Today has been a day full of news. The YDC held its special deliberation. The NSK board followed with its own, and as it turned out, Takanoiwa appeared from his genie’s lamp and testified to the crisis management committee.
Here is how things stood yesterday:
- Harumafuji has handed in his resignation. He is no longer an employee of the NSK, but they do have to settle issues such as retirement money, retirement ceremony, etc.
- Hakuho, and to a lesser degree Kakuryu, have been criticised for not stopping the violence in a timely fashion or preventing it from the start. Hakuho has also been criticised for his on and off-dohyo behavior in general. There was the matter of his matta protest, his yusho interview and “banzai”, and his style of sumo of late, frequently using harite and kachiage.
- Takanohana has been waging a war against the NSK:
- When he found out about the event, he did not report it to the NSK, only to the police.
- He then refused to cooperate with the NSK’s crisis committee’s investigation, and allowed Takanoiwa to be interviewed only by the police. At first he said he will cooperate once the police investigation was over. Then once the prosecutor hands in a decision.
- He also failed to produce a medical certificate for Takanoiwa’s absence from the fuyu Jungyo. The medical certificate for the basho was also questionable, as it seemed to have expired by the time the basho started.
Disciplinary measures as well as preventive measures were expected.
Takanoiwa makes an appearance
After the NSK crisis committee has already announced that they have “given up on interviewing Takanoiwa by the 20th” and that they will be handing in their report without his side being represented, and the NSK was hinting that they will be considering his punishment for the unsanctioned absence, Takanohana finally relented and released his deshi to speak to the committee on the night between the 19th and the 20th.
Here is Takanoiwa’s side of the story, as retold by the crisis committee representative in the press conference following today’s board meeting:
- He only operated his smartphone after Hakuho’s lecture was over, and Hakuho and Harumafuji started talking about other things. He does not believe he did anything insulting or anything that justifies receiving an injury.
- He felt demeaned by receiving a one-sided beating in front of other rikishi and the staff of his alma mater.
- He only apologized to Harumafuji the next day because those same staff members advised him to do so. He himself did not feel it was merited.
- Nevertheless, he says that he had no wish to see Harumafuji retire.
- When asked why he lied to Takanohana at first and told him that he received his injury by falling down the stairs, he said that he didn’t want to cause an uproar, and that it was unmanly to tattle.
Further, Kagamiyama oyakata commented on Takanoiwa’s current state. Apparently, he is currently hospitalized, suffering from after-effects of the attack.
The YDC convenes, makes recommendations and deflects criticism
The YDC convened and discussed Yokozuna past and present:
- Although Harumafuji already retired, they discussed the case as a precedent and decided that any such case in the future would merit an intai recommendation.
- They recommended a severe reprimand to Hakuho and Kakuryu, for making light of their responsibility as Yokozuna to serve as examples, and to prevent any form of violence.
- They also expressed a unanimous opinion that Takanohana’s behavior is unacceptable for an executive in any organization.
- They also received many complaints about Hakuho’s “violent” style of fight these days, such as kachiage using a heavily bandaged elbow, or strong harite “for more than 10 bouts out of 15”. Adding that it was “not Yokozuna sumo, ugly, something we do not want to watch”.
- When asked about their responsibility for the promotion of two Yokozuna who have retired due to scandal the head of the YDC responded that they have neither the ability nor the authority to conduct their own research into the candidates’ characters and have to ask the NSK members about that. Also, that they act on the request of the NSK.
The board convenes
Following the YDC’s meeting and recommendation, the board of the NSK also convened and made some decisions.
- For not having prevented the violence, being the most eminent NSK member present, Hakuho will be deducted his entire salary for the coming January, and half of his salary for February. This is estimated at ¥4,230,000.
- Also for not having prevented the violence, Kakuryu will be deducted his entire salary for the coming January. This is estimated at ¥2,820,000.
- There is a retirement sum awarded to retiring Oyakata, Yokozuna and Ozeki. Harumafuji will have some amount deducted from this retirement money, though the exact deduction has not been decided yet.
- The head of the board, Hakkaku, decided to give up his own salary for the rest of his current stint. This means three months, until the next board elections. The sum is estimated at ¥1,448,000.
- Isegahama oyakata has taken responsibility for the actions of his deshi, and handed in his own resignation from the board. He will therefore be demoted to yakuin-taigu-iin (executive member) instead of riji (director). (Note that he can be re-elected). Hakkaku added that Isegahama oyakata wished to resign already when Harumafuji resigned, but that he, as head of the board, asked him to postpone it until the investigation was over.
- The board accepted the recommendation of the YDC to set a recommendation of retirement as the standard for any case of violence by rikishi at the top of the banzuke. They used the term “joi”, so this doesn’t apply only to Yokozuna.
- The missing piece is Takanohana. The discussion of his part has been postponed to another meeting to be held on the 28th, together with the meeting of the board of trustees. “We will make a decision based on the explanation we will receive from Takanohana”, said Hakkaku.
Kagamiyama oyakata said that in the board meeting, the board affirmed that they consider Takanoiwa as a victim of violence who should be protected by the NSK as a whole. He added that being kyujo from Kyushu puts Takanoiwa in Juryo on the next banzuke. However, should he need to continue his kyujo into Hatsu as well, considering the circumstances, allowances will be made as to his banzuke position.
Specifically, provided that he supplies the appropriate medical certificate this time, the NSK will not allow his banzuke position for Haru to drop below Juryo.
All of the above are disciplinary measures. How is such an occurrence to be prevented in the future? Here are some of the suggestions brought up by the crisis committee as well as the board meeting:
- Declare a “Day of violence prevention”, to make sure that this scandal is not soon forgotten as the Tokitsukaze scandal has been.
- Create a code of conduct that will be taught and referred to in all pertinent cases.
- The NSK board will form a violence prevention committee that will include independent experts, to hand in recommendation (one source says) by the 28th as well.
In a comment to my previous post about the interim report, I said that I expect the story of what happened on the fateful day in Tottori to change again only once – on December 20th, when the final report is handed.
Truth be told, it did not change very drastically, but there are some interesting details surfacing. I’ll put parts that were not in the previous post in bold.
- Dinner party. Present: Hakuho, Kakuryu, Harumafuji, Terunofuji, Takanoiwa, Ishiura, Ishiura’s father and other members of the Tottori Johoku high school, 13 people in total.
- During the dinner party, which took about 3 hours, Hakuho took issue with something a friend of his told him that Takanoiwa said in September. Takanoiwa denied. Harumafuji defended him and Hakuho let the matter go. This whole exchange was in Mongolian, and the Japanese present did not know its contents.
- The after party included most of those participating in the dinner party, at a lounge recommended by the high school staff. Beer was served in glasses, not in bottles. Hakuho lectured to Takanoiwa and Terunofuji about their daily conduct and that they should be thankful to their high school teachers. He also reproached Kakuryu for letting him do all the lecturing.
- Takanoiwa, thinking that Hakuho has finished his lecture, started to play with his phone. Harumafuji saw that, got annoyed, and asked “Why are you playing with your phone when the dai-yokozuna is talking to you?”. This was apparently also in Mongolian. Takanoiwa first denied he was playing with it, then said “I got a LINE message”. Harumafuji asked “Is that important? Who is it from?”. Eventually Takanoiwa said “It’s from my girlfriend”.
- Harumafuji hit him once, on the face.
- Takanoiwa said “sorry”, but Harumafuji thought he was giving him a defiant stare. So he hit him on the head and face several times with his bare hands, asking “Why are you behaving like that? I was protecting you earlier! Are you trying to be smart with Yokozuna?“.
- He picked up a bottle of Champagne and made as if he would beat Takanoiwa with it, but it slipped and fell without harming anybody.
- Hakuho, watching Harumafuji, said aloud “Don’t use any objects”. As soon as Harumafuji started using the remote control, he stepped in to stop the beating and took Harumafuji outside the room.
- Apparently it was several minutes from the beginning of the beating and its end, and over 10 but less than 20 slaps/punches delivered.
- Harumafuji then returned to the room and demanded that Takanoiwa apologize, hitting him once or twice again with his bare hands. Takanoiwa said “I deeply apologize, I’ll be careful from now on”, so Harumafuji stopped.
- Harumafuji also reprimanded kakuryu: “You are not guiding them properly”. Then he addressed Terunofuji: “You have no spirit when you do keiko. If you want to ask something, just talk to me!”. Terunofuji changed his sitting position to seiza and answered “We can’t say what we think. There is a wall between us”. Harumafuji retorted “You are the ones who created that wall!”, and proceeded to slap Terunofuji (lightly) once or twice. Terunofuji’s reply: “Thank you”.
- Takanoiwa’s scalp was lacerated and bled. He also suffered an injury to his wrist.
- When they left the lounge, Takanoiwa asked Ishiura “What did Harumafuji hit me with?”. Ishiura replied “I think with a beer bottle and remote control”. However, Ishiura did not see that with his own eyes.
- Takanoiwa had his wound taken care of the next day in a local infirmary, and initially told Takanohana that he fell down the stairs being drunk.