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Rakuten is spending a reported $20 million per year to get its logo on Warriors' jerseys. Photo: Rakuten

Rakuten is one of the largest e-commerce companies in Japan. But, while it owns a number of online properties and employs more than 2,000 people in the U.S., it is far from a household name.

Its strategy: The company, which owns Ebates, the Kobo e-book reader and the OverDrive e-book system widely used at libraries, is on a mission to make itself better known to American consumers. A big part of that is a sponsorship deal to put Rakuten's name and logo on the jerseys of the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors.

"We kind of know the gradual influence of this kind of sponsorship," CEO Hiroshi "Mickey" Mikitani said in a meeting with reporters before Tuesday's Warriors season opener. (Rakuten isn't saying how much it is paying for the Warriors deal, but it's reported to be $60 million over three years.)

The company has already plunked down another big chunk of change in Europe to sponsor the FC Barcelona soccer team.

Big in Japan: Rakuten also has a big investment in raising the NBA's profile back up in Japan. The league was popular during the Michael Jordan days, but the league hasn't played a game there in more than a decade and popularity has waned.

The company is broadcasting games in Japan and also wants to use its Viber messaging program to promote NBA teams in Japan and elsewhere in Asia. Mikitani said he has also talked to the league about potentially establishing a network of bloggers to bring more team news to Japanese fans.

Go deeper

Schumer's m(aj)ority checklist

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Capitalizing on the Georgia runoffs, achieving a 50-50 Senate and launching an impeachment trial are weighty to-dos for getting Joe Biden's administration up and running on Day One.

What to watch: A blend of ceremonies, hearings and legal timelines will come into play on Tuesday and Wednesday so Chuck Schumer can actually claim the Senate majority and propel the new president's agenda.

The dark new reality in Congress

National Guard troops keep watch at security fencing. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

This is how bad things are for elected officials and others working in a post-insurrection Congress:

  • Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.) said she had a panic attack while grocery shopping back home.
  • Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said police may also have to be at his constituent meetings.
  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) told a podcaster he brought a gun to his office on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 because he anticipated trouble with the proceedings that day.
Off the Rails

Episode 3: Descent into madness ... Trump: "Sometimes you need a little crazy"

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 3: The conspiracy goes too far. Trump's outside lawyers plot to seize voting machines and spin theories about communists, spies and computer software.

President Trump was sitting in the Oval Office one day in late November when a call came in from lawyer Sidney Powell. "Ugh, Sidney," he told the staff in the room before he picked up. "She's getting a little crazy, isn't she? She's really gotta tone it down. No one believes this stuff. It's just too much."