Police reveal gang boss had VIP seat for May sumo tournament

Kyodo News

A gang boss affiliated with an organized crime syndicate watched the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament in May at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan in a special seat near the ring not for general sale, police and sumo officials said Sunday.

The revelation came after the Japan Sumo Association punished two stablemasters and disbanded the stable of one in late May for having given senior gang members tickets for past tournaments. The association has been stepping up efforts at eliminating ties with gangsters.

At the time, the gang members were found to have watched matches in special seats for which tickets are normally allocated to major individual and business supporters for hefty fees, during the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament in the central Japan city last July and the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament this January at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Investigators with the Metropolitan Police Department are trying to find out whether the boss affiliated with the Tokyo-based Sumiyoshi-kai obtained the ticket for the May bouts via people who secured one of those handed over by supporters to the ticket booth or without involvement of the booth.

Police officers on duty found the boss clad in a suit and in a special seat behind the ringside on May 22, the 14th day of the 15-day meet, and confirmed with the sumo association he was not qualified to be in the seat, leading association staff to ask him to leave.

On May 27, the association imposed severe punishments of demoting stablemaster Kise, 40, whose real name is Naoto Sakamoto, disbanding his stable and reprimanding stablemaster Kiyomigata, 64, whose name is Kazuo Wada, over the scandal.

The association will try to find the right holder of the seat concerned in the case and consider possible punishment, a senior sumo official said.