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Top shogi player makes 1st public appearance after cheating accusations

Ninth-dan-ranked Hiroyuki Miura is seen in Takasaki, Gunma Prefecture, on Jan. 3, 2017. (Mainichi)

TAKASAKI, Gunma -- Ninth-dan-ranked shogi player Hiroyuki Miura, 42, was present at a children's shogi event here on Jan. 3, his first public appearance since he was accused of cheating by using shogi software, an allegation that has since been reported to lack evidence.

The event was Miura's first appearance in front of fans since the allegations surfaced in October last year. That month he was barred by the Japan Shogi Association from any further matches that year, but on Dec. 26 a third-party investigative panel for the association reported that there was "no proof of wrongdoing."

When Miura made his surprise showing at the event on Jan. 3, there was large applause from the gathered elementary and junior high school students and their parents.

The event was held by the shogi association with help from Takasaki-based home appliance retailer Yamada-Denki Co. Miura, who is from the Gunma Prefecture city, has attended the event every year, but the association had canceled his appearance this year to "avoid confusion." However, Yamada-Denki negotiated with the association to have Miura appear to help restore his reputation, and an opportunity was created for him to speak.

During his appearance at the event, Miura did not directly comment on the scandal, but he told reporters, "I am thankful for my hometown's support. I want to be able to play shogi comfortably (as I could before the scandal.)"

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