Movie star Ken Watanabe offered a message of encouragement to Japanese compatriot Shohei Ohtani when he threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Wednesday's Los Angeles Dodgers-Los Angeles Angels game.

Watanabe, nominated for an Academy Award for his work in the "The Last Samurai," was a guest of honor at the Dodgers' "Japanese Heritage Night."

Japanese actor Ken Watanabe throws out the ceremonial first pitch before a baseball game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Angels on June 15, 2022, at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

"I have sympathy for him (Ohtani) as one who is continuing to challenge the unknown," the 62-year-old actor said. "I am looking forward to the results and success he can produce this year if he can avoid injury."

Fans at Dodger Stadium were treated to Japanese entertainment and an exhibition celebrating the legacy of Japanese American baseball.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who was born in Japan, said the club had been at the forefront of cultivating international friendship through baseball.

"I am very proud of my Japanese heritage and honored to be managing a team with such a rich and pioneering history," Roberts said in a release promoting the event.

Japanese actor Ken Watanabe (L) and Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts shake hands in Los Angeles on June 15, 2022, during an event held before a baseball game between the Dodgers and the Los Angeles Angels. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

This year is also being touted as the 150th anniversary of the year American educator Horace Wilson began teaching the game to his students in Japan.

"Baseball is an American national sport, and this confirms my feeling that this country is accepting Japan as part of it," Watanabe said.

Shohei Ohtani (bottom, C) of the Los Angeles Angels is pictured in the dugout during a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 15, 2022, at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Japanese actor Ken Watanabe (top, L) was watching the game from the stands. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

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