TAKARAZUKA, Hyogo — A teacher at a junior high school in this west Japan city was arrested Oct. 12 on suspicion of assault, after two first-grade students in the school judo club he supervises were subject to serious and minor injuries, respectively, including broken bones as punishment for unpermitted behavior.
Takahiro Ueno, 50, a teacher at Takarazuka Municipal Nagao Junior High School and resident of the prefectural city of Nishinomiya, was arrested by Hyogo Prefectural Police’s Takarazuka Police Station. Ueno is reported to have physically punished the two students and told them “this is judo training” after losing his temper when they ate popsicles without permission.
According to the police investigation, on Sept. 25 in the school’s dojo, Ueno spent about 30 minutes abusing the students, aged 12 and 13, from around 4:30 p.m., by using judo techniques to throw them, hit them in the face, and grapple them on the floor. The 12-year-old student was seriously injured, and suffered a spinal fracture that would take three months to heal. The 13-year-old student was pulled to the ground and sustained minor injuries by having his neck bruised. Ueno is said to have acknowledged most of the allegations against him.
The Takarazuka Municipal Board of Education reported that Ueno became angry after the two students ate popsicles from a fridge in the dojo without permission. They both apologized, but they were subjected to a one-sided, repetitious barrage of throws and grapples. One boy who lost consciousness due to a chokehold was slapped awake before being subjected to the same move again.
A teacher in his 40s assigned as a deputy supervisor to the judo club was also at the scene, but he reported that he stood by and watched because fear stopped him from trying to quell the situation. The student who was seriously injured ran home, and the incident came to light after his parents got in touch with the school. A complaint was filed with police in October, based on which the Takarazuka Police Station began its investigation.
The education board reported that on the night of the incident when Ueno went to apologize to school officials including the vice principal, and to the students’ homes, he acknowledged that he had physically punished them.
At a school Ueno was previously posted to, he was disciplined a total of three times — one salary cut and two warnings — between 2011 and 2013 for acts including breaking a student’s nose when punishing them. He has reportedly received anger management training to suppress his rage.
(Japanese original by Yoshi Sekiya, Himeji Bureau, and Kazuhiro Doi, Takarazuka Local Bureau)
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