The following are
the events in chronological order documenting the ouster of
Tokitsukaze-oyakata for the lynching of Tokitaizan and attempted
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
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
reaches feverish pace; boy was struck with an aluminum bat; Association
phones are jammed with angry callers
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
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."
holds press conference
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."
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."
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.
will not be dissolved; Current Tokitsukaze-oyakata to be ousted on the
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.
appears on television without permission, downplays incident
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.
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
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
ousted; Tokitsuumi retires, likely successor
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
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
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.
did not address the press after he was officially informed of his
release from the Association, but he did release the following
"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
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.
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."
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.
police official admits botched investigation regarding Tokitaizan
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.
Tokitsukaze-oyakata could be arrested as early as the first week in
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
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."
Tokitsukaze-oyakata arrested with three other rikishi from the stable
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."
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.
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
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.
Prosecutor to file criminal charges in Tokitaizan death
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.