Photo/IllutrationHakkaku, chairman of the Japan Sumo Association, addresses the crowd at Ryogoku Kokugikan on Jan. 28 while high-ranking wrestlers stand behind him. (Wataru Sekita)

In the aftermath of two beating incidents that have come to light, the Japan Sumo Association will question all wrestlers to determine if they have been involved in violent assaults.

The revelations and other recent scandals have given a black eye to Japan's traditional sport.

JSA Chairman Hakkaku indicated on Jan. 28 that his association would look into past incidents of assault during a meeting with Yoshimasa Hayashi, the sports minister.

The JSA plans to form a committee in February to launch the probe, which will include outside experts.

"I feel that the popularity of sumo could be damaged as a result of the scandals," Hayashi told reporters after his meeting with Hakkaku. "I want the association to quickly move to reform itself as well as implement measures to prevent a recurrence."

In November, yokozuna Harumafuji retired prematurely to take responsibility for the drunken beating of a younger wrestler during a sumo circuit tour in Tottori in late October.

On Jan. 24, reports surfaced of an assault case that occurred in 2014. The victim in that assault has filed a lawsuit seeking compensation from the older wrestler who beat him and his former stablemaster.

Hakkaku also touched upon the scandals related to the association during his regular address to the audience at Ryogoku Kokugikan given on the final day of every tournament. The New Year Grand Sumo Tournament in Tokyo concluded there on Jan. 28.

Hakkaku apologized for not only the beating incidents, but also the revelation made in early January of top referee Shikimori Inosuke sexually harassing a younger male referee during a sumo circuit tour in Okinawa in December. Inosuke was suspended for three tournaments and will resign once his suspension ends.

"I would like to express my apologies to all sumo fans for having caused them concerns since late last year," Hakkaku said. "The sumo association will take serious steps regarding such incidents to ensure there is no recurrence."

Hakkaku did not touch upon the scandals during the speech he gave on the opening day of the 15-day New Year tournament on Jan. 14.