• Kyodo

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Japan Sumo Association Chairman Hakkaku says that eliminating violence is the top priority for Japan’s ancient sport following successive scandals involving physical abuse.

Hakkaku held a news conference Monday at the Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo after the JSA’s board of councilors approved the results of February’s board of directors election and he was elected by his peers for a third term as chairman.

“I am strongly aware that eliminating violence is the most important issue on our agenda. We must tackle this problem quickly with a sense of urgency,” Hakkaku said. “It is my job to solve one problem at a time.”

The sumo world has been rocked by a series of scandals related to physical violence starting with an assault by former grand champion Harumafuji against a lower-ranked wrestler last autumn.

A third-party committee was established in February and has been questioning members of the JSA in a bid to prevent similar assaults in the future.

However, the JSA has revealed three more assault cases this year, including a case where juryo-division wrestler Takayoshitoshi struck a lower-ranked wrestler during the just-concluded Spring Grand Sumo Tournament.

“The JSA would like to keep working along with the third-party committee and do everything we possibly can, including holding workshops,” Hakkaku said.

“I think it’s important for each individual to realize (the importance of preventing violence). But at the same time, we have to explain it more often in a more comprehensible way.”

According to Kasugano, the JSA’s communications director, stablemaster Kagamiyama nominated Hakkaku for another term as chairman, and all 10 members of the board voted in approval.

“I want sumo to still be around 100 years from now. I aim to enhance the sport within the ring, without altering its essence,” Hakkaku said.

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