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U.S. President wants to present trophy in sumo ring

The itinerary of the planned visit to Japan by U.S. President Donald Trump in late May includes watching sumo, and Washington has conveyed to Tokyo its hope that the president will be able to present the Prime Minister’s cup to the tournament winner, Sankei learned from a Japanese government source on April 11. The idea of a foreign leader presenting the trophy on the prime minister’s behalf is highly unusual. A plan has also emerged for the president to step into the sumo ring together with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, prompting relevant agencies to study how to deal with the security challenges.

 

According to government officials, coordination is underway for Trump to visit Japan from May 26 to 28 as a state guest. He is expected to watch sumo on May 26, the first day of the visit and the final day of the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament at the Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo stadium in Tokyo’s Sumida Ward.

 

The summer tournament will be the first sumo performance in the new Reiwa era. Trump, who likes symbolic gestures, apparently believes that giving a prize at a national sport tournament would be the perfect stage for highlighting the friendship between Japan and the U.S. One government official says the U.S. government wanted the president to serve as the presenter of the Prime Minister’s cup. But also under consideration is a plan for a special award from the U.S. government to the champion.

 

The Prime Minister’s cup weighs about 40 kg. Past prime ministers or secretary generals have given the cup to the champion of the makuuchi top division with the help of a tournament facilitator. One of the memorable scenes took place during the summer tournament in 2001, when then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi presented the cup to then-yokozuna grand champion Takanohana, who won the tournament despite his injuries, saying, “You endured pain and did a great job. I was deeply impressed.” A foreign president serving the presenter will be quite unusual.

 

Abe is expected to watch the tournament with Trump. But if they are to sit in the box seats on the first floor, space needs to be secured for the prime minister’s security police and the Secret Service. Therefore, the government is considering using the royal box on the second floor of the stadium, which is used by the Emperor and the Empress when they attend tournaments. 

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