History: Discrimination against Deaf Sports (3) High School Baseball Club in Okinawa Prefecture

Kitashiro School for the Deaf baseball club members in Okinawa Prefecture
(photo: www.jfd.or.jp/)

The Okinawa Prefecture Kitashiro School for the Deaf established in 1978 in Japan's southern island was the only school for the Deaf limited to the junior and high school students of six years altogether. It was specially established in order to meet the need of the great number of children born in 1964 through 1965 who lost hearing due to German measles.

The baseball club was formed in the school in April, 1981 when the children became a high school student. The club had 16 members, all a freshman. They were enthusiastic aiming at playing in the "Koshien" which is a dream stage for high school baseball players all over the country.

However, the Kitashiro School baseball club was rejected by the Japan High School Baseball Federation to join a high school baseball organization because of being a Deaf school . It turned out that their refusal was based on the regulation in the Japanese School Baseball Charter.

The 16th article, "High School Baseball" under the third chapter of the Charter states that "The school which can join the high school baseball league of each prefecture should be referred to what is defined in the Chapter 4 of the School Education Law."

The school for the deaf is specified by the Chapter 6 of the School Education Law, and since Kitashiro School for the Deaf is not a school as defined in the Charter, it was not eligible to join the high school baseball league in Okinawa.

The "Japan Deaf News" reporter who was coming to Okinawa for coverage by chance took up this problem, and announced the scoop.

The report stirred up the big echo of public opinion. The telephones and FAX messages of the protest poured in the Japan High School Baseball Federation from people all over the country. It recognized affiliation of the Kitashiro School at last.

The hard-of-hearing boy, Ishii Yuya, from Yokohama was impressed with the happening. When he grew up he became the first Deaf professional baseballer ever in Japan after being drafted by the Chunichi Dragons Team. He is still playing with other professional team.

It was clearly proved that it was wrong to ban Deaf people to play baseball because of being Deaf. 

Japanese source:

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