Photo: Players of Kyoto International School cheers after their first-ever Summer Koshien victory. Credit: Website of Kyoto International School.
On March 24, Kyoto International School became the first international school and the first Korean school to appear in the National High School Baseball Championship of Japan since the tournament’s founding in 1915. Kyoto International defeated Shibata High School 5-4 in the extra innings after the game was tied at 3-3 in regulation. However, Kyoto International lost the second round game held on March 30 against Tokaidaisukao High School of Tokyo, again by the score of 5-4 after leading 4-2 until the eighth inning.
Kyoto International opened as the Kyoto Korean Junior High School in 1947, one of the several zainichi (Korean-Japanese) schools that provided education to ethnic Koreans in Japan who were facing racial discrimination. The school did not receive official recognition from the Japanese government until 2004. Today, only four zainichi schools remain in Japan. Kyoto International is a small school with only 131 students, 37 of whom are josenseki - the stateless Korean nationals who were outside of Korea at the time of the division and did not belong to either South or North Korea. The school caused a minor controversy at the tournament (also known as the Summer Koshien, after the name of the stadium in which the games are traditionally held), as the school’s Korean language anthem began with the words: “Across the East Sea, the land of Yamato” - referring to the body of water between Korea and Japan with Korea’s preferred term.