SUMO/ JSA to acquire all coaching license 'stocks'

December 12, 2011

The Japan Sumo Association decided on Dec. 9 to purchase and manage all existing "toshiyori myoseki," or sumo coaching license shares, which until now have been traded and sold among stablemasters like individual assets.

The JSA's board of trustees, which consists of stablemasters and other sumo officials, approved the decision on Dec. 12.

Now that the decision has been made, the JSA plans to become a public interest corporation based on the new public interest corporation authorization law. The JSA will submit the required application forms by the end of November 2013, the deadline for submitting papers to the Cabinet Office.

Under the new law, tax exemptions currently enjoyed by the JSA will be affected if the organization does not become a public interest corporation.

Sumo coaching licenses have become a means for wrestlers to remain as senior officials of the JSA after retiring from active wrestling. They had traditionally been sold at extravagant prices, sometimes for hundreds of millions of yen.

But under the new law, public corporations are forbidden from giving special interest to individuals. Therefore, the sale of the licenses will not be allowed if the JSA becomes a public interest corporation. The handling of these "stocks" has been a source of controversy regarding whether the JSA would try to become a public interest corporation.

The JSA's public interest corporation reform task force, headed by JSA Chairman Hanaregoma, put forth a proposal at a meeting Dec. 9 for the JSA to effectively buy up all the stocks from individual owners and, in return, the JSA would make contributions to the stablemasters' retirement benefits.

In addition, the JSA plans to give share owners the right to recommend successors to their respective licenses when they retire.

There are currently 105 sumo coaching license stocks, not including one-generation stocks owned by stablemasters Kitanoumi and Takanohana. Juryo Takamisakari and newly promoted ozeki Kisenosato are among the active wrestlers who own sumo coaching license stocks.

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