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Japan and South Korea, which have been mulling the possibility of forming a joint ice hockey league, are looking to start the new league between November and January with a combined five teams participating, hockey officials said Tuesday.

In their recent visit to Seoul, representatives of the Japan Ice Hockey Federation and officials of the South Korean side apparently agreed on a schedule and are set to make the formal announcement after the owners of the five clubs hold a meeting in Tokyo in September.

According to the plan, four Japanese teams and one South Korean team will compete for the championship by temporarily suspending the Japanese league season which begins in October, with the round-robin games to be held in both countries.

Williamson named coach of Japan

Japan has appointed Canadian Glen Williamson as new head coach of the men’s ice hockey national team, ice hockey sources said Wednesday.

The 48-year-old, who has a wealth of coaching experience in the North American National Hockey League and also in Japan, starts his reign when Japan plays South Korea in Tokyo next month in a crunch qualifier for the 2004 World Championship in the Czech Republic.

Williamson worked as both a coach and scout in the NHL and was also the head coach for the now defunct Japan Ice Hockey League team Seibu Railway for two seasons from 1996. He served as Japan’s assistant coach at the 2001 World Championship.

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