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Japanese Sports: The Next 100 Years

Yoshiyuki Mano
Professor, Faculty of Sport Sciences, Waseda University

The year 2011 was a milestone for Japanese sports. The “One Hundred Years of Japanese Sports” ceremony was held on a grand scale and a new law was enacted. The Japan Amateur Sports Association was formed in 1911 by Jigoro Kano in order for Japan to participate in the Olympics in response to a request from Baron Pierre de Coubertin. In 1961, 50 years later, the Sports Promotion Act was enacted in preparation for the Tokyo Olympic Games and then 50 years after this in 2011, the Basic Sports Act was amended. This new law clarifies the guarantee of the right of national sports and the responsibilities of local and national bodies. The promotion of sports for the disabled is also stipulated. This law is a step forward toward the next 100 years.

Although not widely known, there are laws relating to sports in states ruled by law. Countries where laws relating to sports have been enacted include the U.S. (Olympic Amateur Sports Act), France (Code of Sports), Russia (Physical Activities and Sports Act), Australia (Sports Commission Act), Brazil (The March 24th 1998 Law (commonly known as the “Pele Law”)), South Africa (Sports and Recreation Act) and Israel (Sports Law). Laws relating to sports have also been enacted in East Asia: South Korea (National Physical Education Promotion Act) and China (People′s Republic of China Physical Education Act). All of these possess the character of the basic act, and master plans have been created upon the implementation of these laws.

In Japan as well, the Basic Sports Plan was formulated on March 30. This is a master plan based on the Basic Sports Act. One of the features of this plan is the point that reveals a virtuous cycle. In this virtuous cycle, athletes who have retired will give guidance to children in regional communities. These children will go on to become athletes and will then return to regional communities after they themselves have retired. They will then give guidance to the next generation of local children. This may seem like an obvious idea, but until now the second career of athletes after they retire has been their own responsibility and many have turned to other industries, such as the food and drink industry. Only a very small number of athletes remain in the world of sports after they retire. If we think about this, this virtuous cycle is a novel scheme that is looking toward the next 100 years.

In fact, this virtuous cycle is excellent for the great many athletes who would like to give something back to sports and who can now give guidance in regional communities. Already, some athletes have launched public benefit corporations to carry out systematic and continuous activities that contribute to society. A new form of sports in Japan will be created by these athlete NPOs working together and cooperating with each other. This new form will include not only the promotion of this virtuous cycle but also reconstruction assistance in disaster-hit areas through sports. Therefore, the Japan Athlete Forum was founded on April 1 last year as an intermediary support organization for athlete NPOs (Table and Figure).

In order to support reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake, this forum held sports classes with athletes for over 5,000 children in the three prefectures of Tohoku which were affected by the disaster and support activities for general regional sports clubs that were affected by the disaster took place. Moreover, we are looking to conduct research on the second careers and social business of athletes because it is our hope that athletes will continue to shine even after they have retired. We are also aiming to create an environment in which a great many athletes can give back to society.

Until now, athletes have been supported by sports associations and corporations, but we are coming into an age in which athletes will support regional communities and sports associations. The next 100 years of sports has taken a big step forward.

Japan Athlete Forum
Members Masayo Imura
(Imura Synchro. Club Chair / Former Head Coach of the Japanese National Synchronized Swimming Team)
Taeko Utsugi
(Softball Dream Chair / Former Head Coach of the Japanese National Softball Team)
Takeshi Okada
(Okada Institute Japan Chair / Former Manager of the Japanese Men's National Football Team)
Osamu Kuraishi
(MIP Sports Project Chair / Former Head Coach of the Japanese Men's National Basketball Team)
Seiji Hirao
(Sports Community & Intelligence Complex Chair / Former Head Coach of the Japanese National Rugby Football Team
Shoichi Yanagimoto
(Athlete Network Chair / Former Head Coach of the Japanese Women's National Volleyball Team)
Yasuhiro Yamashita
(Solidarity of International Judo Education Chair / Former Head Coach of the Japanese Men?fs Judo Team)
Adviser Sadaharu Oh
(World Children's Baseball Foundation Chair / Former Head Coach of the Japanese World Baseball Classic Team)
URL http://www.jathlete.jp/

Figure: Basic Scheme of the Japan Athlete Forum

Yoshiyuki Mano
Professor, Faculty of Sport Sciences, Waseda University

Born in Yokohama City in 1963. Completed his master's course at the Graduate School of Education in the University of Tokyo in 1991. After working at the Mitsubishi Research Institute, Inc., he spent time as Assistant Professor in the School of Human Sciences and the School of Sport Sciences in Waseda University from 2002. He has been the Professor of the Faculty of Sport Sciences since 2009. He serves as an executive and adviser for a great number of sports organizations: Representative Director of the Japan Athlete Forum, Director of the Japan Volleyball League Organization and Director of the Japan Basketball League, among others. He is the author of Management of Public Sports Facilities and the co-author of The Economics of Sports.