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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 July 5 - 11  > Defense Ministry admits to 2 fatal accidents during bayonet training in SDF
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2017 July 5 - 11 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Defense Ministry admits to 2 fatal accidents during bayonet training in SDF

July 5, 2017
It has come to light that many Self-Defense Forces personnel have been injured and two were killed in “jukendo” (a Japanese form of bayonet fencing) practice. This revelation poses a serious question regarding the Abe government’s decision to allow the teaching of jukendo in junior-high schools.

The Defense Ministry recently made the death toll public in response to a request by Japanese Communist Party member of the House of Representatives Miyamoto Toru.

The Education Ministry in March published new official guidelines for classes at junior-high schools which assert that physical education teachers can choose to teach jukendo in classes among other martial arts such as judo and kendo. In jukendo, a player tries to stab an opponent’s throat and left chest with a mock bayonet. This combat sport is practiced mainly among SDF personnel as part of hand-to-hand combat drills. Since the publication of the new guidelines, parents and even persons related to the SDF have been expressing concern that jukendo is too dangerous for junior high school students.

JCP Miyamoto in April at a meeting of a Lower House committee criticized the government for including jukendo in the PE curriculum for middle-school students. Miyamoto asked the Defense Ministry about the SDF’s injury record in regard to bayonet fighting drills. In response, a ministry official said that in 2016, 59 SDF members were officially recognized as having been injured during jukendo practice. At that time, the ministry had no data concerning deaths and promised to look into the issue.

Recently, the Defense Ministry submitted investigation results to JCP Miyamoto. According to the ministry, after the SDF was founded in 1954, two members were killed as a result of receiving thrusts to their bodies during jukendo practice. The ministry added that it has no record detailing the fatal accidents.

Koyama Yoshiaki, a junior high school teacher in Nagano Prefecture, stated that bayonet techniques should not be taught in junior high schools. He pointed out that jukendo involves a high level of risk because it focuses mainly on thrusting. He pointed out that many junior high school students learn kendo in school but they are not allowed to thrust, which is a legal technique used by adult kendo players.

In the first place, Koyama noted, jukendo was established in Japan as a close combat techniques for soldiers in the late 19th century. He stated that although some people regard jukendo as one of Japan’s martial arts, it is more a military combat technique as shown by the fact that almost all jukendo players are SDF members. This is another reason why jukendo is inappropriate for junior high school students, Koyama said.

Past related article:
> ‘Bayonet techniques’ to be taught to junior high school students [April 2, 2017]
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