List of Japanese football champions

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Japanese League (1st tier)
Japan Soccer League (1965–1971)
Japan Soccer League Division 1 (1972–1992)
J. League (1993–1998)
J. League Division 1 (1999–present)
Country
Japan
Japan
Founded
1965
Number of Teams
18 (2013 season)
Current Champions
Sanfrecce Hiroshima (2013)
Most successful club
Tokyo Verdy, Kashima Antlers, and Sanfrecce Hiroshima
(7 championships each)

The Japanese football champions are the winners of the top league in Japan, the Japan Soccer League from 1965 to 1992 and the J. League since then.

Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Tokyo Verdy are the only teams that have won the title four times in a row (in 1965–1968 as Toyo Industries and in 1991–1994 as Yomiuri S.C./Verdy Kawasaki respectively). Notice that from 1985 to 1992 Japanese football adjusted to the "fall-spring" season schedule (common in most of Europe) but after establishment of J. League switched back to "spring-fall" scheme (common in North America, East Asia, and Nordic European latitudes).

Teams in bold have completed the double of the title and the Emperor's Cup in the same season. In 1985 no double was possible due to the season's timeframe change; thus, the doubles completed between then and 1992 are won in the middle of the season.

Japan Soccer League (1965–1971)[edit]

Numbers in parentheses indicate number of wins at the date. Leading goalscorer's nationality is at the time of award and does not necessarily indicate the national team played for.

Year Champions
(number of titles)
Runners-up Third place Leading goalscorer Goals
1965
Toyo Industries Yawata Steel Furukawa Electric Japan Mutsuhiko Nomura (Hitachi) 15
1966
Toyo Industries (2) Yawata Steel Furukawa Electric Japan Aritatsu Ogi (Toyo Industries) 14
1967
Toyo Industries (3) Furukawa Electric Mitsubishi Motors Japan Takeo Kimura (Furukawa Electric) 15
1968
Toyo Industries (4) Yanmar Diesel Mitsubishi Motors Japan Kunishige Kamamoto (Yanmar Diesel) 14
1969
Mitsubishi Motors Toyo Industries Yawata Steel Japan Hiroshi Ochiai (Mitsubishi Motors) 12
1970
Toyo Industries (5) Mitsubishi Motors Hitachi Japan Kunishige Kamamoto (Yanmar Diesel) 16
1971
Yanmar Diesel Mitsubishi Motors Nippon Steel Japan Kunishige Kamamoto (Yanmar Diesel) 11

Japan Soccer League Division 1 (1972–1992)[edit]

Year Champions
(number of titles)
Runners-up Third place Leading goalscorer Goals
1972
Hitachi Yanmar Diesel Toyo Industries Japan Akira Matsunaga (Hitachi) 12
1973
Mitsubishi Motors (2) Hitachi Yanmar Diesel Japan Akira Matsunaga (Hitachi) 11
1974
Yanmar Diesel (2) Mitsubishi Motors Hitachi Japan Kunishige Kamamoto (Yanmar Diesel) 21
1975
Yanmar Diesel (3) Mitsubishi Motors Hitachi Japan Kunishige Kamamoto (Yanmar Diesel) 17
1976
Furukawa Electric Mitsubishi Motors Fujita Industries Japan Kunishige Kamamoto (Yanmar Diesel) 15
1977
Fujita Industries Mitsubishi Motors Hitachi Brazil Carvalho (Fujita Industries) 23
1978
Mitsubishi Motors (3) Yanmar Diesel Fujita Industries Japan Kunishige Kamamoto (Yanmar Diesel)
Brazil Carvalho (Fujita Industries)
15
1979
Fujita Industries (2) Yomiuri S.C. Hitachi Brazil Ruy Ramos (Yomiuri) 14
1980
Yanmar Diesel (4) Fujita Industries Furukawa Electric Japan Hiroyuki Usui (Hitachi) 14
1981
Fujita Industries (3) Yomiuri S.C. Mitsubishi Motors Japan Hiroshi Yoshida (Furukawa Electric) 14
1982
Mitsubishi Motors (4) Yanmar Diesel Furukawa Electric Japan Hiroyuki Usui (Hitachi) 13
1983
Yomiuri S.C. Nissan Motors Fujita Industries Brazil Ruy Ramos (Yomiuri) 10
1984
Yomiuri S.C. (2) Nissan Motors Yamaha Motors Japan Tetsuya Totsuka (Yomiuri) 14
1985–86
Furukawa Electric (2) NKK SC Honda Motor Japan Hiroshi Yoshida (Furukawa Electric) 16
1986–87
Yomiuri S.C. (3) NKK SC Mitsubishi Motors Japan Toshio Matsuura (NKK) 17
1987–88
Yamaha Motors NKK SC Mitsubishi Motors Japan Toshio Matsuura (NKK) 11
1988–89
Nissan Motors ANA Yamaha Motors Brazil Adílson (Yamaha Motors) 11
1989–90
Nissan Motors (2) Yomiuri S.C. ANA Brazil Renato (Nissan Motors) 17
1990–91
Yomiuri S.C. (4) Nissan Motors Honda Motor Japan Tetsuya Totsuka (Yomiuri)
Japan Tsuyoshi Kitazawa (Honda Motor)
Brazil Renato (Nissan Motors)
10
1991–92
Yomiuri S.C. (5) Nissan Motors Yamaha Motors Brazil Toninho (Yomiuri) 18

J. League (1993–1998)[edit]

In 1992, professional J. League was established. All teams elected to it strip themselves of corporate identities and adopt their own names. From 1993 to 2005 (except for 1996 season) the league was contested in an Apertura and Clausura manner, thus the "runners-up" for these seasons are actually the winners of one of these tournaments which lost to the winners of the playoff. The "third places" are the highest-scoring teams in the aggregate table which were not involved in the playoff. If there was no playoff due to the champions winning both stages, the third place is the second-best points earning team who are not the champions.

Year Champions
(number of titles)
Runners-up Third place Leading goalscorer Goals
1992
Transition period; top flight clubs only play the J. League Cup, but Japan Football League plays inaugural season
1993
Verdy Kawasaki (6) Kashima Antlers Shimizu S-Pulse Argentina Ramón Díaz (Yokohama Marinos) 28
1994
Verdy Kawasaki (7) Sanfrecce Hiroshima Kashima Antlers Germany Frank Ordenewitz (JEF United Ichihara) 30
1995
Yokohama Marinos (3) Verdy Kawasaki Nagoya Grampus Eight Japan Masahiro Fukuda (Urawa Red Diamonds) 32
1996
Kashima Antlers Nagoya Grampus Eight Yokohama Flügels Japan Kazuyoshi Miura (Verdy Kawasaki) 23
1997
Júbilo Iwata (2) Kashima Antlers Yokohama Marinos Cameroon Patrick Mboma (Gamba Osaka) 25
1998
Kashima Antlers (2) Júbilo Iwata Shimizu S-Pulse Japan Masashi Nakayama (Júbilo Iwata) 36

J. League Division 1 (1999–present)[edit]

Top flight becomes J. League Division 1 in 1999.

Year Champions
(number of titles)
Runners-up Third place Leading goalscorer Goals
1999
Júbilo Iwata (3) Shimizu S-Pulse Kashiwa Reysol South Korea Hwang Sun-Hong (Cerezo Osaka) 24
2000
Kashima Antlers (3) Yokohama F. Marinos Kashiwa Reysol Japan Masashi Nakayama (Júbilo Iwata) 20
2001
Kashima Antlers (4) Júbilo Iwata JEF United Ichihara Brazil Will (Consadole Sapporo) 20
2002
Júbilo Iwata (4) Yokohama F. Marinos Gamba Osaka Japan Naohiro Takahara (Júbilo Iwata) 26
2003
Yokohama F. Marinos (4) Júbilo Iwata JEF United Chiba Brazil Ueslei (Nagoya Grampus Eight) 22
2004
Yokohama F. Marinos (5) Urawa Red Diamonds Gamba Osaka Brazil Emerson (Urawa Red Diamonds) 27
2005
Gamba Osaka Urawa Red Diamonds Kashima Antlers Brazil Araújo (Gamba Osaka) 33
2006
Urawa Red Diamonds (5) Kawasaki Frontale Gamba Osaka Brazil Washington (Urawa Red Diamonds)
Brazil Magno Alves (Gamba Osaka)
26
2007
Kashima Antlers (5) Urawa Red Diamonds Gamba Osaka Brazil Juninho (Kawasaki Frontale) 22
2008
Kashima Antlers (6) Kawasaki Frontale Nagoya Grampus Brazil Marquinhos (Kashima Antlers) 21
2009
Kashima Antlers (7) Kawasaki Frontale Gamba Osaka Japan Ryoichi Maeda (Júbilo Iwata) 20
2010
Nagoya Grampus Gamba Osaka Cerezo Osaka Australia Joshua Kennedy (Nagoya Grampus)
Japan Ryoichi Maeda (Júbilo Iwata)
17
2011
Kashiwa Reysol (2) Nagoya Grampus Gamba Osaka Australia Joshua Kennedy (Nagoya Grampus) 19
2012
Sanfrecce Hiroshima (6) Vegalta Sendai Urawa Red Diamonds Japan Hisato Satō (Sanfrecce Hiroshima) 22
2013
Sanfrecce Hiroshima (7) Yokohama F. Marinos Kawasaki Frontale Japan Yoshito Ōkubo (Kawasaki Frontale) 26

Total wins[edit]

Twelve clubs have been champions, though only nine have won the title since the establishment of J. League. Of these nine, Kashima Antlers, Gamba Osaka, and Nagoya Grampus have never been Japan Soccer League champions.

All Japanese champion clubs still exist and are competing in the J. League; however, some may have moved from their Japan Soccer League locations they won the title at, or may have cut off ties with their original parent company.

Years in italic indicate Japan Soccer League seasons. Clubs in bold compete in Division 1 as of the 2014 season; clubs in italic no longer exist.

Club Winners Runners-Up Winning Seasons Runners-Up Seasons
Tokyo Verdy 7 4 1983, 1984, 1986–87, 1990–91, 1991–92, 1993, 1994 1979, 1981, 1989–90, 1995
Kashima Antlers 7 2 1996, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2007, 2008, 2009 1993, 1997
Sanfrecce Hiroshima 7 2 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1970, 2012, 2013 1969, 1994
Urawa Red Diamonds 5 9 1969, 1973, 1978, 1982, 2006 1970, 1971, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 2004, 2005, 2007
Yokohama F. Marinos 5 7 1988–89, 1989–90, 1995, 2003, 2004 1983, 1984, 1990–91, 1991–92, 2000, 2002, 2013
Cerezo Osaka 4 4 1971, 1974, 1975, 1980 1968, 1972, 1978, 1982
Júbilo Iwata 4 3 1987–88, 1997, 1999, 2002 1998, 2001, 2003
Shonan Bellmare 3 1 1977, 1979, 1981 1980
JEF United Chiba 2 1 1976, 1985 1967
Kashiwa Reysol 2 1 1972, 2011 1973
Nagoya Grampus 1 2 2010 1996, 2011
Gamba Osaka 1 1 2005 2010
NKK SC 0 3 1985, 1986–87, 1987–88
Kawasaki Frontale 0 3 2006, 2008, 2009
Nippon Steel Yawata 0 2 1965, 1966
Yokohama Flügels 0 1 1988–89
Shimizu S-Pulse 0 1 1999
Vegalta Sendai 0 1 2012

Wins by region[edit]

This is a breakdown by Japanese region, as clubs have moved cities before and even during the J. League period. Sanfrecce Hiroshima, Júbilo Iwata, Yokohama F. Marinos, Cerezo Osaka and Nagoya Grampus are the only champion clubs who have always been based in their respective cities.

Note that JFA divides Japan into nine regions opposing to more traditional eight, splitting Chūbu into Hokushin'etsu and Tōkai. See Japanese Regional Leagues for further detail.

Region Number of titles Clubs
Kantō 31 Tokyo Verdy (7), Kashima Antlers (7), Urawa Red Diamonds (5), Yokohama F. Marinos (5), Shonan Bellmare (3), JEF United Chiba (2), Kashiwa Reysol (2)
Chūgoku 7 Sanfrecce Hiroshima (7)
Kansai 5 Cerezo Osaka (4), Gamba Osaka (1)
Tōkai 5 Júbilo Iwata (4), Nagoya Grampus (1)

See also[edit]

Sources[edit]