Sumo: Temptations, commercial obligations drive injured sumo champ back into the ring
Japan Today -- May 18
One of the perks of holding the highest rank in professional sumo -- yokozuna or grand champion -- is that the title is so exalted, demotion to a lower rank due to poor performance is almost unthinkable.

Unlike those in the lower ranks, should a yokozuna be hobbled by injury or illness, he can choose not to take part in a tournament, or drop out midway, and even miss several consecutive tournaments (former yokozuna Takanohana sat out seven straight tournaments due to injury from 2001 to 2002) and still return to his position. On the other hand, should he suffer a string of humiliating defeats he would be obliged to announce his retirement.

There have also been situations when yokozuna failed to demonstrate sufficient hinkaku (dignity), as was the case in February 2010 with Mongolian grand champion Asashoryu, who was involved in a drunken brawl and allegedly injured a man -- although the details to this day have never been made public. While still at the peak of his career, Asashoryu was forced to retire and leave professional sumo.

Which brings us to the newest yokozuna, Kisenosato. After winning the New Year's tournament to gain promotion to the top rank, and then making a miraculous recovery from a badly injured left bicep to win the playoff match on the tournament's final day to take the championship, fans were overjoyed to see the local boy whack his Mongolian rivals and make good.

Prior to the start of the summer tournament on May 14, rumors flew that Kisenosato would announce a kyujo (non-participation), sitting out the 15-day tournament in order to give himself time to achieve a full recovery, while preparing for a comeback at the Nagoya tournament in July.

But to the fans' delight, Kisenosato marched into the ring on the first day, only to lose handily to a scrappy smaller rival, Yoshikaze. He lost again on Wednesday. It was clear that his left arm has not fully recovered. So why, asked Yukan Fuji (May 17), did he chose to compete?

The reason, the writer is convinced, is that Kisenosato faces a damned-if-you-do, damned-if -you-don't situation. For one thing, a huge amount of corporate prize money that is being offered for each bout he wins, and if he sits out the tournament, he would miss the chance to collect the all-time record number of kensho (packets of prize money carried home by the winner of a match).

News source: Japan Today
Jul 26
The Japanese government said Tuesday it will aim to lower the country's suicide rate, currently the worst among the Group of Seven advanced nations, by at least 30 pct by 2026 to levels equivalent to those in its G-7 peers. (Jiji)
Jul 26
This August, a mobile phone service provider will release a smartphone that only works during daytime hours in an effort to restrict elementary school students' screen time, the company said Tuesday. (Japan Times)
Jul 26
A 9-year-old boy died from heatstroke after becoming trapped in his mother's car for about one and a half hours on a sweltering day in Nara, officials from the local prefectural government said Tuesday. (Japan Today)
Jul 26
Uber Technologies Inc. is at risk of losing out on another big chunk of the global market. (Japan Times)
Jul 26
Tuesday was eel-eating day, when many in Japan treat themselves to the grilled delicacy -this year likely to make a smaller dent on the wallet with prices down. (Japan Times)
Jul 26
Japan will limit the number of visits per player to casinos that will open in so-called integrated resorts in the country as a measure to counter gambling addiction, the government said Tuesday. (Jiji)
Jul 26
Japan's Agency for Cultural Affairs will be relocated from Tokyo to the main building of the Kyoto Prefectural Police Headquarters in the western Japan city of Kyoto, it was decided Tuesday. (Jiji)
Jul 26
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday he was initially unaware that Kake Educational Institution, headed by a friend of his, was involved in a controversial university faculty plan, correcting his past explanations in parliament. (Jiji)
Jul 26
Police in Nishinomiya City, Hyogo Prefecture, have arrested a 20-year-old female college student on suspicion of attempting to kill her ex-boyfriend by hitting him in the head with a hammer and stabbing him in the back with a knife. (Japan Today)
Jul 26
The new National Stadium being built for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be used exclusively for team ball sports like soccer and rugby after the games, sources told Kyodo News on Tuesday. (Japan Times)