The corporal punishment of youth is a controversial practice across all human societies, and two recent tragedies in Japan have brought the issue back into the public spotlight. In January 2013, a young boy in Osaka committed suicide after being beaten by his basketball coach, and just a few weeks later news surfaced that Japan’s National Women’s Judo coach had been abusing his players in advance of the 2012 London Olympics. The young Osaka boy was the captain of his team and had been pushed too hard by his coach, and the judo coach defended his actions by saying that he felt a lot of pressure to bring home a gold medal. These two recent incidents have rekindled a longstanding debate over the proper limits of physical discipline in Japanese sports, and they also force us to reconsider the continued use of corporal punishment in Japanese schools. The speakers on this panel – two prominent journalists and a scholar of sports and education – will discuss the diverse viewpoints regarding this practice: by some accounts, an effective tool of proper guidance, by others, a violent violation of human rights.
Robert Whiting is the author of several books on Japan including You Gotta Have Wa (MacMillan, Vintage Departures), a work on Japanese society as seen through its adopted sport of baseball, The Meaning of Ichiro (Warner Books, Grand Central), about Japanese ballplayers in America, and Tokyo Underworld (Pantheon, Vintage), a book about organized crime in Japan and the corrupt side of the U.S.-Japan relationship.
Tamaki Masayuki is a journalist, novelist, and popular sports and music critic who has written more than 20 books. A graduate of Tokyo University, Tamaki has also taught at various universities and contributed frequently to various Japanese television shows. Although his writing has spanned subjects far and wide, Tamaki’s principal publications that regard sports are: Supootsu to ha nani ka (The Meaning of Sports, Kodansha) and Supootsu kaitai shinsho (A New Deconstruction of Sports, Asahi Shinbunsha).
Aaron Miller, Ph.D.
Aaron L. Miller, PhD, is Assistant Professor and Hakubi Scholar, Kyoto University Graduate School of Education, and Visiting Scholar, Stanford University Center on Adolescence. Miller is a socio-cultural anthropologist who has written widely about sports and educational issues, especially in Japan and the United States. His forthcoming book, entitled Discourses of Discipline: An Anthropology of Corporal Punishment in Japan’s Schools and Sports, will appear from the Institute for East Asian Studies, UC Berkeley, this spring. His website, where digital copies of his research can be downloaded, is http://www.aaronlmiller.com/.