The lawyers representing Takanofuji were supposed to bring his written letter of intentions to the NSK today. Instead, they announced that he has decided to accept the NSK’s request to retire on his own volition, and the appropriate documents will be presented to the NSK today.
This brings the saga, which until yesterday looked like it was developing into a long battle of litigation, bad press and toxic social networking, to an abrupt end.
The Nihon Sumo Kyokai announced eight wrestlers will not participate in the upcoming Fall tour (Jungyo). The tour is scheduled to begin on 10/5 in Ishikawa prefecture and end in Hiroshima prefecture on 10/27. Several popular top wrestlers will not participate due to injury while Takanofuji is listed as well, due to the ongoing bullying drama, in spite of his refusal to submit his resignation.
From the top division, Takakeisho, Ichinojo, and Tomokaze will be absent, and sorely missed. It’s a bit of a surprise that Tochinoshin will participate in the tour and not focus on recuperation. When the tour hits Kyushu, he will need to repeat his feat from this summer where he won 10 bouts as Sekiwake to reclaim his Ozeki status. Kadoban Takayasu will need to win 8 with his seriously damaged arm to avoid a similar fate in January.
From Juryo, there will be several missing wrestlers, including the fore-mentioned Takanofuji. Two Kokonoe wrestlers, Chiyoshoma and Chiyonoumi will miss the tour, along with Kyokushuho and Seiro. As Leonid mentioned in his Aki Wrap-Up article, Seiro and Chiyonoumi are headed back to Makushita.
Tachiai wishes all of the injured rikishi a full recovery and an awesome Kyushu.
The incident that brought all of this to a head occurred on August 31. Takanofuji was angered by his Jonidan-ranked attendant’s poor attitude, and according to the Mainichi report, he didn’t like that the junior wrestler bathed first. As a result, Takanofuji punched the victim in the forehead creating a lump on his head and resulting in pain that lasted a couple of days.
The victim ran away from the stable with two fellow wrestlers. Why two others? The three wrestlers were given nicknames of “Niwatori,” “Hiyoko,” and “Jidori” by Takanofuji and the allegations are that they were habitually berated. They were told that rather than saying “Hai,” they should cluck like chickens (say, “ko-ke”).
The reporting on that last point is rather vague so I will try to learn what they mean. It sounded like there is a range of punishment…but to me I don’t know how much range of disciplinary “measures” there can be between “voluntary retirement” and “forced retirement”. Are fines and criminal proceedings a possible outcome? Can Chiganoura evict his unruly deshi or can he only apply pressure to encourage him to leave? I do not know but hope to find answers. The physical bullying seems to be the tip of the iceberg and this story will be around for a while, unfortunately.
Given the seriousness of the allegations, it’s understandable that there are very strong opinions. As many of my Twitter followers are aware of my little Twitter rant, I do want to note my firm belief in due process and uncovering the facts. I had a lot of questions before I reported this today; many of those have been answered as I read more but I still do have many other questions.I trust their process to deliver a just punishment in the handling of the case.
A few more details about Takanofuji (Née Takayoshitoshi) and his incident of violence have appeared in the Japanese press and media.
The incident took place on August 31st, right after the YDC keiko-soken was over and Takanofuji returned to the heya. Apparently he was displeased with the tsukebito’s attitude, and hit him on the head once.
The victim, who is a Jonidan rikishi, was still around the heya on September 1st. However, it appears that Takanofuji followed up with some brutal keiko, and the following day, three low-rankers went AWOL. Chiganoura oyakata noticed that, contacted them, and learned about the incident. He immediately reported the issue to the Compliance Committee, and has already publicly apologized for the incident.
The victim does not wish to involve the police and intends to come back to the heya.
Takanofuji has admitted to the facts, and is currently in “disciplinary kyujo” through Aki, and restricted to the heya by his oyakata.
Shibatayama oyakata commented that “Following a series of workshops, to have the same sekitori act violently a second time is exceedingly regrettable. Chairman Hakkaku says the same”. The procedure established in such cases is for the Compliance Committee to investigate the matter, consider an appropriate punishment, and report to the board, which makes the decision. The standard for a violent sekitori is suspension for one basho, but this being a repeat offense, the odds are high that it will be more severe than that.
Takagenji’s response: “This is a real shame. I don’t know what the punishment will be, but if it will be permitted, I hope we will be able to continue to do sumo together”.
(Internet speculation points to Takamasaki being the victim. He is ranked in Jonidan, and has been officially reported as one of Takanofuji’s tsukebito back in Haru this year. However, none of this has been confirmed nor is likely to ever be).