Emirates and flydubai resume operating some flights over Iraq

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Filed on December 11, 2017 | Last updated on December 11, 2017 at 10.48 pm
The use of Iraqi airspace is likely to help Emirates and flydubai to save on fuel costs

Several airlines stopped flying over Iraq in 2014 on safety concerns because of the conflict

Emirates and flydubai have resumed using Iraqi airspace for flights to other countries, the Middle East airlines said on Monday, two days after Iraq declared victory in its years-long fight against Daesh.

Several airlines stopped flying over Iraq in 2014 on safety concerns because of the conflict and after a Malaysian Airlines passenger jet was shot down over Ukraine the same year.

Airlines have instead been flying longer routes over Iran and other countries, increasing congestion in the region, with many airlines also avoiding Syrian airspace.

The use of Iraqi airspace is likely to help Emirates and flydubai to save on fuel costs by shortening flying hours and also reduce regional airspace congestion.

Emirates has “resumed utilising Iraqi airspace and a very small number of our flights overfly Iraqi airspace each day”, an airline spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.

The spokeswoman said that Emirates reviews its flight operations regularly, in line with advice from regulators and authorities.

“Safety, security and operational efficiency will always be the top considerations when planning flight paths,” the spokeswoman said.

Emirates did not say when it started flying over Iraq again or which routes were affected.

Airlines flying through the region have in the past used Iraqi airspace for flights to Europe and the United States.

Flydubai started using eastern Iraqi airspace again on Nov. 28, mostly affecting flights to and from Eastern Europe and Turkey, a spokeswoman said in an email.

“All the necessary risk and security assessments were conducted prior to the start of overflying,” the spokeswoman said.

Iraqi forces recaptured the last areas still under Daesh control along the border with Syria on Saturday and secured the western desert, marking the end of the war against the militants three years after they had captured about a third of Iraq’s territory.

Emirates and flydubai have continued flying to and from Iraq since 2014 but with temporary suspensions on some flights from time to time.


Source  :  The Khaleej Times

New taxes on the cards in UAE, no delay in VAT

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Waheed Abbas/Dubai
Filed on December 12, 2017 | Last updated on December 12, 2017 at 12.08 am

Corporate tax or additional taxation on luxury cars may come into effect in future, say experts

Following the announcement of the introduction of value-added tax (VAT) from January 2018 and imposition of excise taxes from October 2017, the UAE’s Ministry of Finance is considering new taxes to be imposed in the future in order to increase its revenue.

However, it ruled out any tax on individual income.

A statement distributed by the Ministry of Finance on Monday said that other taxes will be imposed in the future, but didn’t provide more details.

“Currently, the UAE does not think of imposing tax on individuals’ income. But the UAE is working on other tax options. Yet, they are under study and analysis. It is likely that they will not be implemented in the near future,” the statement said.

The UAE government imposed 50 per cent excise tax on carbonated and energy drinks and 100 per cent on tobacco products. It will also impose 5 per cent VAT from January 1, 2018, on a host of goods and services. The UAE already has one of the lowest tax rates in the world.

Anurag Mehta, secretary, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, said the other taxes that potentially might be introduced in the country could be corporate tax or possibly additional taxation on luxury cars because such is the case in Singapore.

“Tax on luxury cars is very high in Singapore to encourage residents to use public transport in the country,” Mehta said, adding that “taxation is the backbone of any economy. But the question is how people grasp it because the taxation system is rather new to the UAE.”

Addressing a press conference to highlight executive regulations about VAT, Younis Haji Al Khoori, undersecretary of Ministry of Finance, pointed out that VAT would support the economic development witnessed by the UAE, as well as enable it to compete with the world’s most advanced economies.

He said: “All companies should cooperate and respond to the requirements of the Federal Tax Authority to speed up the process of tax registration.”

Khouri warned businesses that have not yet registered to seize this opportunity and register for VAT in order to avoid any penalty as per Cabinet decision No (40) of 2017 about administrative fines applicable on VAT violators.

No delay in VAT

Soothing any concerns among business community about the impact of VAT, he said: “VAT was introduced in the UAE after in-depth studies indicating that there would be no impact on the business sector and the investment environment in the country, nor would it affect the country’s position and competitiveness should it be implemented. In fact, the UAE will implement the lowest VAT tax rate on a global level.”

He said the ministry has authorised the issuance of tax-related legislation and policies, as well as the establishment of legal frameworks to start the application of value added tax at the beginning of next year without any delay.

Must know

>There will be no effect of VAT on businesses or investment in the UAE

>The cost of living may go up slightly, but the rise will vary depending on lifestyle of people

>VAT will help the country reinforce its economy by diversifying sources of revenues and help fund public services

>The tax is part of the UAE leadership’s vision for long-term growth

>Imposition of VAT has nothing to do with oil price fluctuation

>Currently, the UAE is not thinking of imposing tax on individuals’ incomes



Source  :  The Khaleej Times

Coalition risks its majority in rush to skewer Bill Shorten over Sam Dastyari

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Mark Kenny


Call it smart, or perhaps crazy-brave. Noteworthy at least, that a government with a majority of just one chose right now to prosecute the most muscular case against a foreign power since the Cold War, while also contesting a byelection in a seat notable for that country’s nationals.

So eager is the Turnbull government to increase Bill Shorten’s pain over Sam Dastyari’s China connections, that it has dialled to 11 its anti-Beijing espionage/influence warnings, potentially alienating swathes of voters in Bennelong this Saturday.

And right on cue, Labor’s Kristina Keneally pounced, branding Malcolm Turnbull’s utterances “China-phobic rhetoric” that is causing alarm locally and thus harming John Alexander, the Liberal candidate.

As business interests – including universities – shift uncomfortably in their seats over the anti-China sentiments emanating from Canberra, the Liberal Party seems to have concluded that its 10 per cent margin in the Sydney seat is enough to withstand a small exodus of Chinese-speaking voters who feel insulted on the grounds of race.

For embattled Liberals, Shorten’s Dastyari problem is almost too good to be true – like manna from heaven.

Between the diminutive senator’s exquisitely drawn-out demise, and the marriage equality win last week, the Turnbull government is feeling better about itself than it has all year.

For embattled Liberals, Shorten’s Dastyari problem is almost too good to be true – like manna from heaven.

Between the diminutive senator’s exquisitely drawn-out demise, and the marriage equality win last week, the Turnbull government is feeling better about itself than it has all year.

But cost could yet be an issue. Unlikely as it is, a defeat in Bennelong would kill that morale stone dead, not to mention, erase its majority. If nothing else, Bennelong’s trend-defying “no” vote in the marriage survey was a reminder of the electoral weight of its traditionalist Chinese and Korean populations.

Labor insiders are playing down their prospects, noting that 10 per cent is a healthy buffer and that byelections where MPs have been forced out due to an eligibility problem, such as Lindsay (1996) or New England (earlier this month), have usually produced swings to the “sitting” MP.

Close observers of the Chinese population say it is a multi-layered constituency anyway, warning it is less inclined to vote as a bloc than many presume.

Meanwhile, Shorten and colleagues are lumbered with the same trite talking points which emphasise, lamely, that Dastyari has already “paid a high price” for his contacts with wealthy Chinese benefactors and for the nature of those.

But do voters really consider losing an obscure responsibility as deputy Senate whip while keeping a $200k job to be “paying a high price?” Unlikely.

Illustration: Matt Golding.

But do voters really consider losing an obscure responsibility as deputy Senate whip while keeping a $200k job to be “paying a high price?” Unlikely.


Source  :  WA Today

‘What are you saying?’ Malcolm Turnbull in heated clash over indigenous MPs Ken Wyatt and Linda Burney

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 Latika Bourke

Q&A hosted fiery and emotive scenes as Malcolm Turnbull was challenged about his record on indigenous recognition, culminating in a visibly offended Prime Minister urging his critics to support Indigenous MPs from both sides of parliament.

The Prime Minister was appearing as the sole guest on the program and received a grilling about issues from the MPs with dual citizenships, to the same-sex marriage plebiscite, the influence of the right-wing of the party, his views on climate change and, finally, the National Broadband Network.

But perhaps the most emotional exchange was with two Indigenous Australians over the government’s canning of an idea to enshrine an Indigenous voice in federal parliament in the constitution as part of the Uluru Statement from the Heart released earlier this year.

Mr Turnbull said that would effectively create a third chamber of parliament in addition to the House of Representative and the Senate, a view disputed by some Indigenous leaders, including the prominent coalition adviser Noel Person.

The Prime Minister said that he disagreed with Mr Pearson on this issue and said the cabinet, as well as every single MP with whom he has raised the idea, believed that the public would not back the plan.

He was then confronted by Teela Reid, who was part of the Uluru dialogue process.

“Why won’t you respect our proposal to take it to a referendum like you put marriage equality to the people because polls reveal up to 61 per cent of Australians are in support of this proposal?” she asked to applause.


Source  :  WA Today

Peter Dutton: The same-sex marriage postal vote worked but we shouldn’t use it again

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Almost 13 million Australians can’t be wrong. They took a decision to register their vote in the same-sex marriage postal survey. But, while an 80 per cent turnout was exceptionally high and the result clear, we shouldn’t use the postal vote process again.

This is not because the process lacked integrity – there can be no such claim.  Not because the critics picked holes in the non-binding nature of the outcome or their declaration that the whole thing was an abrogation of parliamentary responsibility.  Not even because of overhyped claims about people self-harming or advocates for or against same-sex marriage in a sophisticated country like ours being able to conduct themselves in a civil way as they took part in a public debate.  No, the reason is the nature of this issue and the significance of a proposal to fundamentally change a social foundation stone that dictated the break-glass option of the postal plebiscite.  The postal plebiscite is not a tool for garden variety issues of public policy.

For many of us, we live and breathe politics and enjoy public debates, but for the vast majority of Australians the three-yearly trudge to the polling booth is driven only by its compulsion. The turnout rate indicates Australians were motivated by the significance of this issue.

And while the debate was largely respectful, some of the most vocal on both sides of the debate failed to appreciate the passion and the emotion of the other side. The religious influence (particularly in many ethnic communities), or the emotion of watching a gay child or grandchild in a committed relationship – that is what stands this issue out from almost any other decision a government might make term to term.

Public pressure had built significantly and in 2014 the Abbott government faced a dilemma on the issue of the definition of marriage.  From the time a decision was made (for good reasons) to adopt a plebiscite as the means of dealing with the issue, change was inevitable.  For many the adherence to a traditional view of marriage was based around religious belief.  With several notable exceptions, church leaders in Australia were silent or advocated a “yes” vote, including Jesuit priests in Sydney! Coupled with low church attendance rates the “no” case was never going to be won on the basis of adherence to religious belief.

The plebiscite policy was taken to the 2016 election and still Labor would not support the plebiscite bill through the Senate.  It was particularly galling given Labor had six years under Rudd and Gillard to legislate and didn’t.

In a one-seat majority Parliament every member is empowered and becomes “the one” crucial vote.  The reality was people were prepared to cross the floor to force a vote on same-sex marriage given we could not deliver on our commitment to deliver the plebiscite.

Malcolm Turnbull, cabinet and, ultimately, the party room had the courage to back the next-best option, the postal plebiscite that, because of its non-compulsory nature, did not require legislation.  Other options, including a free vote, would have killed the government at the next election because this was an issue of significant interest to Liberal and National voters across the country as evidenced by 5 million Australians voting “no”, many of them members and supporters of the Coalition.

People who claim we should have proceeded straight to a free vote fail to recognise our election commitment on an issue of this nature could not be broken.

The significant legal issues and funding of the postal vote were properly managed by Mathias Cormann, making the option possible and the rest is history.

People will be critical saying legislation should have been passed months ago. But given the voluntary expression of view by 8 million people and the emphatic “yes” vote that followed in the Parliament, the legitimacy given to this significant social change was infinitely greater than a shabby vote in the Parliament with people crossing the floor. The 5 million who hold a legitimate “no” view would have felt cheated and would not have accepted the process and outcome.

Coalition supporters are patriotic and respect our rule of law. Even those of us who voted “no” in the plebiscite, accept the “yes” outcome because a fair and respectful postal vote delivered a democratic result. The postal vote means same-sex couples have received a legitimacy to their marriage that could not have been delivered through a parliamentary vote alone

Next year, away from the shadow of the marriage debate, there is a legitimate discussion to be had around religious protections.  There will be many people who voted “yes” or “no” to same-sex marriage who will support sensible measures around religious and parental choice.  It, too, should be a respectful debate.

Source  :  WA Today

Cell phone use responsible for 7,500 road deaths in 2017

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Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH — Drivers distracted by text messages and calls on cell phones were responsible for the deaths of 7,489 people on the Kingdom›s roads in 2017, a new campaign revealed.

«Every single time someone takes their eyes or their focus off the road — even for a few seconds —- they put their lives as well as the lives of others in danger,» said Mohammed Bin Ali Swaidan as he got ready to launch “Your Life is More Precious Than a Message” campaign in Jeddah Tuesday.

The campaign is organized in cooperation with the Makkah emirate, Jeddah governorate, the Directorate of Education in Jeddah, the Traffic Department, the Police, Saudi Sports Authority, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah University, Umm Al-Qura University and Taif University.

The initiative aims to contribute to the modification of driver behavior by creating awareness on the dangers of many negative practices behind the wheel through an interactive program combining theory and practice.

«The campaign touches the drivers’ emotions, raises awareness and urges the community to take personal responsibility besides safety. The behavior modification needs to be reflected among the members of society, achieving sustainability on behavioral, cultural and social aspects,” said Swaidan, supervisor of the campaign.

The campaign is an initiative of the Makkah culture forum under the theme “How to Be a Role Model” announced last October by Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, emir of Makkah.

According to Swaidan, the launch of the initiative comes after the alarming statistics on traffic accidents recorded last year. As many as 460,488 accidents causing 7,489 deaths and 33,199 serious injuries were recorded last year, at a rate of one accident every minutes and 4 injuries every hour and 20 deaths a day. About 73 percent of accidents occurred in major cities.

“A total of SR21 billion is wasted annually as a result of road accidents. Saudi Arabia is ranked 23rd on the list of countries with the highest death rates in road accidents in the world. It is second among Arab countries in terms of road deaths,” said Swaidan.

He revealed that the vast majority of people who died on the roads were in the age group of 18-30 years. The mortality rate for males was 88 percent and for females 12 percent.

«A number of reliable studies and researches by prestigious universities and research institutions in different countries of the world found that sending and receiving text messages or talking on cell phones while driving caused a lot of fatal accidents leading to deaths and disabilities,” Swaidan said.

He pointed to the need to raise the index of informed behavior with regard to the rules and procedures of safety and the level of traffic culture.

He explained that the «Your Life is More Precious Than a Message» campaign came out a sense of social responsibility toward the country and its children by reducing the number of accidents, injuries and disabilities that drain the economy.


Source  :  Saudi Gazette

King honors winners of King Khalid Award

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Saudi Gazette report

RIYADH – Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman graced the ceremony of honoring winners of King Khalid Award for the year 2017 in Riyadh on Monday evening.

Awards for “Development Partners,” “Nonprofit Excellence,” and “Responsible Competitiveness” were given away by the King at a colorful ceremony held at Prince Sultan Hall of Al Faisaliah Hotel.

King Salman presented the first prize in the category of Development Partners Award to Sami Al-Harbi while second and third prizes were given away to Abdullah Al-Hawas and Yazeed Al-Shadouhi respectively for their outstanding voluntary initiatives.

The Makkah-based Al Mawaddah Society for Family Development won the first prize in the category of Nonprofit Excellence Award. The second and third prizes went to the Charitable Society for Marriage and Family Care (Usrati) of Madinah and Al-Kauthar Charity Health Society of Asir respectively. The King presented the awards to the officials of these societies.

Four firms won the awards in the category of “Responsible Competitiveness.” The Al-Hafr Arabian Company bagged the first prize while Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Maaden) was given the second prize. The third place was shared by Middle East Company for Manufacturing and Producing Paper (MEPCO) and Special Direction Company.

Earlier, Prince Faisal Bin Khalid, emir of Asir and chairman of the board of trustees of King Khalid Foundation, spoke about the award.

Riyadh Emir Prince Faisal Bin Bandar, several other princes, and senior officials attended the ceremony.

King Khalid Awards are designed to recognize, encourage and support exceptional achievements in the fields of corporate social responsibility, nonprofit management excellence and social innovation.


Source  :  Saudi Gazette

Saudis welcome decision to allow public cinemas

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Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH — Saudis have overwhelmingly welcomed the announcement by the Ministry of Culture and Information on Monday that it will allow movie theaters to open in the Kingdom next year.

According to Monday’s announcement, a resolution was passed paving the way for licenses to be granted to commercial movie theaters, with the first cinemas expected to open in March 2018.

“This marks a watershed moment in the development of the cultural economy in the Kingdom,” the statement quoted Culture and Information Minister Awwad Al-Awwad as saying.

“Opening cinemas will act as a catalyst for economic growth and diversification,” he said.

“By developing the broader cultural sector we will create new employment and training opportunities, as well as enriching the Kingdom’s entertainment options.”

“It is a beautiful day in #SaudiArabia!” Saudi female director Haifaa Al-Mansour said on Twitter.

Her film “Wadjda” made history in 2013 after it became Saudi Arabia’s first Academy Award entry.

“Congratulations to the 2030 Generation,” Saudi filmmaker Aymen Tarek Jamal said on Twitter. “Now our young men and women will show the world possibilities and stories worth seeing,” Jamal wrote.

The head of the Shopping Centers Committee at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mohammed Alawi, said that around five malls are ready for cinemas in Jeddah.

“In the entire country, I’m sure at least 10 malls are ready,” he told Saudi Gazette. “Once the licensing is granted, they’ll immediately start with the procedures.”

Saudi Arabia is expected to have more than 300 cinemas — with over 2,000 screens — all across the Kingdom by 2030, the ministry said in a statement.

Majid Al Futtaim and VOX Cinemas said the move is in line with the spirit of Vision 2030.

“Today’s announcement will mean the creation of thousands of job opportunities and support the growth of creative industries across the country,” they said in a statement.

The ministry’s statement said the opening of movie theaters will contribute more than SR90 billion ($24 billion) to the economy and create more than 30,000 jobs by 2030.

Many Saudis took to Twitter to express their joy, posting images of buckets of movie theater popcorn and moving graphics of people dancing, fainting and crying.

“It’s spectacular news. We are in a state of shock,” Saudi actor and producer Hisham Fageeh was quoted as saying by a news agency.

Fageeh starred in and co-produced the Saudi film “Barakah Meets Barakah” by director Mahmoud Sabbagh, which premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival in February.

“Cinema is an essential part of entertainment that’s been booming recently”, Mohammed Alawi told Saudi Gazette.

According to global reports, he noted, movie theatres attract 30 percent of visitors who only go to the mall to see a movie.

Last year, Red Sea Mall attracted 17 million visitors and could attract an additional 5 million when a movie theater is added, he said.

“Movie companies in the Arab region showed a willingness to enter the Saudi market,” Alawi said.

Citizens and residents have waited some 35 years for the ban on cinemas to be lifted. The announcement was a surprise for many. “Most people are ready for it,” said Anggi Makki, Saudi screenwriter and director.

“When women were permitted to drive, I had my hopes up for cinema to be allowed anytime soon.”

Fahad Al-Deghaither, a Saudi columnist, described the decision as “momentous.”

The decision will not only help the nascent Saudi film industry but also will result in the employment of thousands of Saudis.

Fahad Al-Esta, a Saudi filmmaker and a scriptwriter, said the move now puts a great responsibility on Saudi producers, directors, screenwriters, and actors to produce meaningful movies.

Popular standup comedian Fahad Al-Butairi wrote on his Twitter account “thousand congratulations to us all”.

Ibrahim Al-Hasawi, the public relations officer for Saudi Film Festival in Dhahran, thanked the Ministry of Culture and Information.

Mamdouh Salehm a Saudi film director, said, “Finally the cinema is back in Saudi Arabia after many years.”


Source :  Saudi Gazette

Zama serial killer charged with 2nd murder

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Police charged Takahiro Shiraishi with the October murder of a 25-year-old woman Monday, the second such warrant served on the man who admitted to killing and dismembering nine people at his apartment near Tokyo.

Shiraishi, 27, is suspected of killing Yokohama resident Kazumi Maruyama and stashing her body at his apartment in Zama. The victim had gone missing on Oct 18, investigative sources said.

Police discovered a cell phone believed to belong to Maruyama in a garbage bag in Shiraishi’s room, the sources said.

Although many of his victims had posted suicidal thoughts on Twitter and other social media networks, Shiraishi told police that he thinks none really wanted to die as they resisted his attacks, the sources said.

Shiraishi was taken into custody in late October and charged approximately three weeks later for the alleged murder of Aiko Tamura, 23, at his Kanagawa Prefecture apartment. Tamura went missing on Oct 23.

Police are continuing their investigation into the fates of the remaining seven victims to see if they can lay further murder charges.

The unfolding murder case sent shockwaves across Japan. Shiraishi is believed to have approached his victims online before luring them to his apartment.

Eight of his victims were female and one male, all aged between 15 and 26. Their dismembered bodies were discovered in cooling boxes in his apartment.


Source :  Japan Today

Prosecutors considering indicting ex-sumo champ Harumafuji over assault

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Police on Monday referred former sumo grand champion Harumafuji to prosecutors for his assault of a lower-ranked wrestler with prosecutors considering an indictment by the end of the year, sources close to the matter said Monday.

Prosecutors are expected to seek a summary indictment for a fine on the 33-year-old former yokozuna who put an end to his 17-year sumo career on Nov 29 just weeks after the scandal surfaced, the sources said.

Investigative sources said police in Tottori Prefecture, where the assault occurred, are likely to have sent the case to prosecutors with a recommendation that he should be indicted.

The Japan Sumo Association has also investigated the incident and is expected to receive a final report on Dec 20 from a crisis management panel that probed the case.

Japan Sumo Association Chairman Hakkaku said, “We will fully cooperate with prosecutors so that an impartial investigation and punishment will result while making full efforts to establish measures so that something like this does not happen again.”

According to investigative sources, the then grand champion allegedly beat fellow Mongolian wrestler Takanoiwa, 27, with his palms and a karaoke machine remote control during a drinking session that lasted from the night of Oct 25 into the early hours of Oct 26 at a bar in Tottori. The wrestlers were in the area on a regional tour.

Takanoiwa suffered head wounds that required about 10 days to heal and filed a police report on Oct 29. He was diagnosed at a hospital in Fukuoka with a suspected fracture at the base of his skull, among other injuries.

Harumafuji admitted to the assault during police questioning conducted on a voluntary basis, according to the sources. His lawyers released Monday a statement on behalf of the former champion, offering “heartfelt apologies to Takanoiwa and others.”

The lawyers also said they will ask for a meeting with Takanoiwa and his stablemaster Takanohana to apologize for the assault and discuss compensation.

The investigative sources said Harumafuji is believed to have been angered by Takanoiwa’s inattention while Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho was giving him advice.

Speaking at a press conference upon his retirement, Harumafuji said he had been trying to fulfill his outside-the-ring duty to teach his fellow Mongolian wrestler manners, but ended up “hurting” Takanoiwa and “caused a stir.”

According to a Japan Sumo Association investigation, the assault occurred after Hakuho told Takanoiwa not to forget the kindness he received during his high school days. Takanoiwa was looking at his smartphone at the time and replied, “It’s an email from my girlfriend.”

“I can only hope this kind of incident will never happen again. We will try to regain public trust by showing our best performance in the ring and keep dedicating ourselves to our duties,” Hakuho told reporters on Monday.

Harumafuji’s retirement was seen by many Japanese as inevitable as he had failed to live up to the high standards of dignity that any yokozuna in Japan’s ancient sport is expected to show. But some sumo fans in Japan, and others who know the wrestler well, expressed disappointment over his premature exit from the sport.

After making his professional debut in 2001 under the ring name Ama, Harumafuji, whose real name is Davaanyam Byambadorj, was promoted to yokozuna in 2012 and won nine titles.

The scandal dealt a blow to the sumo world which was already tainted by cases of match-fixing, violence and bullying.

In 2010, then grand champion Asashoryu, another Mongolian, allegedly seriously injured a male acquaintance in a drunken rampage. He also announced his retirement soon afterward.


Source  :  Japan Today
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