Photo/IllutrationKeiichi Tadaki, chairman of the outside committee looking into violence in the sumo world, holds a news conference on Oct. 19. (Ryo Suganuma)

Acts of violence are too often considered acceptable in instructing and training sumo wrestlers when such behavior should instead be reported and subject to disciplinary measures, a panel said.

The committee, which was set up to look into ways to prevent a recurrence of the beating of a sumo wrestler by former yokozuna Harumafuji in October 2017, presented its final report to the Japan Sumo Association on Oct. 19.

The panel recommended not only a system for reporting acts of violence to stablemasters and the JSA but also called for establishing penalties against those who commit such acts.

Since February this year, the committee has questioned all 900 or so wrestlers and other members of the JSA. In addition, questionnaires were sent to about 900 retired wrestlers to get a better grasp of violence in the sumo world over the past four decades.

The panel found that 5.2 percent of JSA members were victims of violence over the past year, 90 percent of whom were young wrestlers with three years or less time in the JSA. They were often targeted for violence by older stablemates.

The panel suggested the JSA set new provisions to obligate the reporting of violence as well as penalties when that obligation is not upheld.

To make the sumo world more open and transparent, the panel recommended that outsiders be included in a compliance committee that would play a central role in implementing the various measures.

“The key to the future lies with the JSA,” Keiichi Tadaki, a former prosecutor general at the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office who served as panel chairman, said at a news conference on Oct. 19. “It should not leave matters up to individual stables. The association must set up a structure that will allow for information to accumulate within the association.”

Tadaki also said he would ask the JSA to establish another outside panel to assess whether the recommendations have been followed.

JSA Chairman Hakkaku released a statement saying the organization would take into consideration the opinions of outsiders while making every effort to rid sumo of violence.

The panel report touched upon the fact that both Harumafuji and the victim, Takanoiwa, were from Mongolia.

The panel explained that the beating occurred because a special relationship between older and younger Mongolian wrestlers had been established even though those wrestlers belonged to different stables.

The report pointed out that the fundamental rule of the sumo stable system is that the stablemaster oversees all matters related to how a wrestler lives on a daily basis.

It added the stable system would be endangered if stable members entered relationships of having to obey someone from outside the stable.

The panel recommended the implementation of measures to prevent excessive close contact between members of different stables.

In addition, the panel noted that Harumafuji’s retirement from sumo to take responsibility for the beating followed the retirement of another Mongolian yokozuna, Asashoryu, for his acts of violence.

The panel recommended that the JSA’s Yokozuna Deliberation Council provide guidance even after a yokozuna has been promoted to ensure he maintains the dignity required of the highest rank in sumo.