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H A W A I I _ S P O R T S


Wednesday, March 1, 2000

Female governor
honors sumo ban

Osaka's governor won't enter
the male-only sumo ring to present
the trophy to the tournament winner

Associated Press


TOKYO -- The governor of Japan's second-largest city has decided to back down from her demand to present an award at an upcoming sumo tournament because of a tradition banning women from the ring.

Fusae Ota, Japan's first woman governor, has decided to drop her plans to present the award out of deference to repeated requests from the Japan Sumo Association, her office said today.

Ota informed the association of her decision yesterday, but urged sumo officials to continue working toward equality, said spokesman Mikio Komura. Instead of presenting the award herself, Ota will send a male representative.

There are six sumo tournaments each year, and the mayor or governor of the host locality customarily presents an award to the winning wrestler. Ota is governor of Osaka, which is to host a tournament that begins March 12.

Her election on Feb. 6 immediately posed a problem for sumo officials.

Sumo's ancient roots are entwined with Japan's indigenous Shinto religion, and by custom the sumo ring is considered sacred. For centuries, only men have been allowed inside because women are considered impure.

The tradition had only been challenged once before.

As chief Cabinet secretary, Mayumi Moriyama was set to present the prime minister's award at a sumo tournament in 1990. She also backed down after the issue became too divisive.

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