Yokozuna Asashoryu, accompanied by his stable master Takasago, has flown to his motherland Mongolia for treatment of a mental disorder and injuries to his left elbow and lower back. The injuries have been diagnosed as requiring six weeks to heal.

At this point, there is no predicting how long it will take to cure the mental disorder. The grand sumo champion has suffered the mental disorder from stress over punishment that the Japan Sumo Association meted out to him Aug. 1 for behavior unbecoming his yokozuna status. The JSA suspended Asashoryu from the next two regular tournaments because it was found that he had played in a charity soccer event in Mongolia after notifying the JSA that he could not take part in summer regional tournaments due to the injuries cited in a medical report.

The behavior that led to his punishment and the difficult psychological situation in which he finds himself could have been avoided if Takasago had been able to establish a proper master-pupil relationship with Asashoryu and had adequately educated him on the mores to which sumo wrestlers should adhere. Takasago should have been careful about these points from the time the youth joined his stable after graduation from a Japanese high school.

The relationship between Takasago and Asashoryu is apparently strange. When the punishment was announced, Takasago could not bring himself to call Asashoryu to his stable to tell him about the punishment and to explain things. He also failed to persuade Asashoryu, who had withdrawn into himself at home, to publicly explain his case. Takasago’s apparent failure to establish a proper relationship with Asashoryu and educate him has led other JSA officials to keep a distance from him and refrain from extending a helping hand to him.

To sustain sumo’s popularity, the JSA needs to nurture strong sumo wrestlers and make tournaments interesting and exciting. But it also is obliged to preserve the sumo tradition embodied in good manners and behavior to future sumo wrestlers. The JSA must scrutinize whether each stable can live up to this duty.

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