From the AP :

Japan said Thursday it has tentatively agreed to take part in the inaugural 16-country World Baseball Classic subject to the approval of the Japanese baseball players’ association.

Japanese baseball officials were responding to an end-of-the-month deadline set by Major League Baseball for Japanese owners and players to decide on whether to take part in the World-Cup style tournament set for March, 2006.

The Japanese players’ association will hold a meeting on July 22 to decide whether to take part.

Major League Baseball and its players association have already approved the tournament.

MLB officials and union travelled to Japan earlier this month and set an end-of-the-month deadline for Japan to reach a decision. MLB wants to make an announcement about the tournament on July 11, the day before the all-star game in Detroit.

Masashi Tsunoda, an official with the Softbank Hawks of Japan’s Pacific League, told reporters that a letter sent to the MLB included a counterproposal from Japan’s players on when to hold the tournament.

Players in Japan have proposed holding the qualifying games in March and the finals in July, during the all-star break.

Though I can’t imagine MLB accepting said proposal, the final round(s) of such a tournament would be far more compelling TV than the All-Star Game, Home Run Derby, etc.