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First round of Classic a ratings bonanza in Japan

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Team Japan's opening-round action last week in the World Baseball Classic received television ratings in Japan exceeding almost all other sporting events over the past year.

Nearly one-third of all televisions on in Japan were tuned in to the Classic, beating out all broadcasts of the 2012 Summer Olympics. The ratings also surpassed all other sporting events televised in the country over the past year, with the exception of World Cup soccer events.

The highest ratings came in Japan's opening game against Brazil on Saturday, a 5-3 victory that drew a 35 share (percentage of televisions on that were tuned to the game). Japan's win the following day against China, as well as its first-round finale -- and only loss -- against Cuba, each drew a 30 share.

After advancing out of Pool A with a 2-1 record, Japan opened second-round play with a 4-3 victory over Chinese Taipei on Friday morning in Tokyo. Team Japan's next game will take place Sunday morning at 8 p.m. locally/7 a.m. ET, when the two-time defending World Baseball Classic champions take on the Kingdom of the Netherlands in a game that can be watched live on MLB Network and ESPN Deportes.

Paul Casella is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @paul_casella. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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