A quick article from Kyodo today mentioned that a new baseball league is now in its infancy down in the Kansai region (near Osaka) of Japan.
One team, the Kishu Rangers, has already been set up, and another three clubs are slated to be started this spring. The four clubs will officially begin playing during the 2009 baseball season. The Rangers are based in Wakayama prefecture, while one new team will be established in Osaka prefecture and two others and Hyogo prefecture.
The four team league, known as the Kansai Independent League, hopes to have eight teams set up in the long-run. It is the third independent league currently running in Japan at this point, and it joins the Shikoku/Kyushu Island league and the Hokushinetsu Baseball Challenge League in offering alternatives to this baseball-loving nation. The Island League was established in 2005, and the BC League was inaugurated last season.
The Kansai Independent League plans to go with a 72-game season (half that of the pro league's season) and league-standard 1.8 million yen salary for all players. The league is being organized with the help of Hiromichi Ishige (pictured above), the former manager of the Orix Bluewave. Ishige will act as commissioner of the Kansai Independent League and was also partially responsible for the creation of the Island League back in 2005.
The four new teams should help Japan to find more sources of player development--a task that NPB doesn't take very seriously. Pro teams in Japan would do well to affiliate themselves with one of these new teams, or any of the previously established teams in the other two independent leagues, and start a multi-tiered player development system akin to that used in MLB.
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