Former Olympians and administrators of Japanese basketball who are anxious about the future of the game in the country have come together to form the Japan Basketball Improvement Conference (JBIC), it was announced Monday.
The JBIC was initially an informal gathering of former players and coaches from the men’s national teams that played in the Olympics in the 1960s and ’70s, but was officially registered as an incorporated association with over 30 members in late January.
Masatomo Taniguchi, the leading scorer on the men’s team at the 1972 Munich Olympics and a former Japan Basketball Association managing director, was named JBIC president.
The JBIC appreciates that world governing body FIBA forced the previously directionless Japan Basketball Association to introduce sweeping changes to Japanese basketball by imposing an international suspension from November 2014 to August 2015.
But the JBIC also believes that the JBA, under president Saburo Kawabuchi, is not interested in wide-ranging consultation.
Yet the JBIC has no intention of opposing the JBA. Instead, it wants to have dialogue so that the governing body can capitalize on ideas and proposals that could be beneficial to basketball in the country.
According to the JBIC, however, it sent proposals to the JBA via content-certified mails on three occasions to ask for meetings with JBA executives, including secretary general Masaaki Okawa, but the JBA refused to accept them.
One of the biggest fears the JBIC has concerning the JBA and Japanese basketball’s future is in the competitiveness and development of the game in Japan.
“This is a very important issue,” said Kiyohide Kuwata, who competed at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, the last games Japan’s men’s squad participated in. “It’s disappointing that Japan hasn’t competed in an Olympics for 40 years (in men’s basketball). The techniques and traditions we used to have need to be handed down (to the current players).”
The JBIC proposes the establishment of basketball academies, bringing in legendary former players and experts who have competed and coached at the highest level.
Masahiko Yoshida, a former JBA director and Japan head coach at the ’76 Olympics, said that Japanese basketball has been growing less and less international since over the past 15 years.
“When it comes to the international relations, Japan used to have ties with the United States, which supported Japanese basketball’s foundation,” said Yoshida, who serves as a vice secretary general on the JBIC. “Japan’s status and its measures (for competitiveness) have degraded.”
The JBIC also worries that preparations to host the 2020 Tokyo Olympics have not gone smoothly, with the clock quickly ticking. Yoshida insists that Japanese basketball was well prepared for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
The JBIC hinted that many more people could join its ranks, including some JBA councilors.