Sumo Murder Three Avoid Prison Time

December 21, 2008

The trial for the Junichi Yamamoto (formerly Tokitsukaze), head of the Sumo stable that ordered the “discipline” that resulted in the death of sixteen year old Sumo wrestler Takashi Saito is yet to be held.

The three senior member of the stable that carried out the beatings that caused the death have been sentenced to suspended sentences of two and a half years for Masanori Fujii, and three years each for Yuichiro Izuka and Masakazu Kimura.

The three were given suspended sentences by Judge Masaharu Ashizawa because they were following orders from the stablemaster and it would have been very difficult to refuse him.

Saito was beaten and forced to spar excessively, reportedly hit over the head with beer bottles, and beaten with wooden sticks and a metal baseball bat to train him and discipline for trying to run away from the dorm.

I reported on this previously in “Facts About the Sumo Murder Case as I Understand Them“. The details are gruesome and sad.

Editorial Commentary:

I don’t understand why they don’t want to let people quit things when they’re unhappy here. If the kid hates the Sumo stable enough to run away with no money and clothes, it’s detrimental to the whole stable to keep him around as well.

In schools in Japan, club advisors will counsel kids for hours and hours to try to keep them from quitting a club or extracurricular activity they’re unhappy with. Why not let them go? Japan doesn’t cut people from teams based on playing ability, but surely a kid that doesn’t want to be on the team in the first place isn’t very good for morale. Not to mention the kid is forced to be somewhere he or she is unhappy every day (sometimes seven days a week).

The three in the story here received suspended sentences because they followed orders from the stablemaster and were under his influence. The fact remains however that the three of them did things that killed a sixteen year old boy. Whether under orders from a superior or not, they should be forced to take responsibility for their actions. They weren’t forced at gun point, they were just given orders which they chose to carry out. Although it may have destroyed their careers in Sumo to refuse, isn’t that worth a life?

I’m looking forward to the trial of Yamamoto who gave the orders. If no prison time results, I’ll have to give up the Japanese justice system for lost. I’m already jaded enough to believe that Yamamoto will get off with an extremely light sentence or no jail time at all.

Lastly, the fact that Yamamoto himself broke a beer bottle over the head of the boy during an eating and drinking session that occurred when the boy was still being disciplined. This is not mentioned in the recent articles I’ve read, so we’ll see if the direct violence on the part of Yamamoto will continue to go unmentioned. If so, we may have an infinite loop getting everybody involved off on suspended sentences… by this I mean the three were only following orders so they get off, Yamamoto only gave orders and never touched Saito so he’ll get a suspended sentence. I hope for the sake of Justice that it does not play out that way.


1 Dave December 26, 2008 at 7:35 am

The suspended sentence seems to be the fashionable thing at the moment in Japan. People are getting it for everything instead of a real punishment.

2 jay December 27, 2008 at 7:43 am

Seems like a cop out. Really, how powerful IS the Sumo association in Japan. It took them forever to even designate this murder a crime!

3 Dave January 7, 2009 at 12:10 am

Well the suspended sentence (i.e. let-off) has been confirmed in this sumo case. Thank god they didn’t have any marijuana in their possession or then they would really have been in trouble! I mean simple murder is one thing but having a little pot… now that’s a whole new problem.

4 jay January 8, 2009 at 2:17 pm

Having a little pot will get a Sumo in trouble unless he can successfully argue that his scary stable master TOLD him to carry a little pot around with him. Isn’t there a law that says even if you are ordered to do something amoral it’s your responsibility to refuse? (to prevent people from using the “just doing as I was told excuse)