OSAKA – Takahiro Arai, the chairman of the Japan Professional Baseball Players Association, said Tuesday that the decision to play in the 2013 World Baseball Classic was simply a matter of the union getting what it wanted in negotiations.
On July 20, the union resolved not to participate in the WBC unless Japan received the rights to its own sponsorship and licensing fees. Nippon Professional Baseball, which last year agreed to participate, worked to find a solution to the impasse, and discovered a way in which some sponsorship revenues could be captured by Japan.
“The thing the players union was emphatic about from the start has become a reality,” Arai said Tuesday of the efforts made by NPB and the chairman of the committee on international relations, Toshimasa Shimada.
The union chief, however, was critical of NPB’s commissioner, Ryozo Kato for his perceived willingness to go along with the rules set up for the tournament that the players felt strongly favored Major League Baseball. A week ago, Kato urged the players to participate, saying “We must take part.”
“Commissioner Kato had to take the initiative and fight against MLB,” Arai said. “He didn’t do his duty.
“In the midst of that, without thinking of (Japan’s) baseball community, he is mistaken when he says, ‘We must take part.’ I don’t understand him.”
Commissioner Kato refused to comment on Arai’s remarks, saying, “I haven’t heard them first-hand.”
Although numerous players expressed joy with the decision, not all were convinced.
“We reached a compromise, but I can’t say it’s satisfactory,” said Orix catcher Fumihiro Suzuki, the Buffaloes’ players’ rep. “In the future, we have to have a situation that is fair for every country.”