Hirokazu Ibata will manage Team Japan at the 2023 Asia Professional Baseball Championship. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
World No. 1 Japan announced their official roster for the 2023 Asia Professional Baseball Championship, which will be held at the Tokyo Dome from November 16-19.
The Asia Professional Baseball Championship will be operated by the World Baseball Softball Confederation Asia sector and will affect the new World Baseball Rankings that will be released on Dec. 31, 2023.
World No. 4 Korea, No. 5 Chinese Taipei, and No. 10 Australia will also participate in the tournament. Australia is in the WBSC Oceania sector, and if they can medal at the APBC, they can qualify for their second consecutive Premier 12 tournament. Australia was in front of No. 11 Puerto Rico and No. 12 Panama in the most recent World Baseball Rankings released October 5.
The Premier 12 tournament will start on Nov. 10, 2024, after the regular seasons in Major League Baseball, Liga Mexicana de Beisbol, Nippon Professional Baseball, the Korean Baseball Organization, and the Chinese Professional League in Taiwan.
Japan has been ranked at No. 1 in the world since Dec. 31, 2014. Cuba held the No. 1 spot on Dec. 31, 2012.
The APBC is a U-24 event and is also considered an international senior tournament, as each team can carry three players on the roster between the ages of 24 and 29. The APBC roster eligibility requires that players have three years or less of service time in professional baseball. This is the only U-24 event operated by the WBSC.
The roster for Japan will consist of players from Nippon Professional Baseball that are in the farm systems of all the 12 organizations and also that have had service time at the higher level.
This is the second APBC event to be held. The first was in 2017, with Japan taking the gold medal over South Korea 7-0. Seibu Lions utility player Shuta Tonosaki was named the MVP of the first APBC.
Japan will have manager Hirokazu Ibata at the helm for the APBC. He replaced Akio Ishii, who was the manager for the national team during the 19th Asian Games at the beginning of October in Hangzhou, China.
The Japan national team coaching staff will be completely different for the APBC from the Asian Games.
Japan won the bronze medal at the 19th Asian Games, beating China 3-2, and will also participate in their fourth international event on the 2023 international baseball calendar at the Asia Baseball Championship, which is a separate event run by the Baseball Federation of Asia. That event will be held from December 3-10 at Taichung Intercontinental Stadium and the Taipei Dome in Taiwan. Chinese Taipei, Pakistan, Palestine, South Korea, and China will participate in the Asia Baseball Championship.
2023 Asia Professional Baseball Championship Schedule
All Games Will Be Played At The Tokyo Dome
Wednesday, November 15
11 p.m. EST – Korea vs. Australia
Thursday, November 16
6 a.m. EST – Chinese Taipei vs. Japan
11 p.m. EST – Australia vs. Chinese Taipei
Friday, November 17
6 a.m. EST – Japan vs. Korea
11 p.m. EST – Australia vs. Japan
Saturday, November 18
6 a.m. EST – Korea vs. Chinese Taipei
10 p.m. EST – Bronze Medal Game
Sunday, November 19
5 a.m. EST – Gold Medal Game
2023 Japan National Team Asian Professional Baseball Championship Roster
Takahisa Hayakawa (Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles)
Chihiro Sumida (Saitama Seibu Lions)
Yuji Akahoshi (Yomiuri Giants)
Shunsuke Sato (Saitama Seibu Lions)
Rikuto Yokoyama (Chiba Lotte Marines)
Kojiro Yoshimura (Tokyo Yakult Swallows)
Kazuto Taguchi (Tokyo Yakult Swallows)
Masaki Oyokawa (Hanshin Tigers)
Takuma Kirishiki (Hanshin Tigers)
Tatsuya Imai (Chiba Lotte Marines)
Tatsuya Shimizu (Chunichi Dragons)
Haruka Nemota (Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters)
Yuto Koga (Saitama Seibu Lions)
Shogo Sakakura (Hiroshima Toyo Carp)
Kota Ishibashi (Chunichi Dragons)
Teruaki Sato (Hanshin Tigers)
Tomoya Noguchi (Orix Buffaloes)
Kotaro Kurebayashi (Orix Buffaloes)
Makoto Kadowaki (Yomiuri Giants)
Kaito Kozono (HIroshima Toyo Carp)
Shota Morishita (Hanshin Tigers)
Yuto Akihiro (Yomiuri Giants)
Yuki Okabayashi (Chunichi Dragons)
Chusei Mannami (Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters)
2023 Japan National Team APBC Coaching Staff
Hirokazu Ibata – Manager
Makoto Kaneko – Bench Coach
Yoshinori Murata – Hitting Coach
Eishin Soyogi – First Base Coach
Yoshiyuki Kamei – Third Base Coach
Kazuki Yoshimi – Pitching Coach