Abe fields curve ball

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Tokyo - Can more baseball save Japan – or at least Abenomics?

A set of recommendations to lift growth in Japan’s economy, drafted by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s party and seen by Reuters, calls for slashing corporate taxes, reforming public pensions, and – in a curve ball – increasing the number of professional baseball teams to 16 from 12.

“Prosperous baseball teams could strengthen attachment to regional cities and help local economies thrive,” said the report, which cited the success of US Major League Baseball in nearly doubling from 16 teams to 30 since the 1960s.

Baseball is one of the most popular sports in Japan and draws more than 20 million fans to games each year, four times more than professional soccer’s top division J.League. Most professional teams survive because losses can be treated as tax-deductible marketing costs for corporate sponsors.

The Liberal Democratic Party’s draft proposal on economic reforms was submitted to its president, Abe, who is readying a release of reforms next month designed to spur growth in the third-biggest economy. It was unclear if the baseball proposal would be included in his final report. – Reuters

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