Close

Support Global Voices

To stay independent, free, and sustainable, our community needs the help of friends and readers like you.

Donate now »

See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

Japan: Yokozuna gets the boot

Never far from controversy, Mongolian Yokozuna (sumo champion) Asashoryu (朝青龍) is again in hot water. Just before a regional sumo tour started, the yokozuna left for Mongolia claiming that he would not be able to participate, having submitted a doctor's note indicating that he had injuries in his arm and lower back that needed to be treated. Shortly after his departure, a video image showing the yokozuna playing soccer in Mongolia made it onto some of the major Japanese TV networks, sparking a controversy. Asashoryu has been penalized by the Sumo Association with suspension from the next two tournaments and a salary reduction. When the yokozuna was then reported to be suffering from depression, the story became further sensationalized.

Yokozuna Asashoryu

Many bloggers were harshly critical of Asashoryu's behaviour. Kazusan writes:

もし、横綱をモンゴルにこのまま帰すならば、、、、、帰って来るな!!朝青龍!!と言いたいですね。実に簡単な、「迷惑をかけました」の挨拶も出来ない人間が、心技体を求める国技相撲には不必要で、謹慎が開けた後にも、精神異常者を横綱と認めるわけにはいかないと考えます。

If they let the yokozuna go back to Mongolia… I just want to say “Don't ever come back, Asashoryu!!” This kind of person, who cannot even say something as easy as “I am sorry I created trouble”, is not needed in sumo, the national sport in which good spirit, technique and physical condition are required. Even when he comes out of the probation, I don't think we should accept a mentally-ill person as a yokozuna.

Another blogger also criticizes Asashoryu's misconduct:

診断書を出しモンゴルへ帰国。モンゴルで治療していると思いきや、それがみごとなヘッディングまでやってのけていたのだ。これは、相撲協会だけでなく日本国民すべてがいきり立った。朝青龍が、涼しいモンゴルでサッカーに興じていたとき、日本では40度にも達する暑さの中、関取集は地方巡業で汗をかいていた。結構な強行軍で、長野から北海道まで興行と移動の連続を強いられていたのだ。そこには、モンゴル出身の関取集34名も含まれているのだ。誰一人文句も言わず、ファンサービスを一生懸命やっているではないか。

He submitted his doctor's note and then went back to Mongolia. We thought he was recuperating in Mongolia, but instead he showed off his great [skill at] heading [the ball]. This outraged not only the Sumo Association but also the people of Japan. While Asashoryu was enjoying playing soccer in cool Mongolia, other sumo wrestlers were sweating on the sumo tour in the heat reaching almost 40 degrees. It was quite a forced march, and they were forced to continuously do the shows and then travel from Nagano to Hokkaido. There are 34 Mongolian wrestlers. None of them complained and they did their best to entertain the fans.

On the other hand, a number of bloggers express their concern about the treatment of Asashoryu and how the Association and others involved have been handling the sitution.

One blogger criticizes the old style attitude of the Association towards mental illness and its failure to deal with the problem:

朝青龍は謹慎処分が下って以降一切自宅を出ていない。はっきり言って異常事態であり、早く帰国させるべきである。今後の進退については本人の意思と親方、協会が競技をして決めれば良い。協会内部、特に巡業部は朝青龍に対して「汗を流せば治る」等と馬鹿馬鹿しい発言をしていた親方もいたが、彼らは精神的な病をいまだに「病は気から」何て思っている古臭い考えを持っているのだろう。ストレス障害やうつ病は立派な病気である。早く治療するに越したことのない病気であり、放置していて手遅れになればそれこそ大問題だ。

今回の件は朝青龍にも非がある。しかし、もっと問題なのは朝青龍がこういった態度を取ることを容認してきた親方、そして協会にもあるはずだ。特に始動すべき親方の対応にはほとほと呆れるばかりだ。協会と親方はもっと問題意識を持ってこの件に対応すべきだろう。

Since the time the suspension was issued, Asashoryu has not come out of his house once. To be honest this is an insane situation, and he should be allowed to go home soon. Whether he should stay on or not should be left up to him, his oyakata (master) and the Association to decide. Within the Association, particularly its tour division, there were some masters who made a stupid comment in which they said that “(the illness) can be treated if you work up a good sweat”. I guess they still have an outdated view about mental illness, thinking “all illness comes from the mind”. Stress disorder and depression are legitimate illnesses. They are illnesses that are always best treated as soon as possible, and it can be a big problem if they are left [untreated] for too long.

Asashoryu does have faults in this case. However, what's more problematic is his oyakata as well as the Association, who have let Asashoryu behave this way. Particularly, I am really fed up with the way his oyakata, who is in the position to supervise him, has been handling the situation. The Association and the oyakata should deal with this with more awareness of the problem.

Another blogger expresses his anger at the media and Japanese society over their attitude towards mental illness:

ここのところの朝青龍の報道や世論には失望させられる。
テレビでこの話題が出ると、静聴できなくなる。
21世紀に入っても、精神的な病いを理解できない、大部分の愚かなマスコミや日本人。
周囲がそっとしておくことが、最も大事だと理解できず、医師の診断が出ているのに、そもそも仮病のように、勝手に決め付ける、大部分の愚かなマスコミや日本人。
ほんとーに腹が立つ。
無知ほど愚かで、おぞましく、残酷で、馬鹿なことはない。

The recent coverage of Asashoryu and people's opinions [about this issue] make me feel hopeless.
Whenever this topic comes up on TV, I cannot listen to it.
The majority of the Japanese are still not able to understand mental illnesses even in the 21st century.
The majority of the stupid Japanese press and of the Japanese people do not understand that it is best to let him be, and they assume that he is faking his sickness even though he was diagnosed by a doctor.
It really gets on my nerves.
Nothing is more hideous, cruel and stupid than ignorance.

Start the conversation

Authors, please log in »

Guidelines

  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.