THE POWER AND LIMITATIONS OF BASEBALL AS A CULTURAL INSTRUMENT OF DIPLOMACY IN US-JAPANESE RELATIONS
McCagg, David Goto
Almost from the opening of Japan to the West in the mid-nineteenth century, baseball has been used by both the governments of Japan and the United States to further their national aims--whether those aims were to wage peace or wage war. Team work, fair play, dedication to improvement through practice, pursuit of physical well-being, competition, respect for authority and the law (or the rules of the game) are all concepts that can apply both to playing baseball and to being good citizens and good neighbors. The history of baseball in Japan, viewed within the context of US-Japanese relations, is an illuminating case study of how sports, politics, and diplomacy can interact because it spans the entire history of the relationship and touches on both the positive and negative aspects of sports diplomacy. In fact, the history of baseball in Japan generally mirrors the history of US-Japanese relations. Through baseball, transpacific friendships have been forged, negative perceptions of foreigners in Japan decreased, and the morale of a nation was restored. In addition, political elites have used baseball to improve friendships and advance their agendas. The immense impact that baseball has had on US-Japanese relations suggests that sports diplomacy can play a key role improving relationships even between countries that were once at war.
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