Creation of Permanent Japanese National Team Planned

(Summary of News in the Asahi Shimbun)

NPB Owners’ Meeting on October 7 decided to launch the permanent National Team, called “SAMURAI JAPAN”, instead of organizing on ad hoc basis each time, such as at the Olympics or WBC.

Its first game is scheduled against the National Team of Taiwan at the Tokyo Dome on March 10, 2012 to aid reconstruction work of the Great Earthquake and Tsunami in Northeastern Japan. Subsequently, the Japanese team will invite sponsors for multi-year contracts and aim to hold periodic international games and launch a new international tournament.

NPB is willing to work cooperatively with amateur baseball. Commissioner Ryozo Kato explained the reasons to create the permanent entity are: “to maintain players’ honor, nurture dreams of children, secure and increase the number of baseball players.”

Commentary by the Asahi Shimbun (summary)

For the 12 Japanese teams of NPB who have been concerned with the running of their own teams only, the idea to manage the Japanese National Team as a business is something new. It could save deficit-ridden NPB in similar manner as football.

Professional baseball succeeds only if the leagues are in sound condition. Business practice of NPB, however, has been way too poor. For example, the trade mark of “SAMURAI JAPAN”, made popular by 2009 WBC, was owned by a large advertising company, who has passed the right on to NPB. NPB can make money by selling goods bearing the logo.

However, there is a big challenge inside the ball park. The business plans will end up as a pie in the sky if they are a series of international friendly matches only. With baseball out of the Olympic games, WBC is virtually the only the top-level international championship which baseball fans look for.

Business of the new National Team will take of only after the WBC issue is resolved. We wish to expect fruitful result as a result of negotiations with the U.S.

(Approximate translation)