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Japan celebrates Ichiro's record

Japan celebrates Ichiro's record

Ichiro Suzuki's latest record-setting moment stirred up a new wave of national pride in his native country, as Japanese peers and fans alike saluted the baseball icon of two hemispheres.

From home run king Sadaharu Oh to office workers, people in Tokyo were stirred up by Suzuki claiming a ninth consecutive season with 200 hits, breaking the 108-year-old record he had shared with Willie Keeler on Sunday.

As reported by The Associated Press, one newspaper, the Yomiuri Shimbun, published a special edition headlined, "Ichiro breaks Major League record."

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"Sometimes we forget how difficult it is to accomplish these things amid a baseball schedule which is much tougher in the U.S. than in Japan," Oh said. "It's hard to find the words to describe what he has accomplished."

"Ichiro gives everyone in Japan something to feel proud about," office worker Masahiro Koga said. "He is the ultimate professional."

The 35-year-old Suzuki's accomplishments in America continue to resonate fiercely in his homeland, partly because he remains a big part of Japanese baseball culture. Earlier this year, for the second time in four years, he starred on the country's World Baseball Classic championship team, delivering the decisive clutch hit that defeated rival South Korea.

"I hope he keeps aiming to break more records to inspire young players in Japan," said Shigeo Nagashima, a former standout with the Yomiuri Giants.

Pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma of the Rakuten Eagles, a teammate in the Classic, said, "As a pitcher, it's hard for me to imagine what he's gone through. Two hundred hits in nine seasons is an incredible number and I hope he shoots for 10."

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Change for a Nickel. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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