BOSTON, MA - The Red Sox Foundation and global electronics giant Funai today announced the fifth year of the Red Sox U.S./Japan Youth Baseball Exchange presented by Funai Electric. The program allows children from Japan and the United States to visit one another's homelands and explore their customs and culture through their shared love of baseball.
On July 28, a dozen Japanese youngsters from Kyoto, sister city of Boston, and Chiba, a suburb of Tokyo, travelled with two coaches to Boston for an 11-day stay with six host families in the Greater Boston area. During their stay in Boston, the Japanese teens participate in baseball clinics hosted by Harvard and Northeastern University baseball coaches, and play games with several of the Red Sox Foundation's RBI Youth Baseball teams of the same age. Tonight, Funai executives and the dozen Japanese boys and their Boston hosts will be honored during a pregame ceremony at Fenway Park prior to the Red Sox vs. Rangers game.
Over the past five years, the exchange has run in both directions, with Boston boys traveling to Japan, and Japanese teens traveling to Boston to participate in various baseball and cultural activities. This year's exchange was originally scheduled to take place in Japan but was changed to allow the children to participate in Fenway Park's 100th anniversary celebration, and to give the young Japanese baseball players welcome respite from the continuing challenges Japan faces in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
"In the Fenway 100th anniversary year, it was important for the exchange to take place in Boston allowing new friendships to develop in Boston and at Fenway Park," said Tomonori Hayashi, President & CEO of Funai Electric Co., Ltd., "This program continues to provide life changing experiences, and reminds us all how much we can share through educational exchanges and through our shared beloved pastime of baseball. In the wake of the earthquake and tsunami destruction in 2011, Japan received much support and encouragements from international friends - our nation is recovering and we look forward to hosing 12 American boys from Boston in Japan next year."
"Funai's continued commitment to this exchange speaks volumes about their vision as a championship company with a true global reach," said Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner. "We are honored that Red Sox fans here in Boston have opened their hearts and homes to the Japanese youngsters, who not only share their love of baseball, but also have the courage and perseverance to travel halfway across the globe to learn about American history and culture."
Red Sox Manager Bobby Valentine, who has supported this international grassroots exchange program since 2009 while managing the Chiba Lotte Marines team in Japan, said "In a world where we are all increasingly connected, the common language of baseball offers youngsters a chance to grow beyond their geographic boundaries."
This is the fifth straight year that Funai Electric is the presenting sponsor of the Red Sox U.S./Japan Youth Baseball Exchange program, which is coordinated by the Red Sox Foundation.
"Our hearts and prayers remain with the Japanese people, who each day bravely take on the work needed to move forward towards their nation's recovery," added Red Sox Senior Vice President Meg Vaillancourt, Executive Director of the Red Sox Foundation. "We are particularly proud to host the young Japanese players here in Boston this summer, and thanks to Funai, these teens can enjoy America's favorite pastime while they make new friendship we know will last a lifetime."