After weeks of uncertainty, the Japanese Professional Baseball Players Association has decided to participate in next year’s World Baseball Classic, it was revealed on Tuesday.
“We want to announce that the players from the 12 teams have decided to take back the non-participation resolution (passed on July 20) in order to participate in the WBC,” said union president Takahiro Arai of the Hanshin Tigers at a press conference in Osaka prior to the team’s game against the Yomiuri Giants.
The union’s declaration seemingly paves the way for Japan to compete for a third consecutive title in next year’s WBC. Nippon Professional Baseball had previously agreed to compete, but the union had resisted, until Tuesday.
“The fact that the JPBPA and NPB have apparently reached agreement is certainly a positive development. We look forward to receiving an official acceptance from NPB,” MLB’s vice president for Asia Jim Small, representing WBC Inc., said in an email to The Japan Times.
The decision to compete is a reversal from the stance the union took July 20, when its members voted to not compete in the tournament unless NPB secured the sponsorship rights for the team.
After meeting with tournament organizers, NPB officials revealed Japan in fact owned certain rights to sponsorship revenues stemming from the Samurai Japan team, likely a contributing factor in bringing the JPBPA on board.
“The reason we decided not to participate was not because the players were struggling,” read a statement on the union’s website. “We just wanted to have the rights normally given to a participant country at a regular international sporting event. Because of that, we wanted to obtain a more successful future for NPB and more of all for Japanese professional baseball.”