Zainichi players on the North Korean soccer team

With all the World Cup excitement in Japan right now, I just thought I’d link to this Bloomberg report on the two players from Japan on the NK soccer team:

North Korea, the lowest ranked team in the soccer World Cup, faces five-time champion Brazil tonight with its hopes pinned on two players from Japan.

Japan-born striker Jong Tae-Se and midfielder An Yong Hak, who both play in the J. League, will represent the communist nation in its first World Cup match in 44 years, playing at 8:30 p.m. local time in Johannesburg. Ladbrokes Plc, a U.K. oddsmaker, rates North Korea a 1,000-to-1 chance to win the tournament.

This is the first time players from Japan are representing North Korea at the World Cup, according to Ri. Jong, 26, who plays for Kawasaki Frontale in the J. League, and Omiya Ardija midfielder An, 31, were named in the national team last month.

The two players attended North Korean schools in Japan, hold North Korean passports and have no problem communicating with Pyongyang-based teammates, Ri said.

North Korea, playing in its second World Cup since reaching the quarterfinals in 1966, has no professional teams. National team players earn about twice the average laborer’s salary, according to the North Korean football association.

I am hoping for a US-Japan championship match, but of course that isn’t realistic.

“Adam Richards” to appear on Japanese TV

According to Yahoo, Adam “Swamp Donkey” Richards, the cruiserweight boxer, will appear on Japanese pay channel Wowow tonight at 8pm, when they will show highlights from his March 13 attempt to take the WBO cruiserweight title away from current champion Marco Huck in Germany, Huck’s home turf:

アンドレ・ディレル vs アルツール・アブラハム マルコ・フック vs アダム・リチャーズ アレクサンデル・ポベトキン vs ファビエル・モーラ
[初][HV][W] エキサイトマッチ~世界プロボクシング #3 激戦の”スーパー・シックス”、ディレルvsアブラハム! ・S・ミドル級12回戦  アンドレ・ディレル vs アルツール・アブラハム ~3月27日/アメリカ・ミシガン州 ・WBO世界クルーザー級タイトルマッチ  マルコ・フック vs アダム・リチャーズ ・ヘビー級10回戦  アレクサンデル・ポベトキン vs ファビエル・モーラ ~3月13日/ドイツ
解説:ジョー小泉、浜田剛史 実況:高柳謙一 進行:中島そよか

I won’t ruin the match for anyone planning to watch, but suffice to say Huck is still the champion. The Wowow synopsis of the fight notes that while Richards won several titles as an amateur and boasts a fairly impressive professional career, he has so far not gone up against many powerful fighters.

I am happy someone with my name is having some success, but if he ever wins and gets famous it could complicate my life a little bit. From this video he seems like a pretty down to earth guy who can remember every detail of his fights. Also watch for how much exercise he can do without breaking a sweat (it’s a lot more than me):

Bush, baseball, Koizumi?

It’s been widely reported that Bush threw out the first pitch at a baseball game in Japan on Wednesday. (Game 3 of the Japan Series between the Yomiuri Giants and Nippon Ham Fighters for those who care.) But did you know that the former president was hanging out with former PM Junichiro Koizumi while he watched the game? Both of the men have been fairly inconspicuous since leaving office, but it’s kind of amusing to see they still hang out even when there’s no statecraft to be done.

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In the video you can see Bush throwing the pitch right at the beginning, with Koizumi and someone who is probably US Ambassador John Roos on the other side of the catcher’s mound, but the other 9 minutes is tedious baseball.

The other Tokyo Olympics which never were

The 1964 Tokyo Olympics were a milestone in Japanese history as the country’s great postwar coming-out party. The 1940 Tokyo Olympics, on the other hand, became a footnote, as they were planned and approved by the IOC but never actually took place.

Tokyo’s bid was announced in 1932 and won the IOC vote in 1936, defeating a rival bid from Helsinki, Finland by a vote of 34 to 27. There was some political maneuvering behind the vote: Rome had also been bidding for the Olympics, but Benito Mussolini pulled Rome’s bid as a gesture of support to Japan, then a strong ally of Italy.

A number of factors led to the eventual cancellation of the games. Several IOC members were uneasy with Japan’s military adventures in China, and the US was planning to boycott the Tokyo games in protest. The Japanese government was focused on the war with China and was becoming more reluctant to divert strategic and monetary resources to an international sporting event. Japan formally withdrew its bid on July 15, 1938, and the Olympics passed to runner-up Helsinki by default. However, the Helsinki Olympics were cancelled following the German invasion of Poland in the following year, and there were no Summer Games until 1948.

The plan for the 1940 Olympics centered around two main venues–the Jingu Gaien in central Tokyo and a new Olympic park in Komazawa. These venues were never built before the war, but both sites were later used for staging the Tokyo Olympics of 1964. Another instance of re-using resources: Ichiro Kono, who led the opposition to the 1940 Olympics in the Imperial Diet, became Construction Minister and Minister of State for the Tokyo Olympics under Prime Minister Hayato Ikeda, and thus got the chance to oversee the successful Tokyo Olympics on the government’s behalf.

Nine Days Left…

Curzon is pumped for the 2016 Olympics — I really hope Tokyo wins the big to host the Olympics, and the decision is to come out on October 2, just nine days away.

I gave an overview of the four candidate cities at ComingAnarchy more than a year ago, and I might as well share the background with MF readers as the date of decision approaches.

In June 2008, four candidate cities were chosen for the shortlist on when a complete “bid score” was issued to aid the decision-making process. The finalists: Tokyo, Madrid, Chicago, and Rio de Janeiro.


+ Tokyo — score 8.3
+ Madrid — score 8.1
+ Chicago —score 7.0
+ Rio de Janeiro — score 6.4

Elminated Candidates:
+ Baku — score 4.3
+ Doha — score 6.9
+ Prague — score 5.3
(Doha received a higher score than Rio de Janeiro but was eliminated because it wanted to hold the games in October, not August.)

Here’s a brief overview, with more details from Wikipedia here.

The last summer Olympic games to be hosted by the Americas was the 1996 Games in Atlanta, and Chicago has an extensive public transit system, a wide range of venues, and a strong sports culture. Five new venues and eleven temporary venues will be built for the games. Chicago is reported to be the strongest contender in terms of infrastructure, public support, and money, but is still deemed to be behind Tokyo and Madrid in the technical aspect.

Madrid benefits from its strong reputation from the 2012 bid as well as having 85% of venues already in place and experience in hosting Olympic qualifying events. One potential problem is that no continent has hosted successive Summer Games since 1952, when Helsinki followed London as host city, and London is hosting the 2012 Summer Olympics and Sochi, Russia is hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro boasts natural beauty and recently hosted the XV Pan American Games. International Olympic Committee head Jacques Rogge expressed eagerness to have either South America or Africa host the Games, as neither have ever served as hosts. However, it has a weak bid because of poor infrastructure and high crime rate.

Tokyo is touting “the most compact and efficient Olympic Games ever” with a setting on the shores of Tokyo Bay, refurbishing a run-down industrial area and reclaiming land from the bay, and stressing its “green” approach to plans. Tokyo boasts the highest technical score and has great infrastructure, but has the weakest public support of all candidates. Also, like Madrid, its bid is weakened by the recent regional hosting by Beijing.

Will Tokyo win because of its high score? Chicago because it’s “America’s turn”? Madrid because of its existing infrastructure? Or Rio de Janeiro because of continental favoritism/OIC “Affirmative Action”? Stay tuned, the decision is just nine days away.

Did Japanese watch their baseball team beating Korea on mobile “websites”?

UPDATE: Could have been “a special WBC page set up on the Asahi shimbun’s web site”. Thanks to commenter ST

In an otherwise vividly descriptive article on Japan’s World Baseball Classic victory, it seems like the Wall Street Journal reporters may have made a slight error (emphasis mine):

Even workers who couldn’t watch the game live on television kept an eye on the contest. In Tokyo, three Japanese businessmen who were waiting for the subway huddled together staring at a mobile phone screen, tracking every pitch from a Web site.

I am pretty sure they must have been watching “1seg,” a mobile TV signal that’s become fairly common in Japan over the past three years or so. Scenes of strangers watching mobile TV together have become somewhat common in Japan, a sort of modern-day version of businessmen stopping to watch the sample TVs at the Sakuraya in front of Shimbashi Station. During pivotal sports games (Asia Cup soccer, Red Sox in the World Series, etc.), people seem willing to share their mobile TVs with onlookers. Maybe they don’t have much choice unless they want to be a jerk and turn it off, but all the same it’s a new and somewhat rare expression of community with strangers in this city.

(DISCLAIMER: This is not an essentialist statement about Japanese culture! I found Washington DC to be full of similarly detached and unfriendly strangers, as perhaps it should be to a certain extent).

Watch Inoki vs. Ali!! 7pm on Saturday, Feb. 7 on TV Asahi

I’m no boxing expert, but I know a good fight when I see it (these days, I’ll watch anything featuring current WBC flyweight champion Daisuke Naito. That guy’s got spunk!).
Sweep the leg!
Sweep the leg!

One of my earliest posts took a look at the legendary matchup between superstar pro wrestler Antonio Inoki and the greatest boxer who ever lived, but up to now I had only seen grainy YouTube clips of the actual match. No longer! TV Asahi is planning a rebroadcast of the Inoki-Ali fight for Saturday, Feb. 7 starting at 7pm, to commemorate the 33rd anniversary. I hope you won’t mind me giving them a shameless plug!

According to Oricon, rights issues had previously kept anyone from rebroadcasting the fight before, but they somehow finagled it in time for the network’s 50th anniversary.  The program will show each round in a digest format, and features a retrospective documentary with Inoki reflecting on his experiences. As you can see from my original post, the fight wasn’t exactly a nail-biter, but here’s an interesting tidbit from the Oricon article – The day after the fight, sports newspapers ridiculed it as “the dullest fight of the century” but apparently Inoki’s “logical” tactics have been vindicated as helping lay “the cornerstone of mixed martial arts.”

Though I was not around for the original fight, I am glad to live in a time when I can watch archives in sweet, sweet HDTV quality that was unthinkable in those days.

PS: At the time of my old post, I remarked on Inoki’s intentions: “…Western exposure, as it has been for so many other Japanese entertainers, was merely a tool to show the Japanese public that he can knock heads with The Greatest and land roles in American movies.” I am shocked that I would make such a categorical and baseless statement. Even today, I don’t know what Inoki was thinking for sure. Maybe I could reasonably suspect this, but I guess at the time I wasn’t so careful in my writing.

Some good news for sumo wrestling, for once

While the Japan Sumo Association has been rocked by (a) The Asashoryu fiasco; and now (b) A bizarre and tragic lynching of a 17 year old boy (learn more of the gruesome details here), at least one wrestler is enjoying the sweet spoils of success:

Wrestler awarded horses and sheep to mark victory

Fri Sep 28, 6:59 AM ET

TOKYO (Reuters) – “Yokozuna” Hakuho was given more than 100 horses and sheep in his native Mongolia to celebrate his latest major sumo tournament victory.
click here

The 22-year-old was feted by 1,000 people from his father’s home village where he was presented with the livestock as a gift, Japanese newspapers reported on Thursday.

Hakuho, whose real name is Munkhbat Davaajargal (awesome name!), won his fourth major title at the weekend, his first since being promoted to sumo’s highest rank of yokozuna four months ago.

“It gives me great power to know that everyone back in Mongolia is watching me on TV,” he was quoted in Japan’s Nikkan Sports. “It makes me want to keep improving my sumo.”

Any plan to revive Japanese sumo wrestling will have to include: (a) transparent judging and anti-rigging rules; (b) thorough drug testing; and most of all (c) big fat livestock kitties for the winners.

See what Adamu’s reading

It’s not pretty, but I’ve made my Google Notebook public, so MF readers can keep track of what’s been in front of my eyeballs recently, such as Hakuho’s upcoming promotion to Yokozuna and an analyst’s description of Dentsu’s attempts to leverage its near-monopoly of TV ads to dominate the Internet market as well.