Kan, officials jubilant over soccer success

by Jun Hongo

Top officials were jubilant Friday about Japan’s overnight triumph over Denmark at the soccer World Cup, with Prime Minister Naoto Kan offering congratulations to the Blue Samurai from his Toronto-bound government jet.

“I congratulate this achievement from my heart,” said Kan, en route to the Group of Eight summit and other conferences in Canada. “I hope the team will unite as one and put up a good fight under coach (Takeshi) Okada to continue its success at the tournament stage.”

In Tokyo, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku also admitted he was “heavy-lidded” during his routine news conference, acknowledging he was hooked on the game that ended after daybreak.

“This was a splendid victory,” Sengoku said, praising the Japan Football Association and J. League for the national team’s impressive run.

“Japan scored splendidly twice with free kicks, which is their strong suit. And when (Denmark) lunged and fell forward, the duo of (Keisuke) Honda and (Shinji) Okazaki scored the third goal,” he analyzed. “Up next is Tuesday’s game against Paraguay. Let’s hope the team plays well and goes through to the next round,” he said.

Viewer rating soars

Kyodo News

Japan’s victorious World Cup game with Denmark drew a viewer rating of 41.3 percent at one point in the Kanto region surrounding Tokyo, a ratings agency said Friday.

The average rating for the two-hour live broadcast of the game relayed by Nippon Television Network Corp. from 3 a.m. to 5 a.m. Friday Japan time, when the second period was still under way, was 30.5 percent in Kanto and 27.4 percent in the Kansai region, Video Research Ltd. said.

The highest rating was marked shortly before 5 a.m.