CHAPTER4 IMPROVING INTERNATIONA LCOMPETITIVENESS AND PROMOTING INTERNATIONAL SPORTS EXCHANGE
SECTION4: THE PROMOTION OF PROFESSIONAL SPORTS
1. The Significance of Professional Sports and Support Provided
In recent years the interest of the Japanese people in professional sports,such as the soccer J League,professional baseball,sumo wrestling and professional golf,has heightened.These sports are widely supported by many Japanese people as"spectator sports."They play an especially important role in deepening young peoples'interest and pursuit in sports,and in promoting a wider range of sports.Professional sports are also extremely significant because,among other things,the advanced skills of professional athletes contribute to the improvement of competitiveness of sports as a whole.The Japan Professional Sports Association was established in December1990as an administrative body for professional sports.The main professional sports-related associations of Japan are members of tbe Association.These Association members cooperate and coordinate mutually,as they conduct various programs with the aim of developing sports in Japan through the development of the whole area of professional sports.In FY1990 MESSC widened the sphere of the sports awards system for people who had performed distinguished services from amateur only to incorporate professional sports.Minister of Education,Science,Sports and Culture Awards bave been presented to those who have performed distinguished services for many years in the field of professional sports.From FY1996 these awards have also included current athletes who have achieved the most outstanding results in the history of professional sports.Furthermore,in1991MESSC created the post of Senior Specialist,Professional Sports for the purpose of comprehensively carrying out measures for the promotion of professional sports,and also from the same year has given its support to professional sports events.In May1998there was a partial amendment to the Sports Promotion Law,in which it was proposed that the national government and local govermnents make efforts to give appropriate consideration to the use of the advanced competitive skills acquired by professional athletes in taking steps to promote sports.