Originally created 03/18/03

Japan to play in U.S. despite threat of war



TOKYO -- Japan changed its mind and plans to play two exhibition soccer games in the United States next week even though a war against Iraq appears imminent.

Japan is scheduled to play Uruguay in San Diego on March 26 and the U.S. national team in Seattle on March 29.

The Japan Football Association said last month it would not play because of the increasing possibility of war. The association reconsidered after JFA general secretary Takeo Hirata went to Los Angeles and was assured U.S. soccer officials would try to ensure the safety of his players.

The exhibitions will be Japan's third and fourth international games since Zico, a former Brazilian star, became coach last July. Among the 23 players on the Japanese team will be seven based in Europe.