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Labor law aspect of Japanese Baseball

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Labor law aspect of Japanese Baseball
I apologize before hand if this has already been asked and answered. I searched the forums for anything similar to my question as well.

I was wondering what, if any, power Japanese Courts have over their baseball league. It is my understanding that labor laws and unions are present in the MLB and I was wondering if the NPB had that option as well. I would assume that if there is a dispute between a player and the MLB they would undergo some form of dispute resolution process, but like in the case of Alex Rodriguez, the player is able to turn to the courts for some form of ruling on the matter. I also would assume there are simple laws concerning working conditions, player rights, so on that are enumerated in labor laws handed down by congress. Does the Japanese legal system have anything similar?

This is for a 25 page paper I am writing and, although I have yet to develop a specific thesis, I wanted to do something about labor law comparisons between MLB and NPB, and possibly which process is better. Any suggestions for sources of information or other topics to look at would be appreciated as well.
Re: Labor law aspect of Japanese Baseball
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Feb 14, 2014 3:29 PM | YBS Fan ]

First of all, I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV (or the Internet). I have attempted to translate various portions of the "Baseball Agreement" (some of which you can find here), but that may not be enough of what you need. Furthermore, I can no longer find the agreement on the Japan Professional Baseball Players Association site, which is where I originally got it from.

There is one major societal difference that you are overlooking, which you should know about. Unlike in the U.S., Japanese very rarely file civil lawsuits. The numbers are climbing in recent years thanks to Hollywood's portrayal of lawyers in movies and TV shows, but it is not the avenue of first or even second resort. People tend to try to work out their differences first, then find an intermediary.

Back during the 2004 season, some owners decided that contraction of the league was in order, and they started working toward that end. Once word got out, however, there was a great deal of backlash, and the players held their first and only strike over one weekend toward the end of the season. Then commissioner Yasuchika Negoro, according to Jim Allen on a recent Japan Baseball Weekly Podcast (sorry, I don't recall which one), stated that the owners had the upper hand against the players should they strike because he helped write the labor laws. The owners turned to the courts to try to prevent the strike, but Negoro turned out to be wrong, the courts upheld the Players' right to strike (mainly because the owners didn't even attempt to listen to their grievance first), the public supported the players' strike, and contraction didn't happen. (All pulled from memory, but that should be enough to find some primary sources around that time frame.)

As for individual players having a dispute over salary, there have only been a hand full of cases go to an arbiter over the past couple of decades, but I've never heard of anything going to court.

Based on observation, I've kind of derived that there is some sort of labor law against working for more than 9 straight days. This is based on game scheduling. Pretty much every Monday during the season (except during the 40 or so day inter-league schedule) is a day off. The longest consecutive days with a game scheduled is 9 days for any and all teams. At the end of the season, when rained out games need to be made up, they still will not schedule game for a given team more than 9 days in a row. The reason I'd been given for why makeup games are not done on the following unscheduled day is because, even though a game was rained out, it would force a work day over more than 9 scheduled work days. Besides, players would have most likely shown up for the game that got rained out, thereby "clocking in" at work. Again, this is just based on my observations and heresy others have contributed to my hypothesis.

Well, that's the extent of my knowledge on the subject. What you really need to do is find a lawyer (agent) who represents ball players in Japan. He'll be in the best position to answer these kinds of questions with authority.

Hope this helps.
Re: Labor law aspect of Japanese Baseball
[ Author: Guest: Andre' | Posted: Feb 15, 2014 7:12 AM ]

I just wanted to say thank you so much for the information. I at least have a path I can follow now on the way to what I hope is a very educational and fulfilling paper. I am in law school so I should be able to find the sources and other background for the events that took place. I almost cried when I noticed your reply; lol. Forgive me for being dramatic, but I just knew you guys would have plenty other articles to write.

Thank you again for taking the time to reply.

This is a site about Pro Yakyu (Japanese Baseball), not about who the next player to go over to MLB is. It's a community of Pro Yakyu fans who have come together to share their knowledge and opinions with the world. It's a place to follow teams and individuals playing baseball in Japan (and Asia), and to learn about Japanese (and Asian) culture through baseball.

It is my sincere hope that once you learn a bit about what we're about here that you will join the community of contributors.

Michael Westbay
(aka westbaystars)

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