Sumo Headlines/Sumo News

The following are the events in chronological order documenting the ouster of 
Tokitsukaze-oyakata for the lynching of Tokitaizan and attempted cover-up

September 26th, 2007
Tokitsukaze-oyakata and other rikishi may be charged in Tokitaizan death
It was learned today that the Nagoya Prefectural Police Department is considering filing criminal assault and accidental death charges against Tokitsukaze-oyakata and other rikishi in the stable for the death of former 17 year-old rikishi, Tokitaizan, who died on June 26th after a keiko session where the youngster was abused to the point that his body just shut down from the trauma. About 11 AM on the morning of the 26th, Tokitaizan was called into the keiko ring where his senior rikishi forced him to practice butsukari-geiko for approximately 30 minutes. Tokitaizan was repeatedly kicked and hit as he lay on the dohyo floor in exhaustion. It is believed that Tokitsukaze-oyakata ordered the abuse. The oyakata also acknowledged that he hit Tokitaizan with a beer bottle before instructing some of the stable member to "show him some love" that resulted in several rikishi ganging up on the boy and assaulting him. Tokitaizan had joined the stable in May but was having trouble adjusting to rikishi life. He also ran away the day before the incident took place, and police believe that was the contributing factor to the ordered assault on the boy. The sekitori rikishi affiliated with the stable were not present at the time and are not part of the investigation.

September 27th
Tokitaizan incident reaches feverish pace; boy was struck with an aluminum bat; Association phones are jammed with angry callers 
Tokitsukaze-oyakata and several of the rikishi in his stable could be charged any day now for the wrongful death of Tokitaizan, a Jonokuchi rikishi that died as a result of physical abuse and a prolonged, tortuous keiko session on June 26th. Experts are still going over the evidence and examining Tokitaizan's remains before a final decision will be made. It's also being reported that Tokitsukaze-oyakata has admitted to wrongdoing in the case. Kitanoumi Rijicho commented that they are in a wait-and-see attitude regarding the investigation, but Tokitsukaze-oyakata's dismissal from the Association seems imminent. The parents of Tokitaizan, whose real name was Takashi Saito, will hold a press conference on the 27th with the family's lawyer.

It's being reported that Tokitsukaze-oyakata was displeased with his prodigy's behavior from the start and was upset that Tokitaizan fled the stable several times and returned to his home in Niigata. On the night of June 25th during dinner, Tokitsukaze-oyakata became enraged when Tokitaizan failed to show remorse for running away and struck him in the forehead with a beer bottle. He then instructed the other rikishi in the stable to "take care of him" whereupon four of his stablemates surrounded him and physically assaulted him. The next morning, Tokitaizan failed to appear at morning keiko when it promptly began at 7:30 AM, which enraged the members of the stable further. Towards the end of the keiko session at keiko at approximately 11 AM, the rikishi worked Tokitaizan to the point of exhaustion and then repeatedly struck him and kicked him as he lay on the dohyo floor. One of the older rikishi in the stable also retrieved an aluminum bat and struck Tokitaizan with it multiple times.

Experts don't believe that the blows from the bat were the direct cause of the boy's death, but they say it contributed to it along with the other hazing. Both Tokitsukaze-oyakata and the rikishi who administered the abuse have now admitted to their actions, but at first, Tokitsukaze-oyakata told police that it was just a normal keiko session. The investigation into Tokitaizan's death reportedly heated up when the rikishi who struck Tokitaizan with the bat went to police himself and reported his actions to them. Tokitsukaze-oyakata then visited the Saito family in Niigata and admitted to them that he struck their son with a beer bottle. At the end of August, Aichi Prefecture police also informed the Sumo Association that an aluminum bat had been involved in the abuse of Tokitaizan, but the Association was embroiled in the Asashoryu matter and the decision on whether or not to let him go back to Mongolia.

Meanwhile, the phones at the Sumo Association offices have been ringing off of the hook since more details have emerged surrounding the death of the youngster and likelihood of criminal charges to be filed against Tokitsukaze-oyakata and other rikishi in the stable. Sumo fans across the country exploded in anger over the incident, and one particular fan complained for more than an hour. An employee of the Sumo Association commented, "This doesn't even compare to the Asashoryu incident. The problem is we are still unaware of all the facts, so we're not sure how to answer." It is being reported that the damage to the Sumo Association's reputation from this latest incident will be immeasurable, and Kitanoumi Rijicho's responsibility is even being questioned. When asked for comment, Kitanoumi answered, "We are still at the point of letting the police handle things, but we have to take the loss of one of our rikishi very seriously." A special meeting of the board of directors and then a meeting with all of the stablemasters will be held today, but Kitanoumi Rijicho reaffirmed the Association's stance that they really have no comment while the police carry out their investigation and the matter will likely not be discussed until charges are formally filed. Tokitsukaze-oyakata will reportedly not attend the meeting and is said to be holed up at the stable residence currently guarded by police officers called in to keep any unruly members of the press or curious onlookers at bay.

An unnamed oyakata commented to the press, "Asashoryu's incident had nothing to do with the law, but with this latest case a law was broken. A tragedy has occurred that goes beyond the scope of human thought." Another unnamed oyakata who is actively trying to recruit new rikishi to his stable said, "After this incident, three hopeful young men who were slated to join my stable told me 'no thanks' one after the other." The practice of hazing the younger rikishi in sumo to toughen them up has long been accepted, but Kitanoumi Rijicho is now being forced to defend the practice. "We don't have a bamboo sword at our stable. Personally, I'm against violence," he said referring to the majority of stables that have a bamboo sword used to strike younger rikishi when they make mistakes in keiko or show signs of letting up. As more details continue to surface, the public at large is likely to hold Kitanoumi Rijicho responsible for the indifference the Association has shown regarding the incident up to this point. Isenoumi-oyakata attempted to justify the Association lack of action by saying, "We received a report back in June, but there was no hint of criminal action then. We weren't aware that the oyakata struck his prodigy himself. I can't really comment now because the police are still investigating the matter. In the meantime, we are still leaving the disciplining of rikishi up to the 53 stable masters. We have always banned discipline that went too far, so there is no need at this time to change that stance."

September 28th
Tokitaizan's father holds press conference 
Tokitaizan's father held a press conference yesterday in Tokyo with his lawyer by his side. Approximately 100 members of the press were in attendance as Mr. Saito explained the happenings shortly after his son's death pausing often to bury his face in a small towel. When asked about the dialogue between himself and Tokitsukaze-oyakata on the night of his son's death, Mr. Saito revealed that Tokitsukaze-oyakata tried to cover up the incident by saying that he wanted to have Tokitaizan's remains cremated immediately. "He told me that he'd send me the bones right away after they cremated him, but I didn't grant him permission to do that." Tokitaizan's remains were sent back to Niigata City where an autopsy was performed, and it was announced that Tokitaizan had died from the traumatic effects of having received multiple blows to the body. When asked if he thought Tokitsukaze-oyakata was trying to cover anything up regarding his son's violent death, Mr. Saito said, "The oyakata explained that he died after a normal keiko session, but when I saw the bruises and burns on his body, I thought to myself what has happened here? Looking back on it now, I think he may have been trying to cover it up." Mr. Saito is contemplating a civil lawsuit against Tokitsukaze-oyakata if he is charged with any wrongdoing. He also added, "I just can't watch the sumo broadcast anymore. I just can't."

Other questions and answers were as follows:

What kinds of things did your son confide in you?

"He said it was tough not to have his own free time, but he never mentioned any violence or bullying. My ego was involved too because I thought if he could just be honed for a year or two then he would amount to something in the future."

Why did you have a government autopsy performed?

"He had bruises on his forehead and his entire body. Honestly, it was too much for a parent to bare."

When did you hear that the oyakata struck your son with a beer bottle?

"Just after that article appeared in the tabloid, the oyakata said that he wanted to come and pay his respects. He told me then that he struck him with a beer bottle, and I was speechless because I thought that he had tried to stop the other rikishi [from bullying my son]."

What are your memories?

"He was a troublemaker at times, but he was a normal kid. The last time he came home on June 21st, he had just gotten out of the bath. He tried some karaage (deep fried chicken) that I made for him and told me how good it was."

Meanwhile, across town, Tokitsukaze-oyakata attended the all-hands meeting for stable masters even though he wasn't expected to show up. At the meeting, the oyakata apologized to everyone for the recent criticism he has invited in the press, but he didn't apologize for the actual Tokitaizan incident, and he gave no indication that he would resign drawing complaints from some of the oyakata afterwards. The oyakata left the confines of his stable, which was virtually under siege by reporters, just after 1 PM surprising many who didn't expect him to make a public appearance. One oyakata commented afterwards, "We were surprised to see him because we didn't think he was coming. I thought if he did come it would be to announce his resignation."

Tokitsukaze-oyakata went straight to Kitanoumi Rijicho and said, "I'm sorry for all the trouble I've caused everyone." He also bowed deeply to the other directors and Association officials in the room. After that, though, as he headed to the main conference room he told members of the press to get the hell out of the way and seemed irritated at the attention saying, "this is only a meeting for stablemasters, so stop getting in the way."

Through it all, Tokitsukaze-oyakata didn't seem sorry in anyway for the current allegations against him and the new revelations surrounding Tokitaizan's death. One oyakta commented, "One of his rikishi died; he needs to take responsibility for it [and resign]." Another prominent oyakata in the Association said, "The Tokitsukaze Ichimon has got to look carefully into this incident." Regarding any sanctions from the Sumo Association against Tokitsukaze-oyakata, Kitanoumi Rijicho said, "We will wait until the investigation has concluded."

October 2nd
Tokitsukaze meets with Kitanoumi Rijicho; difference in stories emerge; oyakata's ouster imminent
Details have emerged from the 90-minute meeting held yesterday between Kitanoumi Rijicho and Tokitsukaze-oyakata as a result of the Ministry of Education's request that the Sumo Association conduct their own internal investigation. Musashigawa-oyakata, Isenoumi-oyakata, and a lawyer from the NSK also attended the discussion. It was learned in the meeting that Tokitsukaze-oyakata attempted to cover up details surrounding Tokitaizan's death last June. The board of directors of the Sumo Association will likely recommend that Tokitsukaze-oyakata be removed from the Association altogether. With such a scenario, it is possible that the Tokitsukaze-beya could even be dissolved altogether. After the meeting which began at 3:20 PM yesterday, Kitanoumi Rijicho commented, "A person has died as a result of this, so we will be strict in our punishment. We were initially told by Tokitsukaze-oyakata that this was a death resulting from an existing health condition, but since the recent reports in the media have contradicted this, we've asked Tokitsukaze-oyakata to talk with us again."

Other differences have also emerged from information leaked by those close to the investigation. In recent days, Tokitsukaze-oyakata has admitted that he struck Tokitaizan with a beer bottle once in the forehead, but according to testimony given to the Aichi Prefecture police department, the oyakata struck Tokitaizan multiple times with the bottle before hitting him across the forehead. Tokitsukaze-oyakata also said that the butsukari-geiko session lasted about 30 minutes, but according to testimony Tokitaizan was forced to practice it for over an hour. A third discrepancy was the use of the aluminum bat used to strike the 17 year-old. The oyakata insisted that it was only used during the keiko session the morning Tokitaizan died, but according to police records, the bat was also used the night before when the oyakata ordered the other rikishi in the stable to haze Tokitaizan. Through it all, Tokitsukaze-oyakata has not shown remorse for the incident and is sticking to his explanation of minimal bullying.

With Tokitsukaze-oyakata's removal from the Sumo Association altogether, the question now is what will become of the stable. Officials in the NSK are divided in their opinions, some suggesting that the stable be dissolved and other suggesting that the name be given to another oyakata within the Ichimon. The stable was first established in November 1945 by the dai-Yokozuna, Futabayama, and is one of the most revered stables in the sport. If the stable is not dissolved, it is being rumored that Edagawa-oyakata (former Aogiyama) will be the likely successor.

Meanwhile, a former rikishi who retired early from the Tokitsukaze-beya has spoken out regarding the abusive nature of Tokitsukaze-oyakata. The former rikishi, who wishes to be un-named, retired in Aki 2005 saying he could no longer tolerate the abuse and that he feared for his life. The rikishi, who is now 20 years old, was from Oita Prefecture and first entered sumo in March 2003 just after the current Tokitsukaze-oyakata inherited the stable. "I was his first recruit," the rikishi stated. "During the mae-zumo process, I was treated kindly by everyone as if I was a guest, but as soon as my name was listed on the banzuke, the attitude of the other rikishi completely changed." According to the former rikishi, Tokitsukaze-oyakata told him to confide in the oyakata if anything happened, so when the youngster first told him of being hit by some of the other rikishi, the violence against him escalated. "You told on us didn't you," the older rikishi said punching him dozens of times causing the new rikishi to flee to Shizuoka Prefecture.

The oyakata and his wife persuaded him to return, but as soon as he did, further punishment was waiting for him. "They made me do butsukari-geiko for an hour and twenty minutes," he said. "They filled my mouth with dirt and salt, and even though they didn't hit me with a bat, they did hit me over the head with an iron frying pan. I thought I was going to die." The former rikishi revealed that even the stable master punched him. It was in Haru 2004 after he had run away from the stable for the second time. "He hit me repeatedly on both side of my face causing me to bleed from my mouth. The oyakata got violent when he was drunk, and he hit other rikishi with beer bottles just as he did to Tokitaizan."

The former rikishi left the stable for good in Aki 2005 and returned home to Oita only to receive a bill from Tokitsukaze-oyakata in the amount of one million yen (about $8,500 US) for food and yukata expenses incurred while the rikishi was affiliated with the stable. The former rikishi refused to make the payment citing the allowance received by the Association of 1.86 million yen per year per rikishi. It was also reported that Tokitsukaze-oyakata forced the rikishi in his stable to cover their own medical costs, a policy that differed from the previous stablemaster.

October 3rd
Tokitsukaze-beya will not be dissolved; Current Tokitsukaze-oyakata to be ousted on the 5th
It was learned yesterday that the Tokitsukaze-beya will not be dissolved as some had speculated, and it is also being reported that current Edagawa-oyakata and former Makuuchi rikishi, Aogiyama, will assume the name Tokitsukaze and become the stable master. A special meeting of the Sumo Association officials will be held on the 5th where they will officially announce the current Tokitsukaze-oyakata's release from the Association, but the oyakata name change could take place as soon as today. In related news, several of the directors will interview some of the rikishi from the stable who participated in the violence aimed at Tokitaizan. Kitanoumi Rijicho explained, "When you consider the significance of his responsibility, the resulting punishment will also be strict. It's also why we need to hear the facts from the younger rikishi." Depending on the results of the discussion with with the younger rikishi, punishments may be handed down to them as well.

October 4th
Tokitsukaze-oyakata appears on television without permission, downplays incident
Tokitsukaze-oyakata appeared on a television program this evening to explain his side of the story. This was the first time that the oyakata had spoken publicly since the news surfaced of pending criminal charges against him for the death of Tokitaizan. The oyakata did not have the Association's permission to appear on the show called "Super News" broadcast by Fuji Television Corp. when those affiliated with the Sumo Association appear on television they must have written permission from the PR Department, but Tokitsukaze-oyakata had a stable affiliate call the department and tell the PR people that he would appear, a move that shows the oyakata already knows his fate. The oyakata stated, "I am just overwhelmed with feelings of remorse. I guess it was an error in judgment on my part." The oyakata stopped short of admitting any wrongdoing, however, by saying "that did not happen" when asked if he ordered the violence against Tokitaizan. He was also asked about hitting Tokitaizan with the beer bottle to which he replied, "I just lightly tapped at him with it, and it accidentally struck his forehead." Regarding the usage of the metal bat, the oyakata explained, "One rikishi hit him in the butt with it, but I told him to stop it immediately." When asked about his pending ouster, he said, "Well, it's the directors' decision, but I am just thankful for the 44 years I've been in the sport since I was 13 years old. Regardless of what happens, I'm just concerned about what becomes of the rikishi." Kitanoumi Rijicho was asked his opinion of the broadcast afterwards, and he commented, "His explanation really didn't differ from what he told us a few days ago." The Commissioner was obviously not pleased with Tokitsukaze-oyakata's sudden appearance.

In the meantime, Musashigawa-oyakata and Isenoumi-oyakata questioned all 18 people affiliated with the stable including the rikishi, two oyakata, a yobi-dashi, and tokoyama (hairdresser). A lawyer for the Association was also present as the interviews lasted 6 hours. Isenoumi-oyakata explained afterwards, "We are substantiating evidence to compare it with what Tokitsukaze-oyakata told us a few days ago. I cannot divulge the results of our interviews." Kitanoumi-oyakata also added, "It's possible that the stable master's explanation is one-sided." A special meeting will be held tomorrow to determine the fate of Tokitsukaze-oyakata, but every indication is that he'll be ousted from the Association. It would be the first time that a stable master was kicked out of sumo.

October 5th
Directors' pay to be cut across the board
In preparation for the special meeting of the directors to decide the fate of Tokitsukaze-oyakata, Kitanoumi Rijicho announced that he is going to cut his own pay in half and cut the salary of the other nine directors by 30%. The term for the paycuts was not specified, but it is reported to be at least six months. The paycut is another issue that will be discussed at the emergency meeting, and the move to decrease the salary of the directors across the board is unprecedented in the history of the Association. The Commissioner explained that the Association needed to take responsibility for the death of one of its rikishi starting at the top. Takasago-oyakata, who is a director himself, will now have his pay cut by 60% through November due to his punishment stemming from the Asashoryu incident.

The move to punish the directors across the board was likely inspired by government officials from the Ministry of Education. Kenshiro Matsunami, a cabinet Minister, said, "When the facts of the investigation come out, the responsibility of the Commissioner and other directors will also be questioned."

October 6th
Tokitsukaze-oyakata ousted; Tokitsuumi retires, likely successor
The Sumo Association's board of directors convened yesterday shortly after 1PM for a little more than an hour to officially determine the fate of Tokitsukaze-oyakata and the Tokitsukaze-beya. The decision was unanimous to boot Tokitsukaze-oyakata out of the association based on his role in the violence directed towards Tokitaizan resulting in his death and the subsequent attempt to cover up the crime. This marks the second time an oyakata has been kicked out of the Association with the first being Yamahibiki-oyakata in 1997 who went AWOL and had other problems. This latest incident, however, marks the first time a stable master has been fired. The directors also punished themselves by imposing a pay in salary as follows: Kitanoumi Rijicho will have his pay cut in half for four months, and the other directors will be docked 30% for three months. After the meeting, Kitanoumi Rijicho and other former Yokozuna emerged to meet the press, but before speaking, they bowed deeply in apology and expressed their sincere regret for the deep pain caused to Tokitaizan's family.

Kitanoumi Rijicho explained that the reason for the decision was first, Tokitsukaze-oyakata failed in his responsibility and obligation to protect his rikishi, but he also added that the oyakata had lost the trust of the Association after his claims regarding the incident differed from those who took part in witnessed the event. The Commissioner further commented, "His actions were unbecoming as a stablemaster, he's outraged the public, and he's defiled the name of the Sumo Association." Tokitsukaze-oyakata had requested that he be able to defend himself during the meeting of directors, and he did enter the room twice during the meeting but was excused shortly thereafter each time

Regarding the younger rikishi in the stable who carried out most of the violence, the Association will take a wait-and-see attitude relying on the police investigation into the matter to conclude before they make their final decision. The Association will also name a successor to the Tokitsukaze-beya on October 9th.

Tokitsukaze-oyakata did not address the press after he was officially informed of his release from the Association, but he did release the following statement:

"I fully accept the decision. I would like to apologize from the depths of my heart to the parents and other family members of Takashi Saito, and I will continue to pray for his happiness in the hereafter. I now leave the Association as one who has benefited from it for so many years, but I will continue to show my support for O-zumo."

Tokitsukaze-oyakata reportedly returned to the stable and said that he didn't feel well. In the evening, Nishikishima-oyakata explained to the press, "He came back to the stable and dropped to the floor where he is still sleeping. He was worried more about the younger rikishi than himself. He was just grateful that they kept the stable in tact and will let the young guys fight again." When asked if Tokitsukaze-oyakata had any plans to appeal the decision, the response was no.

Meanwhile, the Aichi Prefecture Police Department revealed yesterday that Tokitsukaze-oyakata not only struck Tokitaizan in the forehead with a beer bottle, but that he also hit him in the stomach and the thighs. The oyakata explained to the Sumo Association on October 3rd that he only lightly tapped Tokitaizan on the forehead once.

In related news, Makuuchi rikishi, Tokitsuumi, who is affiliated with the Tokitsukaze-beya announced his retirement from active rikishi status yesterday. Those close to the sport believe it is a sign that Tokitsuumi will inherit the stable and not Aogiyama (Edagawa-oyakata) as originally reported. Masao Uchida, the former Tokitsukaze-oyakata who also served as Commissioner at one time, is said to have an influence in the decision of succession. Both Uchida-san and Tokitsuumi graduated from Tono University.

And finally across the Tokyo Bay in Chiba Prefecture, it was learned that Ozeki Kotomitsuki was hospitalized with what looks to be appendicitis. The Ozeki began complaining of stomach pains on the afternoon of the 3rd and then checked himself into a hospital on the 4th when the pain hadn't subsided. He is currently undergoing tests and pending the results, he could go under the knife to have the appendices removed. The circumstance puts Kotomitsuki in danger of participating in the Shakai Fukushi O-zumo one-day tournament slated for October 6th and the Yokohama jungyo slated for the 7th.

October 8th
Toyonoshima receives support from Yokohama fans; police continue their investigation
Fans at the Yokohama exhibition, held on October 7th, showed their support for M5 Toyonoshima by cheering loudly for him throughout the day. As the rikishi first entered the venue, calls of "ganbatte" (hang in there) and "ouen shite iru yo" (We're pulling for you) could be heard from a large number of fans. "I thought I was going to be taken down by the hecklers, so I really am grateful. All I can do now is produce results atop the dohyo for those people," Toyonoshima commented. Hailing from the Tokitsukaze-beya, as soon as the furor began surrounding the violent death of Tokitaizan, the rikishi from the stable have been under intense scrutiny. Even the phone number of the tofu shop that Toyonoshima's parents run in Ehime Prefecture has been posted to the web, which has prompted angry calls and prank calls. Toyonoshima's picture was also used by mistake in a television news story yesterday that reported Tokitsuumi as the successor of the stable. The M5 has yet to talk to his former stable master since his punishment came down, but he is seemingly in support of Tokitsuumi's taking over. "We're a storied stable, so I want to try and lift the stable back up and create a good image for it."

Meanwhile, it was revealed yesterday that several of the lower-ranked rikishi from the Tokitsukaze-beya have admitted that the tortuous keiko session forced upon Tokitaizan on the day he died was administered as punishment for his having run away the day before. The testimony is key to the pending case against some of the stable affiliates because it would show that the events were not the results of a normal keiko session. The former Tokitsukaze-oyakata had denied that the session was anything but a normal keiko session. Police are continuing their investigation as they await for experts to finalize their report regarding the autopsy of Tokitaizan's body, but they did formally announce on October 5th that Tokitaizan's death was the direct result of the violence directed towards him on June 25th and 26th.

It was also learned that Kitanoumi Rijicho will pay a visit to the family of Tokitaizan in Niigata Prefecture sometime this week. "His parents have lost their precious son, so I'm hoping they'll let me visit them and pay my respects to him at the family altar." The Sumo Association previously dispatched Shikoroyama-oyakata and Tatsutagawa-oyakata to formally apologize to Tokitaizan's family on behalf of the Tokitsukaze Ichimon. When asked if the Sumo Association would compensate Tokitaizan's family, the commissioner responded, "We are considering that option."

October 12th
Tokitsuumi's first order of business as stable master is to visit Tokitaizan's family; Kitanoumi Rijicho to follow suit
Tokitsuumi's first order of business after officially assuming the Tokitsukaze name was to hop on the 6:14 AM shinkansen (bullet train) bound for Ueno and visit the family of Tokitaizan in Niigata. The oyakata purchased a bouquet of flowers and visited the Saitoh home around 9 AM where he offered incense and prayed for Tokitaizan's soul kneeling in front of the family altar. The oyakata only stayed for about 10 minutes and then headed back to Tokyo. The lawyer for the Saitoh family said afterwards that Tokitsukaze-oyakata express his deep sorrow for the incident, and then in turn the family replied, "We in turn are sorry that it has all come to this forcing you to retire as an active rikishi." Tokitsukaze-oyakata commented afterwards, "I just thought it best that I visit Saitoh-kun's family as soon as possible. I told him how sorry I was and then I prayed that the stable's rikishi will be able to rally together and overcome this. His mother was fighting back tears and was still grieving. His father told me to hang in there as I left. I just want to ensure that this type of incident never occurs again."

It was also learned yesterday that Kitanoumi Rijicho will make a visit of his own to the Saitoh family later on today accompanied by Isenoumi-oyakata, the highest-ranking official from the Tokitsukaze Ichimon. Some are speculating, however, that the visited from sumo's top official is coming too late as more than three months have passed since Tokitaizan's death.

October 25th
Aichi Prefecture police official admits botched investigation regarding Tokitaizan incident
Shoichi Matsuo, the director of the Aichi Prefecture Police Department, held a press conference yesterday and admitted that his organization made a mistake in their initial investigation of Tokitaizan's death by proclaiming the death the result of an existing health condition. "At the time, we should have used better judgment in determining the cause of death," he stated. The Inuyama City Police, who were the first to investigate the incident, stated after talking to the former Tokitsukaze-oyakata and a doctor who examined the body that they believed the death was the result of an illness. However, an autopsy performed at the request of Tokitaizan's family revealed that th death was brought about by multiple blows to the body. The director of the police department concluded the press conference with the obligatory statement that they were committed to more thorough investigations in the future.

January 26th
Former Tokitsukaze-oyakata could be arrested as early as the first week in February
It is being reported that the former Tokitsukaze-oyakata, Junichi Yamamoto, will be arrested and formally charged for his participation in the lynching of former stablemate, Takashi Saito, who died on June 26th after two days of hazing and torture at the hands of the stable master and several rikishi in the stable. Reports are saying the arrest could come in early February. It is also being reported that three rikishi will also be arrested for their participation in the violence.

The hazing began on the night of the 25th when the former Tokitsukaze-oyakata struck Tokitaizan in the head before ordering some of the rikishi to take him out back of the stable and rough him up. On the morning of the 25th, Tokitaizan ran away from the stable as he didn't want to face the rough keiko sessions at the stable, but several rikishi in the stable found him at a convenience store and dragged him back to the stable where they reportedly roughed him up before dinner.

On the morning of the 26th, at the end of the stable's normal practice session, all 11 rikishi at the session took turns working over Tokitaizan at butsukari-geiko while some stood at the edge of the dohyo and struck the boy with an aluminum bat. After the session, Tokitaizan's body was left for several hours in the keiko area before an ambulance was called for.

According to the Aichi Prefecture Police Department, the difficulty in the case has been determining exactly what actions led to Satoh's death and who administered the deadly blows. Reports have the former oyakata and three rikishi as initial suspects, but police are also saying that 4 or 5 other rikishi may have played a role in the killing and are still under consideration.

The Association's board of directors held a special meeting today, and it was reported that the reason for the meeting was to discuss the course of action the Association would take if some of its rikishi are arrested, but a spokesman for the Association said today's meeting was not about that did offer this statement, "Depending on the circumstances if and when the former Tokitsukaze-oyakata is arrested, we will hold a special meeting and discuss a course of action."

February 8th
Former Tokitsukaze-oyakata arrested with three other rikishi from the stable
The former Tokitsukaze-oyakata, Junichi Yamamoto, and three non-sekitori rikishi from the Tokitsukaze-beya were arrested yesterday on charges of deadly assault in the death of Tokitaizan, a Jonokuchi rikishi who was killed last June after two days of hazing and torture at the hands of his stable master and several stablemates. The three non-sekitori rikishi who were also arrested were MS 58 Akiyutaka (24), Jonidan 1 Dotoh (25), and Jonidan 86 Tokiohmaru (22). According to police, the three rikishi assaulted Tokitaizan at the order of their stablemaster on the night of June 25th and then forced him to do strenuous keiko the next day leading to the boy's death.

At a press conference held by the lead investigator in the case, the Aichi Prefecture Police Department alleged that on the night of June 25th, the former stable master struck Tokitaizan in the forehead with a beer bottle and then ordered the other rikishi to tie him up to the teppo pole in the keiko room and let him have it. The orders were followed and Tokitaizan was tied to the pole with some rope and beaten with a wooden stick until approximately 10 PM that evening. The former stablemaster has admitted to striking Tokitaizan once in the forehead with a beer bottle, but he is denying charges that he ordered any hazing of the boy.

The next morning about 11 AM, Tokitaizan was forced into a butsukari-geiko session for more than 30 minutes where he was repeated struck in the face, kicked, and beaten with an aluminum bat resulting in bruises covering the boy's body and several broken bones. Of the three rikishi arrested, Dotoh and Tokiohmaru have admitted to the charges while Akiyutaka is maintaining that he did indeed punch the victim but that it was just an act of discipline. The four people arrested turned themselves into police around 8 PM.

Kitanoumi Rijicho held a press conference at 8:35 PM at the Ryogoku Kokugikan where he was flanked by Musashigawa-oyakata, Isenoumi-oyakata, Tomozuna-oyakata, and Kokonoe-oyakata. The commissioner read from a prepared statement where he stated, "We will consider appropriate actions as we watch the justice system take its course."

February 9th
Tokitaizan's family closer to filing a civil lawsuit against the Sumo Association
It was learned several days ago that the father of Tokitaizan is considering a civil lawsuit against the Sumo Association for their role in the death of his son. Mr. Saito held a press conference on February 8th where he revealed that he will seek monetary damages from the Association. An exact amount was not stated, but it is reported to be equivalent to several million dollars (US). The announcement came on the heels of the arrest of the former Tokitsukaze-oyakata and three rikishi from the stable. The lawyer for Mr. Saito, who also participated in the press conference, said, "We want to know the plans of not only Mr. Yamamoto (the former stablemaster) but also those of the Association. The Association has responsibility as the governing authority." The lawyer also revealed that the former oyakata approached the Saito's asking if they could settle out of court, but the family did not cooperate. Mr. Saito explained, "He had yet to be officially charged with any crimes, so it was out of the question for us." The lawyer for the Saito family also indicated that they would seek damages from the Sumo Association and the four people arrested.

Mr. Saito (pictured at right) explained that the catalyst for the lawsuit against the Sumo Association came on October 12th when Kitanoumi Rijicho and Isenoumi-oyakata visited the Saito family in Niigata and specifically stated, "The Association is also responsible." It is believed that the Sumo Association and the Saito family have previously held talks on a settlement, but the Association's public affairs department would not comment on the matter. When asked about this, the lawyer responded, "We will reconfirm things with them, but it's possible we will file suit." Mr. Saito also added, "They are a huge organization, so I was extremely worried that this would be swept under the rug." Changing the subject, he added, "It's a world where you have to obey the oyakata, but those other guys are 24 and 25 years old. All they had to do was think for themselves just a little bit, and this could have been avoided. I hope that things can be reformed even if only slightly through Takashi's death." Regarding the former oyakata's continued denial as to his responsibility for his son's death, Mr. Saito responded, "I want criminal charges for deadly assault brought against him, and he also needs to tell us the truth and reveal exactly what happened.

At the end of the press conference, it was learned that Takashi's cremated remains (usually a few bones in the case of Japan) are still at the house instead of in the family's grave. Mr. Saito concluded, "I think with the arrests that my son is more at ease now, but we are probably in for a battle here if we go to court, so I want him to give us his strength. We also don't want to leave him alone in the graveyard."

February 26th
Former Tokitsukaze-oyakata admits that he ordered Tokitaizan to be tied to the teppo pole

It was learned yesterday that Junichi Yamamoto (former Tokitsukaze-oyakata) has now admitted that he ordered the rikishi in his stable to tie Tokitaizan up to the teppo pole in the stable where he was beaten for about 20 minutes the night before he died. The former oyakata had denied that allegation up to this point, but despite admitting that fact now, he still maintains that he did not order any hazing of the boy. According to the Aichi Prefecture Police Department, Yamamoto's former story was that he couldn't recall whether or not he ordered the rikishi to be tied up.

February 28th
Nagoya District Prosecutor to file criminal charges in Tokitaizan death
The Nagoya district prosecutor will file charges tomorrow against Junichi Yamamoto (former Tokitsukaze-oyakata) and the other three rikishi from the Tokitsukaze-beya who were all arrested for their roles in the fatal assault of Tokitaizan. Yamamoto is denying the charges saying "It was not assault; it was discipline. The butsukari-geiko is also part of keiko". The younger rikishi are admitting to most of the charges although they are saying their actions were the result of direct orders from their stable master.

Further sending bad vibes through the Tokitsukaze-beya, the Aichi Prefecture Police investigative office will forward their documents and records onto the district prosecutor regarding other rikishi in the stable who could have played some role in the death but whom police did not have sufficient evidence against to take into custody.




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