Monday January 21, 2019
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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

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.”

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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

Next Story

Nissan’s Former Chairman Seeks Bail

Ghosn and Kelly have denied all charges. Nissan said it regretted any concern caused to its stakeholders

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A court sketch, drawn by Nobutoshi Katsuyama, shows ousted Nissan Motor Co Ltd chairman Carlos Ghosn during an open hearing at Tokyo District Court in Japan, Jan. 8, 2019.(voa)

Nissan’s former Chairman Carlos Ghosn has requested his release on bail after being indicted in Tokyo Friday on two new charges, his lawyers said, as the once-feted auto executive awaits a lengthy criminal trial that could be as long as six months away.

Ghosn was the overlord of an alliance that included Nissan Motor, Mitsubishi Motors and France’s Renault, until his surprise November arrest and removal as chairman of both Japanese automakers sent shockwaves through the industry.

The former executive, lauded for rescuing Nissan from the financial brink two decades ago, was charged with aggravated breach of trust for temporarily transferring personal investment losses to Nissan in 2008.

Ghosn, former Representative Director Greg Kelly and Nissan itself were also charged for understating Ghosn’s income for three years through March 2018. The three parties have been indicted for the same charge covering the years 2010-2015.

Ghosn and Kelly have denied all charges. Nissan said it regretted any concern caused to its stakeholders.

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Japan

Bail is rare

It is rare in Japan for defendants who deny their charges to be granted bail ahead of trial. Kelly posted bail on Christmas Day and is unable to leave Japan without special permission.

Ghosn’s lawyer, Motonari Otsuru, expects his client to be held until trial, which he said could begin in about six months.

If bail is granted, Ghosn, who is suffering from fever, according to his lawyer, would not likely be released until Tuesday given that Monday is public holiday.

Kelly, a Ghosn ally, was hospitalized for treatment of a pre-existing neck problem after his release and has since been discharged, said his lawyer Yoichi Kitamura.

“This second indictment for Kelly comes as no surprise as it merely makes what was a five year period for the first into eight years,” Kitamura said.

Kitamura said he expects Ghosn and Kelly to be tried together on the two charges of understating income, and that he will work closely with Ghosn’s legal team.

Nissan complaint

Also Friday, Nissan said it had filed a criminal complaint against its former leader.

The automaker, in a statement, said it filed the complaint “on the basis of Ghosn’s misuse of a significant amount of the company’s funds. Nissan does not in any way tolerate such misconduct and calls for strict penalties.”

Ghosn, 64, appeared in court Tuesday for the first time since his arrest, looking thinner and grayer. He denied the allegations, calling them “meritless” and “unsubstantiated.”

He said he had asked Nissan to temporarily take on his foreign exchange contracts after the 2008-2009 financial crisis prompted his bank to call for more collateral. He said he did so to avoid having to resign and use his retirement allowance for collateral.

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Ghosn’s lawyer Otsuru on Tuesday said Nissan had agreed to the arrangement on condition that any losses or gains would be Ghosn’s. Ghosn said the contracts were transferred back to him and that Nissan did not incur a loss.

On Thursday, the boards of Nissan and controlling shareholder Renault, where Ghosn remains chairman, met for an update on the matter. Nissan later said it remained committed to the alliance. (VOA)