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J.League agrees to resume games on April 23

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TOKYO (Reuters) -- Japan's J.League will resume on April 23 after the season was put on hold following this month's earthquake and tsunami that devastated the country's northeast coast, league chairman Kazumi Ohigashi told local media on Tuesday.

"I personally paid a visit to Kashima, Sendai as well as Mito and briefed the executive committee of their situation today," Ohigashi told Kyodo news agency of the three clubs who sustained the worst damage from the March 11 tremor.

"There were various opinions at the meeting. Some felt we should start sooner, some said later. But the J.League feels it is in the best interests of everyone to start on April 23.

"We feel like this is the best available option," he said.

The league's top two divisions have been suspended since the weekend of March 5 and representatives from 37 of the 38 clubs, less Vegalta Sendai, met for the second time in two weeks to discuss when and how to resume play.

The five rounds of league games that will have been missed by April 23 will be moved to July, while Kashima, Sendai and Mito will play at neutral venues until repair work to their stadiums has been completed.

To counter an electricity shortage suffocating eastern Japan, all games sanctioned by the J.League will be held during the day to conserve power -- until the summer months, when it becomes too hot for afternoon kickoffs.

The J.League also remains in discussions with the Japan Football Association (JFA) about the national side's participation as an invitee in the Copa America in Argentina in July.

Ohigashi said a final decision would be made when Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni returns from Italy in time for the March 29 charity match against a J.League select team.