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What is the difference between Japanese and American Baseball Arbitration?

Richard S wrote:


I am working on a paper for a University class on the differences between Japanese and American Baseball Arbitration. More so the fact of whether or not it is acceptable for a Japanese player to file for arbitration in Japan, and the effects on his family honor. As well as the players that are playing in the states. Do you think that they will file for arbitration once the 3 years is up. ie Ichiro. If you could provide any information about this would be greatly appreciated. I have enjoyed all the info on your website and respect your writings.


Richard S

Gary Garland's Response

Hi Richard:

There isn't anything in Japan analogous to the kind of "arbitration" we have in MLB. The players mostly negotiate their contracts themselves on a year to year basis (except in relatively rare instances where they have signed a multi-year deal). There is no eligibility for MLB-style arbitration in a certain number of years of service time that I've ever heard of. Using "agents," if you can call them that, has just been allowed, but an agent in Japan can only represent one client and must be a member of the Japanese Bar. So if even THAT is severely restricted, there is no chance that they would allow MLB-style arbitration, I would think. That is because the Japanese players association is basically toothless.

There have been occasional complaints filed over negotiation tactics by players in the past. I can't remember if they were adjudicated by a regional labor board (as in the instance of the Japanese players association claiming unfair practice over a variety of issues; iirc, that complaint was rejected) or the Commissioner's Office (I could be wrong here since they are so rare), but that is it, AFAIK. Whatever the case, the complaints are routinely denied or settled before a formal determination is made.

It is true that Japanese (as well as Koreans) are quite a bit less litigious than Americans, but the way that salaries are negotiated or determined in Japan is kind of like how it was done in MLB before the advent of Marvin Miller and a strong player's union (though there is now free agency in Japan after 9-10 years of service time). Family honor doesn't enter into the equation at all.

Take care,

Gary Garland

Japanese Baseball

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