An article in the July 22 issue of Shukan Bunshun (武蔵川と中井洽疑惑の参院選で「料理停密会」page 146) reports on a suspicious meeting between the chairman of the Japan Sumo Association, Musashigawa, and National Public Safety Commission chairman Hiroshi Nakai, organized by Nihon University board chairman Hidetoshi Tanaka.
According to the article, the trio drank and dined at a sophisticated restaurant run by a third-generation geisha in Tokyo’s Kagurazaka district on June 21, days after numerous wrestlers were ousted one by one as having participated in baseball gambling and it was announced that a special investigation committee would be set up to look into the scandal.
Over sumptuous Japanese food and sake, sources within the sumo world say that Musashigawa was likely attempting damage control, trying to find out the nitty gritty on the investigation committee.
Politician Takeshi Fukaya, who once held Nakai’s position, said about the meeting in an interview with Bunshun, “By around June 21, the background behind the entire gambling ordeal had already been revealed. The National Public Safety Commission Chairman obviously knows information that hadn’t been released to the public, and it’s unbelievable that he’s just go and have drinks with the chairman of the Sumo Association. Reason enough for him to be fired in my books.”
Earlier that day, Nakai had reportedly been in Miyazaki overseeing activities on prevention of foot & mouth disease. There, he had taken heat from locals after he twice misread the names of areas when talking to the press. Says Bunshun: One can only imagine that he was busy worrying about his plans for that evening. After he made his way back to Tokyo, Nakai stealthily evaded the media and made his way to Kagurazaka.
Nakai is well known for his “roadside kiss” with a hostess that made the news after being published in Shukan Shincho in March, causing a stir after it was discovered he had given the woman a key to his apartment in the Lower House dormitories.
Hidetoshi Tanaka too is well known–in the sumo world as a Nihon University board chairman who in the past has helped a number of promising wrestlers make it to the top. Bunshun says, though, that Tanaka’s connections have a dark side; ex-Nichidai wrestler Kise Oyakata was eventually demoted in May of this year after it was discovered he was selling sumo tickets to the Yamaguchi-gumi.
Tanaka has dubious connections himself. He was involved in the planning of a sumo hall in Osaka that was announced by Heo Young Joong (aka Eichu Kyo), the “emperor of crime” who was the main culpret in the Itoman scandal. Also, according to sources within the university, when Yamaken-gumi head Kaneyoshi Kuwata was hospitalized at Nihon University before his imprisonment for weapons possession, Tanaka had acted has his personal guarantor.
The day after he admitted to gambling on baseball, Kotomitsuki had reportedly gone to Tanaka for advice. Sources say that Kotomitsuki had said he was ready to take all the responsibility, but Tanaka admonished him not to. Afterwards, Tanaka was concerned the wrestler wouldn’t heed his advice, becoming even more worried when he called Kotomitsuki’s mobile phone numerous times but received no answer.
Tanaka had reportedly fallen sick at the end of May, right when the news of Kise Oyakata and Kotomitsuki’s illegal gambling had hit headlines. A source reported, “It wasn’t just Musashigawa that suffered when the gambling issue hit the mainstream. Tanaka shared that pain with him. About half of the wrestlers in the Musashigawa stables come from Nichidai, and the two knew each other well. It was because of that Tanaka pursued a meeting with the man in the know about police investigations–Nakai.”
Says Bunshun, Tanaka likely thought that his talk that Kotomitsuki would be the perfect chance to get Musashigawa and Nakai together.
The Kagurazaka restaurant is reportedly well-known by Tanaka, and often used by him for for meetings and celebrations. They were welcome guests, and their hosts reportedly kept the visit discreet and the meeting away from the prying eyes of other customers. Everything went off without a hitch, reports Bunshun, and Musashigawa was said to have acted with a reverence and kindness toward Nakai that that belies his fierce persona.
Nakai himself had made curious statements. Says one police reporter, “At a July 1 press conference, National Police Agency cheif Takaharu Ando had gotten a question about whether or not the Nagoya tournament would be held, and he answered that he wasn’t the right person to ask. No one had asked Nakai anything at all, but he suddenly said, “I think it’s great that they’re running their own investigation seperate from the official investigation as an effort to stamp out organized crime.”
The comment was made just days after drinking with Musashigawa.
So what went on at the Kagurazaka meeting? Was information leaked?
Shukan Bunshun attempted to ask Nakai directly, but he unsurprisingly refused: “Bunshun? That rag constantly says bad things about me. No way I’m going to answer.”
Tanaka too ignored Bunshun reporters, and the Sumo Association had not replied as of the date the article was published.
The article ends questioning whether or not a reliable investigation can be done if headed by someone like Nakai.
For more information on sumo connections to the yakuza through Nihon University, check out this related article on Tokyo Reporter.