Aims and Background of the Liberal Democratic Party’s Sudden Launch of the “Boxing Parliamentary Union
On November 7, a meeting of Diet members in support of the development of professional boxing was held at the LDP headquarters.
Former Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide (73) was appointed honorary advisor, along with former METI Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura (60), a former member of the University of Tokyo boxing team, former Vice Minister of Health, Labor, and Welfare Junko Mihara (58), and 25 others, all with the slogan “Not the face. It’s the body.” Former Vice Minister of Health, Labor, and Welfare Junko Mihara (58), with her signature line, “Don’t put your face on it, it’s the body,” was among the 25 LDP Diet members in attendance.
The council will discuss support measures for the boxing industry in cooperation with Diet members, gyms, and athletes to address issues such as the shrinking number of professional boxers and the financial difficulties of gyms.
In his inaugural address as chairman, Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare Katsunobu Kato (66) gave this encouragement to the boxing world.
The first Japanese world champion was Yoshio Shirai, and May 19, the day he became champion, was designated as Boxing Memorial Day. When I was a child, Fighting Harada was the champion and the ratings exceeded 60%, so the whole country was glued to the boxing ring and we could share our dreams.
However, recently, TV broadcasts have decreased, the number of competitors has declined, and the management of boxing gyms has become more difficult. I would like to start an association at this time to support the athletes, support the gyms, and share our thoughts and feelings.
Meanwhile, from the boxing world, Japan Professional Boxing Association President Shoji Kobayashi, 49, a.k.a. Ceres Kobayashi, and former association president Hideyuki Ohashi, 57, also attended the meeting. When a member of the Diet asked about the recent situation of Naoya Inoue (29, Ohashi), who is preparing for a bantamweight unification bout on December 13, Ohashi, president of Ohashi Gym, where he belongs, said, “I’ve been training at a sparring camp in the U.S., and I’m looking forward to getting back to work.
He will be sparring with three-weight champion Tsunenari Tanaka on August 8, and is fully prepared for the four-weight unification bout. All I have to do now is to keep my guard up and be in good condition. I am not worried about the technical aspect at all. Next year, I will probably fight in a higher division. The higher weight classes are full of strong fighters, and it will be another big match, so please look forward to it.”
The audience applauded Ohashi’s strong statement.
WBC and WBA world L-flyweight champion Kenshiro Teraji (30, BMB), who won the December 1 unification match between the two Japanese world champions against Hiroto Kyoguchi (28, Watanabe), was also present at the meeting.
I hope to have another big fight next time. I hope to have another big fight next time. I want to put on a fight that will impress those who come to see it, so please continue to support me in the future.
After the match, he said, “I was sweating even after just a little bit of talking. It was a different kind of tension. I need to study more,” he laughed.
Kenshiro’s father, Ei Teraji, is a former middleweight champion of Japan and served two terms as a city councilor of Joyo City, Kyoto Prefecture (Democratic Party of Japan) after his retirement. Kenshiro said, “I go to elections. I even cast my ballot before the deadline,” he said.
Junko Mihara said, “Kenshiro has such a pretty face, but he is strong in a match. That gap is also attractive. My hometown, Yokohama, is also home to Naoya Inoue. Japanese champions can send their message to the world. I have a feeling that he may be getting out of reach,” he praised.
Although the timing has not yet been decided, he said emphatically that he would love to invite Inoue, who has won four championships, to the second meeting of the Diet.
According to a veteran LDP secretary, the reason why the council is attracting attention in political circles is not only because of the large number of boxing fans in the political world.
The reason why METI Minister Nishimura, a former member of the University of Tokyo’s boxing club, was absent from the council is that the council is strongly pro-boxing, and the “pro-am barrier” remains.
The council was originally conceived to be established by former General Affairs Chairman Wataru Takeshita (deceased) when he was still in good health. The meeting was postponed because Mr. Takeshita was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, and it has been held to this day. Now that Minister of Health, Labor, and Welfare Kato has succeeded him, some in the Heisei Kenkyukai (Mogi Faction) have taken it as a declaration of war against Secretary-General Mogi.
This could be a strong backing for a political showdown between Mr. Kato and Mr. Mogi someday!
Interview and text by： Daisuke Iwasaki