Summary of the Meeting of the Board of Directors of the NSK, Nov. 30

Yesterday, Nov. 30, the NSK Board of Directors held its regular meeting. In addition to run-of-the-mill stuff like the creation of a new heya, much of the discussion was around matters related to the Harumafuji scandal.


The board of directors finally succeeded in securing Takanohana’s cooperation with the crisis committee’s investigation. Takanohana claimed that cooperating with them will interfere with the police investigation. The board contacted the Tottori police by phone, and were told that the matter is left to their discretion. Eventually Takanohana agreed to cooperate once the police investigation is complete. The police is expected to hand its report to the prosecutor in mid-December. So the crisis committee expects to interview Takanoiwa and prepare a final report by December 20th. At that time, irregular meetings of both the YDC and the NSK board will be held, and further decisions will be made.

The decisions are not expected to relate to Harumafuji himself, as he is no longer an employee of the NSK.

Hakuho and his stablemaster, Miyagino oyakata, were called in to the meeting, and reprimanded severely for Hakuho’s conduct – the “matta” protest, the contents of his yusho speech, and the “banzai”.

Another decision was related to a publication in Shukkan Shincho (a weekly magazine) which claimed that Mongolian rikishi were exchanging Yaocho among themselves. The NSK will file a complaint against the magazine.

It was decided that since Takanohana is deeply involved in the current issue, he will sit out the Winter Jungyo, and Kasugano oyakata will take his place.

The crisis committee presented an interim report. They still need to interview Takanoiwa, but having interviewed everybody else involved, they believe the content is pretty much established. Following the board meeting, a press conference was held and the details of the interim report were presented.

Details of the assault

  • On October 25th, a dinner party was held by associates of the Tottori Johoku High School, to support their graduates. The dinner party included Hakhuo, Kakuryu, Harumafuji, Terunofuji, Takanoiwa, Ishiura, and people from Tottory Johoku high. This was not a Mongolian-only meeting nor was it intended as such.
  • In the dinner party itself, Hakuho took issue with Takanoiwa regarding rude behavior he exhibited in September at some restaurant in Tokyo. In this instance, Harumafuji defended Takanoiwa and the matter was dropped.
  • Harumafuji usually had a soft spot for Takanoiwa, who has lost both his parents, because he himself lost his father. He would give him advice, buy him meals etc.
  • The after-party, which took place in another venue – a private room in a lounge bar – included most of the participants in the dinner party.
  • At the after-party, Hakuho started lecturing to Terunofuji and Takanoiwa that they should be dutifully thankful to their high school for their ability to do sumo.
  • Takanoiwa began fiddling with his smartphone. Harumafuji berated him for doing that in the middle of Hakuho’s speech. Takanoiwa answered “It’s mail from my girlfriend” with a wry smile. This angered Harumafuji, and he slapped Takanoiwa on his face once.
  • Takanoiwa returned a defiant stare and did not apologize. At this point Harumafuji proceeded to slap him about 10 times, and added a few hits to the head with the karaoke remote control, demanding the apology.
  • Harumafuji picked up a bottle of champagne and raised it above his head, but it slipped and fell. He did not hit Takanoiwa with a bottle,  did not attempt to throw any other object at him, and did not straddle him at any point.
  • Hakuho stepped in, and the beating stopped.
  • Harumafuji drank sake on that occasion, but was not heavily drunk, and has full memory of the entire affair. There is no evidence of bad drunken behavior on his part on previous occasions.
  • The result of the beating was an injury which required the use of a skin stapler.
  • According to the hospital that issued the medical certificate, it is doubtful that there was a skull fracture or a leakage of cranial fluid. [Note: this could also be translated as “there was a suspicion of fracture/leakage”. Choose your version.]
  • The medical certificate included a rest period of two weeks which was supposed to be from October 26th through November 8th, and he was released on November 9th after the hospital was satisfied with his state of health.

This summary is based on several news outlets, primarily:

28 thoughts on “Summary of the Meeting of the Board of Directors of the NSK, Nov. 30

  1. Fucking sports news outlets are like a magic eight-ball at times. Anybody want to place bets on how many more times the story will change?

    • I think this one has only one chance to change again – on the 20th, after the interview with Takanoiwa. This one is the official report, not something the sports outlets got from Kyokushuzan (who was the first source, apparently, and by now got himself in serious trouble because of his lack of credibility), or “Oyakata in his fourties”, etc.

      That’s how it works with the press. They have to report, and they report the best they can. Some go really yellow, and some try to stick to cross-verified facts.

  2. How much of a problem does this report create for Takanohana for keeping Takanoiwa out of competition and presenting an incorrect medical certificate? I feel like Takanohana is resisting cooperation because he knows he’s going to get in a lot of trouble, but I don’t know enough about Japan’s culture to make that judgement.

    • I think he knows he’s in trouble. The media somehow got a transcript of him talking to a friend saying that he was expecting to be dealt with in some way in that meeting but it didn’t happen. I think they must be waiting for that final report, but the part about “the medical report was for two weeks starting Oct. 26”, basically implies that Takanoiwa should not have been kyujo from Kyushu, and somebody will have to answer for that. What form of answer? I have no idea.

      • Rikishi being kept out of a basho without actually being injured is not exactly unusual as far as I know, normally it happens because the rikishi is meant to be punished with loss of rank for some internal heya matter. The main difference here is that Takanohana apparently went rogue whereas in the other cases the reason for the kyujo is probably common knowledge on the inside. (Disclaimer: I’m not saying that Takanoiwa was necessarily made to miss the basho as punishment.)

    • It sounds funny, but stares are significant in Japanese culture. Hakuho was asked in his Yusho interview about his exchange of stares with Goeido. Terutsuyoshi was annoyed by Takagenji’s stares in their bout. So a defiant stare is kind of equivalent to showing someone your middle finger.

  3. Ibitis Aegeas sine me,Messalla,per undas,o utinam memores ipse cohorsque mei.These verses by Tibullus come to mind when I think about how Harumafuji must be feeling,I am going to miss him

    • Latin is definitely not my forte. I’m guessing this is the verse you’re referring to?

      Am I abandoned? Does Messala sweep
      Yon wide Aegean wave, not any more
      He, nor my mates, remembering where I weep,
      Struck down by fever on this alien shore?

      • LOL. I’ve been busy Googling it, too. My 2 years of latin are reduced to: “Galia est omnes divisa en partes tres, quarum unam incollent Belgai, alliam Acquatani, tertiam, qui ipsorum lingua Celtai, nostra Galli appelantur.” (Forgive the horrible misspellings but it has been 25 years since I was forced to memorize Caesar.)

        • Say the word and I can be the resident Sumo Latinist. I teach it from time to time and still read in my spare time. I’ve not read Tibullus before though, so this might be off without some context:

          “Ye shall go through the Aegean waves without me, Messalla,
          O may you and the cohort remember me.”

          Also your spelling is quite remarkably close if you’ve not looked at it in 25 years!

        • Nope. Aramaic is a lot more popular here (not that I studied it myself – it’s basically for religious studies, and I was a Math/Physics/Electronics girl).

    • Well, it’s a bit unclear at the moment. It seems like the Shukan Shincho is about to publish an article titled “Takanohana’s condition for a ceasefire is the elimination of the Mongolian rikishi mutual charity association”. In the article they are supposedly claiming that Mongolian rikishi are regularly trading Yaocho (supposedly communicating or paying through the aforesaid charity association).

      So the NSK is about to file a complaint or a protest with the Shukan Shincho. The crisis committee has also been checking what that association is all about. Basically all Mongolian rikishi collect money which is then given to sick/injured rikishi, used in performance of important rituals, or donated to sick Mongolian children. They also found that the association has not had any meetings in recent years.

      We’ll see what happens when the article is published (if it is published).

      • The article is here (not sure for how much longer, Yahoo links don’t last):

        “互助会” (mutual assistance society) is normally just sumo jargon for “match-fixing group” – usually in reference to the more benign version, i.e. the “not trying hard when the opponent needs his kachikoshi” type of throwing matches, not the “buying and selling wins and losses”. It’s got nothing to do with actual charity stuff, and the Shincho article doesn’t talk about anything like that. I’m finding it a bit hard to reconcile everything, but my guess is that Shincho heard about a “Mongolian mutual assistance society” and ran with the idea that it refers to yaocho, with Sponichi trying to clarify that this one is an actual charity group, not a yaocho ring.

        The one factual thing in the Shukan Shincho article is that Takanohana has been known as a fundamentalist anti-yaocho guy since his active days.

        • Interesting. That article is very puzzling. There seems to be no coherence in its argument. And once again, Kyokushuzan is involved somehow.

          It’s not Sponichi, though. The part about the “mutual assistance society” appears in the Nikkan article as well, as the two last points of the crisis committee report (in the second page). So they must have actually looked into the matter – perhaps to preempt Takanohana.

          I do hope this whole thing will not develop into a real yaocho scandal. Especially not one that kindles the anti-Mongolian flames that are blowing through much of the sumo world right now. At least not unless there is real substance there somewhere.

        • Yeah, this one is pretty incoherent even by the standards of tabloid yaocho allegations. It’s also very short, making it look like they just cobbled something together at short notice to somehow tie Takanohana into the tabloids’ favourite sumo speculation topic. Normally they’ll include a lot more exposition on what exactly is supposed to be going on in the match-fixing du jour.

  4. “Harumafuji usually had a soft spot for Takanoiwa, […]”

    This breaks my heart. Its literally a tragedy.

  5. If we are going to go into yaocho territory, can I just say that most of the “dodgy” looking bouts I have seen over the last couple of years involved foreign wrestlers losing to Japanese opponents.

  6. Okay, let me throw in my two bits here. From what I have read, seen, heard and by following all of you wonderful Sumo enthusiasts — the Mongolians will have to toe-the-line, from here on out. Even arguably the greatest Sumo wrestler of all time, Hakuho — isn’t above reproach, so it would seem.

    I discovered the meaning behind the term “yaocho” or fixed bout — many, many moons ago, and was somewhat surprised that such a word even existed. But I guess, if Western sports can have athletes cheating, or throwing matches, or rigging the game, or shaving points, or taking a dive, and so on and so on — I guess this truly great sport can to.

    I’m by no stretch of the imagination an expert when it comes to all things sumo — however, I’m starting to seriously scrutinized just about all the matches. Is that guy “letting up”? Are both of them “letting up”? Is it a straight-up affair where both guys are really charging into each other and giving it their all?

    For me and my aging eyes — it can be hard to tell. Like tigerboy1966 above (and probably most of you lot), you may go, “Goddung, that was one dodgy tachiai there, buddy.”…and pray that there was no scheme to “give a win” so as to allow that particular rikishi to stay at rank and stay in the Makuuchi a little longer. Oh my, scandalous!

    • The thing that always sets the alarm off for me is when a skilled belt wrestler passes up a chance to get a grip on the mawashi, or worse, he gets a grip and then releases it for no apparent reason. I’m not knowledgeable enough to yell “fix” but there are usually one or two top-tier matches every day which have me a bit puzzled,to say the least..

    • With such little transparency in their health issues, it’s natural to see “dodgy” stuff. It’s also natural to have two rikishi with an imbalance in motivation. A guy “giving up” is not yaocho. Yaocho is a guy getting paid to give up. Personally, this is why I love guys like Ikioi who give 100%, win, lose, or hernia.

      • I think the word I was looking for was “mukiryoku” rather than “yaocho”. If a guy has got what he needs from the basho and is nursing an injury, you can’t expect him to go flat out. And yes I am a regular reader of Mike “It’s all fixed” Wesemann’s coverage over at sumotalk.

  7. As a new fan of sumo, is there a rarest possibility that Harumafuji is forced to withdraw his resignation and is re-instated as a yokozuna?


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