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Shohei Ohtani, Japanese baseball star, put in difficulty by his interpreter

LETTER FROM TOKYO

The start of the season for Japanese baseball star Shohei Ohtani is parasitized by a scandal which moves the Archipelago and could cause his star to fade as a world star in the discipline. The player, famous for his dual talents as a pitcher and batter, a rarity in modern baseball, made his first exploits for the California franchise of the Los Angeles Dodgers during a game played on Wednesday March 20 against the San Diego Padres at Gocheok Skydome in Seoul, where the American professional league (MLB) launched its season. His partner, former basketball player Mamiko Tanaka, whom he married a few weeks ago, was in the stands.

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Everything would be fine for the Japanese star without the affair involving his interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, which took on such proportions that the player, usually reluctant to express himself publicly, had to resolve to give, Monday March 25, a press conference. Mr. Ohtani explained that Mr. Mizuhara had “stole money” on his accounts to repay debts owed to “gaming addiction”. “I am sad and shocked that someone I trusted acted like this”he added.

Mr. Mizuhara, a compulsive gambler, was fired by the Dodgers on March 20. He allegedly diverted $4.5 million (4.2 million euros) from Mr. Ohtani’s accounts to repay his debts. On the day of his dismissal, the American tax authorities announced the opening of an investigation concerning him. MLB, for its part, mobilized its investigations department.

The revelations shocked the player’s fans in Japan. “I hope the Mizuhara affair will not affect Shohei Ohtani…”we can read on X, the most popular social network in the country and on which a fan also laments: “Even if Shohei Ohtani is completely innocent in this case, there will certainly be doubts from some people and his image will be tarnished. I’m really sorry about that. » There is also anger: “The people who really want Shohei Ohtani to be punished and those who are pessimistic just based on media reports are horrible. I want them to explode into pieces. I don’t care about your ridiculous considerations when the facts are not clear. »

However, it remains difficult to know the details of a complex affair which the Japanese media have greedily seized upon. Fuji TV even went so far as to send a reporter to knock on the door of Mr. Mizuhara’s father’s California home.

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