Japan's judo body chief, execs quit en masse

JAPAN - Twenty-three directors of the All Japan Judo Federation, including President Haruki Uemura, and three auditors resigned en masse at an extraordinary board of directors meeting Wednesday to take responsibility for a series of scandals.

Six newly appointed directors will remain in their posts.

During a meeting at the Kodokan Judo Institute in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo, the board of directors compiled a list of about 20 candidates for new directors.

They include Shoji Muneoka, 67, chairman and chief executive officer of Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp., who succeeded Uemura; and Yasuhiro Chikaishi, 64, former chief of the Osaka prefectural police and now adviser at Toyota Motor Corp., who will become a senior director.

The lineup of candidates for new directors was approved at an extraordinary board of trustees meeting later in the afternoon based on recommendation by the board of directors.

Kaori Yamaguchi, 48, an associate professor at Tsukuba University, will serve as a new auditor.

Uemura, 62, and other top executives stepped down one month after the Cabinet Office called on the federation to revamp its organization following a series of scandals, including the alleged physical abuse of judoka on a national team by a former head coach and misappropriation of subsidies from the Japan Sports Council.

Muneoka is the first president of the judo federation who is neither a descendant of Jigoro Kano, founder of the martial art, nor an Olympic medalist.

After the extraordinary board of trustees meeting, a meeting of a new board of directors was held later in the day at which Muneoka was formally elected president.

Yasuhiro Yamashita, who won a gold medal in judo at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984, became vice president.

The judo federation will hold the first meeting of its reform committee immediately after installation of the new leadership to discuss reform of the board of trustees, among other issues.