School adding new staff member to provide psychological care for remaining exchange students from Africa.

With time running out in a high school basketball game on June 17, an African exchange student playing for Miyazaki Prefecture’s Nobeoka Gakuen High School sucker punched a referee who had called him for a foul, sending the man to the hospital with injuries requiring 10 stitches. While not quite as sudden as the attack, fallout for the incident hasn’t taken long, with punishment going far beyond the player himself.

To start with, the player who threw the punch has voluntarily withdrawn from his study program at Nobeoka Gakuen and returned to the Republic of the Congo.

While the player who threw the punch has gone home, his teammates will be staying home in August. Nobeoka was scheduled to compete in Japan’s national high school basketball tournament, which opens in Aichi Prefecture on August 23, in recognition of the team winning the Miyazaki prefectural championship in May. However, the school has announced that in light of the assault on the referee, it will not be participating (Nobeoka Gakuen did not specify if this was a voluntary decision or a ruling handed down by the national tournament’s organizers). Nobeoka Gakuen has also, by its own volition, said that the team will not be playing any games against other schools for the next three months.

▼ Video of the incident

The team’s 50-year-old coach has been removed from his position, and also has been placed on indefinite suspension from his primary job as a health and P.E. teacher. Nobeoka Gakuen’s director, principal, and assistant principal will keep their jobs, but will have their salaries reduced for the next three months.

In addition to the player who threw the punch, Nobeoka Gakuen has three other Congolese exchange students on its boys and girls basketball teams. The school has said that it is planning to add a French-speaking staff instructor to better communicate with the trio and to provide emotional/psychological care if needed.

The wide-ranging repercussions of the punch serve as a reminder that in Japan, the group is often expected to take responsibility for the actions of even individual members. It also hammers home that when traveling or living overseas, you’re often seen as a representative of your nation’s people, regardless of whether or not that’s a role you relish, and any unseemly conduct will make things harder on your compatriots who come or remain after you.

Source: Mainichi Shimbun via Jin