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2010年7月28日 (水)

名古屋場所閉幕 「賜杯なき優勝」を繰り返すな

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jul. 28, 2010)
Learn from tourney lacking Emperor's Cup
名古屋場所閉幕 「賜杯なき優勝」を繰り返すな(7月27日付・読売社説)

The Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament, which was rocked by a scandal over illegal betting on professional baseball games, ended Sunday with a remarkable accomplishment by yokozuna Hakuho--he became the first wrestler since the end of World War II to claim three consecutive championships without losing a single match.

Since the Japan Sumo Association refrained from accepting any awards from outside organizations due to the gambling scandal, Hakuho received only the championship flag and a certificate at the award ceremony.

Hakuho also extended his winning streak to 47 bouts, exceeding legendary yokozuna Taiho's record of 45, but said with tears in his eyes that the Nagoya tournament was "very difficult."
"On behalf of [all] wrestlers, I wish I could've received just the Emperor's Cup," he added.

To prevent such situations in the future, the JSA must proceed with reforms and regain the trust of sumo fans as soon as possible.


More problems arise

Regrettably, however, a few cases suggesting close ties between sumo officials and gangsters were revealed during the Nagoya tourney. One of them involves stablemaster Matsugane and is too serious to overlook.

A former ozeki who wrestled under the name Wakashimazu, Matsugane has used a building rented from the president of a gang-related real estate agency as lodgings for his wrestlers during spring tournaments in Osaka. He has done so since he started his own stable 20 years ago.

The company president in question was arrested in 2008 over land sharking, the practice of forcing people to sell their residences so a land shark can resell consolidated plots of land for large development projects. Despite knowing this, however, Matsugane continued to rent the building.
"I thought he was a businessman," Matsugane said.

Nevertheless, he should have at least stopped using the building when the president was arrested. This is a scandal caused by insufficient risk management.

Securing lodgings for wrestlers is certainly an important issue for a stable, and stablemasters badly need offers of help. But sumo officials must not forget that this is one way gangsters approach them.

Gangs use their close ties with the sumo world to flaunt their influence. We strongly feel that gangs are spreading their tentacles into everything.


Rules not enough

Also, a serious problem has surfaced over special ringside seats at sumo tournaments, the kind primarily allocated to financial supporters of the JSA. It was discovered that a gang boss obtained a ticket for a ringside seat via a chain of people that included an acquaintance of a member of the special panel investigating the gambling scandal.

Since this could erode public trust in the investigation panel, the JSA was quite right to dismiss that member.

An independent panel of the JSA tasked with improving the association's governance and implementing organizational reforms is planning to compile measures to eliminate gangsters' influence, including a provision that would penalize sumo wrestlers and officials severely if they associate with gangsters.

Of course, strict rules are necessary. But, it is more important that sumo wrestlers and stablemasters learn lessons from the commotion during the Nagoya tournament and strengthen their determination to sever their ties with gangsters.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 27, 2010)
(2010年7月27日01時17分  読売新聞)


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