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2013年8月23日 (金)

全柔連新体制 子供たちが胸を張れるように

The Yomiuri Shimbun August 23, 2013
editorial 2/ Judo circles must revamp so little judoka can learn pride
全柔連新体制 子供たちが胸を張れるように(8月22日付・読売社説)

A change of leadership appeared to have come too late for the All Japan Judo Federation, which must hasten its reforms and regain the public’s trust, which has been lost over a series of scandals.

On Wednesday, the federation’s 23 directors, including President Haruki Uemura, resigned en masse, and Shoji Muneoka, chairman and chief executive officer of Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp., succeeded Uemura.

It marks the first time that the federation’s president has been neither a descendant of Jigoro Kano, the founder of judo, nor an Olympic medalist.

The judo world has witnessed a shocking series of scandals, including the alleged physical abuse of female judoka on a national team by a former head coach, misappropriation of a hefty sum of subsidies from the Japan Sports Council and sexual assault on a former female judoka by a director.

When a third-party panel that investigated the allegations of physical violence on the female judoka urged the federation’s top executives to resign to take responsibility over the spate of scandals, they refused to do so, showing an inability to reform themselves.

Uemura in particular lacked leadership ability as the head of the organization. Postponing his resignation, he said he would carry out the appropriate reforms as his mission, but failed to come up with any actual measures.

What seems most pathetic is that Uemura announced his intention to step down only after the Cabinet Office, which has jurisdiction over the federation and other public interest corporations, issued an ultimatum calling for the federation to revamp its entire organizational structure by the end of August.

Closed nature

At a press conference on Wednesday, incoming President Muneoka criticized the Uemura regime for having maintained “practices out of touch with common sense,” and said he would aim at creating a more transparent organization. He also indicated that he would establish a reform panel tasked with reinforcing governance.

It has been pointed out that the closed nature of the federation, where past achievements such as Olympic performance and even old school ties often hold sway, has served as a breeding ground for a self-serving logic greatly lacking in common sense.

We hope Muneoka wields a caliber of leadership cultivated through his business world experience and pushes through with reforms.

Yasuhiro Chikaishi, former chief of the Osaka prefectural police and Muneoka’s junior in the judo club at the University of Tokyo, their alma mater, has been appointed a senior director to serve as Muneoka’s right-hand man. It is also worth noting that Kaori Yamaguchi has been made an auditor, responsible for supervising the duties of directors. Yamaguchi, a former female judoka, has supported those female judoka who accused the former head coach of physical abuse.

We hope the judo world will become, as new Vice President Yasuhiro Yamashita put it, “one where those children practicing judo can hold their heads up high.”

There is also an issue of misappropriated subsidies totaling ¥60.55 million, which the sports council ordered the federation to return.

To make up for a shortfall in funds to cover the subsidies they were asked to return, the former leadership sought “donations” from coaches, including those responsible for training top athletes and having no connections whatsoever to the allegations of mishandled funds. This plan should be reviewed. Any measure that would obscure where true responsibilities lie should not be allowed. The federation must claim damage compensation from those who were actually involved in the illicit activities.

Also questionable is the fact that Uemura, despite his resignation from the federation’s presidency, will remain as the president of the Kodokan Judo Institute, which promotes the martial art by activities such as certifying judoka’s ranks.

The institute is an organization closely connected with the federation, tasked to train top judoka and send them to international competitions. Should Uemura retain his influence in the judo world, the public will continue to cast a critical eye on him.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 22, 2013)
(2013年8月22日01時22分  読売新聞)


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