Seventeen-year-old sumo wrestler Takashi Saito was beaten to death 8 months ago, but the Japan Sumo Association took until last Thursday to punish the alleged culprits—Saito’s trainer and three fellow wrestlers. The dawdling response was much too slow to prevent a public relations disaster: Japan now knows that most sumo stables have baseball bats—to beat wrestlers with.
Harsh discipline is rooted deep in Japanese society, a professor tells the Washington Post. In a recent survey, 90% of Japan’s sumo stables admitted having baseball bats or some similar instrument of punishment. “This happens all across the country,” the professor said. The wrestlers who beat Saito said they dared not defy their trainer, who says he punished Saito because of his “vague attitude” toward his career.