Four die each year in judo lessons in Japan: study

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Four die each year in judo lessons in Japan: study

TOKYO - Research showing that an average of four children die each year during judo lessons in Japan has alarmed some parents as the country prepares to introduce martial arts as a compulsory school sport.

Yoshihiro Murakawa is one of those concerned about the government’s plan, because he is convinced his 12-year-old nephew died in a reckless judo practice. The Japan Judo Accident Victims Association, which Murakawa helped create with other families last March, has urged the government to set safety guidelines for judo at school.

“Many factors are involved here,” Murakawa said of his nephew Koji’s death during judo club training to the AFP. “First of all, many judo instructors at Japanese schools are too ignorant about what to do when a serious incident occurs.”

At least 110 children were killed in school judo practice over 27 years from 1983, according to research by Ryo Uchida, an assistant professor at Aichi University of Education.

In 2009 and 2010 alone, 13 children have died, and the latest case, involving a 6-year-old boy, occurred in November, a local newspaper reported. Parents have been alarmed by the statistics because Japan plans to introduce traditional martial arts, including judo, as a required subject for boys and girls at middle schools beginning in 2012.

Judo has long been seen as a tool for training young Japanese minds and bodies.

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