From the establishment of the Japanese Baseball league in 1934, baseball has always been popular. Even now, sumo is the Japanese national game, but watching baseball is more popular. Each team has its own zealous fanbase and special cheers, so to Japanese baseball fans, baseball is not just a hobby, but a way of life. The Japanese watch baseball as a sort of vent of emotions, so they can run away from problems of everyday life. But, since the bursting of the Bubble Economy, professional baseball has begun to have its share of problems. From the criticism of Japanese baseball players leaving for America to the dissolution of the Kintetsu Buffaloes and the 2004 players strike, Japanese professional sports have also seen problems appear that stem from the bad economic period.
- 1872: Introduction of baseball to Japan
- 1908: First baseball game played against Major League Teams
- 1934: Greater Japan Tokyo Baseball Club (present: Yomiuri Giants) established
- 1935: Osaka Baseball Club (present: Hanshin Tigers) established
- 1936: Japanese Baseball League Established
- 1950: Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) Established
- 1993: Hideo Nomo’s departure to America
- September 18, 2004: NPB Player’s Strike
- 2004: Kintetsu Buffaloes dissolution
Website about the (storied) history of the Osaka-based Kintetsu Buffaloes
Website outlining the cause and possible solutions to the Japanese Professional Baseball Strike
From the site:
Q: What is the cause of the Professional Baseball Players Association strike?
A: The cause of the strike was the reduction of teams from 12 to 11 due to the merger of Orix and Kintestsu. In essence, the team reduction was similar to company-internal restructuring, cutting the number of players by 8%.
Q: Is the Japanese Professional Baseball Players Association a labor union?
A: Professional baseball players are individual entrepreneurs, as opposed to company employees, but the labor union is recognized by the Tokyo High Court. The foremost major different between this and ordinary labor unions is that all members are contract employees.
The second is the huge disparity in pay; there is no salary regulation. Union members range from making millions of yen (tens of thousands of dollars) where even next year’s pay isn’t guaranteed, to those with multiple year contracts making several hundred million yen (millions of dollars) per year.
Article regarding the 2004 Nippon Professional Baseball Players Strike
Article about Japanese baseball and its relationship to America and Major League Baseball