In what is becoming a tradition, Japan’s consul general for the Southeast, Takuji Hanatani, threw a ceremonial first pitch before the Atlanta Braves–Chicago Cubs game at Turner Field on June 22.
Kenshin Kawakami, the Japanese pitcher who joined the Braves this year, caught the consul general’s pitch. Mr. Kawakami was a member of the Chunichi Dragons, the home team in Nagoya, Japan, where he earned in 2004 an award as Japan’s best pitcher.
Mr. Hanatani congratulated Mr. Kawakami for his recent win over the Boston Red Sox in a game in which he faced his countryman and Boston pitcher Disuke Matsuzaka. Mr. Kawakami currently has four victories and six defeats for the Braves.
The Japan-America Society of Georgia supported Mr. Hanatani with a reception before he threw the pitch and sold more than 100 tickets to the game.
Mr. Hanatani is a career diplomat, most recently serving as deputy head of mission at the Japanese embassy in Brussels, Belgium. He has also held posts in Brasilia, Brazil; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; Geneva; Nairobi, Kenya, and Paris.
Shoji Ogawa, Japan’s consul general based in Atlanta from 2005-08, started the tradition. Mr. Ogawa is currently Japan’s ambassador to Iraq.
In May Mr. Ogawa came under fire in Ramadi in western Iraq while visiting the capital of Anbar Province to inspect projects to be financed by the Japanese government.
He escaped the ordeal unscathed but one of the Iraqi bodyguards assigned for his protection was killed.