Just over a year ago, the Japanese press was agog with stories of their "national treasure," Seibu Lions pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, going overseas to play baseball in the U.S. While bemoaning the loss of a homegrown star, there was also a hint of pride in Matsuzaka's ability to compete in the MLB.
Starting with the pitcher's initial decision to head to America, and continuing through his season with the Boston Red Sox and, of course, through the World Series championship, the press came forth with a frenzied avalanche of coverage. Magazines even devoted cover stories to Matsuzaka's semi-mythical "gyroball," which the pitcher may or may not throw.
But has all this attention signified an increased interest by the Japanese public in the MLB, or is it another cult of personality, which the Japanese - and, to be sure, the Americans - love so well?
The truth is, the steady flow of star Japanese ball players to the U.S. has been a major factor in the recent success of American baseball, and has led to unprecedented cooperation between the two countries' leagues. This year, for just the second time, MLB will start its season in Japan, when the Red Sox take on the Oakland Athletics later this month at Tokyo Dome. Yet unlike the first time MLB regular season games were played in Japan (the New York Yankees took on the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2004), there are two teams which look to contend in the post season, one of which is the current World Series champions.
Airbnb estimates that its services contributed 920 billion yen ($8.35 billion) to the Japanese economy in 2016, up 80% from the previous year, as foreign users took advantage of affordable lodging in big cities and rural areas. (Nikkei)
Princess Kako, a granddaughter of Emperor Akihito, will study at the University of Leeds in Britain from September this year to June next year as an exchange student, the Imperial Household Agency said Monday. (Japan Today)
Tokyo Metropolitan Police have arrested the former manager of an illicit parlor in Shinjuku who is suspected of instructing teenage girls to perform sex acts with customers, reports TBS News. (tokyoreporter.com)
The Japanese government has decided to start landfill work at the Henoko coastal area in the city of Nago, Okinawa Prefecture, on Tuesday for the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma air base, informed sources said Monday. (Jiji)
The Bank of Japan wants financial institutions to lend more money under its large-scale monetary-easing policy. But it's worried that some regional banks are too eager to offer real estate loans, especially for building rental housing. (NHK)
Two elderly women were hit and killed by a train at a station in Kanagawa Prefecture, south of Tokyo, with surveillance camera footage showing the two jumping on the tracks holding each other's hands, police said Monday. (Japan Today)
Rakuten Inc announced the official launch of "Rakuten Super English," a comprehensive English learning service utilizing technology to provide a practical English learning and a new style of studying. The launch of Rakuten Super English marks Rakuten's entry into the English education business. (Japan Today)