Wednesday July 18, 2018
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Sumo in Uproar as Women First Responders Ordered Out of Ring

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Japanese grand sumo champion Yokozuna Kisenosato performs the New Year's ring-entering rite at the annual celebration for the New Year at Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, Japan January 9, 2018. VOA
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The head of Japan’s sumo association has apologized over an incident in which women first responders were asked to get out of the ring as they attempted to revive an official who collapsed.

In sumo’s tradition, the ring is considered sacred and women are prohibited from entering.

That posed a problem Wednesday when Ryozo Tatami, the 67-year-old mayor of Maizuru in northern Kyoto, collapsed during a ring-top speech. Two women, apparently medical experts, rushed in and started performing first aid as several male sumo officials surrounding the mayor looked on.

When two more women rose to the ring trying to join the first aid effort, announcements demanded the women get out of the ring.

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“Ladies, please get off the ring,” a sumo referee said, determinedly. “Only gentlemen go up.”

sumo
Footage posted on social media triggered outrage, with many criticizing sumo officials and saying they were choosing tradition over life. Pixabay

Sumo chief Nobuyoshi Hakkaku called the announcement inappropriate and apologized late Wednesday while thanking the women for working to save the mayor.

In a statement, Hakkaku said the announcement was made by an official who panicked after seeing the women in the ring but never touched on the divisive tradition.

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“It was an inappropriate response in a life-threatening situation,” Hakkaku said.

The mayor, who had an acute cerebral hemorrhage, survived and was in stable condition Thursday after receiving emergency surgery at a hospital, city officials said.

The footage posted on YouTube was shown on major Japanese networks and other media as the news topped headlines Thursday.

“Of course it is important to protect tradition, but the way it excludes women perhaps is out of step with the times, and that’s how I feel as a woman,” said Yurika Mita, a newscaster on a Fuji Television Network talk show. “Without the women’s effort, the life of one person might have been lost.”

Sumo’s male-only tradition has raised controversy for decades, with even top women politicians barred from honoring winners in the ring. VOA

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A Japanese Space Explorer Arrives At An Asteroid

The robotic explorer will spend about two months looking for suitable landing places on the uneven surface

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This computer graphics image provided by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) shows an asteroid and asteroid explorer Hayabusa2.
This computer graphics image provided by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) shows an asteroid and asteroid explorer Hayabusa2. VOA

A Japanese space explorer arrived at an asteroid Wednesday after a 3 1/2-year journey and now begins its real work of trying to blow a crater to collect samples to eventually bring back to Earth.

The unmanned Hayabusa2 spacecraft reached its base of operations about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the asteroid and some 280 million kilometers (170 million miles) from Earth, the Japan Space Exploration Agency said.

Over the next year and a half, the spacecraft will attempt three brief touch-and-go landings to collect samples. If the retrieval and the return journey are successful, the asteroid material could provide clues to the origin of the solar system and life on Earth.

The mission is challenging. The robotic explorer will spend about two months looking for suitable landing places on the uneven surface. Because of the high surface temperature, it will stay for only a few seconds each time it lands.

The asteroid, named Ryugu after an undersea palace in a Japanese folktale, is about 900 meters (3,000 feet) in diameter. In photos released by JAXA, the Japanese space agency, it appears more cube-shaped than round. A number of large craters can be seen, which Project Manager Yuichi Tsuda said in an online post makes the selection of landing points “both interesting and difficult.”

The first touchdown is planned for September or October. Before the final touchdown scheduled for April-May, Hayabusa2 will send out a squat cylinder that will detonate above the asteroid, shooting a 2-kilogram (4.4-pound) copper projectile into it at high speed to make a crater.

Hayabusa2 will hide on the other side of the asteroid to protect itself during the operation and wait another two to three weeks to make sure any debris that could damage the explorer has cleared. It will then attempt to land at or near the crater to collect underground material that was blown out of the crater, in addition to the surface material from the earlier touchdowns.

astronaut
astronaut. Pixabay

The spacecraft will also deploy three rovers that don’t have wheels but can hop around on the surface of the asteroid to conduct probes. Hayabusa2 will also send a French-German-made lander to study the surface with four observation devices.

Asteroids, which orbit the sun but are much smaller than planets, are among the oldest objects in the solar system. As such, they may help explain how Earth evolved, including the formation of oceans and the start of life.

Hayabusa2 was launched in December 2014 and is due to return to Earth at the end of 2020. An earlier Hayabusa mission from 2003 to 2010 collected samples from a different type of asteroid and took three years longer than planned after a series of technical glitches, including a fuel leak and a loss of contact for seven weeks.

Also read: Japanese Climber Dies on his Eighth Attempt to Climb Mt. Everest

NASA also has an ongoing asteroid mission. Its Osiris-Rex spacecraft is expected to reach the asteroid Bennu later this year and return with samples in 2023. (IANS)