The Japan Sumo Association (JSA)'s board of councilors on Jan. 4 unanimously decided to remove scandal-embroiled stablemaster Takanohana from his director post, the board has announced.

The board of councilors determined that the former yokozuna's negligence in reporting an assault by ex-yokozuna Harmafuji, 33, in autumn 2017 while serving as regional tour director warranted his removal from his position. It is the first time a JSA director has been removed from the board, and Takanohana will drop two positions to that of "board member level."

Board of councilors chairwoman Yasuko Ikenobo, former senior vice minister of education, culture, sports, science and technology, announced the decision at a news conference held at the Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo arena in Tokyo later the same day.

Takanohana, however, will be able to run in an election for JSA directorship scheduled for sometime after the January Grand Sumo Tournament to be held at Ryogoku Kokugikan from Jan. 14. Takanohana can also still continue to mentor young wrestlers as a stablemaster.

The board of councilors is the sumo association's most powerful decision-making body, in charge of matters such as the selection and removal of members of the board of directors. Currently, the committee is headed by Ikenobo and includes three other outside experts, along with three former sumo wrestlers for a total of seven members. The committee is in session when four or more members are present, and a simple majority of those present can decide to remove a director from his post. Five members attended the Jan. 4 ad-hoc meeting.

In an interim meeting of the board of directors on Dec. 28, it was unanimously decided to put forward the notion of removing Takanohana from his position as a director to the board of councilors. The decision was made on the basis that the stablemaster neglected his responsibility, both as a sumo association director and by continually blocking interviews with 27-year-old victim Takanoiwa, a wrestler in his stable.