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March 18, 2009

Tatsunori Hara

Hisashi Iwakuma


THE MODERATOR: Representing Team Japan, we have Team manager Tatsunori Hara, and starting pitcher, Hisashi Iwakuma. I will ask them to share their view of the game, and then I will take your questions.
Manager Hara, please share your view of the game.
TATSUNORI HARA: Well, today's game for Japan team, it was a very special game. The reason for that was because we had to win, and that had meaning for us. And that was the main purpose for us. All the team members, we were aware of this. And I, as a manager, was all tensed up, and then I was ready for the game tonight.
When I opened the game, all the players all felt great pressure, however, they all played a very good game, and particularly the starting pitcher, Iwakuma. Until the sixth inning, he was in complete control and played magnificent. And during the course of this game, particularly I thought that was the best thing.
And today, whatever it may take, we wanted to advance to Los Angeles. And we all had very high hopes about that, and we all, on behalf of Team Japan, had to do our share, and we were able to come up with the result.
Hisashi, please share your view of the game.
HISASHI IWAKUMA: Well, today, of course, I had pressure, and if we lost today, then that was the end of it. My role was I wanted to do my best, and then all of us played a good game. All of us, we played as one, and we are now able to advance to Los Angeles.

Q. Coach Hara, I would like to ask you the same question that I asked you again. Can you tell us how you did it, stop those power players, power batters from Cuba?
TATSUNORI HARA: Well, rather than worry -- it's difficult to study about the other team, and I did have some amount of data relating to that. But in any case, Team Japan, we had to play our game, and then each one of us, we had all different good technical skills, and we had to utilize those. That was all there was to it.
Of course today's game, Cuba is a very strong team.

Q. Manager Hara and Mr. Iwakuma, I know you beat Cuba to win the WBC three years ago, but this is the first time anyone has eliminated Cuba before the final game of a major international tournament in fifty years. Do you have a sense of the history that you made tonight?
TATSUNORI HARA: Well, Team Japan, on behalf of Japan it, meant a lot. It was a big deal for us, and it will be left in the history. And also regarding baseball, with respect to the Cuban team, I have a great respect for the Cuban team, and we were able to beat them. Team Japan and the baseball world of Japan, it meant a great deal.
HISASHI IWAKUMA: Well, let me say, of course, I am so happy about the victory, and of course, pitcher Dice-K Matsuzaka, he did magnificent pitching. And I was encouraged, and I was able to throw a very good game.
And we, Team Japan, as one, we were able to play a good game, and that resulted into a victory, and I am very happy about that.

Q. A couple of years ago, you had to deal with elbow and shoulder injuries before the summer last year. What does winning this game mean to you personally?
HISASHI IWAKUMA: Well, I am here on behalf of Japan, and then the position was designated whether I was starting pitcher or middle start. Whatever the position I was given, I wanted to compete. And rather than the happiness about victory, I am much more happy that I was able to complete what I was supposed to do. Other than that, there is nothing more to say. I am happy.

Q. It's the fourth time of playing against Korea. What do you think about that?
TATSUNORI HARA: Well, today's game, in any case, against Cuba, I wanted to win. We had to win, and that was all there was to it. Thinking back, on behalf of Asia, the team, representing Asia is able to advance into the semifinals. We've got the ticket for that. And, of course, tomorrow's game -- right now, I am not thinking about tomorrow's game at all. The final rounds, I look forward to playing against Korea.

Q. I see you are going to meet the same team four times. What do you think about it?
TATSUNORI HARA: Well, both of us, we are world class level, Korean team and Japan team, and that is my honest opinion.

Q. Talking about tonight, and Mr. Aoki, he played a very big role. The third lineup was him, Mr. Aoki, and I want you to talk about that. And also Ichiro, became Ichiro-like players tonight, and hoping he will have very good games in the future, and this is what I am hoping. What do you think about that?
TATSUNORI HARA: Aoki is consistently good at batting. He produces. Tonight, he was the best. He did the very best job.
As far as Ichiro, that subject, Ichiro is now playing better. And Ichiro is now playing like himself. He started playing Ichiro-like games in the game, and also on the bench. I know Ichiro is a magnificent player. Sometimes I thought Ichiro may not be a human being, but today when I saw Ichiro being so happy, I realize after all, Ichiro is a human being.
And these two guys, they are very important members of our team, and I thought that was very good. They did a good play tonight.

Q. Mr. Hara, do you have any idea who your starting pitcher will be tomorrow night? And will Matsuzaka slide into your semifinal game?
TATSUNORI HARA: Tomorrow's starting pitcher is going to be Utsumi, I am saying this with confidence. Utsumi is going to be the starting pitcher tomorrow.

Q. Matsuzaka?
TATSUNORI HARA: Regarding Matsuzaka, of course -- huh? Tomorrow? No, it's not.

Q. Semifinal?
TATSUNORI HARA: Semifinal round? Can you wait a little while? Can you wait until then?

Q. Very anxious. Sure. Sure.

Q. Call us when you're ready (laughter).

Q. As you become one of the final four teams, tomorrow you are going to meet Korea again. Are you going to do your best tomorrow, or in preparation of that final, you are going to show us some variation among the players? Could you answer the question?
TATSUNORI HARA: Well, as I mentioned earlier, I only think about today's game. And after this press conference is over, I will think about tomorrow's game.

Q. About today, not about tomorrow, but about the semifinals, in the semifinals game, who do you wish to face? And also, I hope Japan is advancing in the best condition to world semifinals. Is that something I can think of?
TATSUNORI HARA: Of course, the biggest purposes of us coming to San Diego was we had to win twice and then move on to Los Angeles. And for now, the purpose is clear, and we are advancing to Los Angeles. And so far, our team has been doing well in that sense.
What was the other question? Did I answer you right?

Q. The last question here, Cuba's lineups were awesome lineups, and today you did the perfect game. What was the thing you worried about?
HISASHI IWAKUMA: Of course, the height, and the control had to be low, and all of this. I had to use all of that, and of course, there is one added, and there are things that I had to be careful. And so connecting to -- so I was able to get many outs from them. So it resulted into good games.

Q. Mr. Iwakuma, 9's, 11's, 18's, it's been irregular rotations, and I think this is a very difficult adjustment that you have to make compared to the regular season. Now, you are here in a foreign country, and you have to make adjustments psychologically, and in many different ways. What are the adjustments you are making, if you can let us know?
TATSUNORI HARA: Particularly, there is nothing special. Since coming over here, I've been practicing well, and once I am in the game, and I feel that I can do whatever it takes, and this is how I am thinking.
So under the circumstances, I am making adjustments. No, there is nothing particular I had to make a big adjustment. I am ready to go anytime anywhere.

Q. For Iwakuma, since Manager doesn't want to talk about the pitcher for the semifinals, I would imagine he doesn't want to talk about the finals. You are not able to pitch until the finals. If Darvish started, would you feel comfortable pitching relief as well?
HISASHI IWAKUMA: Of course, and then whatever they ask of me to do, and if I can complete, whatever they ask me to do in whichever position, I need to complete my role. And that's what I know I will do.

Q. What did you talk with Mr. Johjima after fourth, and then what was there, a sign about that given to you in the fourth?
TATSUNORI HARA: WBC is not final yet, so we can't talk about that, and there are much more important games waiting for you. Be careful.
HISASHI IWAKUMA: I just did what I am supposed to do, and that's all. Only the fast ball and que the runner, and Mr. Johjima's lead, and I have trust in him. And then I threw a good ball, and, of course, there I did throw a forkball, and I am comfortable throwing a forkball, and that's why I throw the forkball.

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