The 2006 Rijikai elections were even less exciting than they are already. No bad blood stirred up, and with the forfeit of Takanohana there was unanimosity everywhere. Takanohana had announced his withdraw in the 2006 elections despite he had an "extra vote" for him -- just in this banzuke period! Hatsu Basho 2006 was the only tournament in which the 34th Shikimori Inosuke was on the banzuke. The gyoji formerly known as Kimura Mitsunosuke turned 65 on February 10th and with him also the electoral power of a tate gyoji vanished. Life can play really hard on you sometimes...
Needless to say that there were exactly as many candidates as there were open posts. I hereby present the Nihon Sumo Kyokai Board of Directors for 2006/2007:
Rijicho, Riji -- executive directors:
The Kanji -- directors:
Not officially part of the Rijikai, but in outstanding position are the Yakuin Taigu Iin. In this election period there are just five. This is even more so strange as three of them will reach the mandatory retirement age in 2006 or 2007.
The Yakuin Taigu Iin -- senior officers:
The elections reflect pretty well the "ichimonage" within the Kyokai. Tell me whom they elected, and I'll tell you what's going on...
Dewanoumi ichimon: It has always been about them. The most powerful family entends its power and occupies with Kitanoumi and Musashigawa the top two positions now. Dewanoumi himself is their third Riji, but the name is bigger than the department here.
Kanji Mihogaseki is vice in the Shimpan department and has added another very prestiguous position to the ichimon's result. With no Yakuin Taigu that might retire in this period (none at all, it is) their power will increase even more towards the end of 2007.
Nishonoseki ichimon: With the mandatory retirements of the former Yokozuna Taiho and Sadogatake (Kotozakura) and the pass-away of Futagoyama there has been created a dangerous vacuum within the ichimon. The family might well drift away into meaninglessness if this trend won't be stopped. Many members of the ichimon seemingly don't want to dabble into politics: Naruto (who has four sekitori at the moment) and Shibatayama, both former Yokozuna, have kept quiet so far. The latter one could be heir of his shisho Hanaregoma in some years, however.
Riji Hanaregoma is the only of the ichimon's three who has an important role. As boss of the Shimpan department he has much influence. Until 2002 the judges were headed by former Yokozuna only (even on the two vice posts). When Kitanoumi took over the chairman's seat in 2002, he offered the Shimpan bucho position always -- regardless of former rank -- to powerful men in the Nishonoseki group: This secured him enough votes in the Rijicho elections.
The other two Riji posts are much lower in the hierarchy: Magaki and Hidenoyama are the chiefs of the regional basho departments Osaka and Nagoya. The latter one was Kanji before and would have become interims-Sadogatake if Kotonowaka hadn't retired. Now he can work in a executive position at least here. Unfortunately he is just an "emergency solution" until Takanohana has enough support within the ichimon.
Former Riji Oshiogawa applied only for a Yakuin Taigu post as he will turn 65 in 2007. His heya mate Shiranui is new as Kanji and might become his successor in the Kyokai structures. He has a prestiguous name already and a big heya behind him: Oguruma beya had four sekitori in January 2006.
Takasago ichimon: Head-of-ichimon Takasago is PR director, the number 3 in the Kyokai. Kokonoe kabu has always been powerful (today with former Chiyonofuji as holder and also back then when former Kitanofuji had it), as vice in the Shimpan department even more. Nice piece of the cake for the smallest ichimon!
Tokitsukaze ichimon: Isenoumi remains the only big dog in the yard. Minato as Kanji cannot bring this strong disbalance within the ichimon into any kind of equilibruum today, but he may become more and more important in the future as the "legitimate successor" of the 8th Rijicho Tokitsukaze.
Tatsunami-Isegahama rengo: Besides Oshima there was Tomozuna elected to Riji, for the first time. He will probably be built up as the second strong man in the rengo, He replaces Wakafuji (you know, the former Maegashira 1 who knows all the skeletons in all the others' closets), who will have to retire in 2007 and thus only candidated for a Yakuin Taigu post.
The family's black sheep, Isegahama, was rather unexpectedly (at least for me) re-elected to Yakuin Taigu as well. This can only be seen as a reconciliation offer. He has fallen out with nearly everyone in the Kyokai, but they are probably trying to settle the differences at the end of the day: He turns 65 in November 2006.
The rengo looks more powerful now than it actually is: At the end of 2007 they will "only" have the two Riji left in senior positions.
Independent: The not-so-lone-any-more knight for law and order *) Takadagawa has gained some influence as contract manager in the Jungyo department. He has still four years to go, but this can also be seen as some kind of offer for ceasefire (or even peace?). Associate oyakata Sendagawa should prepare for shisho duties pretty soon... Whenever rumours come up about the renegades joining an ichimon again, the names Takasago and Dewanoumi are red hot ones. I can imagine that both would be very happy about the power Takadagawa could bring with him now.
*) When he ran in the 1998 elections agaist his ichimon's decision, he claimed that the Kyokai sturctures weren't democratic -- which is correct.