02.09.10

No Yellow-card for Foreigners

Posted in Culture/Language, Japanese, News at 12:07 pm by yuka

Sorry, not gaming-related.

Those of you who are Japanophiles, who are into Sumo wrestling, who live over there… you guys’d have generally heard about this now. Asashyoryu (朝青龍), former Yokozuna (the highest rank of sumo wrestling), has been told to retire forcefully after ‘hitting’ a layman.

Because my mum’s a great fan of his, and maybe because his determination at overcoming the conservative views of his sumo peers inspires me (going overseas in your mid-teens and surviving, let alone succeeding, is a hard thing to do), I cannot but have a slightly biased view of this news.

Asashyoryu’s a Mongolian by birth, who around ‘95/’96 went to a Japanese high school in Shikoku and studied being a professional sumo-tori. He’s been a Yokozuna several times and at one point was touted as the man behind the enlivening of the stagnant sumo scene. And he’s only 29. Quite an accolade.

From what I can find on YahooNews (Google’s not much use when it comes to Japanese news) and Twitter feeds, he was drunk and as he got into a cab after a night of carousing, hit a layman. This has been blown out of all proportion by the Japanese media who had a field day. Sure, he hit a non-professional. But then again, he’s a pro. At a sport that hits other people on a regular basis. What I’m saying is, that as the very best that the Japanese pro sumo scene could produce, he probably knew how to hit someone without injuring them.

Although that possibility apparently never occurred to the said media. They hounded him mercilessly, along with the Sumo society, a conservative bunch of old men. I’m not suggesting Asashyoryu was infallible. But, as the proud Mongolian people (who consider him a hero) claim, it’s hard to understand the decisions made by the Japanese.

Those of you who have spent time with my countrymen would know that they are a nation which is amazingly polite to your face, but behind your back, would be unutterably false and rude. And because of the American complex they have (remember, Japan was ruled by the US between 1945 and 1951), they also have a racist attitude to anyone who’s not white, or who can speak a white-man’s language fluently without being white (as I discovered to my horror aged ten).

So, the Mongolian feel their hero has been hard done by the Japanese. Some even say it’s racism. I can’t help but agree. The Sumo society elders were afraid to admit that a Mongolian (in other words, a foreigner) could be better than the Japanese at a sport that’s considered Japanese (although there’s a Mongolian version as well).

And talk about jumping on the bandwagon! At the moment, the Japanese media’s all about being ‘nice’ to Asashyoryu, and publicly lamenting the future lack of his contribution to the national sport. I’m saddened by Asashyoryu’s untimely ‘retirement’ and disgusted by the falseness of my countrymen.

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