Tate-Yobidashi Takuro Involved in Violent Incident

(From the “I-really-didn’t-want-to-write-one-of-these-posts-again-so-soon” department)

Takuro in his ultimate Jungyo visit to Hokkaido, where he was born.

The highest ranking yobidashi, Tate-yobidashi Takuro, has acted in violence towards two lower-ranking yobidashi during the Jungyo event which took place at Itoigawa, Niigata, on October 8th.

Early in the morning before the event started, he spotted a Jonidan yobidashi who was having his breakfast sitting in the customer seating area. He reprimanded him for that, and accompanied the reprimant with a punch to the head. He then turned to a Makushita yobidashi who was sitting nearby and reprimanded him, too: “You see your ototo-deshi doing this and you’re not disciplining him?”. This was accompanied by a slap to the Makushita yobidashi’s back.

Neither of the victims is injured. The Makushita yobidashi decided to discuss this with another employee, who then passed on the report, until it reached Kasugano oyakata, the Jungyo master (and Takuro’s heya master, as it happens). He called the men involved and verified the basic facts, and then reported to the Compliance Committee. At the same time (October 10th), he sent Takro back back to Tokyo, for a temporary home confinement.

Takuro has already apologized to the victims. On October 15th, he decided to hand in his resignation. The NSK at the moment is not accepting it, and awaits the investigation and conclusions of the Compliance Committee, before it decides whether to accept it or take some other disciplinary measures.

Tate-yobidashi Takuro is 63 years old, and was due to retire in February 2021 when he reached the mandatory retirement age.

35 thoughts on “Tate-Yobidashi Takuro Involved in Violent Incident

  1. The business maxim applies; “Culture trumps strategy”.

    Culture starts at the top, so the Tate needs to go.

    Pretty simple to state. We’ll see how NSK acts.

        • Me too. I crossed my fingers, knocked on wood, did a few Hail Marys (the Tupac variety), broke out the old rabbit’s foot and threw a whole salt shaker over my shoulder for good measure.

  2. “Neither of the victims is injured.”
    “Takuro has already apologized to the victims.”

    All right, let’s not make this seem bigger than it really is.

    • I hope this time the NSK will just give him a warning with maybe a little fine or something and say “You served us a long time. Don’t do it again.”

      The guy is almost at it’s retirement. It would be a shame to go because of that.

      • The problem here is that he is the top ranker. They didn’t really count yobidashi when they created their punishment standards, but for rikishi, the standard for Yokozuna is retirement on the first offense, while lower ranking rikishi can get away with suspension for a first offense. This is because he is supposed to be an example to the others. He mentions this in the statement accompanying his resignation.

        • Yes, this apparently was not a “serious” assault, so I can understand the desire to cut the guy a break.

          However, the problem for the NSK is that they have come out and said there is no place for violence in sumo. (at least violence off the dohyo).

          Knowing what everyone knows about the historic role of violence and hazing in sumo training, and reading with that in mind, NSK is on record that they intend to change the culture and eliminate corporal punishment in sumo.

          It will torpedo credibility if they let a leader off the hook. Their problem is not an individual person, it is corporate credibility. They are in the unfortunate situation of sacrificing the individual is for the good of the organization.

    • For the new pawa-hara rules in Japan, there’s counselling and other things long before dismissal so when all of the details are investigated, I hope they go with what is appropriate.

      • I thin pawa-hara is more about verbal abuse than about violence. I don’t think physical abuse has been acceptable even before this new law.

  3. Seems like people are making a mountain of a molehill. Imagine if this standard is applied to NFL. How many athletes will remain in the league, do you think?

    • Not being an American Football fan, I can’t say. But is the NFL a tax-exempt public organization whose charter is to preserve an ancient tradition? Anyway, how do you write rules that say “It’s OK to punch someone in the skull” and reconcile them with the law? You can’t. And you can therefore either try to overlook this (which would mean you may be overlooking more serious cases as well, and besides, you’re under a microscope at the moment), or just apply the rules to all violence.

      • Well, in a lot of cases we let the victim make the call about whether to pursue things or if apology or other settlement is enough.

    • Besides, what’s the justification for this? That they are athletes? Actually, Yobidashi are not. Imagine if there is a guy punching one of the club secretaries. Is she entitled to sue him and the club? Would this make the news? Yobidashi are not in the “but their everyday activities involve beating each other up” category. They are in charge of singing, drumming and making the dohyo. The first victim in this story is 25 or 27 years old. The second is in his thirties. They are low-paid laborers. And the guy who beat them up is 63. It’s not supposed to be part of the job or even part of the culture.

      • I am not advocating no consequences, but why is the punishment to every infraction a lifetime banishment? Punch somebody, lifetime banishment; drive while Rikishi, lifetime banishment, hit a 15 year old junior player, lifetime banishment. Seems excessive. And in this case, it’s clearly stated that the two victims were not injured.

        And yes, file a police complaint and let the law take its course. Let the justice system administer whatever is the right punishment (at least in the US, for a first time offender, in case of a minor scuffle like this, it will be just a warning from the police officer).

        And yes, NFL, NBA and MLB all very much represent America and American culture and yes, they have special exemptions from Congress which allows them to act as monopolies in the respective games and they get billions of dollars of tax subsidies to build their stadiums. In comparison, the money Sumo gets will look like chump change.

        • And BTW I do think that NFL especially, is too lenient and tolerates a lot of abusive behavior from the athletes towards each other, umpires, team staff, press, fans and their own families. A NE Patriots player turned out to be a murderer and had multiple run-ins with the police even before he was hired by the team. Clearly, NFL needs better standards.

        • It’s not that the punishment is lifetime banishment for every act. Take that Takanofuji, in his incarnation as Takayoshitoshi. It was his first offense and they deemed it was OK to just have him suspended a couple of basho. Personally, I think in a structure where you live together with your victim under the same roof, that may not be a good idea, and indeed, it wasn’t, as the victim – who cried a few days after the incident that he just wants to keep doing sumo – was soon quietly driven to retire.
          Other than that, we just had a series of incidents that all had elements that made them more than just a “first offense, no harm done”. There was that sexual harassment Shikimori Inosuke committed. He was a tate-gyoji. And first offense or not, that’s a problem. There was Takanofuji’s second offense. There was that Sumidagawa from Naruto beya who committed his deeds with extra cruelty, involved others in the acts, and committed them repeatedly over a long period of time. And now we have a tate yobidashi. It seems that we are really short on ordinary employees doing a small damage a single time.

          But take Takagenji. He didn’t get violent, only bullied his underlings without hitting them. He got a reprimand.

          “Drive while rikishi” is not a lifetime banishment, by the way. Quite the contrary. Kyokutenho did that, apologized, and had a long career, which ended in him becoming an oyakata. If you are referring to Osunaarashi, his problem was quite different – he lied both to the NSK and to the police. There was another rikishi from Otake beya who drove under the influence, if I’m not mistaken, and it didn’t end in retirement.

          There was also the incidence where Takakeisho et al. were caught in street clothes in Ginza. They were reprimanded.

          By the way, it’s still not certain that Takuro’s resignation will be accepted. They may decide that this incidence is not as serious as a drunken sexual harassment and find some middle ground. I tend to agree that it’s a less problematic one than the other cases we have seen, especially since his victims don’t have to share the same living space with him (all indications are that they are not even from his ichimon, let alone his heya).

        • This reminds me of a highly inappropriate joke I heard in high school. It’s about a society that has two punishments for crimes: one a rather brutal physical abuse, called “RooRoo”, the other death. Three foreign men are convicted of a crime and sentenced. They get their choice, Roo Roo or death. The first two go up, choose Roo Roo and the punishment is rather graphic (hence the inappropriateness of the joke) but long story short, the third guy chooses death. The court is stunned because no one has ever chosen death and they don’t know how to carry it out. So after much debate, they come back and announce, “Death, by Roo Roo.”

          The moral is, I guess, there’s a gradient to the seriousness of any infraction and we must trust the authority to weigh it and provide appropriate consequences. The point is well taken that if every infraction is handled harshly, a lot will go unreported.

    • I do try to provide context. When the Harumafuji scandal broke there was a viral video of GA Tech football teammates fighting in the locker room. One knocked the other out.

  4. Aww man. And i like that guy. (Unlike the previous belligerent)

    He always looked to me like the sage/calm type. i never though he would be one to raise the hand on someone just to explain he did something not right and not to do it again.

    And i’m really saying “not right” as “wrong” because….really ?! Physicaly hit someone JUST because the young guy wasn’t eating at the right place ? I know everything has it rules and…well…if they asked people from the Jungyo not to eat in the customer area, it’s their right to do it. But…is it so aggravating to worth punching someone ?

    i feel like it’s the old same true problem again.
    It’s in sumo culture that a strong sense of hierarchie of master/servant is inculcate in every person. (Like in an army) That, i can accept that and i respect it.

    But when a “servant” make an error, they just don’t seem to know how to correct or resolve the problem except with violence. It’s like they think “if i just tell him not to do it and explain why, he will never learn.” -_-

    Gosh, when someone make a mistake, at first you tell him how not to do it again, you help him to show how it’s done. If the person after continue to do it, you warn him. And you can start applying some punition. Like chores or privilege restriction. You can even fine or dock that person’s salary. And at the end, if the person really doesn’t listent to you and continue to disobey you and the rule on purpose, well….you fired him. You show him the door and saying he is not wanted anymore. This is what is done in everything, everywhere. If a person isn’t suited for something, you show him the door. I don’t see why it can’t be done in sumo too.

    Anyway, we are not at this point here. If the young lad really just didn’t eat at the right place, he should have just either been reminded not to do it with a serious verbal explanation. And/or with a little punishment like a chores or something. (It’s not Yobidashi are missing chores anyway.)

  5. Yes, I must agree. ERIC, please never comment again. If you cannot communicate without insulting vitriolic condescension, especially about something you likely know little about, then kindly go express yourself someplace else. While sumo can be a brutal sport the idea that “might makes right” is certainly not a Japanese value. And in itself, their race has no bearing on such issues.

  6. If someone smacked me or punched me in my job in America they would be sued into the ground. They would also be met with whatever measly self defense I could muster. Adults need to keep their damn hands to themselves. No one has any right to hit ANY ONE except in a case of self defense. This is insane. Regional culture or sports culture is no excuse. This is human decency.

  7. I don’t claim to fully understand the peculiarities of sumo culture when it comes to beatings or the general attitude about violence in the Japanese society. But there is still a documentary out there that shows and describes far worse punishments, comparing to what has happened in this case and the several others since the Harumafuji incident. It seem to me that during the past couple of years, the JSA has been overreacting a lot to these kinds of stories. Where exactly is the line drawn between hazing, disciplining/punishing and toughening up? The documentary below, at around 20min mark…


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