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Kajima Deers losing corporate backing; team’s future uncertain

by Kaz Nagatsuka

Staff Writer

The Kajima Deers are known as one of the powerhouse teams in the X League, Japan’s corporate football circuit. But they will no longer go with the name “Kajima” after this year.

The club announced Wednesday that the 2013 season would be the last year they would play as “the Kajima Deers.” The reason? Parent company Kajima Corporation, a Japanese construction giant, has decided to discontinue its backing for financial reasons.

The team will look to remain active as a club team next year. An official announcement is expected to come later this year.

The Deers were formed in 1989 as a part of Kajima’s 150-year anniversary project, and have played in the first division of the X League since 1992. The Tokyo-based team has advanced to the Japan X Bowl (X League championship game) six times and won the Rice Bowl (championship vs. national collegiate champions) title twice.

“Since our promotion to the first division in 1992, the Kajima Deers have played in the X League and been one of the top teams, winning two titles in the Rice Bowl,” Kajima said on its website. “We think that we have been successful in contributing to Japanese American football and its growth over the years.”

Numerous corporate teams in a number of sports have folded in Japan in the last two decades, not just football squads.

Recruit Holdings Co., Ltd. stopped full support for its team, which now plays as club team Obic Seagulls, in 1999, while clothing company Onward Kashiyama, Co., Ltd., disbanded its Oaks team at the end of the 2008 season. The Oaks later became a club team and are currently called the Nojima Sagamihara Rise.