Corporal Punishment in Japan: One Path to Positive Anthropological Activism

This article is about the controversial educational practice of corporal punishment –known as taibatsu in Japan – which challenged me to reflect upon my anthropological heart and find my anthropological identity. Corporal punishment is a practice around which many ideas and discourses about education, social order, human rights and even power swirl, and it is therefore an inherently sociocultural practice wherever it takes place. Like other forms of violence, it also poses a personal challenge to anthropologists who observe it in practice and have to decide whether to remain an observing bystander. At one time, I made that choice. In this article, I explain why I no longer do.