During a recent conference at Japan’s National Institute for Fitness & Sports, Dr Mel Lang met with the founders of the Japan Judo Accident Victims Association (JJAVA). In this post their Executive Director, Mrs Keiko Kobayashi, explains why JJAVA was established and the important and inspiring work they are undertaking. We are delighted to support them and grateful for this contribution.

Over the 29 year period between 1983 and 2011, 118 students (age 12-18) died as a result of judo incidents in Japanese schools.

In 2004, my 15-year-old son was thrown by the teacher of the school judo club for 7 minutes continuously and choked until he lost consciousness. He had acute subdural hematoma and still suffers from Traumatic Brain Injury.

The school and the All Japan Judo Association (AJJA) declined to investigate my son’s case, saying “It was just an unfortunate accident.” When I started to examine the case, I discovered that many other families of victims of judo incidents had been faced with the authorities’ refusal to investigate.

In 2010, my husband and I established the Japan Judo Accident Victims Association (JJAVA http://judojiko.net/eng). Together with other member families, we have studied the causes of judo incidents, and have put out information on risks to children and proper safety procedures. We have organized seminars where academic experts talked about risks to and protection of children in sports. Our web site was also effective in disseminating information. The main goal of JJAVA is not to blame people who caused injuries but to analyze why the incidents have happened and propose ways to prevent repetition of these tragedies.

The government and AJJA have finally started to react by introducing accident prevention measures. To our delight there were no judo fatalities between 2012 and 2014. However this year, two students died and another student is in a persistent vegetative state as a result of judo injuries.

We are working cooperatively with the families of children who died or were injured as a result of incidents in other sports, including rugby, volleyball and kendo. Support and information from overseas is always a great encouragement for us.JJAVA

Mrs Keiko Kobayashi, Executive Director, Japan Judo Accident Victims Association (JJAVA)

Translated by Mrs Yoko Kasuga

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