"Japan, at the edge of explosion"
In L'Esprit du Judo n°43, we look at, in depth, the crisis that has engulfed Japanese judo, here are the main articles translated in English.
The second Olympic Champion at the Barcelona games, she is now a teacher at the Shizuoka University. A committed woman in the cause of the safety of the young judokas whose free speech makes a lot of noise in Japan.
Noriko, what do you think of the situation ?
First of all, the people in place, Uemura especially, have been in place for a long time. The situation, and the mindset of Japanese judo’s have been fossilised for years now ! Mr. Uemura was already NTD twenty years ago… The recent scandals are unfortunately the reflection of a catastrophic policy led by a couple of men who have concentrated power to themselves.
The revelations are taking on enormous proportions in Japan…
The whole of Japanese society is waking up and is shocked by what it is seeing and it won’t allow it any longer. Violence is part of Japanese judo. When I was about 12 years old, a friend of mine, Suzuki died after a training course. According to my research and my crusade for a different teaching approach which has no place for violence, there have been 118 deaths in 28 years. It starts really early with shime-waza between kids in the Dojos. Besides, all the families have won comopensation when they went to the courts.
Were you ever brutalised when you were an athlete ?
No, neither when I was in a public school in Saitama, but I witnessed this hardness. Recently, the conditions became more difficult because of stress and need for results at a high-level.
What are the elements that you think need to be changed ?
Uemura must resign, and all the other members of the board, this seems to be the minimum considering all the scandals including the subsidy misappropiation. This totalitarian regime has to give way to a new democratically elected Committee. During a crisis meeting in March, Sato said that the board resigning and elections were the solution and that it couldn’t go on this way. On the other hand Yukimitsu Kano tried to convince everyone that nothing had to change, that Uemura should stay, if only to keep the little power he had left. Finally the whole trainers training system must be changed to be able to teach children. Taking an overall view, things are serious, it is time to react, it’s a matter of life and death for the Japanese judo.
Will you seek election for renewing Japanese judo ?
No, - well, not directly. Someone like Kaori Yamaguchi has legitimate ambitions, I also think that Yasuhiro Yamashita must take sides and commit himself to it. He has the standing for it and the means to overcome the squabbles between the Tsukuba, Meiji and Tokai universities. I want to be free and to explain that knowing what happens outside Japan helps us grow, even if it’s not necessarily better, to help us have a proper look ourselves and to understand what is important and what isn’t. Those who will be at the head of Japanese judo must take care of it but also open it up to the rest of the world.
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