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2010年6月17日 (木)

野球賭博汚染 暴力団排除が角界再生の道だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 17, 2010)
Sumo world must sever mobster ties
野球賭博汚染 暴力団排除が角界再生の道だ(6月16日付・読売社説)

Illegal gambling is rampant among sumo wrestlers. Popular sumo wrestler ozeki Kotomitsuki has admitted to the Japan Sumo Association that he gambled on professional baseball games--a criminal act. Following his admission, he will sit out the upcoming Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament.

Sumo recently has been rocked by a string of scandals. Yokozuna Asashoryu was forced to retire earlier this year following allegations he assaulted a man outside a Tokyo club after a drinking session. The gambling blight even managed to taint an ozeki, sumo's second-highest rank. These extraordinary developments will shake the foundation of the association.

The JSA recently asked sumo wrestlers, stablemasters and other association members to voluntarily report whether they had been involved in gambling activities. Kotomitsuki and 28 others admitted they had gambled on professional baseball games. Thirty-six others confessed to betting on golf, hanafuda playing cards and mah-jongg.

The association said it would report its findings to the Metropolitan Police Department and decide what further action to take after the police have completed their investigation.


JSA let guard down

Association officials initially planned to put the scandal to bed after reprimanding those who voluntarily reported their wrongdoing. However, the association was forced to reverse the policy after the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry, which oversees the association, stepped in. The ministry warned the association it would be premature to extenuate the misconduct before making a report to the police.

As such, the latest developments have exposed the association's lax way of dealing with serious matters.

Organized crime syndicates are often behind gambling on professional baseball. Money wagered by sumo wrestlers must not be allowed to end up as funds for gang activities. We think the wrestlers involved should be severely punished.

The latest scandal came to light in a report by a weekly magazine that Kotomitsuki had gambled on professional baseball and that gangsters had intimidated him into paying hush money.

Although Kotomitsuki initially denied any involvement in gambling, he finally seemed to run out of excuses because other sumo wrestlers came forward to admit their misconduct to the sumo association. Regrettably, Kotomitsuki completely lacked the good sense expected of an ozeki, a rank expected to portray sumo values.


Money talks

Wealthy sumo supporters called tanimachi traditionally have provided financial assistance to wrestlers and stablemasters. Wrestlers and association members are said to sometimes come in contact with gangsters as they socialize with their tanimachi.

There have been reports that criminal organizations have been involved in sumo events, such as tournaments held in local regions.

It recently came to light that a number of gangsters had watched sumo from special ringside seats essentially set aside for the sumo association's financial supporters. A stablemaster who arranged seats for the mobsters has since had his stable disbanded by the association. The stablemaster eventually admitted he had socialized with gangsters.

This series of unseemly incidents suggest there are deep-rooted links between sumo and organized crime.

The JSA is a public-interest corporation, which receives preferential tax treatment, meaning sumo wrestlers and stablemasters belong to an organization supposed to contribute to society. In this respect, it is only natural that they immediately sever all ties with "antisocial forces."

Freeing itself from unbecoming traditions is the only way the association will be able to survive.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 16, 2010)
(2010年6月16日02時00分  読売新聞)


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