Tate-gyoji Shikimori Inosuke sexually assaults a junior gyoji

Just as the sumo world is trying to recuperate from last year’s Harumafuji scandal, and amidst our hopes for a 2018 free of scandals, the NSK announced yesterday that the tate-gyoji, Shikimori Inosuke the 40th, has sexually assaulted a junior gyoji in his teens while drunk.

Inosuke in the role of a shinto priest, consecrating the dohyo

The top two ranking gyoji in sumo are called “tate-gyoji”. They are the ones in charge of refereeing the Yokozuna bouts, and also participate in yokozuna dohyo-iri and consecrate the dohyo before honbasho.

Tate-gyoji use inherited names. The top rank is always “Kimura Shonosuke” (the order is the Japanese name order – last name first), and the secondary rank is “Shikimori Inosuke”. The last Shonosuke retired about two years ago, but Inosuke was not promoted to Shonosuke, following a series of misjudged bouts that cost him a suspension in 2015. This means that at the moment, Shikimori Inosuke the 40th is the only active tate-gyoji. Inosuke is a member of Miyagino beya, Hakuho’s stable.

The event itself took place on the evening of December 16th, while he was doing the jungyo. This was the night between the two events at Ginowan, Okinawa. During supper, the tate-gyoji imbibed large quantities of Awamori (a hard Okinawan liquor) and became thoroughly inebriated. A junior gyoji helped him get back to his hotel. The senior gyoji then proceeded to kiss the minor (in Japan, the age of majority is 20) on his lips several times and fondled his chest once.

Another member of the gyoji-kai, a Makuuchi gyoji, learned of this incident and reported it to the NSK. The crisis management committee opened investigation, verified the facts, and questioned Inosuke directly. He responded: “I was too heavily drunk, I have no recollection of what happened”, and “I have no interest in men, so I have no idea why I would do something like that.” However, he did not positively deny the act, and he has already apologized to the victim before the NSK was informed of the incident.

The victim, who was reportedly traumatized by the event, is not interested in filing a police report, nor does he wish the NSK to pursue the matter further. He only wanted an apology. However, in the wake of the previous scandal and the current public atmosphere, the NSK cannot let this matter go. They intend to convene a special meeting of the board and decide on Inosuke’s fate in the near future.

The head of the board, Hakkaku, did not mince his words: “It is deplorable that a man at the top position in the hierarchy would do something like that. The very act of drinking oneself beyond recollection is inappropriate. I have warned Inosuke in the past about his bad behavior when drinking.”

Today Miyagino oyakata made an apology for his heya’s gyoji.

Miyagino Oyakata, apologized for his gyoji

Following a closed-doors keiko session, the stablemaster responded to the media and the press, saying “Being in a leadership position with respect to Inosuke, I deeply apologize for his deed. He has a history of bad drinking and was abstinent for a while, then started drinking again. I had warned him about it and all I can do now is request that he abstain from drinking again.”

When Hakuho came out of the heya was also accosted by the press, and responded somewhat in consternation: “He is not gay as far as I know, but he does love his liquor” before disappearing into the car on his way home.

Assuming the punishment that will be decided by the board involves either suspending or dismissing the tate-gyoji, this comes at a very inconvenient timing for the NSK, with honbasho starting in about a week. The tate-gyoji is supposed to accompany the Yokozuna in the Meiji-jingu dedication dohyo-iri, as well as consecrate the dohyo the day before shonichi, never mind presiding over the yokozuna/ozeki matches.

Shikimori Inosuke is 58 years old and his real name is Itsuo Nouchi.

English news sources:

(The post is compiled from various Japanese sources, including Nikkan Sports, Sponichi, NHK and others).

20 thoughts on “Tate-gyoji Shikimori Inosuke sexually assaults a junior gyoji

  1. Well I hope they make him give up the knife and paddle. This stuff pisses me off so much that I am this close to saying he should use the knife… But I don’t condone that either.

  2. So, this might be a stupid question, but if he’s forced to retire, and the 2018 Hatsu basho starts with no tate-gyoji… is that a problem? Are the san’yaku-gyoji trusted to referee Yokozuna bouts?

    • One question is whether they are skilled (and ordained? I have no idea if it requires any special ceremony) in the stuff like dohyo consecration and Yokozuna dohyo-iri. Judging the actual bouts is less of a problem, I think, because sumo is sumo, whether performed by a Yokozuna or a Komusubi.

    • When will Miyagino oyakata get Hakuho a spokesperson, or at least a PR coach? Sean Spicer was able to choose his words better. I hear he’s available.

      • A PR coach is definitely in order. And in the meantime, memorize the phrase “It’s not my place to say. I leave this matter to the Kyokai/YDC/Stablemaster/Gods”.

        This might have saved him a bunch of flack.

      • Hakkaku-rijicho put the boot in first, I think both Miyagino and Hakuho saw that as license to not mince their words about Inosuke’s apparent alcohol problems.

  3. Incredible. Just reading the report and Hakuho’s response just has me shaking my head with slight amusement. Oh my. 2018…here we go. I’m started to sense a bad trend here…and it’s gotta stop before the ancient sport reaches an crescendo with this escalating bad behavior.

  4. It looks as though everyone in the sport knew that the man had a drink problem. Why else would they not have promoted him to Kimura Shonosuke when the last one retired. Someone should have taken him aside and said “stop drinking or retire”. This highlights the problem of the gyoji system working almost entirely on seniority: as I understand it a man will move up the ranks as those ahead of him retire unless he is obviously incompetent. The top positions therefore go to the most experienced rather than the best.

    I imagine that gyoji go into the job because they are mad about sumo but don’t have the genes to become wrestlers. So here we have an old man who has devoted his life to the sport he loves but who is going to end his career in the most shameful way when he was probably a few months away from retirement. It’s desperately sad, but he has no-one else to blame.

    • As I already mentioned, the reason he was not promoted was not his drink problem but his bad decisions, that is, gunbai decisions that were overturned by monoii, which caused him a suspension in 2015. Tate-gyoji are not supposed to make a mistake. That’s why they have that knife, though of course instead of using the knife they hand in their resignation (and it gets rejected). He made too many of those.

      They knew he was a bad drunk, and based on what Miyagino oyakata said, he has been abstaining from drink for a while, but fell off the wagon at some point.

      He was not a few months from retirement. Gyoji retire, like everybody else in the kyokai, when they reach 65 or when too ill to perform their duties.

      • Thanks for the correction. You can call me “Mr PFRL” (Post-First-Research-Later) from now on!

  5. Wow, I didn’t know that gyoji also belong to heya. Between this and arbitrary selection of who fights whom on a given day, I can’t stop wondering how sumo avoids accusations of unfair refereeing all the time. Must be utmost respect for elders in charge. All the worse when they get involved in a scandal.

    • I think it’s the fact that the gyoji doesn’t make the final decision that prevents such accusations. Suppose Inosuke points to Hakuho, his stablemate, whenever an unclear “who touched first” situation occurs. There are five shimpan around the ring. They will raise a mono-ii. Eventually, the correct result will emerge (unless perhaps the shimpan on that side is also somebody from the same heya, and no other shimpan saw the touch, which is a rather exotic case). Since gunbai-sashi-chigae (wrong decisions) count against a goyoji and can bring about penalties, there is really no point in the whole exercise.

      Of Inosuke’s four judging mistakes, none has been in favor of Hakuho. One was actually against him.

  6. News say KD the Tate Gyōji will be suspended for three months then resign. So who will consecrate the dohyo today?


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