The high school basketball coach who assaulted one of his players who then killed himself the next day was sentenced by the court to one year imprisonment, which the Osaka District Court suspended for three years. Presiding judge Kenta Onodera said the ex-teacher “blindly believed” that physical punishment was the best way to discipline his students, despite repeated complaints from the parents of his students.
47-year-old Hajime Komura admitted to hitting the 17-year-old high school student, and during the trial, he admitted his guilt, saying he hopes to carry this burden for the rest of his life as he reflects on his actions. The boy committed suicide on December 23 and left a note for the coach, saying he couldn’t endure the discipline being meted out to him. After his death, Komura approached the family to apologize for what he did, but charges were still brought against him. The prosecutor said during the sentencing hearing that the “blame must be placed squarely on your shoulders” because he was in a position of authority and he “perpetrated violence against a young person in your care.” The judge was also quoted as saying what he did was unreasonable and that the student’s suicide reflected the mental and physical anguish he was going through because of the coach’s actions.
There has been much attention to violence in sports in Japan ever since this case came out. In January, the national women’s judo team coach was discovered to have beaten his athletes with a bamboo sword and emotionally torturing them as well during training. Then just earlier this month, world gold medalist and judo champion Shohei Ono was suspended from his university together with his other teammates for physically abusing some members of the squad as part of an “initiation” process. Last week, a volleyball coach was caught on video repeatedly slapping his student and it went viral quickly, prompting the school to “consider” punishing the teacher for his actions.