The Asian reporter. (Portland, Or.) 1991-current, January 06, 2014, Page Page 3, Image 3

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    January 6, 2014
Tanaka’s team says he
can seek career in MLB
By Mari Yamaguchi
The Associated Press
OKYO — Pitcher Masahiro
Tanaka is set to move to the majors
next season after his Japanese
team, the Rakuten Eagles, announced it
was prepared to let him leave, reversing its
earlier rejection.
Tachibana told a news conference that the
team has decided to release him through
the posting system, paving the way for his
departure. Tachibana said Tanaka’s
outstanding performance over the past
seven years, including this season, meant
he deserved to be allowed to move to the
Tanaka went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA with
the Eagles during the regular season and
sought a move to the majors, but has two
years remaining on his contract and
Rakuten was under no obligation to
release him.
“I’m grateful to the team for allowing me
to try. Now I’ve made a first step,” he said.
“I hope I would receive offers from as many
teams as possible so I have a wider option.”
The New York Yankees are considered
the leading candidates to sign Tanaka,
though the capping of the posting fee at
$20 million meant many other teams could
also afford to make offers.
The Eagles had rejected the new posting
system, but it was passed by a vote of
Japan’s professional teams. Following
that decision, Rakuten had initially said
they want to retain Tanaka, before the
recent change of heart.
Tachibana said the team took into con-
sideration Tanaka’s “outstanding contri-
CHATTY COMPANION. In this undated photo, Kirobo the robot, left, and Japanese astronaut Koichi
Wakata pose for a photo while making small talk in Japanese on the International Space Station. The first human-
oid robot in space performed its first mission at the space station, holding a series of conversations with Wakata
and keeping him company. The talks are part of an experiment testing the robot’s autonomous conversation
functions. Kirobo is programmed to process questions and select words from its vocabulary to construct an
answer, instead of giving pre-programmed responses to specific questions. (AP Photo/Kibo Robot Project)
Kirobo the robot chats with
astronaut on space station
By Emily Wang
The Associated Press
OKYO — The first humanoid robot
in space with speech capability
made small talk with a Japanese
astronaut and said it had no problem with
zero gravity on the International Space
Footage released by the robot’s develop-
ers showed Kirobo performing its first
mission on the station, talking in Japanese
with astronaut Koichi Wakata to test its
autonomous conversation functions.
Wakata said he was glad to meet Kirobo,
and asked the robotic companion how it
felt about being in a zero-gravity environ-
“I’m used to it now, no problem at all,”
Kirobo quipped.
Kirobo is programmed to process ques-
tions and select words from its vocabulary
to construct an answer, instead of giving
pre-programmed responses to specific
The creator of the robot, Tomotaka
Takahashi, said the autonomous functions
meant nobody knew how well Kirobo
would be able to answer Wakata’s
Though Kirobo had some awkward
pauses and Wakata spoke more slowly
than usual at times in an early chat,
Takahashi said conversations smoothed
out over time.
“Through layers of communication, we
were able to observe the initial stages of a
relationship begin to develop between a
human and a robot, and I think that was
our biggest success” he said.
NASA said its Robonaut 2 was the first
humanoid robot ever to fly in space. The
torso-only robot without legs has been on
the International Space Station since
Tanegashima Space Center for the
International Space Station this summer
aboard a space cargo transporter. Wakata
arrived in November and will assume
command of the station in March.
The project is a joint endeavor between
advertising company Dentsu, automaker
Toyota, and Takahashi at the University
of Tokyo’s Research Center for Advanced
Science and Technology.
Experiments with Kirobo will continue
until it returns to earth at the end of 2014.
MAJOR MOVE. Rakuten Eagles pitcher Masa-
hiro Tanaka pitches against the Yomiuri Giants during
Game 7 of baseball’s Japan Series in Sendai, north-
eastern Japan. Tanaka is set to move to the majors
next season after the Rakuten Eagles announced that
the team was prepared to let him leave, reversing
an earlier rejection. (AP Photo/Kyodo News, File)
bution to the team” since he joined the
Eagles seven years ago.
For 30 days from the time a player is
posted, any Major League Baseball (MLB)
team can attempt to sign the player. It
pays the posting fee only if it signs the
The new posting system was negotiated
after some MLB teams objected that only
the richest clubs could afford to bid on top
Japanese players.
Under the previous agreement, which
Continued on page 4
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Guest conductor
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