[sumo] Changes to the JSA

Jeffrey Anderson jeffand at regent.edu
Mon Feb 3 09:18:50 EST 2014

Sumo association must work hard as new entity to win support of public
February 3, 2014
The Yomiuri ShimbunNow that it has become a public interest incorporated foundation, the Japan Sumo Association must make the most of this opportunity to transform itself into an organization with a self-purifying power.
The Cabinet Office has certified the association as a public interest incorporated foundation, and the association has officially registered itself as the new type of legal entity.
The sumo world was rocked by a series of scandals, including the fatal assault of a sumo wrestler by stablemates, gambling on baseball, and bout-fixing. The association has been told by such entities as the sports ministry, which has jurisdiction over the JSA, to implement organizational reform, greatly delaying the procedures for the transformation into the new incorporated foundation.
With its new status, the JSA will continue to be entitled to preferential tax treatment, and revenue from the grand tournaments and tournaments in provinces will remain tax-exempt.
While taking to heart its responsibility of carrying on the tradition of sumo wrestling, the JSA had to make an effort to enhance the transparency of its businesses.
The most typical example of its opaqueness is the issue of how to deal with the JSA's "elder shares."
At present, there are 107 elder shares. Unless a sumo wrestler obtains an elder share upon retirement, he cannot become a stablemaster.
Trade of elder shares
Elder shares have been traded for huge amounts of money. There are said to have been such deals involving several hundred millions of yen. Generally speaking, the trading of rights to gain income from the association as a stablemaster is a custom hard to understand. In its switch to a public interest incorporated foundation, the JSA has stipulated, in its articles of association, that the elder shares are to be placed under its centralized control. Elders who are to retire are able to recommend their replacement, but the transfer of money is prohibited at the time of succession. Those who violate the rule will be severely punished.
This is a step forward, but a concern remains. Those who succeed to an elder's name can pay a "guidance fee" to a former elder for advice on how to manage a stable, on condition of notifying the JSA.
Will the trade of elder shares effectively continue under the guise of guidance fees? The JSA must develop a strict system to scrutinize this possibility.
It is praiseworthy that the relationship between the JSA and each stable has been clarified. With regards to the training of sumo wrestlers, the association will conclude a commission contract with stablemasters.
When irregularities occurred in the past, the association often tried to put an end to scandals by blaming the stables, saying, for instance, "The stablemaster's way of nurturing the wrestler was wrong." From now on, the association's responsibility to consign training of wrestlers outside stables will be put to the test.
The form of the JSA's council of the board of trustees, the highest decision-making organization for the incorporated foundation, will also change. The majority of the five- to seven-member council will comprise outside experts. It is important to respect the opinions of those outside the sumo world to correct long-standing evils.
For the JSA to win public support as an entity to operate the "national sport," sumo wrestlers must give performances to meet the public expectations. Hopes are growing for the advent of a Japanese yokozuna. We hope both the JSA and sumo stables will make further efforts in fostering strong sumo wrestlers.
(From The Yomiuri Shimbun,
Feb. 3, 2014)
Best regards,
Jeffrey Anderson

For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these:
It might have been. - John Greenleaf Whittier

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