Finally, there are now only 2 days left until the PRIDE Open Weight Grand Prix 2006 Opening Round. All of the foreign fighters that will compete in the Grand Prix have arrived safely in Japan and all of the Japanese fighters that will take them on have arrived in Osaka. I met all of the fighters today and when I looked in their faces, I could see that they have all thoroughly prepared themselves for the Grand Prix.
To the fans, I promise that on May 5th, you will see 16 fighters give their all in the PRIDE ring as they compete in top-class battles.
As the Chief Executive Officer of Dream Stage Entertainment Inc., the promoter of PRIDE Fighting Championships, and as an individual, I would like to properly explain my current beliefs and thoughts to, and gain understanding from, the fans that support PRIDE each day, the fighters that fight to be the best in the PRIDE ring and the people behind those fighters, supporting them. I have taken this opportunity to publish these thoughts on this homepage and I would greatly appreciate it if you would read them.
The beliefs and thoughts that I would like to explain, and have you understand, are in regard to the articles repeatedly published in the magazine "Shukan Gendai".
When I thought of Shukan Gendai publishing Seiya Kawamata's testimony over-and-over in their irresponsible articles as if it were fact, despite the Kanagawa Police Department Headquarter concluding through their investigation that his testimony is completely untrustworthy, I realized that although we had been silent until now, PRIDE, our company and I were facing a crisis of false, and one-sided, accusations and suspicions.
In the 9 years since the birth of PRIDE in 1997, we and the fighters have given both our sweat and our blood in the effort to realize the grand concept of creating a ring, emerging from Japan, which is both of the highest caliber and the greatest venue for men to battle and determine who is the world's greatest fighter. We have put our hearts and souls into the creation of PRIDE, a stage of dreams. Through the love and support of the many fans, the fighters and we have improved this dream, nurturing it and growing it to what it is today.
At the moment, I'm obsessed with the idea that the actions of Seiya Kawamata and Shukan Gendai may tarnish the history, value, results and credibility of PRIDE that we have built alongside the fans and the fighters. At the same time, I feel an anger and irritation that is so strong I cannot put it into words. I'm also very worried that the many fans that support PRIDE, the fighters and other parties, and our company's employees and their families, may have some concern in regard to me and our company, and may even have become distrustful of us.
I will not be silent and have my reputation tarnished any further. However, in regard to the inhumane use of the media, utterly lacking in both conscience and common sense, by Seiya Kawamata and the other people behind these actions, I think it is pointless to use their methods and go down to their level in endless, fault finding arguments. I do not believe that this will result in anything positive for PRIDE or the Japanese martial arts industry as a whole.
Accordingly, on April 17, 2006, we filed a complaint with the Yokohama Regional Prosecutor's Office against Seiya Kawamata and the editor and publisher of Shukan Gendai for libel and deceptive obstruction of business operations on behalf of myself and Dream Stage Entertainment Inc. I am confident that the reputations of myself, PRIDE and the Japanese martial arts industry will be restored in the future in a legal venue based upon the Yokohama Prosecutor's investigation.
The damage to the image and credibility of PRIDE and our company as a result of the publication of this series of articles is immeasurable. I believe that this negative wind that has been violently set against PRIDE and me, and supported by the influential power of this popular magazine, is sufficient enough to quickly wipe out a small company such as ours if not handled carefully. I am truly saddened from the bottom of my heart and feel very uneasy.
Even so, we absolutely will not run away from this situation. We will continue to improve our record, step-by-step regaining any trust that we have lost and recovering from suspicions that have been aimed at us. I know that everything does not always go well in life and work. However, nothing gets solved by running away from, or trying to cover up, problems in front of you just because things are not going well, or conditions are difficult, or you feel uneasy.
I will stand up and face this attack that has been launched against PRIDE and me head-on. I will not cave in and I will continue to walk the path that I believe in with all of my strength.
I am not able to put my life on the line and fight in front of the fans like the fighters. Even so, I support the PRIDE ring and I can work to protect and nurture it as if my life were on the line.
All of our company employees, starting with myself, will stand up to meet any challenges and as long as we are needed by you, we will keep continue moving forward, no matter how difficult.
Although this series of articles may continue to be published in Shukan Gendai, I will refrain from making any comments other than those made through this homepage because if the people that are kind enough to view this homepage understand the truth and our true beliefs, then that is enough. I simply want to move forward toward the future of PRIDE.
I would like to apologize deeply for this very long and hastily written letter but I am looking forward to seeing everyone at the Osaka Dome on the day of the Grand Prix and I ask you all to continue loving PRIDE.
Chief Executive Officer
Dream Stage Entertainment Inc.
COPYRIGHT 2006 DREAM STAGE ENTERTAINMENT ALL RIGHT RESERVED.
*Quoting, transferring or copying the above comments of Mr. Sakakibara, in part or in their entirety, to other internet web sites or other forms of media is strictly forbidden. Should unauthorized use of these comments be discovered, legal actions will be taken immediately.