27 Sep 2012
Scottish Conservative MSPs have teamed up with a charity which uses cricket to help rebuild the lives of Japanese people affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Consul General of Japan in Edinburgh, Masataka Tarahara, visited the Scottish Parliament today to promote Cricket for Smiles along with Scottish Conservative MSPs Alex Johnstone and Liz Smith.
Cricket was first taken to Japan by a Scot 150 years ago, and now Alex Miyaji, who is half Scottish, half Japanese, has set up the organisation to help families affected by the disaster.
After hearing of the charity’s work, Alex Johnstone tabled a motion in parliament to recognise its work, and Liz Smith – who was capped seven times for Scotland’s women’s team – helped arrange for cricket equipment to be sent out.
She added that she will now work with Cricket Scotland to see how sporting links between the two countries can be strengthened.
The charity’s work has already led to more than 1000 youngsters getting involved in the sport.
Scottish Conservative North East MSP Alex Johnstone said:
“In one area affected by the tsunami and earthquake, this charity has brought cricket to over 1000 children already.
“It is important to bear in mind that many of the sports facilities such as football and baseball pitches now have temporary housing on them, but cricket can be played in a much smaller space, so the children can still have access to sport.
“I am delighted at the interest this has generated in Scotland.”
Scottish Conservative Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Liz Smith said:
“This is a very worthy charity and I’m delighted to help secure some cricket equipment for Mr Miyaji and his colleagues.
“I will be using my own contacts with Cricket Scotland to help provide additional support and to boost the cricket sporting links between our two nations.”
Alex Miyaji, who runs Cricket for Smiles, said:
“I really did not expect any sort of accolade like this.
“It is a great honour and I am excited about the opportunities to further ties between Japan and Scotland.
“This is a great chance to raise awareness across the world of what the victims of the earthquake and tsunami are facing.
“It will take many years to rebuild the lives and cities, and we will continue to do what we can to bring smiles to as many people as possible through this scheme.”
Notes to Editors
Below is the text of Alex Johnstone’s motion, lodged on September 12, 2012:
That the Parliament understands that cricket is a rapidly growing sport in Japan thanks to the work of Mr Naoki Alex Miyaji, the CEO of the Japan Cricket Association; notes that Mr Miyaji is of part-Scottish heritage and has family links to the north east of Scotland; welcomes the fact that there are, it understands, now over 3,000 regular cricketers in Japan, with teams at both senior and junior level, including some 30 university teams; further welcomes the fact that one of Mr Miyaji’s aims is to build links between Japanese communities and those in other countries, especially in the UK; commends Mr Miyaji and the Japan Cricket Association for developing the Cricket for Smiles programme, which seeks to supply cricket equipment and instruction to areas that were devastated by the recent earthquake and tsunami; wishes Mr Miyaji and the Japan Cricket Association the very best for the future, and looks forward to the Japanese national team meeting its Scotland counterpart for a cricket match.
For more information on Cricket for Smiles, visit: