A Press Comment on WBC issue
2011/09/14 (From The Asahi Simbun)
COMMENTARY BY KINYA NISHIMURA SENIOR STAFF WRITER
NPB, MLB commissioners need to resolve WBC issue:
It's getting late in the game and negotiations are still stalled over whether two-time champion Japan will participate in the third World Baseball Classic scheduled for 2013.
More than half of the competition's revenue comes from Japan in the form of sponsors of Team Japan and broadcast rights in this country. Yet, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association split 66 percent of the gross earnings, while Japan only gets 13 percent.
This is why Nippon Professional Baseball and its players' labor union, the Japan Professional Baseball Players Association, are objecting. They have announced their decision not to participate in the upcoming WBC unless conditions improve.
Meanwhile, World Baseball Classic, Inc., the American organization that hosts the competition, has said it will hold the event regardless of Japan's participation. It also told Japan to respond by Sept. 30 regarding whether or not it will participate in 2013.
Well, the Japan Professional Baseball Players Association need not respond by this deadline, because it is effectively impossible to host the tournament without the participation of Japan, which won the last two editions.
When this deadline passes, it will be up to NPB Commissioner Ryozo Kato to negotiate a deal. Kato is a former Japanese ambassador to the United States, and has friendly ties with MLB Commissioner Bud Selig. But I can't say Kato has achieved much since assuming the post of commissioner. When Kato first took the job, he mentioned that Selig had proposed organizing a so-called real World Series involving Japanese and American professional teams. But that idea hasn't progressed at all.
Kato's first responsibility would be to fix the WBC's "unequal treaty." This problem will not be resolved if negotiation is left to the WBCI, NPB's international relations committee and the labor union. This is the time when we need the commissioners of NPB and MLB to come to an agreement at the highest level.