Japanese World Baseball Classic winning team visits Kishida

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida may have had his most enjoyable day in office on Thursday when Japan’s World Baseball Classic winning team paid a visit.

Kishida beamed as he received a gold medal from the winning team around his neck, and received a large framed card with each player’s signature.

“To all the members of Samurai Japan, congratulations on winning the WBC,” said Kishida, thanking them for the courtesy visit to his office after the long flight from the US.

Japan finished undefeated – only the second team to do so in the World Baseball Classic – after beating the US 3-2 in the deciding game.

“I thank you for giving great courage and energy to all of Japan. Your great achievement has been made possible by the combined strength of each individual and the strength of the team as a whole, and I sincerely appreciate that,” said Kishida.


Japanese World Baseball Classic (WBC) team manager Hideki Kuriyama (front fourth from left) and players meet with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (fifth from right) at Kishida’s official residence in Tokyo on Thursday. Slugger Munetaka Murakami (second from right, front) holding the WBC trophy. Photo: Kimimasa Mayama/Pool via AP

The players were dressed in suits rather than baseball uniforms and posed for photographs, including one imitating the gesture of Lars Knutbar. Players like Nutbaar, who compete in Major League Baseball, have not returned to Japan.

Kishida said he was unable to watch the last two victories over Mexico and the United States because he was in Ukraine, where he was negotiating with President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Japanese manager Hideki Kuriyama said he “had hardly seen such an excellent team” and urged the prime minister to praise them, which he did.

“I told my players that history is the history of winners,” Kuriyama said, “there are things that cannot be said until we win. I’m really happy that the players really worked hard and won.”

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