• Staff report

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Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda played it safe Monday when asked whether the government will offer baseball star Ichiro Suzuki the prestigious People’s Honor Award.

Hosoda’s noncommittal stance was apparently aimed at ensuring that the government does not lose face a second time.

The Major League Baseball star, who is better known by his first name, turned down the award three years ago, when the government informally sounded him out on the matter.

That was when Ichiro finished his first year in the U.S. with the top batting average and the most stolen bases. But in declining the award, he reportedly said he was too young and had yet to complete his career as a baseball player.

“Well, he himself will likely have his own intentions” regarding the award, Hosoda told a regular news conference Monday. “We’d like to make a judgment after considering the circumstances.”

This year, Ichiro broke the single-season hits record, which had stood at 257 since 1920. Ichiro ended the season over the weekend with 262 hits.

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