01/05/2011, 00.00
JAPAN
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Alarm in Japan for child judo deaths

Families are concerned, especially now that the government wants to make the martial art compulsory in all schools by 2012. The Parents' Association Japan Judo Accident Victims demands precise safety standards. Since 1983 at least 110 have died during training, victims of a "military culture" imposed by ignorant instructors on young students.

Tokyo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - According to research, on average four children die during judo classes every year in Japan. The dramatic statistics worry parents, especially now that the country is to make the sport compulsory in schools as of 2012.

The parents' association Japan Judo Accident Victims is urging the government to impose strict safety rules on judo lessons in schools. The organization was created in March 2010 by Yoshihiro Murakawa. The man is convinced that his grandson Koji, 12, died as a result of a "reckless" training session. Murakawa said: "Many factors are involved here. First of all, many judo instructors at Japanese schools are too ignorant about what to do when a serious incident occurs". He also criticized those teachers who neglect simple safety measures, such as the right to grant rest to the children.

Koji's mother had warned the judo master of the child’s asthma problems when she signed him up for the course in a school in Shiga Prefecture (Kansai region, in the centre of Honshu island). In 2009, the boy lost consciousness during a randori (a simulation of combat) against larger partners, despite his obvious fatigue. Koji went into a coma and died a month later. Mr. Murakawa’s complaint is not against the martial art in itself, but a "military culture" imposed by judo masters, that allows for punches and kicks as a method of teaching a rigid discipline to students. "The children - he said - for fear of being beaten must respect their coach, and never ask to rest".

According to research conducted by Ryo Uchida, a professor at Aichi University of Education, since 1983 at least 110 children were killed while practicing judo. Between 2009 and 2010, as reported by a local newspaper, some 13 children have died. The latest case occurred last November and involved a child of six years of age.

“Judo is an inspiring sport and very educative to one’s mind,” Uchida said. “But schools must have a safety guideline "

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