J. League Division 3
|Number of teams||10|
|Levels on pyramid||3|
|Promotion to||J. League Division 2|
|Relegation to||Japan Football League|
|Domestic cup(s)||Emperor's Cup|
J. League Division 3 (Jリーグ・ディビジョン3 J Rīgu Dibijon 3 ) or J3 League (J3リーグ J3 Rīgu ) or simply J3 is the proposed third division of Japan Professional Football League (日本プロサッカーリーグ Nippon Puro Sakkā Rīgu ) that is meant to establish a third-tier professional association football league in Japan starting 2014. Currently, the third tier is occupied by the amateur Japan Football League, although it includes has a score of professional clubs among its ranks.
Third-tier nationalwide league is a relatively recent development in Japanese football with the first attempt dated 1992 (second division of the old JFL), though it only lasted for two seasons. In 1999, following the establishment of J. League Division 2, a new Japan Football League was created, fulfilling the third tier onwards.
Phases of the Japanese third-tier association football 
Amateur era (—2014) 
A national third tier of Japanese association football was first established along with its professionalization in 1992, when the newly created Japan Football League kicked off with two tiers below the professional J. League. But after a number of clubs were lost for various reasons – some were promoted to J. League and the others folded – the league contracted the second division in 1994 and continued with the single second-tier division.
The third tier football was reintroduced in 1999 upon creation of fully professional J2. The old JFL was dissolved but a new Japan Football League was formed the same year in order to establish a nationwide top-tier amateur league. But despite its officially amateur status the league quickly became de facto semi-professional, serving as the cradle of the future J. League members. Since the establishment of associate membership system in 2006 the number of professional clubs holding or actively seeking for this status has grown steadily and reached its peak in 2013 season when 6 full members and 2 former candidates made up to almost half of the league's 18 teams.
Professionalization (2013) 
Close to the end of 2012 football season Japanese media began to spread. rumors about the upcoming professional third-tier league, referred to as either "J3" or "J. Challenge League". Most of the sources agreed that the new league will feature around 10–12 clubs, most of which will be associate members. The league would also provide more relaxed licencing criteria in comparison to J2 – e.g. the stadium seating capacity of just 3,000 with no mandatory floodlighting.
After the discussion on J1-J2 Joint Committee on 16 January 2013, all J. League clubs agreed in principle with an establishment of the new league starting 2014. This decision was formally put into force by J. League Council on 26 February executive meeting. The league is set to launch with 10 teams, most of which will be J. League associate members. The exact outline of league structure is set to be published on March 6.
Some sources claim that J3 is intended to reach up to 60 clubs in the future, being split into three regionalized divisions running in parallel.
- J. League associate members as of 2013
- Other Japan Football League clubs
- F.C. Ryukyu (applied for association membership in 2008 and 2011)
- Fukushima United (applied for association membership in 2007)
- Fujieda MYFC
- MIO Biwako Shiga
- Clubs in Regional Leagues
- Vanraure Hachinohe
- Grulla Morioka
- Suzuka Rampole
- Nara Club
- Renofa Yamaguchi
- Nangoku Kochi
- Volca Kagoshima
See also 
- J. League Division 1
- J. League Division 2
- J. League Associate Membership
- J. League contracts
- Japan Football League
- "Ｊリーグに「３部」設置構想＝準加盟クラブで２０１４年にも" [J. League third division to be installed in 2014] (in Japanese). JIJI Press Ltd. 4 November 2013. Retrieved 27 February 2013.
- "３部相当、１４年開始へ＝名称候補に「Ｊ３」「Ｊチャレンジ」－Ｊリーグ" [Third division to start in 2014, J. League sets candidate clubs] (in Japanese). JIJI Press Ltd. 27 December 2013. Retrieved 27 February 2013.
- "Jリーグに「3部」設置構想＝準加盟クラブで2014年にも" [New third division starts in 2014] (in Japanese). Yomiuri Shimbun. 1 January 2013. Retrieved 27 February 2013.
- "Ｊ３設立へ中西理事「理解は得た」" [Director Nakahishi on the agreement for J3 establishment] (in Japanese). Nikkan Sports News. 17 January 2013. Retrieved 27 February 2013.
- "来年からＪ３新設を正式決定 Ｊリーグ理事会" [Consul formally decided to launch new J3 league next year] (in Japanese). Sports Nippon Newspapers. 27 February 2013. Retrieved 27 February 2013.
- "Ｊリーグ、将来的に１００チームへ" [J. League to reach 100 teams in the future] (in Japanese). Soccer Now. 24 February 2013. Retrieved 27 February 2013.
- "Ｊ３に町田、長野など６クラブの参加確実" [Machida and Nagano are ensured in J3 participation] (in Japanese). Sports Nippon Newspapers. 19 February 2013. Retrieved 27 February 2013.
- "Ｊ３に町田、長野など６クラブの参加確実" [J3 has been formally founded! Launches with 10 teams] (in Japanese). Sports Nippon Newspapers. 27 February 2013. Retrieved 27 February 2013.
- "J3条件は準加盟のみ 地域リーグから２～４チーム参入" [J3 entry conditions: 2–4 associate member teams to participate] (in Japanese). Soccer Now. 20 February 2013. Retrieved 27 February 2013.