Hi Blog. I’ve just webbed two recent Japan Times Community Page articles, summarized as follows:
The scapegoating of Asashoryu
Champion’s antics are least of sumo’s worries
The Japan Times: Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2007
THE ZEIT GIST
By JAMES ERIKSSON and ARUDOU DEBITO
Special to The Japan Times, Column 39 for the Japan Times Community Page
Based upon an Internet essay at http://www.debito.org/?p=542
…Some might say Asa has long had it coming. He’s known as the bad boy of sumo, reputedly showing violent tendencies toward junior wrestlers and, according to the weeklies and wide shows, even his wife.
Therefore his record, in a sport where winning is everything, was the only thing keeping the hounds at bay.
But it’s not as if he stopped winning. What’s changed is that as of May we finally have another yokozuna, Hakuho. It seems Asashoryu is now expendable.
The point is, the whole soccer-sumo scandal is a smoke-screen. Sumo is in a panic and needs a scapegoat…
Whole article at http://www.debito.org/japantimes090407.html
SEE UPDATE ON THIS ISSUE AT BOTTOM
The blame game
Convenience, creativity seen in efforts
to scapegoat Japan’s foreign community
The Japan Times: Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2007
THE ZEIT GIST
By ARUDOU DEBITO
Special to The Japan Times, Column 38 for the Japan Times Community Page
“Director’s Cut”, with information included that did not appear in print or online at the Japan Times, available at http://www.debito.org/japantimes082807.html
We live in interesting times, where Japan’s economy and society have been at a crossroads–for nearly two decades.
With the shortage and high cost of domestic labor, the Japanese government has imported record numbers of cheap foreign workers. Even though whole industrial sectors now depend on foreign labor, few publicly accept the symbiosis as permanent. Instead, foreigners are being blamed for Japan’s problems.
Scapegoating the alien happens worldwide, but Japan’s version is particularly amusing. It’s not just the garden-variety focus on crime anymore: Non-Japanese are being blamed for problems in miltary security, sports, education — even shipping. Less amusing is how authorities are tackling these “problems” — by thwarting any chances of assimilation…
Rest of the article at http://www.debito.org/japantimes082807.html
Enjoy. Arudou Debito in Sapporo
UPDATE: Doreen Simmons, Grand Dame of Sumo, comments in the Kansai Time Out (September 2007) on the Asa controversy. Courtesy of Steve. In PDF format, download from Debito.org here:
COMMENT: I don’t claim to know anywhere even near what Doreen knows, but my reaction is one of general disappointment with her essay. It’s not all that well written (it goes kerplunk at the end, with no conclusion), indicating to me that like movie director Kurosawa Akira, she’s gotten too senior in society to take an edit.
James thought there was no new ground covered, just rehash plus history. I would agree–there’s nothing covered in depth, such as examining the possible motives re WHY Asa is being carpeted this much now. The media has jumped on Asa in the past, but this time all things seem to be in confluence–so well that one could make an argument that the JSA is trying to force Asa out by making things too uncomfortable for him to stay. He could thus quit without tarnishing Sumo’s Mongolian connection. Bit of a stretch, yes. But let’s allude to it even if only to eliminate it.
Even though historically, as Doreen noted in her article, Asa is getting plenty more rope compared to other defrocked wrestlers, James and I see the JSA even going so far as fanning the flames around Asa themselves, in order to take the heat off their own excesses. It’s not as if Asa has all the same tools at his disposal (such as they are in the Sumo world) as a regular J rikishi to defend himself. He’s not even a native speaker.
In sum, Doreen is not at all questioning the very fabric of Sumo, which helps create these uncontrollable sumo “frankensteins” that the JSA have to reel in from time to time. My feeling after reading is that Doreen was just informing us how much she knows about the sport, and indirectly chiding anyone for commenting on Sumo at all without her level of knowledge (which she’ll impart at her convenience, thank you very much).
That was certainly the feeling I got when I asked Doreen for comment before I submitted the above essay to the Japan Times (she had very kindly corrected a point raised in the COUNTERPOINT essay we wrote last week, thanks).
Her response (excerpt):
“There is so much to take issue with, and it would take a couple of hours at least. Although I was extremely busy before, I found time to point out just one glaring error, in the Onaruto story — but why should I clean up somebody else’s article free of charge? If invited, I will be happy to write a rebuttal — for a fee.”
Sorry to have bothered her. Also glad she was paid for her opinions (such as they are) by the KTO, not me. Arudou Debito in Sapporo