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Japan schools take action to tackle upskirting of cheerleaders at tournament | World News

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Action is being taken by schools taking part in Japan’s annual spring baseball tournament to safeguard cheerleaders against upskirting.

Some have introduced shorts for the youngsters to wear, while others have used strategically placed teachers to block would-be voyeurs.

The competition, being staged at Koshien stadium near Osaka involving 32 schools, is meant to showcase youth sporting talent and act as a potential recruiting ground for professional baseball clubs, but has become marred in recent years with the taking of sexualised images.

Female cheerleaders, often dressed in sleeveless tops and short skirts, are photographed without their consent and the pictures then posted online.

In response, girls from Takasaki High School in Gunma prefecture, northwest of Tokyo, performed in shorts this week.

Takasaki teacher Kohei Shiozawa told the public broadcaster NHK: “Voyeuristic photos can potentially cause lifelong emotional damage to our students.”

Airi Ozawa, the head of the school’s cheerleading team, told the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper: “At first, I thought a skirt would be better, but when I actually wore [shorts] and started cheering, I felt a sense of unity as the outfits matched the baseball team uniforms.

“And they were easy to move about in.

“Now I can dance with peace of mind.”

In addition, teachers from the school are patrolling the stands at Koshien with signs asking spectators to not photograph students.

Earlier this week, teachers from another school positioned themselves between the cheerleaders and spectators to deter voyeurs.

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Concern over secret photography has spread to other sports in Japan, including gymnastics, athletics and synchronised swimming.

In 2020, the Japan Olympic Committee described upskirting and other forms of secret photography targeting female athletes as “despicable”, warning that it would allow stadium officials to check images taken by spectators during the Tokyo Games.

The sportswear manufacturer Mizuno has developed a special fabric it says will deter voyeurs from secretly using infrared cameras that produce a “see-through” effect.

The firm plans to make the material commercially available for athletics kits, sports bras and swimsuits, according to the Asahi Shimbun newspaper.

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