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Judo NPO Looks Past COVID-19 and Early Return to International Exchanges

The happy faces of children from Israel and Palestine practicing in a judo clinic in Jerusalem, said Kosei Inoue, taught him the power judo has to overcome difficulties and nurture friendship.

Kosei Inoue

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National Coach Kosei Inoue (R), chairman of NPO JUDOs, with Judoka Hifumi Abe (L), a member of Japan's Olympic Team

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Greetings, fellow readers of JAPAN Forward.

In Japan, my homeland, cherry trees are beginning to bloom, telling us that spring is just around the corner. And in Japan spring is the season for new beginnings.

So far this year we continue to endure lifestyle restrictions necessitated by the spread of the novel coronavirus. Yet, I am confident that brighter days are close at hand, and intend to pass this season with a positive attitude, while continuing to move forward toward the future.

Allow me to introduce you to JUDOs, a non-profit organization I head. 

Overcoming Difficulties with the Spirit of Judo

We established the NPO in Japan in April 2019,with the main objectives of promoting diversity, encouraging the healthy growth of young people and making international contributions through the sport of judo.

When I was actively competing as a judoka, I had the opportunity to visit various foreign nations, and I was always struck by the universal appeal of judo that transcends competition. 

It was 139 years ago that judo master Jigoro Kano established Kodokan judo. 

Mr. Kano defined the ultimate objective of the discipline of judo as training to improve oneself as a human being, while making a positive contribution to society in return. He sensed that this philosophy was supported by and attracted people worldwide.

I recall visiting Jerusalem in 2010 with a teacher I highly respect, Yasuhiro Yamashita, chairman of the Japanese Olympic Committee and vice-chancellor of Tokai University. We visited both Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and held a judo clinic for children in Jerusalem. That experience really brought home to me the importance of international volunteer work. 

As you know, relations between Israel and Palestine have historically been tense. But seeing the happy faces of children from both communities practicing judo confirmed my belief that judo has the power to overcome difficulties and nurture friendship.

Japanese Judoka Yusuke Kumashiro, sent by Japanese NPO, with part of U.S. Naval Academy Judo Team at clinic in 2016

Expressing Gratitude Through Judo

On March 11 we marked the 10th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake. 

Immediately after that devastating quake and the tsunami that followed, U.S. armed forces organized and implemented Operation Tomodachi, entering the devastated area to assist the Japanese authorities in relief and recovery. This constituted proof through action of Japan-U.S. friendship. 

As an expression of our thanks for Operation Tomodachi, since September 2011 our group has sent teams of judoka to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and we continue to engage in judo exchanges with the academy.

I would note that this arrangement was established thanks to the assistance of a judo sempai of mine, Sankei Shimbun’s associate correspondent in Washington,D.C., Yoshihisa Komori.

I had the honor of visiting Annapolis in 2010, a year before the earthquake. It was this first visit that provided the catalyst for the judo exchange project, which we created to express our gratitude for the help provided by the U.S. after the earthquake. 

Unfortunately, this year’s annual visit had to be postponed due to the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic. But let me take this opportunity to assure our friends at U.S. Naval Academy and elsewhere in the United States that we are very much looking forward to next year, when we can resume our judo exchange activities. 

Next month, the cherry trees that line the Potomac River will be in glorious full bloom. Their beautiful blossoms will certainly bear testimony to the enduring friendship of Japan and the United States. 


The website and additional information about the NPO JUDOs can be found at this link.

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Author: Kosei Inoue, Chairman, NPO JUDOs

(Read this article in Japanese at this link.)

Kosei Inoue is an Olympic gold medalist and international figure in judo whose term as Head National Coach of Japan’s Men’s Judo Team expires on September 30, 2021. As an active judoka, Inoue won many international and national tournaments and was Japan’s flag bearer at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. He is President of the nonprofit Judo foundation, JUDOs Inc.