Major League Baseball urged Japanese baseball officials Monday to clarify the country’s participation in next spring’s World Baseball Classic as early as possible.

At a Nippon Professional Baseball executive meeting, MLB Japan managing director Jim Small demanded that Japan take quick action to finalize its participation in the first international competition to feature major league players representing their countries.

Top NPB officials, who initially voiced opposition to MLB’s dominance in organizing the tournament, are close to approving Japan’s participation after MLB made a compromise proposal to give Japan a greater say in the running of the next tournament in 2009.

The Japanese players association, however, is adamant that holding the tournament in March will interfere with spring training in Japanese baseball. The association is also dissatisfied with MLB’s control over the tournament.

In July, the association requested that Asian qualifiers for the WBC take place in March and the late rounds be held in July instead of the March 3-20 schedule, including regional qualifiers and the ensuring rounds in the United States.

“We have to get the nod from the players association and we would like to reach a conclusion as quickly as we can,” said Pacific League President Tadao Koike, who chairs the NPB executive committee.

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