Baseball star Shohei Ohtani turns down Japanese government top prize

Baseball superstar Shohei Ohtani turned down the Japanese government’s offer to give him one of its top honors, saying it was “still too early” for him to receive the decoration, the main gate said on Monday. – government speech.

Ohtani rejected the People’s Honor Award after being unanimously voted the American League’s Most Valuable Player last week for his performances this season with the Los Angeles Angels as both pitcher and hitter.

Shohei Ohtani. (Kyodo)

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a press conference that he saw Ohtani turning down the award as a sign of “his strong desire to continue focusing on reaching even higher heights. students”.

“We join with the Japanese people in the hope that they do even better next season and beyond,” Matsuno said.

The People’s Honor Award was first presented in 1977 to fellow baseball player Sadaharu Oh for setting the world record for career home runs. Other 26 previous recipients include mountaineer Naomi Uemura, director Akira Kurosawa and wrestler Saori Yoshida.

Ohtani, who has hit 46 home runs this year, is not the first to turn down the award, with retired baseball star Ichiro Suzuki having done so three times.

Prominent sports critic Masayuki Tamaki sided with Ohtani in refusing the award, saying “he is still young”. He also noted that the terms of the award are “unclear” and that it can be used by Cabinet to build public support.

Atsuko Asano, a Japanese writer known for her hit baseball series “Battery,” praised Ohtani’s ability to make decisions based on future plans.

“I think he’s decided (the price) isn’t necessary now because he’s still at the foot of the mountain and knows he hasn’t made it to the top yet,” Asano said. “Let’s just take advantage of the existence of Shohei Ohtani.

Associated coverage:

Shohei Ohtani’s MVP rewards another product of Japanese baseball system failure

Japan Post to sell Shohei Ohtani commemorative stamps

Baseball: Angels’ Shohei Ohtani ends breakthrough season with AL MVP award

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