SUMO ABC (68) / Takanohana repeated 2010 drama by giving sumo board silent treatment

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Stablemaster Takanohana leaves his stable in Koto Ward, Tokyo, on Dec. 28.

By Shuji Miki / Yomiuri Shimbun Senior WriterStablemaster Takanohana has been dismissed from the board of the Japan Sumo Association. The trouble triggered by then yokozuna Harumafuji’s violent act during a regional tour has resulted in the dismissal of the head of the association’s regional tour division.

What made this issue complicated is that Takanoiwa, the victim of the assault, is a wrestler in the Takanohana stable. In other words, Takanohana is the victim’s mentor. The stablemaster left elucidation of the incident to the police, and it was not a wrong judgment to entrust the matter to the judicial authorities. It can be said it was a rather effective decision to eliminate the tendency toward violence that has been deep-rooted in the sumo world.

Police sent papers to public prosecutors on the retired yokozuna, and the prosecutors filed a summary indictment against him. This series of developments explicitly demonstrated to the public that violence in the name of coaching will never be tolerated.

On the other hand, Takanohana’s words and deeds in handling this incident were highly questionable. Though it was reasonable to leave the matter to the judgment of judicial authorities, Takanohana persistently refused to report the incident to the association and to cooperate with the association’s investigation. If he had reasons to do so, he was obliged to thoroughly explain those reasons. It hardly can be said the stablemaster fulfilled his duties and obligations as the chief person responsible for regional tours.

As a result, the incident has led to a mysterious ending where the victim’s stablemaster was punished. What kind of organization really is the sumo circle? For the general public, the series of developments must have just been exasperating.

However, this is not the first time Takanohana has behaved in such a manner. In 2010, before he was elected to the board for the first time, he touted his “personal reform proposals” for the association in magazines and TV programs. The leadership of the association at that time summoned Takanohana to hear about the proposals from him. However in that official setting, Takanohana remained silent and did not say what he had in mind. Even after being elected to the association’s board, he did not disclose any specific ideas for reforms.

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  • The Yomiuri Shimbun

    Yasuko Ikenobo, left, chairman of the internal council of the Japan Sumo Association, speaks at a press conference in Sumida Ward, Tokyo, on Thursday, after the council decided Takanohana’s dismissal.

Unfortunately, the latest words and deeds by Takanohana look to me like just a re-creation of the 2010 event.

— Miki is a sumo expert.

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