In the wake of any great scandal comes a heavy-handed crackdown, and the Japan Sumo Association is falling in line. To recap, Japan’s most cherished sporting tradition has been rocked in recent months as investigators and the media unraveled deep ties to the yakuza that involved illegal gambling, nefarious sponsorships, and even the use of premium ring-side seats to send messages to incarcerated gangsters. Things got so bad that NHK decided not to air a live tournament for the first time in nearly 60 years.
That’s all a thing of the past, says the JSA. In typically overworded fashion, the JSA has issued a “Declaration of Rejection of Violent Groups.” As such, “violent groups or antisocial forces” are banned from training stables, matches, and other sumo facilities. Meanwhile, surveillance cameras are being installed to sniff out yakuza members who may have sneaked into matches. Only time will tell, however, if the JSA lives up to its newfound sense of propriety…because you know the yakuza won’t willingly disappear.
Read more about the yakuza in my book, Tokyo Lives, available in paperback from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.