Japan Times on Asashoryu and the National NJ Blame Game (UPDATED)


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
Special to The Japan Times, Column 39 for the Japan Times Community Page
Courtesy http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20070904zg.html
Based upon an Internet essay at https://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 https://www.debito.org/japantimes090407.html



The blame game
Convenience, creativity seen in efforts
to scapegoat Japan’s foreign community

The Japan Times: Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2007
Special to The Japan Times, Column 38 for the Japan Times Community Page
Courtesy http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20070828zg.html

“Director’s Cut”, with information included that did not appear in print or online at the Japan Times, available at https://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 https://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

1 comment on “Japan Times on Asashoryu and the National NJ Blame Game (UPDATED)


    Have your say
    The Japan Times Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2007
    Courtesy http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20070911a1.html

    The scapegoating of Asa

    Two thumbs up for James Eriksson and Debito Arudou on their article (Zeit Gist, Sept. 4), the first and only in Japan that actually looks at the facts of the whole (Asashoryu) situation and doesn’t just follow the bandwagon of “Asa-bashing.”

    For the past four years, it was Asa that basically carried the entire sumo industry and raised its popularity among youngsters and yet (the Japan Sumo Association) is treating him like an outcast and a “traitor” of the sport.

    JSA utilized his “bad-boy” character commercially when he was the only yokozuna around, but now we have another — more mild-tempered Hakuho — they try to destroy (Asa), both personally and professionally.

    The media loves to play that two-minute soccer clip and remind people that he handed in a “falsified” doctor’s claim on his illness.

    Imagine you return to your home country for rehab and you get invited to a charity event. High-ranked officials and your pal Hidetoshi Nakata ask you to kick the ball around for a few minutes. Who in the world would refuse?

    Imagine it was Nakata or Ichiro that was in Asa’s shoes. What do you think the Japanese press would write?

    “Our national hero Nakata/Ichiro endures tremendous pain from his severe injuries and shows the world his big heart at an overseas charity event.”

    Welcome to reality in Japan.

    Tochisuke Hayami, Tokyo


    The blame game

    I always enjoy Debito Arudou’s letters and articles, and mostly agree with the points he makes in “The blame game” (Zeit Gist, Aug. 28).

    However, leaving aside the Japanese people’s unarguably generous capacity for hypocrisy on the question of so-called “internationalization,” I completely sympathize with Japan’s underlying view on the inadvisability of importing people. In my opinion this has been a social disaster in Britain in general, and in my home town of London in particular, where the vast majority of violent street crime is committed by our more recent citizens. You only have to check (the London) Metropolitan Police’s “wanted” page to see what I mean ( http://www.met.police.uk/wanted/ ).

    Like Japan, we were told that we “needed” to import workers for the good of the economy. But perhaps there are, after all, more important things than mere money, like the preservation of one’s own culture, values, and way of life, the maintenance of security, and the cohesiveness of society.

    Japan shouldn’t make the same mistake.

    Brian Clacey, Croydon


    (In “The blame game,” Debito Arudou has) listed up formal discrimination and found everything possible to complain about, but you have neglected the other side of the coin: Foreigners who stick out are also treated well as guests. This means that years ago homeless Iranian refugees were fed daily in Ueno Park by neighboring Japanese. Middle-class foreigners also receive special hospitality.

    Even after 22 years in Japan (and five years of not going abroad), I am asked to teach. Even when I admit to being corrected, by a family member living in an English-speaking country, when I made “Japlish” mistakes in my English, they asked to to continue!

    We can never be anonymous, it seems. We always get special attention, perhaps. Yet it is not always negative. We may be lovingly expected to return to our home country in old age (for our own sakes, they think), but if we persevere, we can stay happily like (Edward) Seidensticker and others.

    Some even live in Japan not reading and writing or even not speaking Japanese. What other country offers such service?

    Christina Tsuchida, Tokyo



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