Pictures by Osamu Takezaki and Kaede Moriyama (Japan Softball Association)

Defending champion Japan is represented by their U-23 Men Softball team in the 12th Men Softball Asia Cup which started today at the at the Kochi Softball Fields at Kochi Athletic Recreation Park, Haruno.

Japanese team represented by their World Cup 23 team in the Asia Cup

This is the team that finished runners-up in the World Cup in Parana, Argentina in April, losing to Australia by a single run achieved in the seventh inning despite a clean run in the tournament including defeating the Aussies 8-1.

Singapore’s pitcher Aloysius Ong Jua Heng against Japan

The Japan Softball Association (JSA) decided to field their U23 team not because they were over confident but circumstances forced them to.


JSA president, Yutaka Miyake explained: “The Asia Cup was supposed to be held later, but since the decision was to host it back-to-back with the U18 tournament in Kochi, we did not have time to do a selection and prepare the team. Besides the national team was disbanded last year after the World Cup in Auckland, New Zealand.”

Japan’s Matsumoto Yoshinari

Japan World No 2, silver medallist from 2019, finished seventh in Auckland – the seventh place finish was the third time they’ve recorded such a finish but the first time since 1980. The other being in the first edition in 1966.

Japan’s pitcher Umibe Kazuya against Singapore

“It was then we decided that we will field the U23 team as they had just returned from the World Cup and were still together,” added  Miyake.


“It is actually a challenge to this U23 team to rise to the occasion in the Asia Cup to defend the title.”


Japan got off to good start when they defeated India 12-0 and after a little struggle also beat Singapore 2-0 in a close battle in the second game today.

Japan’s Onodera Shota coming home against Singapore

Japan got their two runs in third inning and had five hits as compared to Singapore 2 hits and no runs.


“No team is going to be easy, especially when they know we are fielding our U23 team. But we take the challenge and will not take any opponent lightly and work hard for a win in every match we play,” said Japanese coach Shinji Eguchi.


 “It is our goal to retain the title and we will do our utmost best to achieve it besides qualifying for the World Cup.”

Japan’s Miyamoto Kaito strikes against Singapore

Miyake said that for the World Cup next year, there will be fresh selection to assemble the best team possible.


“Players from this U23 squad will have to fight for a place in the team for the World Cup. Their performance in the Asia Cup will definitely be taken into account.”

Japan Softball President Yutaka Mityake and his secretary-general Shinsune Yabata

Eguchi rated Singapore as one of their strongest challengers to the title here and although they beat them today, the final for the champion and runner-up will be a different game with title at stake.


Singapore’s coach Koh Ruoh Jie said their first priority is to qualify for the World by finishing on the podium.


“Of course we are eyeing the title too and definitely host Japan and defending champion, will be then team to beat,” said Koh.

Sinagpore’s Marcus Chew Shi Ping being congratulated by his playerts after hitting then team’s second home run against Hong Kong

“The Japan team is represented by the U23 team and that gives as a fighting chance against them because we have a well prepared team and is the same team which competed here in Shimanto, Kochi last year.


“We even had a playing stint in May in Perth where we played six games.

Hong Kong’s pitcher Wong Hok Kun against Singapore

“Having lost narrowly by only two runs in a closely battled match, we hope to turn the tables on Japan, when we meet again.”


Philippines, last year’s runners-up, is another team to watch out for in this competition.

All in the game…Singapore and Hong Kong players after theirgame where Hong Kong lost 0-9

They have started off the tournament well but close wins against India (5-1) and Chinese Taipei (7-1) underlines that they need to buck up especially with matches ahead against Singapore and Japan tomorrow. Their final preliminary round match is against Hong Kong.

Japan’s pitcher Onodeka Shota

Another interesting day is certainly on the cards as teams battle to be the top four in this six nation competition.




Hong Kong 0 Singapore 9

India 1 Philippines 5

India 0 Japan 12

Philippines 7 Chinese Taipei 1

Japan 2 Singapore 0

Hong Kong 7 Chinese Taipei 0




Hong Kong v India

Hong Kong v Japan

Philippines v Singapore

Japan v Philippines

India v Chinese Taipei




Hong Kong v Philippines

India v Singapore

Japan v Chinese Taipei


Bronze medal PR#3 v PR#4

Gold medal     PR#1 v PR#2


(The 1st, 2nd and 3rd placed teams on the completion of the Final competition will qualify as the three (3) Asia teams eligible to participate in the WBSC Wold Cup (Group Stage) Men Softball 2024 (host cities and dates to be determined)