• Kyodo

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The Yamagata Prefectural Government has told its workers not to turn on TVs in the workplace during the Japan-Tunisia World Cup soccer match Friday, prefectural officials said Wednesday.

The ban follows a remark by Yamagata Gov. Kazuo Takahashi, who told a news conference Monday, “I am not glued to the TV” during work hours and “I expect the same from my staff.”

An official in the personnel department, which issued the ban, said: “We merely called on staff to abide by the public workers’ obligation to concentrate on work. If someone wants to watch the match, we recommend he or she take annual leave.”

The ban has vexed at least one worker, who said: “I will be more anxious than ever now to know the results. I think we should be allowed to watch the scores at least.”

The ban covers not only TVs but also Internet access to obtain data on match results, the officials said. A TV set in the lobby of the prefectural office will show the match, but it is strictly for visitors waiting in the lobby and is not for staff viewing, they said.

Friday’s match, scheduled to kick off at 3:30 p.m., is the decisive one for Japan as it will determine if the Japanese team can move on to the second round.

Sunday’s match between Japan and Russia drew a 66.1 percent TV viewership rating in the Kanto region, the second-highest figure in the history of Japanese sports broadcasting.

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