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Giants owner eyes new competition to replace Japan Series

Yomiuri Giants owner Tsuneo Watanabe on Friday unveiled an idea for a competition that would replace the Japan Series championship if Japanese professional baseball is realigned into a one-league system through mergers between teams.

Watanabe, describing the idea as a personal one, said he would like to see the number of regular-season games reduced to make room for another tournament featuring a mini league format by dividing the teams based on geographical locations.

The idea is designed for a matchup between the winners of the regular season and the league tournament, Watanabe said, adding that he wants the new competition to be called the “Emperor’s Cup.”

“I would be grateful if it takes shape as the Emperor’s Cup, which exists in horse racing, soccer and sumo,” he said.

On Wednesday, Watanabe chaired an owners’ meeting of the 12 pro baseball clubs, where Seibu Lions owner Yoshiaki Tsutsumi said a merger between Pacific League teams is in the works in addition to the merger talks between the Orix BlueWave and Kintetsu Buffaloes.

The baseball owners gave the nod to the Orix-Kintetsu merger and Watanabe said a shift to a one-league system is expected to be discussed when the owners meet again in September if another merger becomes a reality.

The annual Japan Series championship has been played since 1950 between the winners of the Central and Pacific Leagues to determine the top team in Japanese baseball.

Yomiuri files protest

The Yomiuri Giants baseball team said Friday it has sent a letter of protest to publisher Kodansha Ltd. over its weekly magazine running photos of Shigeo Nagashima, former manager of the team who is undergoing rehabilitation after a stroke, without the permission of his family.

The photo magazine “Friday” ran several photos of a man it says is Nagashima. The photos do not show the person’s face.