Photo/IllutrationPrime Minister Shinzo Abe gives a stump speech in Ichinoseki, Iwate Prefecture, on July 19 during the Upper House election campaign. (The Asahi Shimbun)

The Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament ended July 21, with Kakuryu coming out victorious when he defeated Hakuho, a fellow yokozuna and fellow native of Mongolia.

The final bout of the day was an impressive nail-biter, with the bodies of both wrestlers flushing red all over as they grappled with each other.

By contrast, wrestlers with the titles of ozeki, sekiwake and komusubi--the second-, third- and fourth-highest ranks--turned out to be pitifully undependable.

Notably, all four ozeki wrestlers ended up withdrawing from the tournament, which hasn't happened since the Showa Era (1926-1989) until now.

The strings of “ya” letters for “yasumi” (absent) and the solid circles indicating losses printed on wrestlers’ score sheets were truly miserable to see.

When people in places such as barbershops and bars talk about politics, they often liken it to the sumo world.

Early this month, the leaders of ruling and opposition parties appeared on a program of Tokyo Broadcasting System Television Inc., where one said, “The (ruling) Liberal Democratic Party is a yokozuna, with no ozeki or komusubi seen around any longer.”

And the LDP did display the gravity of a yokozuna during the Upper House election held on July 21.

Be that as it may, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, head of the LDP, was often heard rebuking opposition parties during his stump speeches.

“A big lie,” “irresponsible,” “that opposition party” and “those years” are some of the words and phrases that Abe used to describe the arguments made by opposition parties and the years when the now-departed Democratic Party of Japan was in power, with the LDP in the opposition.

During the last Diet session, the ruling parties stubbornly refused to hold meetings of the Budget Committees of both chambers and went so far as to refuse to accept a panel report that said pension benefits could fall 20 million yen ($185,200) short of the required post-retirement living expenses for a typical elderly couple.

Turning back to sumo, during his heyday in the 1930s, yokozuna Futabayama (1912-1968) always remained calm and composed.

Taiho (1940-2013) had a pet theory that being a yokozuna is all about “sticking it out.”

In 1969, when a fuss erupted over a referee's error that declared Taiho's opponent the winner, Taiho gracefully accepted the decision, saying, “I am to blame for having had a bout like that.”

The yokozuna LDP, unfortunately, still has a long way to go before ranking in dignity beside such great predecessors.

The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan apparently broke away from the pack during the latest election in a crowded race of weak and fractured opposition parties. But the CDP is still only about as strong as a komusubi, in my humble opinion.

I yearn to see a different sort of political sumo tournament, where wrestlers in the three ranks of ozeki, sekiwake and komusubi grapple with the yokozuna head on.

--The Asahi Shimbun, July 22

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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.