Hi Blog. Debito.org reported in May 2007 how the All Japan High School Athletic Federation banned NJ runners from participating in the first leg of the HS championships.
Now the restrictions are spreading to other sports. As is always the case, once you can get away with discrimination in one sector, others copycat, as can be seen in the spread nationwide of exclusionary JAPANESE ONLY signs on multiple business sectors.
It’s long been a policy (with some recent loosening of restrictions) in the Kokutai National Sports Festivals. So if it happens in a tax-funded national event where people can qualify for something serious like the Olympics, it’s a credible enough rule that any amateur league can mimic. And clearly have.
Gotta feel sorry for all those NJ kids going to high school in Japan, and by dint of their birth, they are told they aren’t allowed to do their best in sports. Kinda defeats the purpose of these events, wouldn’tcha think?
But I don’t think the organizers of these events really understand what “being sporting” is all about. To them sports are great, as long as Japanese win. These twits should look what’s going on in Sumo… Or actually, perhaps they are. Arudou Debito in Sapporo
Groups try to level playing field by limiting foreign players
06/29/2007 THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
Thanks to Trans Pacific Radio for notifying me.
The slogan of high school sport associations could be: If you can’t beat ’em, ban ’em.
The associations have introduced tough restrictions on foreign students because they are trouncing the Japanese athletes in sports such as the ekiden relay marathon, basketball and table tennis.
The restrictions followed protests from Japanese fans who say the superior ability of the foreign students is making the sporting events dull.
In May, the All Japan High School Athletic Federation decided to ban foreign students from running the first leg in the All Japan High School Ekiden Championships, which is held in Kyoto every December.
For the boys’ division, the total course of 42.195 kilometers is split into seven legs, with the 10-km first section the longest.
In the championships in December 2006, four Kenyan students ran in the first leg. The slowest Kenyan was still 30 seconds faster than the quickest Japanese runner.
Sumio Shokawa, secretary-general of the All Japan High School Athletic Federation’s track and field division, said an ekiden fan sent an e-mail complaining: “No Japanese students are shown on TV. That was like an African championship.”
Another disgruntled e-mailer told Shokawa: “The schools bring the foreign students here just to publicize the names of their schools. They are not suitable for high school sport competitions.”
In the past few years at the ekiden championships, fans of Japanese athletes gather at the Nishi-Kyogoku track and field ground in Kyoto to protest to the participation of foreign students.
The number of foreign students is increasing in other sports, much to the chagrin of many locals.
According to the high school athletic federation, 293 foreign students were registered in 32 prefectures in 2006.
As the number of foreign students has grown, so have the number of restrictions.
In basketball, for example, a school can have only one foreign student on the court. In soccer, only two foreign students from the same school are allowed on the pitch at the same time.
Senegalese students are drawing attention in basketball.
Noshiro Technical High School in Akita Prefecture, which has won the national high school championships as many as 20 times, was defeated by schools with Senegalese students in the past two years.
In the 2005 championships, the finals pitted Fukuoka Dai-ichi High School in Fukuoka Prefecture against Nobeoka Gakuen High School in Miyazaki Prefecture. Both teams had Senegalese students taller than 2 meters.
Foreign high school students who play table tennis are mainly from China.
Over the past 15 years, Chinese students have won the national inter-high school championships eight times in the boys’ singles division and 11 times in the girls’ singles division.
Currently, a school can have only one foreign student on its table-tennis team. In addition, foreign students cannot be on the same side for doubles matches.
Some have doubts on the restrictions on foreign students. They say the Japanese students should just work harder.
One is Shinya Iwamoto, coach of the track team at Sera Senior High School in Hiroshima Prefecture.
The prefectural school, which has accepted Kenyan students since 2002, won the national high school ekiden championships in 2006 for the first time in 32 years.
“Kenyan students are making greater efforts than their Japanese counterparts,” Iwamoto said. “Their attitudes have raised the level of the entire team.”(IHT/Asahi: June 29,2007)