Yesterday, I wrote about Sean Penn and his admirable efforts on behalf of the Haiti people in the wake of the earthquake there. While this is not yet in the same league, in terms of taking responsibility and showing leadership, still it’s worthy of notice, I think. Another reason is that it connects my two homes: Japan and Britain.
TOKYO TR – During his 18 years with Japanese pro baseball’s Yakult Swallows, Atsuya Furuta, typically sporting a pair of wire-framed glasses, was one of the most recognizable faces in the game.Known for his leadership, having been the head of the players’ union during a labor strike and a player-manager for two seasons late in his career, Furuta is now looking to take advantage of that image and set an example that he hopes will gather momentum.The current focus of his efforts is the fundraising website Just Giving Japan. Started in Britain more than a decade ago, Just Giving launched here last March. “In Japan, there is no philanthropic culture,” explains Furuta, dressed in a striped blue shirt and beige jacket, during an interview at the end of last year in Tokyo’s Roppongi district. “In the West, there is a sense of giving. For Japan, it’s not a matter of Japanese people not wanting to give; rather, they have a hard time figuring out how to do it.”
If you’re like me and know nothing about baseball, or are British (which comes to the same thing), you might like this article by Brit from Brummie about how he fell in love with baseball and with Atsuya Furuta’s team, the Yakult Swallows: How a Brummie got into Baseball.
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