Letters to the Editor,
The Daily Yomiuri,
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8055
Am I the only one in Japan who takes a rather dim view of the annual “Victory cries” baby sumo competition (page 3 photograph, June 2nd)? Every year I see a photograph of the event in the paper. Sumo wrestlers hold babies aloft and the youngster who cries the loudest is deemed the most genki, boding well for its future life I suppose. This is blatant, in-your-face criminal child abuse celebrated not only as a cultural tradition but as a harmless bit of fun as well. But I disagree. I don’t think it’s funny or cute at all. It’s child abuse plain and simple. Clearly, Japan has a problem recognizing child abuse, which explains the too-often grotesque tragedies involving children that we read about. When I see photographs of the Baby Sumo event I cannot tell you how long my list is of people who deserve prompt arrest and prosecution for child abuse, incitement to child abuse, conspiracy to abuse children, accessory to child abuse, etc. the wrestlers, the temple priests, the parents, the journalists, the spectators, and many more, probably.
But I could be wrong.
Printed on Wednesday, June 3, 2009 as “’Baby sumo’ competition is a crying shame.”
I waited a couple of years to get this letter printed. The Japan Times rejected it a few weeks ago, but when The Daily Yomiuri printed the photograph subtitled “Victory cries” on June 2nd it gave me the chance to re-write my recent Japan Times letter for The Daily Yomiuri. In hindsight, I wish that I had written“frequently” in place of “often,” making the sentence “Clearly, Japan has a problem recognizing child abuse, which explains the too-frequent grotesque tragedies involving children that we read about.”