FIBA Suspends Japan from International Play

It's official. 

Japan has been suspended by FIBA from joining ANY of its officially-sanctioned international competitions, which includes the 2015 East Asian Basketball Association Championship and, more importantly, the 2015 FIBA Asia Men's Championship.

This is a big blow to Team Hayabusa, of course, especially as it comes on the heels of their bagging third place in the 2014 Incheon Asian Games Men's Basketball tournament.

Sayonara, Japan. At least for now.

Here are the full details courtesy of Japan Times writer Ed Odeven:

FIBA bans Japan from international competition

Although nearly a month passed since FIBA’s Oct. 31 deadline for the Japan Basketball Association to present a merger plan for the bj-league and the NBL, among other demands, basketball’s world governing body delivered the expected news.

On Wednesday, the JBA, one of FIBA’s 214 national federations, was suspended from all FIBA and FIBA Asia-related activities. The length of the ban has not been announced.

As a result, all Japan national teams are barred from playing in FIBA-sanctioned competitions, including the women’s national team, which captured its first FIBA Asia title in 43 years in 2013. This could have a profound negative impact on Olympic qualifying and preparation for it.

The FIBA executive committee met on Monday and Tuesday before finalizing its decision.

“. . . The JBA has been and currently remains unable to deliver on FIBA’s requests to: restructure the JBA to ensure it is fully functional under FIBA’s general statutes; merge the existing two leagues into one that operates under the JBA and plays the game in accordance with (FIBA’s) official basketball rules across the country; (and) present a concrete sporting plan for the national teams (men and women) beyond 2020,” FIBA said in the news release.

The NBL plays under FIBA rules; the bj-league adheres to NBA rules. FIBA has viewed that as a point of contention.

Since an official visit to Tokyo in 2009, top FIBA officials, including secretary general Patrick Baumann, have repeatedly stated that the concurrent existence of the 22-team bj-league and 13-team NBL are a violation of FIBA rules, as each national federation is required to have a clear-cut top league under its control. The bj-league operates outside of JBA control.

Though bj-league commissioner Toshimitsu Kawachi and his NBL counterparts have held talks with the JBA in recent months, no merger deal has been reached. And there’s been no evidence that the rival leagues are any closer to an agreement than they were at any time over the past five-plus years.

Yasuhiko Fukatsu resigned as JBA president on Oct. 23, just a week before the FIBA deadline, stepping down at a time when an 11th-hour breakthrough appeared impossible, based on comments from key leaders in both leagues, including Kawachi, who has presided over the bj-league since its establishment for the 2005-06 season as a breakaway circuit from the old Japan Basketball League (the NBL’s predecessor).

“FIBA regrets that the situation has reached such a point of no return,” Baumann said in a statement. “However, we are convinced that after so many years of warnings and struggle, and for the good of basketball in Japan, it is absolutely time to make important changes to the structures of the JBA and of the domestic competitions in order to fully comply with FIBA’s general statutes and also to embrace the opportunity that the 2020 Olympic Games will provide to basketball in Japan. We want a successful Tokyo 2020 basketball tournament with the participation of the Japanese men’s and women’s teams.”

FIBA revealed it plans to send an appointed representative to Japan to assist in setting up a task force to usher in changes cited above.

Said Baumann: “We believe that basketball has great potential to become one of the leading sports in Japan, especially in view of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. It is time to prepare for it without the ‘heavy luggage’ of past history and failed reforms, but instead with a strong vision toward the future for the benefit of all who love the game. We count on all basketball stakeholders to participate in the much-needed reform process that will be led by the task force.”

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4 Comment

Sorry Enzo, I just don't get it? I'm kinda lost.Why FIBA has authority on how Japan will run their own basketball affair. From what I know the BJ league and the NBL are professional leaques. From what I remember we were suspended because of BAP (that governs our international or national basketball affair)which has direct affiliation with FIBA that I understand.(which I think also was unfair to us) I think FIBA is being unreasonable here. The best they can do is mediate the 2 leagues here while working out on a solution to merge the league- BBones


FIBA is the world’s highest governing body in basketball, that’s why. If any country plans to participate in official regional competitions, the Olympics, or the World Cup, it will need to comply with FIBA’s rules and regulations. These include how a country can have just one top-level pro league. In Japan’s case, however, there are two competing top-level leagues. Japan has been warned about this as early as 2009, but it has still failed to fully comply with FIBA’s recommendations, hence, the suspension. I just hope this will be the much-needed wake up call to raise the level of Japanese hoops anew.


question Sir Enzo, if this is a rule from FIBA.. why during the time of the defunct MBA, we were never banned? The only reason why we were banned is because of we have 2 governing bodies BAP and SBP..


When the MBA was still around (1998-2002), FIBA had slightly different rules & regulations for its member national federations. Now, FIBA has clearly stated that each country should only have one top-level pro league. Any other pro or semi-pro leagues will be arranged in tiers/levels according to competitiveness. Many countries have super or premier divisions and then followed by lower divisions. In our own current context, we have the PBA as our top league, followed by the D-league, and then the collegiate leagues. If the MBA were still around, I suspect that FIBA would want us to find a way to merge it with the PBA or classify it as a lower-tier tournament.