The Sports System in Japan


sports safety japan

In our first article we talked about the state of sports’ safety in Japan. We mentioned that currently, this matter is not emphasized to the extent that it should be. Within today’s blog post, we will reveal further insight into the particularities of the Japanese sports environment, so as to understand the situation from a holistic perspective. To gain such understanding, we had an interview with Yutaka Saho, CEO of Sports Safety Japan.


Q: What differences are there between the Japanese educational sports system and those of the US or Europe?
A: The mentioned regions differ in regard to the structures in which sports are being practised. This further results in different approaches to sport safety. In the US, and for over 25 years, in Europe - since the establishment of the Soccer League - the predominant structures are club teams. On the other hand, in Japan, practising sports is done 90% through the school system.

In the case of sports clubs, professional coaches are being hired, who further hire medical staff such as physiotherapist, in order to protect themselves from the strict laws surrounding sports safety, especially in the US. Contrastingly, the Japanese physical education (PE) system has its foundation in the military system, therefore safety is not as prioritised, and only sports teachers are employed in the training and supervision of athletes.

Q: What do you consider to be special about the Japanese sports system?
A: Japanese people like to participate in any sports, regardless of popularity, in contrast to other countries, many which engage in particular sports that are largely preferred by the community. This aspect is highlighted by the presence of Japanese athletes within a wide range of sports during the Olympics.

Another particularity is that Japanese athletes love tournaments, but due to safety matters, many injuries occur. In the US and most European countries tournaments are held more frequently and last for rather short periods of time, enough for athletes to recover. In Japan however, there are two main tournament seasons, held during vacations, lasting for 10 to 14 days. Also athletes are not paired according to their performance level, and have to play with everyone regardless of their abilities. Due to these aspects, tournaments are very intense and imply health risks, pushing a lot of players to give up on their sport.

Q: What are some of the flaws in the Japanese sports system that need to be addressed in the near future?
A: Currently Japan is marked by a series of socio-cultural and economic trends that have implications for the evolution of the country in the upcoming years. Among those patterns are included: ageing population; lower birth rates - resulting in lower numbers of children to be enrolled in schools; and high rates of high school graduates. Above all, the aforementioned patterns are forecasted to accentuate even more, rather than regress. All of these trends further impact the state of the PE system, which will not be able to function the same, revealing the need for new organisational structures.

Q: What kind of solutions are there that could solve or improve this matter?
A: A potential solution would be adopting a sports club system. Establishing small, independent organisations (i.e., not reliant on sports federations or schools) in each city / region, may allow students to participate in their preferred sports. These could be accompanied by an e-learning approach which, although not implemented in many countries at the moment, shows favourable results in the US. Sports Safety Japan is the first company to have launched an e-learning programme in Japan, greatly focusing on areas regarding the health and safety of athletes at any level. We are looking forward to introduce this concept within as many institutions, and promote safer practices within the sports world.

Q: Last but not least, since Tokyo Olympics are now scheduled to be held next year, what message have you got for our visitors?
A: I hope that they will enjoy experiencing the unique culture and will have great fun while doing so. There are numerous places to go sightseeing and discover interesting views, customs, and traditions. Visitors should be however aware of the extreme heat and humidity during the Japanese summer season, and make sure they protect themselves at all times.

Please check this article for tips in this sense.

sports safety japan


Sports Safety Japan (2020) WHAT IS SPORTS SAFETY? [online] available from

Sunbears Blog (2019) Are You Prepared for an Emergency? [online] available from

Sunbears Blog (2020) Hottest Season in Japan [online] available from


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