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    Japan Times article on 'Taibatsu'


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    Join date : 2013-01-10
    Location : Tokyo, Japan

    Japan Times article on 'Taibatsu' Empty Japan Times article on 'Taibatsu'

    Post by NBK Sun Jun 02, 2013 1:32 pm

    Robert Whiting, noted author on Japanese baseball ('You Gotta Have Wa', which had great influence on the movie "Mr. Baseball"), society, and the underworld ('Tokyo Underworld', being made into a movie), and all round nice guy, had the second of a couple of long special articles today in the Japan Times. Judo comes in later on in the second article.

    Note that Kano shihan was the principal of the Tokyo Higher Normal School when and where this harsh baseball training tradition evolved.

    Judo and Kano shihan related info highlighted, but an interesting article overall to understand an aspect of Japanese sports society.


    [url=Part 1]

    Corporal punishment has long history in Japanese sports
    by Robert Whiting

    Special To The Japan Times

    May 26, 2013

    First in a two-part series

    Getting slapped by a coach has always been, as far as I could see, simply another aspect of sports training in Japan.

    I remember being invited to see a practice session at the Isenoumi sumo stable in eastern Tokyo back in the early 1960s shortly after I arrived for my first stay in Japan. Obese young sumo wrestlers grappled with each other and a rikishi (senior wrestler) corrected their form by issuing violent blows across their back and thighs with a shinai (bamboo stick), resulting in cries of pain from the participants.

    “Physical punishment is part of their education,” I was told. “It makes them better wrestlers.”

    It was standard operating procedure.

    When I got to know the imported Hawaiian wrestler Takamiyama (a.k.a. Jesse Kualahula) he told me how much he had hated being hit as a young, up-and-coming wrestler. Yet when he retired and became a stablemaster himself, he did the same thing, occasionally using a baseball bat as well as the shinai.

    He even punched one of his wrestlers, Akebono (Chad Rowan, a fellow Hawaiian import), in the jaw, when he grew incensed at what he perceived as Akebono’s laziness and lack of a killer instinct.

    “Without the shinai,” he said, “sumo wouldn’t be sumo.”

    Taibatsu, or corporal punishment, was just as common in some professional wrestling organizations, as I discovered. The famed professional wrestler of the 1950s and 1960s Rikidozan would hit his younger wrestlers with sake bottles and other objects to toughen them up.

    And when I started researching pro baseball in Japan I realized how ordinary it was for coaches to slap younger players for making a mistake or not demonstrating proper fighting spirit. The Yomiuri Giants, Japan’s oldest and winningest team, have one of the more colorful records in this regard, despite their public image as “gentlemen,” starting with the manager of their farm team during much of the postwar era (1953-1973), Yoshiaki Takemiya.

    Takemiya was famous for using his fists on those players violating the 10 o’clock curfew of the farm team dormitory and disciplining those players exhibiting bad manners with blows from a wooden sword.

    Giants farm team pitching coach Hiroshi Nakao was known to have slugged recalcitrant members of his mound corps.

    Then there was Giants coach Yutaka Sudo, who once hit infielder Kono Kazumasa so hard in the rear end with a bat, after Kono had run off the field during an inning when there were only two outs mistakenly thinking the side had been retired, the player was unable to sit for three days.

    This became known as the ketsu batto jiken (“Ass Bat Incident”) in Yomiuri Giants lore.

    One of the more memorable incidents involved Scott Anderson, an American pitcher who joined the Chunichi Dragons in 1991. He related to me an episode involving a young rookie infielder who had made two errors and was consequently removed from the game.

    Afterward, Dragons manager, Senichi Hoshino, a hugely popular figure in Japanese baseball, ordered everyone on the team to assemble at a spot underneath the stands and commanded the rookie to drop to his knees in front of the group. Then Hoshino proceeded to hit the young player in the face with his open hand until the player’s face was red and swollen and Hoshino’s hand began to hurt so much that he could not continue.

    Anderson thought this was assault, pure and simple. He pulled the player aside with an interpreter and said he would go with him to the police station to file charges and would testify as to what he saw.

    “It was intolerable,” he said, “You can’t let the manager treat you like that.”

    The player said, “No, no. It was an honor to have such a great man as Hoshino educate me. It means he thinks I am important for the team.”

    In 2003, when American Trey Hillman managed his first season for the Nippon Ham Fighters, he was shocked to hear that his farm team manager, Tetsushi Okamoto, had beaten up one of his players.

    As I wrote in the 2009 updated edition of “You Gotta Have Wa,” Okamoto had angrily slugged a rookie shortstop for making an error that let in two runs, knocking him to the ground. As the player curled up into a ball on the dugout floor, the farm team manager continued to beat him and the youth simply accepted it because that was the way things were done.

    Hillman went to the Nippon Ham GM threatening to resign if the organization continued to tolerate any more of that type of behavior. The next day, the farm team manager appeared in Hillman’s office, bowing deeply, apologizing.

    He told Hillman that he hadn’t been able to help himself, that his behavior was the result of the way he himself had been trained in high school.

    In 2008, the aforementioned Hoshino, who was then managing the Japan Olympic baseball squad, was interviewed on CNN about his methods of disciplining players.

    He was asked, “Is it true you once hit a player so hard he couldn’t eat for a week?”

    Hoshino replied, “Yes. But it was necessary. . . . It’s a kind of tough love. . . . We are a family. If you look at a certain incidents, you may see some unbelievable violence, but you must look at the whole picture. There is a tremendous deep love that is shown above anything else. I admire the American way. Their coaches are very cheerful and encouraging. . . . But in Japan, we have our own way.”

    Not all professional coaches in Japan abuse their young players this way. Taibatsu is, in fact, illegal. However, it is unfortunately quite common throughout the school system in Japan.

    More than once I have seen a manager line up his players after a game, make them remove their caps and cuff the ones who had made mistakes in the game.

    I wrote about a couple of memorable incidents in You Gotta Have Wa. One was about a regional high school game, in the summer of 1983, in which a manager went out to the mound and slapped his pitcher for giving up a couple of runs. “Pull yourself together,” he growled.

    Later the youngster thanked the coach in front of the TV cameras for having brought him back to his senses.

    “Being hit by my manager made me realize the situation we were in,” he said, “so I was able to throw my best for the rest of the game.”

    Another occurred during the 1987 National High School Baseball Tournament at Koshien Stadium when the manager of the Saga Prefectural High School of Technology and Engineering team discovered several of his players up late at night past the curfew talking in the kitchen of the ryokan where the team was staying. He whacked each of them over the head with the grip end of an aluminum bat, cutting the scalps of two of the boys.

    It was a big story in the media for a time. The principal apologized to the Japan High School Baseball Federation and the manager was suspended for a year. But he came back to his job as powerful and respected as ever.

    Every year, it seems, there are similar occurrences. In February, the Japan Student Baseball Association handed down suspensions for 20 different acts of violence in high school baseball clubs. One of them involved the manager of the Fuji Gakuen High School team in Yamanashi Prefecture, who was found to have whacked players over the head with helmets, slapped them in the face and employed the ketsu batto technique.

    Said the manager, to reporters, “I was just trying to teach them something.”

    Another high school baseball manager, this one at Kashiwanittai High School baseball team in Chiba, slapped several first-year students for committing crimes such as arriving late to practice and riding two on a bicycle.

    The suspensions ranged anywhere from one month to six months and not one manager lost his job.

    Well-known sportswriter Masayuki Tamaki has called taibatsu “the disease of Japanese baseball.” He said, “The worst thing I ever saw was a high school manager explode at an infielder during a practice session for making several errors.

    “The coach made the player stand 10 feet (3 meters) away and drop his glove and then hit a barrage of screaming line drives at him, 19 in all, I counted, that ripped into his chest, abdomen and legs. When the coach was finished, the player bowed and said thank you to him, which was the typical reaction in such cases. It made me sick.”

    Hazing by senpai (upperclassmen), who often act as surrogate disciplinarians of their kohai (lower classmen) is also systemic and involves a variety of tortures.

    Ichiro Suzuki, as a 10th-grader on his high school club, was forced to kneel on the rim of a lidless garbage can for an extended period of time as punishment for overcooking the rice in the team dormitory.

    On other occasions he had to kneel with a bat between his calves and buttocks. He described these sessions as unbearably painful.

    Such practices may continue into the pros. In last year’s Japan Series, we were treated to the sight of Giants catcher and captain Shinnosuke Abe striding out to the mound and slapping second-year pitcher Hirokazu Sawamura in the head to scold him for a lapse in control.

    “Snap out of it!” he yelled. It was all on nationwide TV.

    Sawamura’s reaction?

    An embarrassed smile.

    Such occurrences are difficult to imagine in the United States, where the inevitable result would be a fistfight. But in Japan they have been a part of many a team’s standard operating procedure.

    Taibatsu in baseball starts early. Star slugger Hideki Matsui once said that one of the most valuable experiences of his school days was when a junior high school coach slapped him for throwing his bat.

    I live right across the road from a Little League field in Toyosu, and while I have yet to see any physically abuse behavior, I have seen coaches will shout out insults like “Omae wa dame da!” (damn you) “Bakayaro!” (idiot) as part of the daily routine.

    Former Giants pitcher Masumi Kuwata, now an outspoken opponent of taibatsu in Japanese sports, said that he had been hit by coaches during his elementary school career more times than he can remember.

    Of course, the United States has had its share of abusive coaches. I remember my high school baseball coach would hit us in the crotch with a baseball bat to see if we were wearing our protective cups.

    Our football coach used to slap his players. This was in a small town in Northern California before the 1986 law prohibiting corporal punishment was passed. California is now one of 31 states to have such a law. Nineteen states, in the southern U.S., from Arizona to Florida, have yet to pass such a law.

    Indeed, anthropologist Aaron Miller argues in his new book, “Discourses of Discipline: An Anthropology of Corporal Punishment in Japan’s Schools and Sports,” that Japan is no more, or less, a violent culture than anywhere else in the world.

    There is no single view of violence in Japan. Japan has as much diversity of thought opinion and practice in Japan as in any other nation and to say the Japanese are violent — or non-violent — is erroneous.”

    What makes Japan different from the U.S., if I can very loosely generalize here, is that Japanese coaches are more militaristic.

    As the aforementioned Tamaki says, “In Japan, regardless of whether the coach and player are professionals or amateurs, their relationships in the Japanese sports world are characterized by a strong top-down hierarchy of command and obedience.”

    Thus the coaches tend to put themselves above the players and act like drill sergeants, demanding uniformity from their charges while with Americans (again to generalize), the coach is more of an instructor or adviser — someone who works with and alongside the player and who allows more freedom and flexibility in an individual athlete’s routine.

    This is why you can see even the youngest rookie in America address his MLB manager by his first name.

    “Hey Davey, how is it going?” you might hear a rookie say to Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson.

    Seldom in Japan. It is usually with hat off and (often shaven) head bowed that rookies address the manager. Similar behavior is seen in relationships between senior and junior and relationships between teacher and pupil.

    There is another difference as well. Whereas in the U.S. sports were traditionally played for enjoyment and release of tension — at least on an amateur level — in Japan, generally speaking, the idea of athletics for fun was a foreign concept.

    The martial arts, which were the primary form of athletics in Japan before the introduction of foreign sports in the Meiji Era (1868-1912), were a tool of education, designed to build physical strength and character, based on the idea that one must suffer to be good.

    There were 200 samurai academies at the time of the Meiji Restoration teaching the martial arts, among other things.

    Taibatsu was also a feature of the apprenticeship system in old Japan and of Zen Buddhism as well, if not necessarily a feature of society in general.

    But taibatsu in Japanese sports is a legacy of the martial arts which date back to the 16th century and which by their very nature involved a lot of physical punishment.

    Do the kata wrong in kendo practice and you could get a crack on the head with a bamboo sword. Do the kata wrong in jujitsu practice and you got boxed in the ear. In sumo, of course, it was the same, with its use of the shinai. And in Zen Buddhism as well.

    There was also a focus on endless training that was designed to make one surpass the bounds of one’s physical and mental endurance, and this could also be viewed as a kind of taibatsu.

    Swordsmanship master Tesshu Yamaoka, a former samurai who was an official in the court of Emperor Meiji, opened a kendo school in Tokyo in 1880, in which students had to fight two consecutive full days of 200 matches each to reach the first level.

    The day was 16 hours long, starting at 4 a.m. and ending at 8 p.m. They fought against 20 opponents who were permitted to rest and attack in rotation. Three such days of 200 matches each were required to reach Stage 2, seven days of 200 matches each to reach Stage 3 and 1,000 days of 100 matches each to reach Stage 4.

    Judo clubs held monthlong winter camps where participants rose at 4 a.m. for a barefoot run of several miles on frozen ground, followed by several hours of workouts.

    Part 2

    Severe sports training methods became taibatsu in time
    by Robert Whiting

    Special To The Japan Times

    Jun 2, 2013

    Second in a two-part series

    The martial arts were the inspiration for the famous baseball team at the First Higher School of Tokyo, a late 19th century powerhouse that helped make yakyu, as baseball came to be known, the national sport of Japan.

    Ichiko, as the First Higher School of Tokyo, was also known, was an elite prep school, with its students in the 18-22 age range. There were five such Higher Schools in Japan. Graduates went on to the Imperial University, from which the future movers and shakers of Japan emerged. The majority of the students in these school came from samurai families.

    Ichiko’s practice regimen, developed by the students themselves, included year-round training every day and intensive summer and winter camps.

    It was nicknamed “bloody urine” for it was said that the players practiced so hard they urinated blood at the end of the day.

    On the Ichiko practice field, it was forbidden to use the word itai (ouch) because that was considered a sign of weakness. If you got whacked in the face with a ball and it really hurt, then you were allowed to use the word kayui (it itches).

    In one drill designed to hone fighting spirit, which, as we have seen, would be carried down through the ages a pitcher stood a mere 6 meters away from home plate and fired fastballs with all his might at a catcher who wore no protection. By the end of the exercise, the pitcher was exhausted and the catcher’s body black and blue.

    Students wrote in their memoirs that they were channeling the spirit of the samurai warriors of old.

    It is also worth noting perhaps that the Ichiko students in the general student body had their own kind of taibatsu (corporal punishment).

    If a student behaved in a way that disgraced the school by, say, public drunkenness or paying too much attention to his looks so as to attract a member of the opposite sex, he was called to an evening torchlight council of his peers where he was punished with a severe beating. Fellow students lined up and took turns punching him in the face.

    In 1918, famed Waseda manager Suishu Tobita incorporated the Ichiko way of endless training and development of spirit into his practice routine and won many championships. He was famous for saying, “Student baseball must be more than just a hobby. In many cases it must be a baseball of savage pain and a baseball practice of savage treatment.”

    Tobita would make his players field ground balls until they dropped, or as Tobita himself described it, “until they were half- dead, motionless, and froth was coming out of their mouths.” His system came to be known as shi no renshu (death training).”

    Said Tobita, whose managerial methods greatly influenced the way baseball was played in Japan for generations to come, “A manager has to love his players, but on the practice field he must treat them as cruelly as possible, even though he may be crying about it inside. That is the key to winning baseball. If the players do not try so hard as to vomit blood in practice, then they cannot hope to win games. One must suffer to be good.”

    In this way the line between hard training and taibatsu in Japanese sports was blurred. Which was worse, a slap on the face or being forced to field ground balls to the point you were half-dead and froth was coming out of your mouth?

    The use of taibatsu was also reinforced by the militarists who assumed control of the school system in the decades leading up to World War II, instituting aspects of martial arts training into the education of Japanese students, including a more militaristic senpai-kohai (upperclassmen-lowerclassmen) system, military music and army-style training for everyone.

    This issue of violence of sports has popped up periodically since I first came to Japan.

    I remember when the big sports story at that time was of the coach of the 1964 Tokyo Olympic women’s volleyball team, Hirofumi Daimatsu of the national champ Nichibo Spinning Co. team, known as the “ogre” for his savage training methods.

    He worked the girls every evening, making them practice after office hours from 4:30 p.m. to midnight with only one 15-minute break. A typical practice routine was the “receive,” a tumbling acrobatic maneuver where the girls had to dive to the floor to retrieve the ball and keep doing it, again, and again, and again, until they couldn’t get up anymore.

    When they reached the point of exhaustion, the coach would say, “Dame. Omae wa yameta hoo ga ii.” (“You’re no good. You ought to quit.”) Everyone seems to agree it was a form of torture, whether or not slaps and kicks were included, but the “Witches of the Orient” as Daimatsu’s girls were known, won a gold medal with that method and Daimatsu became a national hero.

    Captain Masae Kasai, a 31-year-old who broke her engagement to train for the Olympics, led the charge, as the women’s team beat Russia so badly in the finals that the Muscovite ladies locked themselves in their dressing room for a good cry.

    One of the most popular TV shows of the late 1960s and early ’70s was the animated series “Kyojin No Hoshi” (Star of the Giants) about an impoverished boy named Hoshi Hyuuma who undergoes years of brutal daily training and beatings by his father during Japan’s postwar years in order to develop the physical skills and, more important, the spirit required to be a pitcher for the Yomiuri Giants.

    Konjo was, and is, the sine qua non of a good athlete for it was (and still is) believed that superior mental strength and willpower could overcome any perceived deficiencies in physical power, and no measures in the pursuit of that end were considered too extreme, including beatings for they helped a player overcome his “natural predilection for laziness,” as Tetsuharu Kawakami, who managed the Giants to nine straight Japan championships 1965-73, liked to put it.

    The harsh training methods of the Giants, featured in a positive light in the “Kyojin No Hoshi” series, received a black eye in 1973 because of the death of a 20-year-old pitcher name Toshiko Yuguchi. Yuguchi, unable to tolerate the daily physical and verbal abuse he underwent as a farm team player in the Kawakami system, suffered a nervous breakdown and entered a mental hospital where he suddenly died.

    The cause of death was ruled heart failure, but the magazine Shukan Post conducted an investigation and concluded it was a suicide.

    Although Kawakami and Giants farm team pitching coach Hiroshi Nakao were heavily criticized in some media outlets, neither resigned and the Giants’ system of “education” went on as before.

    In soccer, it was much the same. Sadao Konuma was the coach at Teikyo High School, and was very successful in that role.

    He wrote a book called “Learn From Soccer,” published in 1983 by Kodansha Ltd., in which he wrote, “When I was young, I used my hand before my mouth . . . and my fist used to be swollen from punching them so much. . . . Admonishment is education and hitting is education. Even if the means are different, the aim of correcting the students is the same. But I am not good at arguing verbally why things are right and wrong — like why cigarettes are OK for adults but not for schoolboys.”

    To punish older boys who beat up younger ones, he would force them to sit in the seiza position, and then he would hit them in turn. On one occasion he broke his hand doing this. He recalled that after a while his reputation was such that no one dared misbehave and he was only hitting boys once a year or so.

    A major story during the 1980s involved the Totsuka Yachting School, a private institution designed to improve the antisocial behavior of children with emotional problems enrolled in the school by their parents through the use of extreme discipline. The school’s founder and headmaster was a former top yachtsman named Hiroshi Totsuka. After two children died and another two went missing, presumed drowned, because of harsh treatment, Totsuka was sent to prison for injury resulting in death.

    But when he emerged, six years later, he picked up right where he left off, insisting his method of education was not abuse. The only change in his operating method is that now he lets the older trainers beat younger students rather than do it himself. In the past seven years, there have been three suicides and one drowning at his school.

    Then there was the 2007 case involving sumo stablemaster Tokitsukaze, who was sentenced to prison for five years for ordering the use of violence on a 17-year-old wrestler named Tokitaizan to “educate him” and instill some spirit in him.

    As a result, three senior sumo wrestlers took to beating the young wrestler regularly. They would strike him with beer bottles, a metal baseball bat and other objects. He was beaten so badly that he eventually died of a heart attack.

    The media attention and public concern that surrounds these such cases invariably dies down, however, and life goes on as before. Taibasu continued.

    A great many Japanese have experienced taibatsu in one form or another while growing up and they say, “I went through it.” “I turned out OK.” “It’s good.” “It will help my kid grow up.”

    Tokitaizan, in fact, complained to his parents about the abuse and twice ran away from the stable, but in each case they persuaded him to go back.

    In “Discourses of Discipline: An Anthropology of Corporal Punishment in Japan’s Schools and Sports,” anthropologist Aaron Miller writes of a 52-year old Kyoto volleyball coach who once threw a chair at his players yet was named “Super Teacher” by the Kyoto volleyball coaches.

    As a detective in the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department and himself a martial arts expert, told me last month “You can’t teach kendo, judo or karate without taibatsu. That’s how you reprimand students for poor performance.”

    “But,” he said referring to the recent well-known case involving Japanese women’s judoka who complained of taibatsu against them at a training camp prior to the London Olympics, “you should never hit a girl.”

    Most recently in baseball we have had the story of Dave Okubo the former Seibu Lions coach.

    Okubo was fired by Seibu in 2009 because he assaulted 19-year-old pitcher Yusei Kikuchi while coaching him on the farm team.

    Okubo had roughed Kikuchi up because Kikuchi had the effrontery to complain about being fined ¥100,000 for showing up late to the “early work” segment of a joint voluntary training session.

    (As Okubo explained to the young pitching prospect, in Japanese pro baseball the word “voluntary” usually means compulsory.)

    Upon being fired, Okubo sued Seibu, insisting that his method of teaching was entirely “appropriate” and did not warrant his dismissal. His case went all the way to the Supreme Court.

    Okubo lost at each step in the process and after the final ruling was handed down, according to the Shukan Post, tried to commit suicide as a result but was saved by his wife and children.

    Now, interestingly, he is at Rakuten, managed by Senichi Hoshino, known for his tough training and, of course, his own history of abuse.

    I personally have tended to think many analysts I know believe that the taibatsu system is too deeply ingrained in Japan to be rooted out. A recent NHK survey found that 40 percent of all secondary schools in Japan have experienced violence, while a survey taken in February this year by the former Giants pitcher Masumi Kuwata of 270 active professional baseball players revealed that 46 percent had been physically punished in high school by their managers and 45 percent in junior high school.

    Fifty-one percent had been punched or hit by their senpai in high school and 36 percent in junior high school. What’s more, 83 percent said it was sometimes necessary.

    As former pro ballplayer Kazushige Nagashima put it, somewhat awkwardly, “We may have been smacked in the butt by bats and bottles and otherwise physically disciplined at those levels. But we felt there was real love there.”

    Speaker of the House of Representatives Bunmei Ibuki, 75, declared recently, in a lecture to a study group of LDP politicians in Gifu City, “If we forbid corporal punishment, education becomes impossible . . . in order to raise a human being, there are times when, from the time of childhood, beatings must be administered.”

    But change does occur, as the above-mentioned Okubo case would indicate.

    In truth, there have been no reports of either he or Hoshino slugging anyone in Sendai recently.

    Trey Hillman and Bobby Valentine, former managers of the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters and Chiba Lotte Marines, have shown how to win championships in Japan with a softer, gentler approach, as have mangers in J. League.

    The use of the 1,000-fungo drill has decreased. And I am told by reporters who cover sumo that the use of the shinai (bamboo stick) and bokuto have been eliminated from the sumo stables in the wake of the Tokitaizan death.

    Said a veteran Tokyo-based lawyer, an acquaintance of mine with long experience in social litigation, who prefers to remain anonymous, “What’s different is not the taibatsu level — that’s existed for decades. What’s changed is the recipients. Japanese males today are being feminized. They carry around handbags with as many cosmetics in them as women do. They use eyebrow liner, curl their hair in the gym and remove facial hair through electrolysis.

    “There is an over-sensitivity to physical contact and they have lost the ability to take punishment and fight back. Maybe it’s because people are having smaller families. One or two kids instead of four or five. Little Taro is overprotected.

    “A 50-year chart of the Japanese male will show, I believe, a decline of testosterone. Maybe what Japan needs is conscription.”

    Moreover, while Japanese have traditionally eschewed litigation in such matters, in contrast to Americans, that too has been changing.

    There may also be more traction now because of the recent well-publicized incidents of taibatsu involving the female judoka, which came on the heels of the suicide in December of the Sakuranomiya Senior High School basketball captain in Osaka who had been repeatedly beaten by his coach.

    But I have a suspicion that the increased attention on the part of the authorities is mainly because Japan’s bid for the 2020 Olympics has put the issue and the nation under international scrutiny. So has a recent report by the Japan Judo Accident Victims Association showing that over a 29-year period from 1983, 118 students died as a result of judo accidents in Japanese junior and senior high schools (60 percent of them from brain injury). This is six times higher than any other sport in Japanese high schools and compares most unfavorably to zero judo deaths in sports clubs in the U.S. and Europe.

    Whether this will be a drastic lead to permanent change remains to be seen. But for now, I remain cautiously pessimistic.

    The trick is to determine in modern society where hard training ends and assault or violence, which is and always has been a criminal offense in Japan, begins. And that is not an easy thing.


    Other Japan Times articles by Robert Whiting here:

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