Female Mayor Bashes Female Ring Ban
The mayor of a town in western Japan protested sumo’s male-only rules last week, during a speech she would have to make outside of the ring unlike her male counterparts.
Takarazuka City Mayor Tomoko Nakagawa said that she is frustrated and pained by the sexist tradition in sumo, of women being prohibited from entering because they are seen as “unclean.”
“I am not allowed to go up to the ring and greet to you, just because I am a woman, and I feel mortified,” Nakagawa said, as she received applause from the crowd. “It’s painful.”
The Japan Sumo Association’s strict adherence to their rule caused outrage this week, when female first responders were commanded to leave the ring as they attempted to revive an official who collapsed at an event in northern Kyoto.
The 67-year-old mayor of the city of Maizuru collapsed during a ring-top speech, and immediately two women, apparently medical professionals, rushed in and started performing first aid. When two more women would attempt to join the in-ring efforts to help, but the public address announcer demanded the women get out of the ring.
The mayor, a man, was then taken to a hospital and survived.
Footage and photos on social media have created an uproar, with many criticizing sumo officials and saying they were choosing tradition over life. Sumo officials apologized over the incident Wednesday, saying the announcement was inappropriate in the life-threatening situation.
Nakagawa said that’s not enough.
“Tradition is important, but it is also important to have courage and make a change,” she said. “I don’t care whichever side of the ring we stand, but I do want both men and women to be treated equally.”
Sumo officials cited their male-only tradition when they rejected Nakagawa’s request to speak on the ring. They asked her to respect the tradition.
The tradition has sparked controversy for decades, with even top women politicians barred from honoring winners in the ring.
“Nothing is more important than life under any circumstances,” said Yoshimasa Hayashi, the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, urging the sumo association not to repeat the same mistake.
Internal Affairs Minister Seiko Noda, seen as a possible future prime minister, said she had been rejected years ago entering a tunnel construction site due to a similar religious belief.
“That is no longer the case (at tunnels), and I expect the sumo association to appropriately respond to the recent incident and decide what steps to make,” she said.
Story Via 1430 The Answer/Associated Press