'We're waiting with open arms'
'I am exhausted,' said Dr Kenji Kominami. The General manager of the Japan Racing Association's international department and one of the chief negotiators with the Japanese Government over the past fortnight, finally got a moment to rest and reflect yesterday.
'We made every effort possible to convince our Government to make this decision. Our staff have worked very hard, we have all worked very hard,' Kominami said. 'I am exhausted, but very happy that they have made it possible for our race to be international and for Fairy King Prawn to run in the Yasuda Kinen again.'
Kominami was at pains to assure the world it was welcome in Japanese racing. 'I strongly hope that the foreign runners will give exciting performances for the Japanese racing fans. We also would like to have foreign runners in both the Japan Cup and the Japan Cup Dirt in November. We are desperately waiting for all of you with open arms.'
Kominami believes the deciding factor in yesterday's decision was the easing of the foot-and-mouth disease crisis in the United Kingdom, even though Hong Kong's foot-and-mouth status has remained unchanged.
'We went to great trouble to make sure our ministry knew what was happening around the world and how the situation was changing,' Kominami said. 'The peak of the problem in Europe was clearly over, and other countries were lifting their bans on European Union importation.
'And the British Prime Minister [Tony Blair] had announced that the disease was under control. I think with all of this evidence, our Government was able to come to an appropriate decision in time.'