Atsushi Saito was approved as the next Commissioner of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB). He will take over from Katsuhiko Kumazaki, whose term runs through the end of this month. Kumazaki will now serve as an adviser to the new Commissioner.
Kumazaki’s term has been significant. He served after 3 terms in office by Ryozo Kato, who stepped down in 2013 amid controversy that NPB’s balls had been manipulated to produce more home runs. Kuzamaki’s term was pretty strict, as the Commissioner issued several punishments, including for gambling. After his tenure as Commissioner, Japan was awarded the hosting rights of the inaugural and the 2019 Premier12, WBSC flagship event. Kumazaki worked in close contact with WBSC and is considered instrumental to baseball and softball returning to the Olympic Program. He leaves after leading NPB to a record 25 million fans attendance.
Saito, born 1939, is the former CEO of the Japan Exchange Group, that oversees the operations of the Tokyo Stock Exchange and the Osaka Exchange. He has been serving as and adviser to the former Commissioner since July.
Unlike his 2 predecessors Saito has a business background. Kumazaki has been a high profile Prosecutor and is the Chief of very important Law Office. Ryozo Kato, who had been in office from 2008 to 2013, is a lawyer and career diplomat who has served as the Japanese Ambassador to the United States.