The key changes: At the first managers' meeting of the year, Nippon Professional Baseball's skippers agreed to begin each team's turn at bat within 2 minutes 15 seconds of the other team's final out. Managers will also strive to limit the time needed for pitching changes to 2 minutes 45 seconds.
Last year on a trip to Japan, I saw three games and wrote about on Baseballanalysts.com.
Game 1 lasted 3:28.
Game 2 lasted 4:20 and was a nine-inning game.
Game 3 lasted 3:59, but went 10 innings.
The fastest average time for any team in Japan last year was 3:10.
While it is admirable that Japanese baseball officials think they can speed up the game by making the hitters and pitchers get going faster, there is still one problem that can't be solved by a time limit. That problem is that Japanese pitchers throw a lot of pitches outside of the strike zone. There are usually lots of walks in each game. Or at least full counts.
Limiting the pitching changes to just 165 seconds will present some logistical challenges since most Japanese parks have bullpens underneath or outside the stadium. Most fans can't tell whose warming up or if someone is warming up. But it's a safe bet that unless the ace of the staff is pitching, someone will be warming up by the fifth inning. And because Japanese rosters are more like hockey rosters where you can activate and deactivate pitchers when they're healthy, managers always have bullpens that resemble late September games. And Japanese managers are obsessed with getting platoon advantages.
So if you're in Japan and plan on going to see a game (and you should), just prepare yourself for a long night. Don't worry, the stadiums have numerous vendors to ply you with food and drink throughout the night. Just remember that there are no paper towels in the bathrooms to dry your hands.
Allen also has an article with a Japanese perspective on the WBC. I liked this passage Japan, given its culture of arm abuse lobbied for zero pitch counts ...