National

Japan pro ballplayers seek injunction against planned merger

The Japan baseball players association filed with the Tokyo District Court on Friday for an injunction against the planned merger between the Orix BlueWave and the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes.

The move — which occurred on the same day that the two clubs finalized their basic merger agreement of Aug. 10 — came after baseball officials turned down a series of demands by the association, including a call for establishing a special committee to handle contractual issues for the players affected by the merger.

The association, a labor union, has been demanding that not only club management but also players’ representatives take part in any decision-making processes of such a committee.

Friday’s suit was filed by association head Atsuya Furuta of the Yakult Swallows as well as Koichi Isobe and Takashi Miwa, who represented the players of Kintetsu and Orix.

In the documents filed with the court, the association demands that the two Pacific League clubs and Nippon Professional Baseball, pro baseball’s governing body, let it conduct collective negotiations on a range of merger-related issues.

The association also seeks to hold meetings of the special committee and adopt resolutions by the committee before any decisions are made.

On Thursday, the association called anew for the NPB to shelve the Kintetsu-Orix merger for at least one year and reassess the advisability of the merger.

But NPB officials made no clear-cut response to the association’s requests in their working-level negotiations.

In a separate move Thursday, two shareholders of Kintetsu Corp., the Osaka-based railway operator that owns the Buffaloes, filed with the Osaka District Court for an injunction against the merger.

The owners of the 12 professional ballclubs gave the green light to the merger last month and are expected to give formal approval when they meet Sept. 8.

Several other Pacific League teams have expressed an interest in merging.