Oguruma hands JSA Wakakirin’s resignation

Kyodo News

Oguruma, the stablemaster of Wakakirin, a second-division sumo wrestler arrested Friday for alleged marijuana possession, gave the Japan Sumo Association Wakakirin’s resignation letter Saturday and asked the association to approve it.

But JSA officials said the decision on the 25-year-old wrestler is pending until its board of directors decides what to do on Monday. Accepting Wakakirin’s resignation would preclude the JSA from firing him.

Kanagawa Prefectural Police arrested Wakakirin, 25, and musician Tsutomu Hirano, 30, in Tokyo in connection with possession of cannabis on Friday. Wakakirin, whose real name is Shinichi Suzukawa, is the first Japanese sumo wrestler to be arrested for pot.

Early on Saturday, Wakakirin consulted a lawyer and offered his resignation. Oguruma held a news conference at Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo stadium in Tokyo after handing it to the JSA.

“Wakakirin offered his resignation, and as his stablemaster I felt that this was the proper thing for him to do,” Oguruma said. “Allowing him to remain a sumo wrestler any longer than this will only tarnish the ring further.”

Meanwhile, Wakakirin began revealing the details of the case that led to his arrest and said he had smoked marijuana only twice, the police said.

The marijuana in question totaled 16 grams and was found by police Friday on a table in the office of a store that sells compact discs in Tokyo’s Roppongi district. The office was being searched in connection with a separate case.

Wakakirin said he was smoking the drug in the CD shop’s office on Thursday and Friday, the day he was arrested. Wakakirin was quoted as saying that he began visiting the CD shop about three years ago. He also expressed regret and said he felt sorry for troubling his stablemaster, the police said.

The JSA tested Wakakirin’s urine in September 2008. Since the results appeared suspicious on the first two tests, the sumo association conducted a third test to clear him.

Sumo elder Hidenoyama, a high-ranking official on the committee set up to eliminate vice from the sport, oversaw the urine tests and said he was confident of their accuracy.

“An expert was in charge of administering those tests, so I am certain they are accurate,” he said.

Police said Wakakirin voluntarily submitted a urine sample after he was arrested. The tests, which may also determine whether other drugs were used, will be carried out soon.

According to the sumo wrestler, he was introduced to Hirano through a friend three years ago. Hirano, on the other hand, has been telling the police they met at a bar about a year ago, the police said.

Some sumo sources said they believe Wakakirin’s case is just the tip of the iceberg.

After the arrest, sumo officials on Friday deliberated on how to cope with the latest public relations nightmare.

“This is a crime. He will have to face the punishment he deserves. We will deal with him harshly,” said JSA Chairman Musashigawa.

Musashigawa was appointed in September and promised to repair sumo’s image after a spate of other scandals, making Wakakirin’s arrest all the more embarrassing.

Top-division grappler Wakanoho rocked the sumo world when he was arrested on marijuana possession charges last August, while compatriots and brothers Roho and Hakurozan both returned positive results.