A Guide to the Rules for Disciplinary Measures by the Japan Sumo Association

Action:   Participation in children’s charity soccer match while on medical leave from exhibition tournament.  The cited injury (elbow strain) was legit as noted by doctors.

Punishment: Two basho suspension without pay, and not allowed to leave your stable until proven to be clinically depressed.

Action:   The day after achieving a milestone not only in your career but one for the record books, it is reported you were involved in a violent brawl with an unnamed, unseen source.  You deny the actions.  The source is never seen, nor identified, yet the media create a lynch mob from the “event.”

Punishment: Dealing with heavy pressure, you’re forced to resign, while still in your twenties, from what could have been the greatest sumo career ever.

Action:   Failed two dubious and flawed drug tests AND your name was chosen to be released to the public.

Punishment: dismissed from the organization for life, no questions asked.

Action: Failed a dubious and defective drug test AND your name was not chosen to be released to the public.

Punishment: none

Action: Your wallet found in a subway station in Tokyo, and has passing through hands of nameless strangers to the police.  A hand rolled joint mixed with tobacco and marijuana is found in your wallet.  You admit to Tokyo Police through broken Japanese and a lack of knowledge of the law that you have smoked small quantities of marijuana before.  Oh, and you are legally a minor in Japan.

Punishment: dismissed from the organization for life, no questions asked.  Your legal guarantor is free from all disciplinary actions.

Action: You are caught in a basement in Roppongi toking it up with a friend when the police enter.  You’re high as a kite, and there’s no use to denying it.  Though you previously tested positive to an, albeit, flawed drug test, your name was not chosen to be released to the public.

Punishment: expelled from the organization for life.

Action: You haze a boy to death.  What that means is that you order him to be tied to a post, beat, kicked, worked to exhaustion, and the process is repeated for hours.  You use an empty beer bottle and smack him in the head with it, breaking his nose.  You order others to beat him with a baseball bat.  You do this because he had a “vague attitude,” yet he was clear that he wanted out of sumo. 

1st Punishment: The incident shall be swept under the rug so that the press do not find out.  The boy died of “heart failure.”  Make certain there is no autopsy and get that damn corpse in the crematory!

2nd Punishment: Given someone leaks the facts to the police and the boy’s parents choose to hold a media press conference, we, the JSA, shall distance ourselves from you, the situation shall be reevaluated, and you shall be expelled from the organization for life.  It will be up to the courts whether you shall be guilty of manslaughter or murder.

Action: You give prime seats to organized crime members so they can show off to their family boss in prison that they’re watching live sumo.  These seats could go to earnest, sumo-loving fans, but don’t.

Punishment: demotion

Action: you’ve been illegally gambling on baseball and other games for years and you are in enormous debt to members of organized crime.  You’ve also provided others with bribes and hush money to keep your debts secret. 

Punishment: after two months of news speculation and no chance of the story dying, you are dismissed, still receiving a decent portion of your severance pay.

Action: you’ve been illegally gambling on baseball for years with other wrestlers and were aware bets were set up by members of organized crime. 

Punishment: one basho suspension and a two-month salary dock no more than your monthly income tax.

Action: you’ve been illegally gambling on card games for years with other wrestlers, sometimes winning pools as large as one million yen.

Punishment: one basho suspension and a two-month salary dock no more than your monthly income tax.

What’s apparent without saying so is a double-standard in regards to punishment methods.  That’s one thing obvious if you know the nationality of the rikishi involved in the “scandals” mentioned above.  Sort through who was a Japanese rikishi and a foreign-born rikishi and decide if their punishments border on lenient or severe.  This one is an obvious no-brainer, and there’s not really any reason to go on with this one. 

Here’s another point: if you honestly think for a minute the punishments given out for this illegal gambling scandal are going to break that bond between the Japan Sumo Association and the yakuza, you’re a naive fool.  These punishments handed out where to smokescreen the whole problem.  Many well-to-do men got temporarily salary cuts, and two were essentially forced to resign (one, Kotomitsuki, already on the brink of retirement).  Salary cuts for the Commissioner, lots of oyakata, and top-division rikishi.  “House arrest” for those involved, including the Commissioner.  These acts will “ooh” and “aah” the sheep-like populace, and will help the JSA from incurring too much debt as their ticket sales go down the toilet, but they shouldn’t fool.  Rich men are temporarily slightly less rich.  One man near retirement gets it early, and others will have a summer vacation in July. 

What’s worse; playing soccer in a children’s charity match (two basho suspension and house arrest), or illegally betting on baseball with yakuza middle-men for several years, on countless occasions (one basho for every rikishi not named Kotomitsuki)?  Which is more damning to the sport; failing a flunky drug test (banned from sumo), or giving away prime seating to yakuza members, instead of earnest sumo fans (demontion)?  JSA is pathetic, the Ministry of Education is pathetic, NHK is pathetic for punishing us fans of the sport by not airing the Nagoya Basho, and they’re all pathetic for the years of blaming Asashoryu with all wrong in the sumo world.  Sumo is a fantastic sport, but these days the patience of the more dedicated fans is being tested by the corruption, prejudice, and shady nature of those who manage it.

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