to be subject to societal norms that change over time. Go back to English and American children's books of the 1950s and 1960s to see what are in contemporary eyes terrifyingly casual threats or metings out of spankings and whipppings (the father's threat in Bedtime For Frances, for example).

The most frequently heard criticism about what Sonoda Ryuji did has not been that it was wrong but that it was anachronistic (jidai okure) -- which, when one looks at it from a fully self-aware Euroamerican perspective, is at least part of what it is.