February 5, 2013

An admirable aspect of sports in Japan is teamwork and the commitment to shared success. At any time, opponents respect and help each other, while still locked in sportsmanlike competition. They raise their own level of competition by encouraging each other.

Recently, however, cases of violence committed by adults in charge of sports programs, including involving the Japanese women’s national judo team, have come to light. This is extremely regrettable, and such practices must not be allowed to occur.

I regard these recent incidents as the most critical in the history of Japanese sports. An urgent and vital necessity now is to build together with everyone in the sports world an environment in which not one athlete is abandoned and all athletes can fulfill their aspirations. I want to send this as a message to all athletes, persons involved in sports in some professional capacity, and the nation’s citizens.

As declared in the Basic Act on Sports, the overall aim of sports in an original sense is the development of sound minds and bodies, the maintenance of health and physical strength, and the cultivation of the spirit. Sports is the culture of universal humanity, and violence has no place in it.

The Olympic Charter also rejects violence in sports in any form. It stipulates respect for the spirit of non-violence and fair play by coaches and athletes.

I believe that the sports world must unite in its efforts to return to the basic principle of eliminating violence from sports training so that this problem can be promptly resolved with the standpoint of the athletes foremost in mind.

To do this, we will thoroughly investigate this situation, including not only judo but also other competitive sports. We must look anew directly at reality to find out if we have overlooked violence under the name of sports discipline and training.

In this regard, we must give thorough guidance to sports coaches and instructors that violence must be eliminated. In order to make sure they will have the capability to instruct our next generations based on suitable coaching techniques and the latest sports medicine and science without reverting to violence, it will be essential to improve education and training for them.

Moreover, we must also move forward with the establishment of standards and means for all sports bodies and organizations, such as the setting up of consultation channels and hotlines, to ensure governance compliance.

In addition, to make certain we have environments where athletes can devote themselves to practicing and fully developing their skills, mechanisms need to be in place allowing them to consult with an impartial third party if a problem does arise.

I intend to exert all efforts for the enactment of a “Sports Training Methods Suitable for a New Era” to ensure that the sports world will be united in promptly putting into place the kinds of mechanisms referred to above.

In conjunction with these reforms, I would like each and every sports coach and instructor to once again be fully aware of their important mission and great responsibility, and take the initiative in eradicating violence from sports.

I call for the cooperation of every citizen and every person involved in sports to commit themselves to creating in the truest sense “a robust world of sports in Japan,” which is based on the kinds of bonds of trust the Japanese people cherish, with the readiness to reject violence in any form.

Hakubun Shimomura
Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology
February 5, 2013

(Competitive Sports Division)