Get Japan Times tomorrow Tues Mar 2, next JUST BE CAUSE column out on racist Sumo Association


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Hi Blog.  Just a quick word today to let people know my latest Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column comes out tomorrow morning (Weds in the provinces), on the racist decision by the Japan Sumo Association to limit sumo stables to one “foreigner”, and determine “foreigner” by place of birth (regardless of naturalization).  It’s a more sophisticated version of the angry blog entry I did on this last week.  Get a copy!  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

UPDATE:  Here it is:

5 comments on “Get Japan Times tomorrow Tues Mar 2, next JUST BE CAUSE column out on racist Sumo Association

  • Read the online article today, overall a good article and agree totally with the sentiment.

    There is however a factual error. The 1 foreign rikishi per stable has been the rule since 2002 , this hasn’t changed, only now read as “foreign born”.

    — Not according to this source:
    In 1992, stable masters agreed to allow 20 stables to have up to two foreign wrestlers. The number of foreign wrestlers increased from 46 in May 2002 to 51 in 2003 to 61 out of 700 ranked wrestlers in February 2005.

    If that’s wrong, I stand corrected.

  • treblekickeresq says:

    Not that it really matters but Takahashi isn’t the world record holder. She holds the fastest Olympic woman’s marathon time. She held the woman’s marathon world record for about a week in the autumn of 2001.

    There are also lots of restrictions put on foreign runners by specific ekiden races. For example limiting foreigners to one per team or restricting them to a specific (often the shortest) leg of the relay. But I think there is more to the story of foreign ekiden runners than simple discrimination. Most are brought to Japan by schools as ringers specifically to run. I’d be very curious to find out how much studying the foreign runners who are brought over by high schools and universities actually do (the ones I’ve seen interviewed do the QA in English not Japanese) and what happens to them if they get injured and can’t run competitively anymore.

    — So that justifies a discriminatory rule?

  • treblekickeresq says:

    I wouldn’t say it justifies a discriminatory rule but it makes the ekiden situation less black and white and more gray. Sumo and baseball are professional sports and one probably expects to see the best compete. But taking high school ekiden as an example, it cannot be equated with professional sports. You can’t simply look at the passport of the school kid and say high school ekiden races are discriminating because they are a bunch of backward racists.

    Lots of sports have rules to prevent the use of ringers. Imagine what would happen if an American high school brought in the 9 best young players from the Dominican Republic or a high school football team (the kind of football you actually play with your feet) brought in the 11 best under-17 players from Brazil. These players were woefully unprepared academically and are only there to help win the championship. You would have lots of complaints. Not because of racism but because it isn’t sporting or fair to bring in ringers.

    — I see. So I guess we haven’t heard of athletic scholarships, then. And to assume every NJ is a “ringer” is quite a leap.

  • The solution to “ringers” is to have clear academic standards, which I presume Japanese schools are capable of enforcing if they choose. My old university has a tradition of importing established sportsmen for their top teams, many of these guys are academically strong, a few are on holiday, and the same can be said of the non-athletic students. The issue gets talked about, there has been a suggestion of age (not nationality!) restrictions but the argument for quality has won out so far.


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