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3 shogi board members sacked over mishandling of software 'cheating' scandal

Three board members of the Japan Shogi Association have been dismissed following their mishandling of "cheating" allegations against a top player concerning improper use of shogi software.

In 2016, professional ninth-dan shogi player Hiroyuki Miura, 43, was suspended from playing in tournaments following suspicions of cheating in a competition by using shogi software in October 2016. However, these allegations were later found to be inaccurate, and Miura was reinstated.

The three board members were officially relieved from their roles on Feb. 27 following a ballot during an emergency meeting of professional shogi players on the same day. The results of the ballot showed overall support in favor of their dismissal.

The three board members to get the chop were former association directors Teruichi Aono, 64, Daisuke Nakagawa, 48, and 35-year-old Daisuke Katagami. However, two other board members -- 61-year-old Kazuo Azuma and 49-year-old Shuji Sato -- whose dismissals were also demanded, managed to survive the ballot and hold onto their positions.

With regard to identifying successors for the three men, the head of the association, 47-year-old Yasumitsu Sato, was non-committal, saying, "I will need to discuss this further with the remaining members before I can make an announcement."

In January 2017, former head of the Japan Shogi Association -- 54-year-old Koji Tanigawa -- and former director Akira Shima, 54, stepped down from their roles following their insufficient handling of the same suspicions concerning improper use of shogi software. Tanigawa's resignation led to Sato taking over the role of association head, on Feb. 6.

However, despite the resignations of Tanigawa and Shima in January, people within the association demanded that more senior members take responsibility for mishandling the shogi software case and be removed from their positions.

Specifically speaking, 28 professional shogi players made such demands, leading to an emergency meeting held on Feb. 27. In total, 216 of the association's full 234 members attended the meeting, with the majority voting in favor of Aono, Nakagawa and Katagami being dismissed.

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