WaPo‘s Harlan: From Nats to Japan

Chico Harlan, WaPo‘s baseball writer is making a huge jump… to Japan. Starting in June, Harlan will replace Blaine Harden as an Asia correspondent for the paper.

WaPo memo after the jump.

Staff News: New Asia Correspondent

We’re delighted to announce that Chico Harlan, the Post’s talented baseball writer, will move to Japan in June to become an Asia correspondent.

Chico will succeed Blaine Harden, who is wrapping up a magnificent career at the Post that began as a star on the Metro staff and has included tours in Africa, Eastern Europe, and Seattle, as well as Japan. Blaine, who accepted a buyout last spring, will turn his attention to a book, to be called “Escape from Camp 14,” about the life and times of the only North Korean born in a concentration camp to escape. It is to be published in 2011 by Viking/Penguin.

For more than 25 years, Blaine’s restless spirit, boundless curiosity and lyrical writing have set a high standard for foreign correspondence, and they have helped to inspire a new generation of adventurous journalists. Among that generation, Chico has shown a particular penchant for wanderlust, as well as a delight in the written world. He quit his first newspaper job, in Pittsburgh, to move to Australia, where he spent a year writing for The Daily Telegraph, a Murdoch-owned tabloid, where he applied his outsider’s eye to stories about oddball Australians. At the Post, he has spent the last two years covering the Nationals, at home and on the road, bringing dark humor and vivid storytelling night after night to a storyline that might have driven others to drink.

With the worldÂ’s second largest economy, and a new government that is proving troublesome to the United States, Japan alone will give Chico a lot to write about. But we expect that Chico will also roam widely, to North and South Korea, Indonesia, the Phillipines and Vietnam, among other stops, to capture the rapid changes underway in an extraordinarily dynamic region, as China and the United States battle for influence.

We expect Chico to start on the foreign staff on or about March 1, once he hands over responsibility for the Nationals. (Pitchers and catchers report Feb. 18.) He’ll move to Japan in June, after taking some time to learn a little Japanese and to begin to school himself about Asia.

Doug and Kevin