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Anti-yakuza regulations quiet Dragons’ roar

The oendan for the Chunichi Dragons in Yokohama in 2013 (The Tokyo Reporter)
The oendan for the Chunichi Dragons in Yokohama in 2013 (The Tokyo Reporter)
NAGOYA (TR) – The Chunichi Dragons last week announced the formation of a new cheering section in an effort to comply with the policies of Nippon Pro Baseball (NPB) regarding connections to organized crime, reports the Chunichi Shimbun (July 22).

The team said on its Web site on Thursday that it is now taking applications for membership in the Chunichi Dragons Cheering Section.

In the outfield seating areas, an oendan (or cheering section) consists of fans chanting, pounding drums, blowing horns and waving flags, primarily when the team they support is at bat.

The move follows the failure on the part of four existing groups that support Chunichi nationwide to change their upper members by the first All-Star Games on July 18. Up to this point in the season, the fans in the outfield had been required to cheer individually and without musical accompaniment.

In 2006, NPB issued a special mandate to exclude boryokudan, or organized crime groups. As a result, all 12 teams were required to submit the names and portrait photographs of the members of its oendan groups. 

One year later, the Nagoya Hakuryu-kai (名古屋白龍會) and Zenkoku Ryushin Rengo (全国竜心連合) oendan groups for Chunichi had already been rejected by NPB for not submitting a list of their members. The groups filed a claim against NPB four years later in the High Court of Nagoya but lost. In 2013, an appeal reached the Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of NPB.

In the three-page application to join the Chunichi Dragons Cheering Section, the ninth question asks whether the applicant is a member of an organized crime group.

“I want to make a new cheering section before the end of the season,” says Kazuo Nishiyama, a representative of Chunichi. “But because of copyright issues we have to review our fight songs, whereby we’ll likely be starting from scratch.”