TOKYO (TR) – The Japan Sumo Association has suspended the head referee for three tournaments for sexually harassing a teenage boy last month, the latest incident to mar the reputation of the sport, reports NHK (Jan. 13).
On the night of December 16, the head referee, who goes by the name Shikimori Inosuke, repeatedly kissed and touched the chest of the boy, who is a junior referee, at a hotel in Ginowan City, Okinawa Prefecture.
Inosuke and the boy were in the city for the two-day Okinawa Grand Sumo Tournament. The incident took place after Inosuke became drunk at a hotel and the junior referee helped him back to his hotel.
The real name of the head referee is Itsuo Nouchi, 58, who is the 40th head referee to use the name Inosuke.
On Friday, Inosuke submitted his resignation to the Japan Sumo Association over the incident. However, it was not accepted.
At board meeting at the Ryogoku Kokugikan Sumo Hall in Tokyo on Saturday, chairman Hakkaku acknowledged that with Inosuke being 58 years old and the head referee he bears heavy responsibility for the incident. “I want him to take time to reflect,” Hakkaku said in explaining the reason for declining the head referee’s resignation.
The association also said that Inosuke will be suspended for three tournaments, including the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament that begins in Tokyo on Sunday. He will be eligible to return to the ring after the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament in Tokyo in May.
Assault in Tottori
The incident follows another scandal that has appeared in headlines in recent months. Earlier this month, former sumo grand champion Harumafuji was fined 500,000 yen after being found guilty of assaulting another wrestler with a karaoke remote control during a gathering in Tottori Prefecture in October.
“Now we have the scandal involving Inosuke following the violent incident,” Hakkaku said. “I am very sorry for sumo fans and everyone involved.”