Concert on 120th Anniversary of Japanese Migration to Cuba

Japanese musicians and the Cuban group Havana Ensemble will share the stage in Havana to celebrate the 120th anniversary of the first Japanese migration to Cuba, organizers announced.

The concert, scheduled for December 17 and 18, will also include performances by the The Taiko Club of the Reitaku Mizunami School in Japan.

At the Jose Marti Theater, the cultural event will be part of the visit by a Japanese delegation headed by the president of the Japan-Cuba Parliamentary Friendship League, Keiji Furuya.

Directed by Cuban saxophonist Cesar López, Habana Ensemble has a series of new elements, in both in the music and aesthetics, which differentiate it significantly from other Cuban groups.

The celebrations on the 120th anniversary of Japanese migration to Cuba will also include an exhibition of dolls, friendly games, panels, academic exchange, conferences, presentation of calendars, public speaking contest and the publication of a commemorative book.

Japanese immigrants began arriving in Cuba in 1898, mainly from the regions of Okinawa, Kagoshima, Kumamoto, Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Nagano, Niigata, Fukushima and Miyagi.

  • Published in Culture

Cuban Athletes Will Train in Japan for 2020 Olympic Games

Cuba will have volleyball and baseball training camps in Japan with a view to the 2020 Olympic Games, Japanese sports authorities and a delegation from the National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation (INDER) agreed here Saturday after fruitful negotiations.

According to the Embassy of Cuba in Japan, the Sendai Ikuei Gakuen School and the local governments of Sendai and Tagajyo, will welcome the athletes of these disciplines.

The Cuban delegation, headed by the President of the Cuban Olympic Committee and first Vice President of INDER, Roberto Leon Richards, signed other similar agreements with several Japanese localities, among them the city of Hiroshima.

The mayor of that city, Kazumi Matsui, expressed his satisfaction for hosting the Cuban athletes, and commented on the great sympathy and admiration that prevails among the inhabitants of the city towards the Cuban people, as well as the pleasant memory of the historic visit of Commander in Chief Fidel Castro in 2003.

For his part, Leon Richards, thanked the support of the authorities of Hiroshima for the preparation of Cuban athletes. He also held a meeting with the minister in charge of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020, Yoshitaka Sakurada, who also serves as vice president of the Japan-Cuba Parliamentary Friendship Group.

Sakurada spoke of the importance of cooperating with Cuba, considered a world sporting power, to achieve success of the upcoming games.

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Photo Exhibition on Cuba-Japan History Opens in Havana

Havana, Nov 25 (Prensa Latina) The photo exhibition ''Japanese Scenery 120 Years Ago'', which deals about Japanese immigration in Cuba, opened at the House-Museum of Asia in Old Havana on Friday.

Izacura Naomi, curator of the exhibition, told Prensa Latina that the exhibition aims to call on Japanese residents in Isla de la Juventud (Isle of Youth) special municipality to recall the beginning of Japanese settlements on that island.

The exhibition displays handicraft images from Yokohama, in which 20th-century western and Japanese traditional techniques are combined.

These albumen-printed photos were recreated vividly with pigments brought from Japan and they were placed in luxurious albums made of mother-of-pearl and gold lacquer.

This cultural event, consisting of 42 pieces from the Japanese Chamber Industry Institute, will be open until December 23.

The first Japanese immigrants arrived in Cuba on September 9, 1898, with plans to establish a community, which came to have more than 1,000 immigrants. Visits by Japanese citizens have been reported since the 17th century.

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Cuban envoy denied room at Hilton hotel in Fukuoka

Cuba's ambassador to Japan was denied a room at a Hilton hotel in Fukuoka in October on grounds he represents a country slapped with U.S. economic sanctions.

A company official in Tokyo defended the Hilton Fukuoka Sea Hawk's refusal to provide accommodation, saying the hotel chain is obliged to comply with U.S. law as it is U.S.-based.

But Fukuoka city authorities did not agree and issued an administrative directive to the hotel not to treat prospective guests that way again, citing the Japanese hotel business law that forbids refusal of accommodation based on an individual’s nationality.

The Cuban Embassy booked rooms for Ambassador Carlos Pereira and another embassy official through Tokyo-based Tonichi Travel Service Co.

The travel agency said it informed Hilton Fukuoka Sea Hawk via fax several days prior to the visit that one of the guests is the Cuban ambassador to Japan.

The travel agency said the hotel replied that it looked forward to welcoming them.

But when the ambassador and the embassy official arrived in Fukuoka on Oct. 2, the hotel refused to honor the reservations.

According to Tonichi Travel Service, the hotel called the travel company on Oct. 2 to say it could not allow the Cuban dignitaries to stay.

On Oct. 11, Hilton Fukuoka Sea Hawk sent a letter to the agency that said it “cannot accept guests who represent Cuba in an official capacity.”

The Cuban Embassy filed a complaint with the Foreign Ministry on Oct. 5, describing the hotel's treatment as shameful.

It also said applying U.S. law in Japan amounts to encroachment of this country's sovereignty.

The ministry referred the matter to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, which oversees the hotel business law.

Article 5 of the legislation dictates that hotel operators cannot refuse guests unless they are infected with a contagious disease or threaten to engage in illegal or other activity that will corrupt public morals.

The ministry concluded that Hilton Fukuoka Sea Hawk’s treatment of the Cuban officials fell foul of the law.

A labor ministry official handling the matter said the “Fukuoka city government issued an administrative directive for the hotel” to comply with Japanese law as it is licensed to operate under Japanese law.

In an interview with The Asahi Shimbun, Emiko Ogami, senior manager in charge of communications at Hilton Japan, Korea and Micronesia, explained that it is hotel policy worldwide to refuse accommodation to government officials, state companies and certain individuals of countries that are under U.S. economic sanctions.

Among the targeted countries are Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Syria, she said.

However, the Cuban Embassy questioned whether the hotel chain maintains a consistent policy as the ambassador stayed at the Hilton Fukuoka Sea Hawk in April.

Other U.S. hotel chains such as Hyatt and Sheraton said they do not refuse guests for the reasons cited by the Hilton group.

Ogami said the group is still considering its response to the administrative directive issued by the Fukuoka municipal government.

Japan backed a U.N. resolution calling on Washington to lift its sanctions against Cuba, now in their 27th year.

In 2006, the Mexican government ordered the operator of a Sheraton-affiliated hotel in Mexico City to pay 1.2 million pesos (about 13 million yen, or $114,000) as a fine for evicting 16 Cuban government delegates who were staying at the hotel.

The hotel operator cited the U.S. law on economic sanctions against Cuba, triggering a public outcry and accusations its approach violated Mexico's sovereignty.

The Mexican government decided the hotel’s policy ran counter to the Mexican commerce law that forbids discriminating against guests based on their nationality.

  • Published in Cuba

Cuban Despaigne homers for second straight game at Japan´s final playoff

Cuban Alfredo Despaigne increased his great home run production when taking the ball out of the park for second consecutive day in the final of the Japanese Professional Baseball League (NPB).

This time it was a solo homer in the fourth inning, thus helping his team, the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks, to win 4-1 in the fourth game of the final (Japan Series) over the Hiroshima Toyo Carp.

The Caribbean slugger batted 1 for 4, with two strikeouts, and descended his batting average (BA) to .333, although he amounts six RBIs in this final series, with a highlight for what he did in the third match, when he brought four teammates to home plate.

Another Cuban, lefty setup reliever Livan Moinelo, pitched a third of an inning with two walks, but did not allow runs thus maintaining his ERA immaculate in the grand final.

The Hawks took advantage 2-1 in the Japan series, since the first game ended in a draw and extended their consecutive wins-at-home streak in the Japan Series to eleven, thus breaking the previous record of ten held by the 1970–73 Yomiuri Giants.

With two other victories, Cubans Despaigne and Moinelo would be crowned champions for the second year in a row, while utility Yurisbel Gracial would debut with the title in his first foray into the NPB.

  • Published in Sports

Sarah Asahina beats Idalys Ortiz for 78-kg gold

Sarah Asahina clinched gold in the over 78-kg weight class at the World Judo Championships on Wednesday as all nine Japanese reached the podium in the women’s classifications.

It was the first time since the inauguration of the women’s world championships in 1980 that every Japanese female competitor achieved a podium finish in the individual competitions at the judo worlds.

Asahina, who was runner-up last year at the Budapest worlds, ensured her status as gold-medal favorite for Tokyo 2020 by beating Rio Olympic silver medalist Idalys Ortiz of Cuba after each took two shido penalties at National Gymnastics Arena.

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Cuban Idalys Ortiz

After more than six minutes Ortiz was penalized for a third time, giving Asahina her first world title and Japan its seventh gold of the Sept. 20-27 championships held in the same format as the 2020 Tokyo Games.

“It’s been 389 days since I lost (to China’s Yu Song in the heavyweight final) last year and I feel blessed to have gone one better this time,” the 21-year-old Asahina said.

“I didn’t lose the battle against myself and that proves I’ve grown as an athlete. I have to tell myself this is just the start and keep on working hard.”

In the men’s over 100-kg, Hisayoshi Harasawa suffered an ippon defeat to Mongolia’s Duurenbayar Ulziibayar in the quarterfinals but managed to pull off a win in the bronze-medal match.

Harasawa, a silver medalist at the 2016 Rio Olympics, beat world championships debutant Bekmurond Oltiboev of Uzbekistan with an osotogari (major outer reaping throw) for ippon with 25 seconds left on the clock.

“I was aiming to get to the top so it’s very disappointing. But recovering after a quarterfinals loss and taking home a medal gives me hope. I look forward to my next chance at a world title,” Harasawa said.

Yusei Ogawa picked up three penalties in the over 100-kg third-round contest and made an early exit in his first world championships appearance.

Georgia’s Guram Tushishvili won his first heavyweight title. Double Olympic champion and 10-time world champion Teddy Riner of France is taking a break and not fighting in Baku.

Japan has seven golds, five silvers and four bronzes, winning medals in 13 of 14 men’s and women’s weight divisions. The eight-day competition, featuring 755 judoka from 124 countries, was to conclude Thursday with the mixed team events.

  • Published in Sports

Cuban Official Jose Ramon Balaguer Begins Working Visit to Japan

The head of the International Relations Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), Jose Ramon Balaguer, has started Thursday an intense program of meetings with the main political forces in Japan.

During his two-day visit, Balaguer will meet with the President of the Social Democratic Party of Japan (PSD), Seiji Mataishi, at the headquarters of the lower house of parliament. the Cuban ambassador to the country, Carlos Miguel Pereira, highlighted today.

During the meeting, Mataishi recalled his visit to Cuba in 2010 and ratified the support and solidarity of his party to the Caribbean island and, for his part, Balaguer thanked the historical friendship of the PSD towards Cuba.

Likewise, Yukio Edano, president of the Democratic Constitutional Party, the main opposition party, reiterated the support of this political force for the lifting of the blockade against the island, a unilateral measure of the United States dating from almost 60 years ago.

Balaguer highlighted the advances in relations between Cuba and Japan and the support of Japanese political forces for the development of historic and friendly ties between the two countries, which this year celebrate the 120th anniversary of the Japanese presence on the island.

As part of the pleasant exchange of opinions, they agreed to strengthen the ties between both parties, the diplomat stressed.

Balaguer is on a working visit to Japan, which will last until next Saturday.

  • Published in Cuba

Cuban Gracial hits two more homers in Japan

HAVANA, Cuba, Aug 23 (ACN) Cuban ballplayer Yurisbel Gracial hit two home runs today, thus amounting three in the last two matches, during the continuation of the regular stage in the Japanese Professional Baseball League (NPB).

According to the NPB official website, Gracial, who batted third in the line-up of the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, first blasted a three-run homer in the very first frame to then hit another one in the ninth but this time with only one teammate on base for his squad, which finally beat 9-6 the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters.

The day before, the outstanding Cuban utility had achieved his first homer in NPB after being hired by the Hawks last February.

Now, he has batting average of .340 (18 hits in 53 AB), with three homers and 9 RBIs in the tough NPB Pacific League.

The Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, franchise in which also play Cubans Alfredo Despaigne (OF/DH), Livan Moinelo (LHP) and switch-hitter Oscar Colas, the latter is in the farm system, appear third in the standings in the Pacific League with 55 wins and 49 losses, behind the Seibu Lions (64-42) and the Fighters (57-50), in that order.

  • Published in Sports
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