Baseball writer Jason Coskrey and editor Joel Tansey discuss the Hanshin Tigers’ Japan Series victory; Gabriele Ninivaggi explains how the prime minister hopes to get a home run with his tax plan.

Hosted by Shaun McKenna and produced by Dave Cortez.

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Shaun McKenna 00:09

Welcome to Deep Dive from The Japan Times, I'm Shaun McKenna. This past weekend saw the end of the Japan Series, which went to a rare Game 7 with the Hanshin Tigers beating the Orix Buffaloes 7 to 1. On today's show, Dave Cortez will talk to our main baseball writer, Jason Coskrey, and editor Joel Tansey about what was seen as a pretty momentous victory for the Tigers. Jason's also going to explain to us what that “Curse of the Colonel” is. But before that, I'm speaking to politics reporter Gabriele Ninivaggi about the prime minister's sinking approval ratings, despite the tax cuts that seem to be coming our way.

Hi, Deep Dive listeners, so we recorded our chat with Gabriele on Nov. 6, before he set out to cover the G7 foreign ministers meet-up in Tokyo. In the meantime, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said he will not hold a snap election this year. So that looks like it's going to settle the “will he, won’t he” that we refer to in our chat, but you never know in politics nothing is impossible. Anyway, here's Gabriele.

Hey, Gabriele. So, I've recently been feeling the pinch of increased prices like everyone else in Japan, and I'm wanting to send cash back to Canada but the yen is really low. And I'm hoping that it can get back up at least a little bit higher, so I can make some money on my remittances. And it seems like the government is trying to figure out a solution to this problem. But two weekends ago, while we all had our eyes on Shibuya Halloween, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida received a different kind of scare and that was his Cabinet's approval rating. So according to a poll by Nikkei and TV Tokyo it hit 33%. It's the lowest it's gone since he took office two years ago. The Cabinet's disapproval rating in the same poll rose by eight points to 59% with survey-takers citing poor policies and poor leadership as reasons for their disapproval. Then on Thursday, Kishida unveils this approximately ¥17 trillion economic stimulus package — that's around US$113 billion. And...

Gabriele Ninivaggi 02:15

And this past weekend, after the announcement that you mentioned, a Kyodo poll put the Cabinet's approval rate at 28.3%.

Shaun McKenna 02:25

A considerable drop.

Gabriele Ninivaggi 02:26

Yeah, and that's the first time a Liberal Democratic Party government has fallen under 30% since 2009, when the now-defunct Democratic Party of Japan defeated the LDP in a historic election.

Shaun McKenna 02:40

Are people not happy about this economic stimulus package, which as we'll get into in a moment, includes a tax cut?

Gabriele Ninivaggi 02:47

Correct. So there seems to be this fundamental mistrust in the stimulus package’s main centerpiece, the tax cut that you mentioned. Respondents to these polls have been saying that it's fiscally irresponsible, and that it's just a way to sort of sweeten them up before announcing a general election.

Shaun McKenna 03:04

OK, like a vote-getting tactic. Right, well, let's lay out exactly what is in the stimulus package and when it's supposed to go into effect.

Gabriele Ninivaggi 03:11

Sure. So as you mentioned, the package is worth ¥17 trillion and it mainly aims to counter the pace of steady inflation and falling wages. The main element is a temporary cut in income and residence taxes per person from next June.

Shaun McKenna 03:26

So it's a ¥30,000 cut in income tax and a ¥10,000 cut in residency tax for a total of ¥40,000.

Gabriele Ninivaggi 03:35

Correct. And there's also a plan to grant ¥70,000 in payouts to low-income households as well as extra subsidies for energy and utility bills. And those who don't earn enough to enjoy the advantages of the tax cut will benefit from some kind of additional support, but it's not clear what that is yet.

Shaun McKenna 03:55

OK, so tax cuts and cash handouts. This is a bit of an aside, but do people in Japan generally consider themselves to be taxed too much?

Gabriele Ninivaggi 04:03

I think it depends on who you ask. Overall, people here are paying more taxes than they used to be in the past, but they're still paying less than some countries in Europe. The tax and social security system here is based on age and employment status. So older people, because they're often earning less, tend to pay less, while younger people, specifically those in so-called regular employment, tend to pay more but receive less benefits. To put it fairly simply. Young people might feel that they are overtaxed as they don't really often make use of the country's subsidized medical services as much as older people do. On the other hand, with Japan's aging population, there's an ongoing debate over the necessity to adjust these structural imbalances. And people who are older and have retired recently have been asked to pay more in tax — if they can afford it, obviously. So there seems to be this trend in Japan of asking those who can afford to pay more to pay more regardless of age.

Shaun McKenna 05:02

OK. So back to the stimulus package, what kind of timeline are we looking at for this?

Gabriele Ninivaggi 05:07

So the government will submit a budget proposal later this month for discussion in the Diet, which is the parliament, and presumably pass it before Dec. 12. Before the ongoing session of the Diet is scheduled to end and anyone who qualifies for subsidies will get those soon after the budget passes. But the tax cuts will come in June next year after a related law is submitted early next year.

Shaun McKenna 05:30

Is there any chance the budget won’t pass?

Gabriele Ninivaggi 05:32

Well, there have been some pretty deep disagreements within Kishida’s own party, the Liberal Democratic Party, on this tax cut, but at the moment it's extremely unlikely that the budget won't pass the Diet. The prime minister is obviously strongly advocating for it and the other day he told a news conference that, and I quote, “Japan's economy is now on the brink of exiting from deflation. It will be more difficult to do so, if we miss out this chance. I'm determined to boost disposable income in order to lead to expanded growth and create a virtuous cycle,” end quote.

Shaun McKenna 06:04

So this “virtuous cycle” the prime minister mentioned there, is a reference to the deflationary cycle that Japan has been stuck in for decades, yeah? So deflation brings lower prices and if I'm looking at the problems inflation is causing, don't we want lower prices?

Gabriele Ninivaggi 06:19

Well, we want to be able to afford goods and services. A deflationary spiral might seem helpful, but when price levels decline that leads to lower production, reduced wages, decreased demand and continued price declines. Hence the spiral.

Shaun McKenna 06:36

So it's better to bring our wages up to afford higher prices than to bring prices down.

Gabriele Ninivaggi 06:42

Right, and deflation has negative effects on the economy at large. For example, in other countries, a deflationary cycle can lead companies to cut costs by laying off workers. But that’s a bit hard to do in Japan because of strict labor laws. What has happened in Japan is that companies have refrained from investing in people — people's training and reskilling, which obviously leads to higher productivity — and instead, they're sitting on their profits.

Shaun McKenna 07:08

For a rainy day.

Gabriele Ninivaggi 07:09

For a rainy day. You know, in the past few years, we've actually been paying quite a bit in taxes and Kishida himself is saying that he wants to, and I'll paraphrase him on this, return the fruits of increased tax revenues to the people.

Shaun McKenna 07:23

OK so Kishida’s big hope is that he can juice the economy, tax cuts and handouts are usually popular but the prime minister's approval ratings are falling, you said earlier this is due to the fact that voters seem to think the cuts are fiscally irresponsible.

Gabriele Ninivaggi 07:37

Right. So while the budget is likely to pass, as I said, the prime minister has been facing a lot of opposition within his own party from some, you know, pretty prominent and vocal politicians. But at the same time, also economists and the financial sector are also concerned about a tax cut. And also influential media outlets are coming out against it.

Shaun McKenna 08:00

They don't think a tax cut is going to help.

Gabriele Ninivaggi 08:01

No, they don't. Increased spending and tax cuts are going to add to Japan debt. Japan already has the highest debt among major economies, 261% of gross domestic product in 2022.

Shaun McKenna 08:16

So they're worried about mounting debt. That's often a line we'll hear coming out of U.S. political narratives, isn't it?

Gabriele Ninivaggi 08:22

Yeah, it is. Though, you know, it's an issue every country is worried about. Japan is really no different in this. The government has also already injected hundreds of billions of yen into the economy since the pandemic and things have been picking up slowly. So some people are arguing that this really isn't the time for another boost, another stimulus. But inflation is what is causing the prime minister so many headaches like it is in other countries. And this is because of the economic challenges of a pandemic, the war in Ukraine, the low yen and so forth. So, also, for the majority of the year, Kishida has been in parliament defending another one of his policies, a tax hike

Shaun McKenna 09:04

Oh, a tax hike, what?

Gabriele Ninivaggi 09:06

Yes, a tax hike. The tax cut is temporary. It's sort of an effort to try and get the economy completely out of this deflationary spiral that I mentioned. But Kishida, long-term, he wants to spend more money on defense and child care. He was planning to raise corporate income and tobacco taxes as a way to pay for the increase in defense spending. But, you know, no politician wants to raise taxes, so the hike has been postponed until 2025. Additionally, the funding for his child care policies is still unclear. The prime minister has said repeatedly that he wants to conduct a spending review and avoid imposing an additional burden on citizens but at the moment, it looks unclear as to whether or not he'll be able to do that.

Shaun McKenna 09:54

OK, so the guy who's been talking about raising taxes, has suddenly come up with a plan to cut taxes.

Gabriele Ninivaggi 10:01

Yes. So his whole thing was raising taxes, so much so that he got the nickname zozei-megane, which kind of loosely translates as “four-eyed tax hiker.”

Shaun McKenna 10:12

Because of his glasses? That's cold. So the four-eyed tax hiker — their words, not mine — now wants to cut taxes, and I'm guessing the public isn't buying it. And that suspicion is what is turning up in his approval or disapproval ratings.

Gabriele Ninivaggi 10:29

Right. So the argument in Kishida’s eyes is to cut taxes, boost the economy, keep momentum for wage hikes, get people to a place where they can afford a tax hike, and then implement those tax hikes to pay for defense and child care. This is a plan, obviously, and some people think it might work and some don't. We won't know until next year, I guess. On paper, a tax cut should be music to voters' ears, especially at a time when everything seems to be getting more and more expensive. But there seems to be mixed messages on this, because Kishida has been involved for a little more than two years now and in that time, he hasn't really set forward a clear agenda for the country. It seems as though becoming prime minister was his goal and that was it. He has been tackling single issues one at a time as they arise, you know, the pandemic first and then the war in Ukraine and then the Unification Church last year, but he has struggled to build a legacy for himself, especially in the domestic arena. So far he’s been pretty lucky and also skilled in a way but that might not be enough under current circumstances. At the moment, really, I think there are a few signs that his popularity is going to increase anytime soon.

Shaun McKenna 11:45

So quick takeaway. Tax cuts in June. Gabrielle, thanks for coming on Deep Dive.

Gabriele Ninivaggi 11:51

Thanks for having me, guys.

Shaun McKenna 11:52

We'll be back after the break with Dave Cortez.

Hey, Dave.

Dave Cortez 12:05

Hey, Shaun.

Shaun McKenna 12:06

Over the weekend, there was big news in baseball. I'm not a huge baseball fan, but you are, yeah?

Dave Cortez 12:11

Yes, I am. And that big news in baseball happened in Osaka.

So that was the sound of Hanshin Tigers fans celebrating their team's victory on the famed Ebisubashi Bridge in Dotonbori on Sunday. This is like Osaka’s equivalent to Shibuya Crossing, culturally speaking.

Shaun McKenna 12:36

I'm really showing my ignorance here. The Hanshin Tigers are Osaka’s team?

Dave Cortez 12:40

Technically, they're a Kansai team, but they're basically an Osaka team. And this past weekend, they played and defeated the Orix Buffaloes, another Kansai team, in Game 7 of the 2023 Japan Series, which is Japan's professional baseball championship. So for listeners who know American baseball, this is kind of like when the Red Sox or the Cubs broke their championship droughts. So it's a big deal for Tigers fans, and of course, they celebrated on the bridge, several of them jumping into Dotonbori River, but most just partying and chanting into the night. And so for these fans, it had been decades of disappointment and finally the drought, or the curse, came to an end. So to unpack all this drama and celebration, I spoke to Japan Times sports writer Jason Coskrey — one of the best sports writers on Japanese baseball around — and our colleague Joel Tansey, who lives in Osaka and took part in the celebrations as well.

Jason, Joel, thanks for coming on Deep Dive.

Jason Coskrey 13:33

Thank you for having me again.

Joel Tansey 13:35

Thanks for having me.

Dave Cortez 13:36

So we have our work cut out for us today. We have a possible budding rivalry and even a curse to explain to the audience, but I guess a good place to start is to ask you both since you guys went down there after the game, what was the scene like in Osaka’s Dotonbori area when the Tigers won?

Jason Coskrey 13:51

Well, I didn't get there until about after midnight, almost 1 a.m. after I finished up at Osaka Dome, Kyocera Dome, and there were still a bunch of police. There were a lot of people, a lot of fans there singing chants, themes, all that, so it was pretty ... it was a lot of people down there still. It wasn't as crowded as some of the videos I saw. I didn't see anybody jump into the river but there were still a lot of people there.

Dave Cortez 14:13

What about you, Joel? What did you see?

Joel Tansey 14:15

I probably got there at about 10:30 p.m., and it was just hordes and hordes of Hanshin Tigers fans just out celebrating. It was a very heavy police presence, so getting close to the Dotonbori River was actually quite challenging, even just to see it, they had a lot of barricades up. I know I saw some people online had managed to get in and jump in, which is always, you know, a common celebration after a big Tigers win, but I didn't see any of that. But yeah, just tons of fans out there all cheering all celebrating, having broken you know 38 years of frustration.

Dave Cortez 14:55

So clearly a lot of passion from the fan base and city it sounds like. Let's go back and have you guys set the stage. Joel, you quoted in one of your stories Trevor Raichura, founder of the Hanshin Tigers English news website and podcast, as saying that the Tigers are kind of like lovable losers in a sense. It's kind of like when you have a kid and your kid fails at something, you still can't stop loving them. They're cute even in defeat, right? So can you guys give me a quick rundown of the Hanshin Tigers place in NPB history? You know, every sport has their own underdogs. But what is Hanshin’s story?

Jason Coskrey 15:30

I will probably disagree with the lovable loser thing because I don't think the Tigers are lovable. Not like the Chicago Cubs were where people would kind of root for them. I don't think Hanshin really has that. Because Hanshin is just as much of a big team as the Yomiuri Giants. They're just as old, almost. They're just as prestigious. They just didn't have the, they don't have the wins. They don't have the pedigree that the Giants have. They're sort of the Red Sox to the Yomiuri’s Yankees. The Giants have 22 Japan Series titles and the Tigers won the pennant for the sixth time this year and their second Japan Series. So there's nothing underdog about the Tigers, they just don't do anything with the resources they have.

Joel Tansey 16:11

Yeah, I mean, I think he's correct that this is not a small market team, you know, they've got a lot of resources. So it's hard to call them underdogs. But I think from the Tigers’ perspective, the fact that there hasn't been a lot of success over the years just makes, you know, those few successes and that kind of, you know, chance to win, win at all, just all that much more important. Whereas you know, a franchise, like the Giants, if you've been a Giants fan for 40, 50 years, you've seen however many championships, you know, that winning feeling maybe just feels almost a bit redundant at a certain point. Whereas the Tigers, you know, it's been 38 years since they've been able to win a Japan Series. So you know, in the Kansai area, there is a feeling that they're losers, but the fans love them anyways.

Dave Cortez 16:55

I see, well, Joel, can you maybe recall a specific moment or memory where you really thought, Wow, it's really tough to be a Tigers fan.

Joel Tansey 17:04

So, I have to, you know, I have to put everything on the table here. I've only been a Tigers fan for about six years, and I've kind of became a fan through marriage. My wife is, uh, you know, grew up in Kansai. And my father-in-law is a huge Tigers fan. And, you know, of course, I want to get in on his good side. So I'm not gonna cheer for another team. But you know, in that six year period, I've seen kind of some ups and downs. You know, I actually felt like last year, they had a really good team. There's definitely been some disappointments. I haven't been around for as many of them as some of the fans that were letting loose in Dotonbori the other night, so I feel like I'm, you know, kind of lucky to have joined and already seen a championship when my father-in-law has been a fan his whole life and he's seen two championships and in his 60 years of watching the team.

Dave Cortez 17:48

For sure. What's the Curse of the Colonel?

Jason Coskrey 17:51

Well, the Curse of the Colonel was, they were cursed, supposedly, by the spirit of Colonel Sanders from Kentucky Fried Chicken. That started when, in 1985 the Tigers won the Central League pennant for the first time since 1964. So the fans celebrated as they are want to do down by Dotonbori by the Ebisu Bridge, and some people were jumping in that river, which is quite dirty. Experts, doctors and people say I think it was even dirtier back then. But people jumped in. People who looked like the players would jump in, but they didn't have anyone who looked like Randy Bass, the American slugger from Oklahoma, who was the team's best player that year. So they improvised and they went and stole the statue of Colonel Sanders from outside of a KFC somewhere and chucked it into the river. And they went on to win the Japan Series after that. It's a common misconception about this curse is that they won the Japan Series and then threw the statue in the river. They actually threw the statue in the river after they won the pennant. Then they won the Japan Series that year, and then things just went down. In 1988 Randy Bass’ son got sick, he left and the team said he didn't have permission to leave and it was kind of an acrimonious split with him. And then they started finishing in last place a bunch,m missing on draft picks and just a lot of things were going wrong for the team. People started saying the hate was the revenge of Colonel Sanders for the way they treated the statue, and so it kind of started getting called the Curse of Colonel Sanders. And that's where that started was basically by them throwing that into the river. They didn't win the pennant again until 2003, which I guess technically would have ended the curse because the curse started with the pennant, and they didn't win the pennant again. But some people believed it would last until they actually won the Japan Series again, which doesn't make that much sense since they hadn't won it before then either. And they wan the Japan Series that year that they threw him in so I guess he let them have one and then...

Dave Cortez 19:51

So maybe not exactly a curse, but they did start kind of failing for decades after that, right?

Jason Coskrey 19:56

I guess it was a curse in a way. They didn't win the pennant again. They lost the Japan Series in seven games in ’03, they got swept in 2005. They lost in five games in 2014 before they finally broke through one this year.

Dave Cortez 20:08

Well, that definitely helps explain what this means to fans whether it was the curse broken this year or the last time they won the pennant. But I do want to ask though, at the start of this season, did anybody pick the Tigers to actually win the Japan Series? Was this expected?

Jason Coskrey 20:23

Well, in our paper, I picked them to win the pennant. I think almost every pundit — not almost every — but a lot of people expected them to make it to the playoffs at least.

Joel Tansey 20:33

I gotta give big credit to Jason for picking the Tigers to win because even as a Tigers fan, you know, I thought you know, maybe second or third was achievable this year, but I didn't expect them to finish first.

Dave Cortez 20:45

Gotcha. Well Kansai, the region that includes Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe, was heavily represented in this matchup as you guys know. So we have two teams who claim Osaka as their territory, the Hanshin Tigers in the Central League, and their opponents, the Orix Buffaloes in the Pacific League, and actually, the Buffaloes have been really good as of late. Jason, just before this series kicked off, you wrote an article titled, “Kansai’s superiority at stake in this year's Japan series.” So is there some kind of storied rivalry here? What's the significance of this series for Kansai?

Jason Coskrey 21:17

I think it was just a proximity of the two teams and the fact you have two Kansai teams playing for the first time in the Japan Series since 1964, which I think I mentioned earlier when it was Hanchin against the Nankai Hawks. No, I don't think there's any particular big rivalry because, for one, Orix has only existed since 2005. And the two teams that merged to create the Buffaloes, the Orix Blue Wave played in Kobe and Kintetsu Buffaloes, they both played in the Pacific League, so neither one of them play the Tigers that much. They never met in the Japan Series, either one of those teams, when they both existed separately No matter what the Buffaloes do, whether they won it this year or not, Osaka is the Tigers’s town. That's just how it is. It's not like New York, where there's this big sizable population of people who like the Mets and then there's a bunch of people like the Yankees. Osaka is the Tigers' place.

Dave Cortez 22:11

So why is Osaka the Tigers' place?

Jason Coskrey 22:12

Well, for one, they've been there since 1936. So many people have grown up with Hanshin, cheering for the Hanshin Tigers. And it has a lot to do with their fan base. They have the most fervent, ardent fan base in Japan. They're wild and rambunctious and famous for all that and there'd be more of a rivalry, I think, if the Buffaloes played in Kobe, where the Blue Wave used to play.

Joel Tansey 22:37

I think one unique part about this is that, you know, last year when the Buffaloes were in the Japan Series and the Tigers were not, well, the last two years, you know, the city, I felt got behind the Buffaloes. And you know, a lot of Tigers fans were very happy to see the Buffaloes have that success. I don't think in MLB you would see that kind of same, you know, brotherly love between the Mets and Yankees fans, for example, you know, I really did feel like Kansai got behind the Buffaloes, you know, as a kind of a second option with the Tigers out.

Dave Cortez 23:07

OK, so that leads me to the next question. I guess we're going into the series with some kind of high drama laid out. You've got the Tigers curse, the buffaloes winning recently and whether or not there is a rivalry or not, there's Kansai bragging rights on the line. And honestly, as a baseball fan, I just have to say, you know what's not to love about that? It sounds like the stage was set, like I said. But in the end, obviously the players have to go out and win the games. So I'll ask Jason, there's the Buffaloes pitching ace, Yoshinobu Yamamoto’s presence in the series, you've written about that. But I'd like to hear about maybe some of the other standout performers and really how this series went in general.

Jason Coskrey 23:47

Well how the series went in general, I think, Yuma Mune for the Orix Buffaloes had a really good series. He's a third baseman and he made some really good fielding plays, he had a key hit in Game 3 that helped the Buffaloes win, he had another one in Game 4 though the Buffaloes ended up losing that game, he still helped put them ahead. Marwin Gonzalez, he also had a pretty good series yet a home run for the Tigers. Shota Morishita, the right fielder, the rookie, he had a really good series. He had about eight hits, drove in some runs during the big two runs with a triple in Game 5. Koji Chikamoto had, like, hits all over the place yet finished with like 14 hits, he had three three-hit games in the Japan Series and net four hits in Game 7, he was also really good. Koyo Aoyagi, the pitcher for the Tigers, kind of, kind of a gutsy performance in Game 7 coming in having not pitched since Sept. 29 and giving them what he gave them on the mound. So, those guys I think really stood out for the teams in the series.

Dave Cortez 24:46

And how did Yamamoto do, he's kind of the star player for the Buffaloes?

Jason Coskrey 24:50

He got rocked in the first game. Gave up seven runs, which was the most the most runs he's given up in his career and he lost in a way that turned to series because Orix was probably expecting to win that game and then hope they could win Game 2 with Hiroya Miyagi. And so when when Yamamoto got rocked, it was just a shock, and then he came back and Game 6 when the Buffaloes needed to win and struck out 14 and threw a 138-pitch complete game and just showed everyone why he's gonna be one of the top free agents on the MLB market because the Buffaloes have already announced that they're gonna post him. So he kind of had an up and down series, he started off really bad and ended it with one of the best games you'll see in a Japan Series.

Dave Cortez 25:32

Right on. I also remember you tweeting about Sheldon Neuse's performance in the series. Was he good throughout the series or did he just help the Tigers bring it home in the end show the end?

Jason Coskrey 25:42

Sheldon Neuse made his fair share of plays in Game 1 through 5 in left field that I think probably got overlooked by a lot of people but he made some plays that help them prevent runs and that's what the Tigers excelled at, was preventing runs, and he was a part of that. So he had a pretty solid 1 through 5 then he hit the home run, the only one that Yamamoto gave up in Game 6, was Neuse hitting a home run. Then he comes back in Game 7 and hits a home run off Hiroya Miyagi, who's the Orix’s second best pitcher. So after hitting .240 with only nine home runs in a regular season, he hits two in back-to-back games off the two best pitches that Orix has. Two guys who were both on the World Baseball Classic team. And that second one, I guess, Miyagi, pretty much helped the Tigers clinch the series.

Dave Cortez 26:26

All right, that's cool. And you mentioned the World Baseball Classic, which is where I think a lot of casual baseball fans have heard Yamamoto's name for the first time this year, because he was so dominant in that series, which Japan won. And so it will be interesting to see how he does if and when he gets a chance to pitch in Major League Baseball. And the other thing I want to mention is, if you haven't picked up on it already, baseball championships are played as a series. Usually it's best of seven. So, first team to win four, and this series went to Game 7. And, as Jason mentioned, Yamamoto didn't do very well in the first game, which means the Tigers won. But to get to Game 7, obviously there has to be some kind of heroics from each team to push it all the way to the final possible game. So what is the kind of significance of the two teams taking it all the way to Game 7?

Jason Coskrey 27:17

Well Game 7, obviously, is the decisive game. And there hasn't been a real Game 7 in the Japan series since 2013, when the Giants and Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles faced each other. So you don't get Game 7 that often. You don't get it that often where the championship is guaranteed to be decided by whoever wins or loses that day. So I think was pretty significant that it got that far as fitting for two teams who are kind of equal to

Joel Tansey 27:45

I'd like to put a question to Jason, my father-in-law, you know, after Game 7, just went back and forth on who the MVP of the Tigers was and there was just there was so many, you know, kind of standouts, but also, you know, very few kind of really consistent performers. So who would you pick as the Tigers’ top player in that series?

Jason Coskrey 28:03

Chikamoto. Easy. Chikamoto was the most consistent player on either team. He three hits twice, four hits once and then he had a hit in every game except Game 2.

Dave Cortez 28:15

And he's a Tigers outfielder?

Jason Coskrey 28:16

He is their centerfielder. And he also was pretty good in centerfield as well. So I think it was pretty easily Chikamoto. After that, that is a great question. I think Seiya Kinami, the shortstop, also had a pretty decent series, and he was pretty consistent. Chikamoto had 14 hits, Kinami had 10. So I think they had some had some guys who could have won MVP, but I think Chikamoto, who actually did win MVP, was the clear choice.

Dave Cortez 28:40

Right. So I guess I'll say congratulations to Joel as a Tigers fan, and ask you to maybe share with the audience what it means to you to finally see them win it all after so long.

Joel Tansey 28:51

Yeah, like I said, earlier, you know, I haven't been a fan for too long. I'm not gonna portray myself as some long-suffering Tigers fan, because this is like year six, I guess, of this journey, if you will. But to know what it meant for, you know, everyone else who had been waiting that long, you know, my father-in-law had tears in his eyes as we got the final outs and, you know, just to see that kind of emotion and passion kind of unleashed, you know, and in various ways, some people, you know, had a cry and went to bed at home, you know, other people, you know, felt the need to go down to the Namba area, and, you know, perhaps even jump in the river. So, I just felt that, you know, to see what it meant to, you know, the city and the region. And, you know, everyone still I think is still kind of on a high, you know, a few days later, you know, from that championship.

Dave Cortez 29:33

Gotcha. OK, one last question, while I have you both. Where does Shohei Otani play next year?

Jason Coskrey 29:40

In LA with the Dodgers.

Dave Cortez 29:41

With the Dodgers?

Jason Coskrey 29:42


Dave Cortez 29:44

Joel, do you have a speculative answer?

Joel Tansey 29:46

Ah, just, I was gonna say the Dodgers. I guess to be different I'll say that maybe the Mets will throw just a ton of money at him and he'll play with Kodai Senga. I don't know.

Dave Cortez 29:55

Right on. Well, let's see how it shakes out. Anyway, thank you guys for coming on Deep Dive and explaining the ins and outs of this to our audience. It was nice talking to you.

Jason Coskrey 30:03


Joel Tansey 30:04

Thanks so much for having me on.

Shaun McKenna 30:10

So the Dodgers?

Dave Cortez 30:11

Yeah, I thought they hedge a bit more, but they seem pretty sure about it.

Shaun McKenna 30:14

I mean, I don't know a lot about baseball, but I know to trust Jason.

Dave Cortez 30:18

Yeah, exactly. Well, thanks to both Jason and Joel for joining the conversation this week.

Shaun McKenna 30:24

And thanks to Gabriele, too. Elsewhere in The Japan Times. As mentioned at the top of the show, the Group of Seven foreign ministers have been meeting in Tokyo. That's being chaired by Japan's top diplomat. Yoko Kamikawa, who announced the results of the meet on Wednesday. The group called for humanitarian pauses in fighting between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. They also called for support for civilians and access for humanitarian workers, but the statement didn't call for a ceasefire nor explicitly condemn Israel's warfare in Gaza. Kamikawa added that the discussion was heated at times extremely frank and unreserved. G7 nations also expressed support for Japan's decision to release treated water into the Pacific Ocean from the wrecked Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, with the group calling the release safe, transparent and science-based. And on that Japan began releasing a third batch of treated radioactive water from the wrecked Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant on Nov. 2. The operator TEPCO said after finishing inspections following its second release, which concluded on Oct. 23, that it had found no reason to alter procedures.

Deep Dive is produced by Dave Cortez, our outro music is by Oscar Boyd, and the theme music is from the artist LLLL. I'm Shaun McKenna, podtsukaresama!