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Japan national football team

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Japan
Shirt badge/Association crest
Nickname(s)サムライ・ブルー
(Samurai Blue)[1][2]
Since 19 October 2009[3]
AssociationJapan Football Association (JFA)
ConfederationAFC (Asia)
Sub-confederationEAFF (East Asia)
Head coachHajime Moriyasu[4][5][6]
CaptainWataru Endō
Most capsYasuhito Endō (152)
Top scorerKunishige Kamamoto (75)[7]
Home stadiumVarious
FIFA codeJPN
First colours
Second colours
FIFA ranking
Current 18 Steady (4 April 2024)[8]
Highest9 (March 1998)
Lowest66 (December 1992)
First international
 Japan 0–5 China 
(Tokyo, Japan; 9 May 1917)
Biggest win
 Japan 15–0 Philippines 
(Tokyo, Japan; 27 September 1967)
Biggest defeat
 Japan 2–15 Philippines 
(Tokyo, Japan; 10 May 1917)
World Cup
Appearances7 (first in 1998)
Best resultRound of 16 (2002, 2010, 2018, 2022)
Asian Cup
Appearances11 (first in 1988)
Best resultChampions (1992, 2000, 2004, 2011)
Copa América (as guest)
Appearances2 (first in 1999)
Best resultGroup stage (1999, 2019)
EAFF Championship
Appearances9 (first in 2003)
Best resultChampions (2013, 2022)
FIFA Confederations Cup
Appearances5 (first in 1995)
Best resultRunners-up (2001)
WebsiteJapanese
English

The Japan national football team (サッカー日本代表, Sakkā Nihon Daihyō or Sakkā Nippon Daihyō), also known by the nickname Samurai Blue (サムライ・ブルー, Samurai Burū),[1][2] represents Japan in men's international football. It is controlled by the Japan Football Association (JFA), the governing body for football in Japan.

Until the end of the 1980s, Japan was a small and amateur team. For a long time in the country, football was less popular than baseball and sumo.[10][11] Since the 1990s, when Japanese football became fully professionalized, Japan has emerged as one of the most successful teams in Asia; they have qualified for the last seven FIFA World Cups (especially 2002 as co-hosts with South Korea) with knockout stage appearances that year, and in 2010, 2018 and 2022. They have won the AFC Asian Cup a record four times, in 1992, 2000, 2004 and 2011. The team also finished second in the 2001 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2019 AFC Asian Cup. Japan remains the only team from the AFC other than Australia and Saudi Arabia to have reached the final of a senior FIFA men's competition.

Japan's progression in a short period has served as an inspiration and example of how to develop football.[12][13] Their principal continental rivals are South Korea and, most recently, Australia; they also developed rivalries against Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Japan was the first team from outside the Americas to participate in the Copa América, having been invited in the 1999, 2011, 2015, and 2019 editions of the tournament, though they only played in the 1999 and 2019 events.[14]

History[edit]

Pre-war era (1910s–1930s)[edit]

Far Eastern Championship Games logo in 1917

Japan's earliest international matches were at the 1917 Far Eastern Championship Games in Tokyo, where it was represented by a team from the Tokyo Higher Normal School. Although Japan made strong showings in swimming, baseball, and track and field, its football team suffered resounding defeats to the Republic of China and the Philippines.[15] Nevertheless, the game was promoted in Japanese schools in the 1920s.[16] The Japan Football Association was formed in 1921,[17] and Japan joined FIFA in May 1929.[16]

Japan's first "true" national team (as opposed to a university team chosen to represent the country) was fielded at the 1930 Far Eastern Championship Games, and drew with China for the championship title.[16] Shigeyoshi Suzuki coached the national team to its first Olympic appearance at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.[17] Japan was an entrant for the 1938 FIFA World Cup qualification, but withdrew before its scheduled qualifying match against the Dutch East Indies.[18]

After World War II began in earnest, Japan did not play in international competition, except for a handful of matches against Manchuria and other colonies.[16] Its last prewar match for purposes of Elo ratings was a friendly against the Philippines in June 1940.[19]

While Korea was under Japanese rule, multiple Koreans played in international competition for Japan, including Kim Yong-sik (1936–40), Kim Sung-gan (1940) and Lee Yoo-hyung (1940).

Post-war era (1950s–1980s)[edit]

Japan playing Argentine club Racing de Córdoba at the 1981 President's Cup

Japan's postwar debut was in the 1951 Asian Games in India.[19] Japan re-joined FIFA in 1950 and played in qualifiers for the 1954 FIFA World Cup, but lost the AFC qualifying berth to South Korea after two matches, beginning an intense rivalry.[17] Japan also joined the Asian Football Confederation in 1954.[16]

Dettmar Cramer joined the Japan national team as coach in 1960, and helped lead the team to the round of eight at the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.[20] Japan's first major achievement in international football came in the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, where the team won the bronze medal. Although this result earned the sport increased recognition in Japan, the absence of a professional domestic league hindered its growth and Japan would not qualify for the FIFA World Cup until 30 years later.[21] Nonetheless, Japan had come close to qualify for the 1986 FIFA World Cup, but lost to South Korea in the deciding matches.

Japan made its first appearance in the Asian Cup in 1988, where they were eliminated in the group stage following a draw with Iran and losses to South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

The late 1980s saw concrete moves to professionalize the sport in Japan. JFA introduced a Special Licensed Player system in 1986, allowing a limited number of professional players to compete in the domestic semi-professional league. Action committees were held in 1988 and 1989 to discuss the introduction of a full professional league in Japan.[20]

1990s: Rise[edit]

A World Cup match vs. Argentina in Toulouse in 1998

In 1991, the owners of the semi-professional Japan Soccer League agreed to disband the league and re-form as the professional J.League, partly to raise the sport's profile and to strengthen the national team program. The following year, Japan hosted the 1992 Asian Cup and won their first title by defeating Saudi Arabia 1–0 in the final.[22] The J.League was officially launched in 1993.[23]

However, in its first attempt to qualify with professional players, Japan narrowly missed a ticket to the 1994 World Cup after drawing with Iraq in the final match of the qualification round, remembered by fans as the "Agony of Doha".[24] Japan's next tournament was a defence of their continental title at the 1996 Asian Cup. The team won all their games in the group stage but were eliminated in the quarter-finals after a 2–0 loss to Kuwait.[25]

The nation's first ever World Cup appearance was in 1998, where Japan lost all their games. The first two fixtures went 1–0 in favour of Argentina and Croatia, and the campaign ended with a 2–1 defeat to Jamaica. Japan impressed in all three games, however, with all three defeats were just one goal margin.[26]

2000s[edit]

In the 2000 AFC Asian Cup, Japan managed to reclaim their title after defeating Saudi Arabia in the final, becoming Asian champions for the second time.[27]

A World Cup match vs. Belgium at Saitama Stadium 2002 on 4 June 2002

Two years later, Japan co-hosted the 2002 World Cup with South Korea. After a 2–2 draw with Belgium in their opening match, the Japanese team advanced to the second round with a 1–0 win over Russia and a 2–0 victory against Tunisia. However, they subsequently exited the tournament during the round of 16, after losing 1–0 to eventual third-place finishers Turkey.[28]

With the 2004 AFC Asian Cup hosted by China, the Japanese managed to retain the title by winning their group after two victories over Thailand and Oman, before surpassing Jordan and Bahrain. They won against China in the final 3–1.[29]

Japan against Brazil at Signal Iduna Park in Dortmund, Germany in the 2006 FIFA World Cup

On 8 June 2005, Japan qualified for the 2006 World Cup in Germany, its third consecutive World Cup, by beating North Korea 2–0 on neutral ground. However, Japan failed to advance to the round of 16, losing to Australia 1–3, drawing Croatia 0–0 and losing to Brazil 1–4.[30]

The 2007 AFC Asian Cup saw Japan failed to defend the title. Although easily winning the group Vietnam and two Arab rivals, Qatar and the UAE, the Japanese were totally exhausted in their game against Australia, where Japan won only by a penalty shootout. Japan lost to Saudi Arabia in the semi-finals,[31] before failing in the third-place match against South Korea.

2010s[edit]

During the 2010 World Cup qualification, in the fourth round of the Asian Qualifiers, Japan became the first team other than the host South Africa to qualify after defeating Uzbekistan 1–0 away. Japan was drawn in Group E along with the Netherlands, Denmark and Cameroon.[32] Japan started with a 1–0 win against Cameroon,[33] before subsequently losing to the Netherlands 0–1.[34] Then, Japan resoundingly beat Denmark 3–1 to advance to the next round against Paraguay.[35] In the round of 16, Japan were eliminated from the competition following penalties after a 0–0 draw against Paraguay.[36]

After the World Cup, head coach Takeshi Okada resigned. He was replaced by former Juventus and Milan coach Alberto Zaccheroni. In his first few matches, Japan recorded victories over Guatemala (2–1) and Paraguay (1–0), as well as a 1–0 victory over Argentina.

In 2011, Japan participated in the 2011 AFC Asian Cup in Qatar. On 29 January, they beat Australia 1–0 in the final after extra time, their fourth Asian Cup triumph and allowing them to qualify for the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup.[37]

Japan then started their road to 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Throughout, they suffered only two losses to Uzbekistan and Jordan, and drawing against Australia. Afterwards, on 12 October, Japan earned a historic 1–0 victory over France. After a 1–1 draw with Australia they qualified for the 2014 World Cup, becoming the first nation aside from Brazil to qualify.[38]

Japan started their 2013 Confederations Cup campaign with a 3–0 loss to Brazil.[39] They were then eliminated from the competition after losing to Italy 3–4.[40] They lost their final match 1–2 against Mexico and finished in fourth place in Group A.[41] One month later, in the EAFF East Asian Cup, they started out with a 3–3 draw to China. They then beat Australia 3–2 and beat South Korea 2–1 in the third and final match in the 2013 EAFF East Asian Cup to claim the title.[42]

Japan was placed into Group C at the 2014 World Cup alongside the Ivory Coast, Greece and Colombia. They fell in their first match to Ivory Coast 2–1 after initially taking the lead, allowing two goals in a two-minute span. They drew their second game to Greece 0–0. To qualify for the second round, they needed a victory against Colombia and Greece to win against Ivory Coast. Greece beat Ivory Coast 2–1, but Colombia won 4–1, eliminating Japan from the World Cup.[43] Alberto Zaccheroni resigned as head coach.[44] In July 2014, former Mexico and Espanyol manager Javier Aguirre took over,[45] and Japan lost 0–2 to Uruguay in the first game he managed.

Japan national team vs Paraguay in 2008

Japan won its opening match at the 2015 AFC Asian Cup in Group D against Asian Cup debutantes Palestine 4–0, with goals from Yasuhito Endō, Shinji Okazaki, Keisuke Honda via a penalty and Maya Yoshida. Okazaki was named man of the match. They then faced Iraq and Jordan in their next group matches, which they won 1–0 and 2–0 respectively. They qualified to the knockout stage as Group D winner with nine points, seven goals scored and no goals conceded. In the quarter-finals, Japan lost to the United Arab Emirates in a penalty shootout after a 1–1 draw, as Honda and Shinji Kagawa missed their penalty kicks. Japan's elimination marked their worst performance in the tournament in 19 years.[46]

After the Asian Cup, Aguirre was sacked following allegations of corruption during a prior tenure.[47] He was replaced by Vahid Halilhodžić in March 2015.[48] Japan started on a rough note during qualification, losing to the UAE 1–2 at home.[49] They then picked up the pace in their other qualifier games against Iraq, Australia, and Thailand, picking up 5 wins and 2 draws. Then, on 31 August 2017, Japan defeated Australia 2–0 at home thus qualifying them for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, making it their sixth successive World Cup.[50] However, the Japan Football Association decided to sack Halilhodžić on 9 April 2018, only ten weeks before the World Cup finals, citing reasons of a breakdown in relationship between coach and player, and poor recent friendly results, and appoint the Technical Director, Japanese coach Akira Nishino, who had managed the Japanese Under-23 team at the 1996 Olympics, as the new manager.[51]

Japanese players before match with Iran at 2019 AFC Asian Cup

Japan made history in the 2018 FIFA World Cup by defeating Colombia 2–1, their first ever victory by any AFC team against a CONMEBOL team in an official tournament,[52] as well as Japan's first ever victory at the FIFA World Cup finals in UEFA nations. Their second match ended in a draw against Senegal, with one goal scored by Takashi Inui and the other by Keisuke Honda.[53] Japan were defeated in their last group game in the Group H against Poland 0–1,[54] leaving Japan and Senegal tied for second with an identical record, however, as Japan had received two fewer yellow cards, Japan advanced to the knockout stage on the Fair Play Points tiebreaker, the first team to do so.[55] The match with Poland caused controversy; as Japan were made aware of their advantage over Senegal with ten minutes left and decided to play an extremely conservative game with no attempts to take a shot on goal, despite losing 0–1, with some fans booing the players.[56][57][58] The match received comparison to the 1982 World Cup Disgrace of Gijón, in which a similar game was played.[59] Japan were the only AFC team to have qualified to the knockout stage.[60]

In the Round of 16 against Belgium, Japan took a surprising 2–0 lead with a goal in the 48th minute by Genki Haraguchi and another in the 52nd by Takashi Inui, but yielded 3 goals afterwards, including the winner by Nacer Chadli on the counterattack in the 94th minute. This was Japan's third time having reached the last 16, equaling their best result at a World Cup.[61] Japan's defeat to eventual third-place finishers Belgium was the first time a nation had lost a knockout match at the World Cup after taking a two-goal advantage since England lost to West Germany 2–3 in extra-time in the quarter-final of the 1970 edition.[62][63] This unfortunate scenario was due to the naivety of the Japanese,[64][65][66] who were very offensive and did not fall back enough in defense once the two-goal lead was acquired (unlike France, eventual champion, in the semifinals who played low block against these same Belgians with success), leaving a lot of space to the Belgians, who also took advantage of their well-calculated tactics and superior strategies to turn the game around. However, Japan's impressive performance was praised by fans, pundits and the media.[67]

Japan participated in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup and had an almost successful tournament. The team easily topped group F after defeating Turkmenistan 3–2,[68] Oman 1–0[69] and Uzbekistan 2–1.[70] Japan, which opted for a cautious defensive approach (as the offensive approach lead to a regretful scenario against Belgium during the World Cup 2018), also beat fellow powerhouse Saudi Arabia in the round of sixteen and dark horse Vietnam in the quarter-finals by the narrowest of margins like during the group stage, both 2 knockout phases' games ended with 1–0 margin; Blue Samurai resist intense Saudi domination.[71][72] After defeating Iran 3–0 to reach the final,[73] Japan's hope to win their fifth Asian Cup in two decades shattered with the team suffering a 1–3 loss to Qatar, who won the Asian Cup for the first time.[74]

Japan were invited to the 2019 Copa America, their second appearance at the tournament, and brought a young squad to the competition. They were in Group C with Uruguay, Chile and Ecuador. They lost their opening match, 0–4 to Chile.[75] Japan, however, bounced back well and managed to unluckily draw against football giants Uruguay 2–2, who (Uruguay) were deemed to have been saved by VAR.[76] Japan needed a win against Ecuador to qualify for the knockouts, however they drew 1–1 and missed out due to inferior goal differences to Paraguay.[77] Aftermath saw Japan played a friendly game against the Paraguayans, and won 2–0 at home.

2020s[edit]

After China was removed as host of the 2022 EAFF E-1 Football Championship, it was announced that Japan was the new host. After topping the table with two wins and one draw, Japan won the competition for the second time in their history.[78]

Japan qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and were grouped with Germany, Costa Rica and Spain in Group E. On 23 November 2022, Japan produced an upset in which they beat Germany 2–1, with two goals in an eight-minute span during the second half.[79] After being upset by Costa Rica 1–0,[80] going into the final matchday, every team in Japan's group can qualify or be eliminated, with no team assured of any placement. In the end, Japan managed to qualify for the knockout stages by defeating Spain 2–1 in their final group match, also contributing to Germany's elimination from the tournament.[81] By topping their group, Japan went on to face Croatia[82] in the round of 16 where Japan would lose 1–3 on penalties after a 1–1 draw.[83] It is the third team in 52 years to have come from behind twice in one tournament, following Brazil and (West) Germany.[84] They beat Spain with the lowest possession (18%) of the ball ever for a winning side since the 1966 World Cup.[85][86] It is the first time that an Asian team topped their World Cup group held outside their home country, and also the first Asian team to reach the knockouts twice in a row.[87]

With a successful World Cup behind them and a run of ten consecutive victories in all competitions since June 2023, many of them in style, Japan were considered the favourites for the 2023 Asian Nations Cup in Qatar, especially as the Samurai Blue had a strong squad.[88] Japan, however, were the biggest disappointment of the tournament, putting in a catastrophic performance. Hajime Moriyasu's men began the tournament with an unconvincing victory over a Vietnamese side deprived of a number of key players (4–2),[89] before going on to play a nightmarish game against Iraq (1–2). This defeat, Japan's first in the group phase since their first appearance at the continental showpiece in 1988, condemned them to finish second in the group due to their unfavourable head-to-head record. Japan then defeated Indonesia 3–1[90] and eliminated Bahrain by the same scoreline in the round of 16.[91] They met Iran in the quarter-finals for a rematch of the previous edition's semi-final, and initially led with Hidemasa Morita's 28th-minute opener, before falling completely flat in the second half, succumbing to Iran's fiery attacks and lacking the ideas to trouble Team Melli on the counter-attack, eventually losing 2–1.[92] The Japanese dealt with Junya Itō missing due to the Stade de Reims player having been accused of sexual assault.[93]

Team image[edit]

Nicknames[edit]

Japan's national football team is nicknamed the Samurai Blue (サムライ・ブルー, Samurai Burū) by the JFA.[1][2] The team also is often known by the last name of the manager. For example, under Takeshi Okada, the team was known as Okada Japan (岡田ジャパン, Okada Japan),[a] or during the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the team is referred by the current manager's (Hajime Moriyasu) name, as "Moriyasu Japan" (森保ジャパン, Moriyasu Japan).[94][95]

Kits[edit]

Boeing 777-289 Samurai Blue Jet

The national team kit design has gone through several alterations in the past.[96] In the early 1980s, the kit was white with blue trim. The kits worn for the 1992 Asian Cup consisted of white stripes (stylized to form a wing) with red diamonds. During the 1996 Asian Cup and in the 1998 World Cup, the national team kits were blue jerseys with red and white flame designs on the sleeves, and were designed by JFA (with the sponsor alternating each year between Asics, Puma, and Adidas). The 1996 design was reproduced in a special kit used against Syria on 7 June 2017.

Japan uses blue and white rather than red and white due to a superstition. Japan first used blue shirts in the 1930 Far Eastern Championship Games, where a team of the Tokyo Imperial University (whose color is light blue) represented Japan wearing light blue shirts,[97] and then in a 3–2 victory over Sweden in the first game of its maiden major international competition, the 1936 Summer Olympics.[98] When Japan was coached by Kenzo Yokoyama (1988–1992) the kits were red and white, matching the colours of Japan's national flag. After failures at 1990 FIFA World Cup and 1992 Summer Olympics qualifications, the red shirt was scrapped.

In the 2013 Confederations Cup and the 2015 AFC Asian Cup, Japan temporarily switched the colour of the numbers from white to gold.

Japan's kit is provided by German company Adidas, the team's exclusive kit supplier since April 1999.[99] Before that, Asics and Puma had been the team's official apparel sponsor alongside Adidas.

On 3 June 2021, Japan released the special 100th anniversary kit for a friendly match against Jamaica, but the match was cancelled and replaced with a match against the U-24 team. The kit was also used by the U-24 team against U-24 Ghana on 5 June 2021.

Kit suppliers[edit]

Kit provider Period
None 1936–1978
Japan Asics 1979
West Germany Puma 1980–1985
West Germany Adidas 1986
Japan Asics 1987–1988
Germany Adidas 1989–1992
Japan Asics 1993–1998
Germany Adidas 1999–present

Crest[edit]

Yatagarasu

The crest or emblem of the national team was adopted in late 2017 as part of a larger rebranding by the Japan Football Association.[100] The crest features the Yatagarasu, a three-legged crow from Japanese mythology that is a symbol for the sun, holding a solid red ball that is like the sun from national flag. The text "JFA" (for the Japan Football Association) is inscribed at the bottom of the crow. A red stripe is also present at the center of the shield behind the crow. The shield has a metallic gold trim and has a thicker black outline. The name of the country represented by the national team "Japan" is also inscribed within the black border.[101][102]

The previous crest used from 1996 had a shield with a more complex shape. The ball held by the Yatagarasu had white details. The text "Japan" is absent and "JFA" is written in a different typeface.[101]

Before 1988, Japan used the national flag outlined in red (and with JFA written in black on the lower left corner of the flag) on the shirts.

The Yatagarasu was first seen on the Japan shirts in 1988, where it was on a yellow circle with a blue outline with "JAPAN FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION" written around it. In 1991, the emblem changed to a white shield with a red vertical stripe on the center with the crow on it and "JFA" written in a green Gothic typeface. This crest was used until 1996.

Home stadium[edit]

Saitama Stadium 2002, where Japan usually plays in FIFA World Cup qualification

Japan plays its home matches among various stadiums, in rotation, around the country, especially the Saitama Stadium 2002.

Rivalries[edit]

South Korea[edit]

Japan maintains a strong football rivalry with South Korea. The football rivalry is long-seated and is often seen as an extension of an overall historic rivalry between the two nations. Japan have met South Korea 80 times, trailing the statistic at 15 wins, 23 draws, and 42 losses. Japan have scored 73 goals and conceded 153. Since November 1991, when the Japan Professional Football League was launched, the record is almost even with 9 wins, 12 draws and 10 losses. Both countries have made themselves unrivalled in both Asian Cup and World Cup records, being the two most successful Asian countries, and they hosted the 2002 World Cup in a joint bid.

North Korea[edit]

Japan also maintains a significant rivalry with North Korea, although the rivalry is infrequent due to political circumstances.[103] Like the rivalry against South Korea, the rivalry against North Korea is another extension of historical feud between Japan and Korea. They have met each other 20 times, with the statistic being equal with 8 wins, 4 draws and 8 losses. Since the Japan Professional Football League was launched in 1991, Japan have led the series with 6 wins, 2 draws and 4 losses. Japan have a far more dominant record with four Asian Cup titles and advanced to the knockout stage of the World Cup four times, whereas North Korea's best Asian Cup result was just fourth place in 1980 and only advanced past the group stages of a World Cup just once, a quarter-final finish at England 1966.

China[edit]

Japan and China used to have a strong rivalry. The rivalry was taken to new heights when Japan beat China 3–1 in the 2004 AFC Asian Cup final.[104] Previously, when Japan had not established professional football, Japan had only 4 wins, 3 draws and 13 losses against China. However, Japan's rapid rise since 1991 with the foundation of the Japan Professional Football League helped turn the tide, and the Japanese have been able to exert domination with 13 wins, 6 draws and only 2 losses. Moreover, Japan have been able to use the new professional program into senior success, qualifying to every FIFA World Cup since 1998 and winning four Asian Cups, whereas China have finished runners-up in Asia twice, and qualified for just one World Cup in 2002.

Australia[edit]

Japan began to develop a fierce rivalry with fellow Asian powerhouse Australia, shortly after the latter joined the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).[105] The rivalry is regarded as one of Asia's biggest football rivalries.[106] The rivalry is a relatively recent one, born from a number of highly competitive matches between the two teams since Australia joined the AFC in 2006.[107] The rivalry began at the 2006 World Cup where the two countries were grouped together, and continued with the two countries meeting regularly in various AFC competitions, such as the 2007 AFC Asian Cup, the 2011 AFC Asian Cup Final and the 2013 EAFF East Asian Cup.[108] Likewise, Australia and Japan also share World Cup and continental records that is nearly unrivalled in Asia, and also similar that football is not the main sport in both nations until recently; yet hold an indistinguishable record that being the only three members from the AFC to have reached the final of any senior FIFA competition, the other being Saudi Arabia, both in the defunct FIFA Confederations Cup, albeit Australia achieved it when the country still belonged to the OFC.[109] Japan have met Australia 27 times, with a record of 11 wins, 9 draws and 7 losses; Japan leads the series with 10 wins, 7 draws and 4 losses in matches played since 1991.

Saudi Arabia[edit]

Japan and Saudi Arabia are two of the most historically successful national teams in Asia and have frequently met each other in many major tournaments, including in the Asian Cup and World Cup qualification.[110] The frequency is also rivalled by high-level performances of Japan and Saudi Arabia in the Asian and global football stage, justified by being the two of just three AFC member nations (alongside Australia) to reach the final of any senior FIFA competition. Combined, they have also won seven AFC Asian Cup titles in total.[109] Both Japan and Saudi Arabia also gained headlines for producing "unexpected" wins in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, with Japan earning wins against Germany and Spain and Saudi Arabia against Argentina in the group stage. Despite the fact that between both nations only Japan qualified to the knockout stage of the competition in 2022, these wins over World Cup-winning oppositions have allowed comparisons of developments between Japan and Saudi Arabia to emerge.[111][112] In the head-to-head record, Japan have an advantage over Saudi Arabia with 10 wins, 1 draw and 5 losses.[113]

Supporters[edit]

Fans waving national flags in support of the Japanese national team

Japanese national team supporters are known for chanting "Nippon Ole" (Nippon is the Japanese word for Japan) at home matches.[114]

Sponsorship[edit]

Japan has one of the highest sponsorship incomes for a national squad. In 2006 their sponsorship income amounted to over 16.5 million pounds.

Primary sponsors include Adidas, ANA, Kirin, Saison Card International, FamilyMart, JAL, MS&AD Insurance Group, Asahi Shinbun, Mizuho Financial, Daito Trust Construction and KDDI.[115]

Mascot[edit]

The mascots are "Karappe" (カラッペ) and "Karara" (カララ), two Yatagarasu wearing the Japan national football team kit. The mascots were designed by Japanese manga artist Susumu Matsushita. Each year when a new kit is launched, the mascots' uniforms are updated in order to match the kit being used by the team.

For the 2014 World Cup, the Pokémon character Pikachu served as the mascot.[116]

Results and fixtures[edit]

The following is a list of match results in the last 12 months, as well as any future matches that have been scheduled.

  Win   Draw   Loss   Fixture

2023[edit]

20 June 2023 Kirin Challenge Cup[117] Japan  4–1  Peru Suita, Japan
18:55 UTC+9
Report Stadium: Panasonic Stadium Suita
Attendance: 35,001
Referee: Khamis Al-Marri (Qatar)
9 September Friendly Germany  1–4  Japan Wolfsburg, Germany
20:45 UTC+2
Report
Stadium: Volkswagen Arena
Attendance: 24,980
Referee: João Pinheiro (Portugal)
12 September 2023 Kirin Challenge Cup[117] Japan  4–2  Turkey Genk, Belgium
14:20 UTC+2
Report Stadium: Cegeka Arena
Attendance: 7,202
Referee: Allard Lindhout (Netherlands)
13 October 2023 Mizuho Blue Dream Match[118] Japan  4–1  Canada Niigata, Japan
19:35 UTC+9
Report
Stadium: Denka Big Swan Stadium
Attendance: 37,125
Referee: Alex King (Australia)
17 October 2023 Kirin Challenge Cup[117] Japan  2–0  Tunisia Kobe, Japan
19:10 UTC+9
Report Stadium: Noevir Stadium Kobe
Attendance: 26,529
Referee: Wang Di (China)
16 November 2026 World Cup qualification Japan  5–0  Myanmar Suita, Japan
19:00 UTC+9
Report Stadium: Panasonic Stadium Suita
Attendance: 34,484
Referee: Muhammad Taqi (Singapore)
21 November 2026 World Cup qualification Syria  0–5  Japan Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
17:45 UTC+3 Report
Stadium: Prince Abdullah Al Faisal Stadium
Attendance: 6,130
Referee: Ma Ning (China)

2024[edit]

1 January 2024 Toyo Tires Cup[119][120] Japan  5–0  Thailand Tokyo, Japan
14:00 UTC+9
Report Stadium: Japan National Stadium
Attendance: 61,916
Referee: Kim Woo-sung (South Korea)
9 January Unofficial Friendly Japan  6–1  Jordan Doha, Qatar
14:30 UTC+3
Report
Stadium: Al Ersal Stadium
Attendance: 0
14 January 2023 AFC Asian Cup GS Japan  4–2  Vietnam Doha, Qatar
14:30 UTC+3
Report Stadium: Al Thumama Stadium
Attendance: 17,385
Referee: Kim Jong-hyeok (South Korea)
19 January 2023 AFC Asian Cup GS Iraq  2–1  Japan Al Rayyan, Qatar
14:30 UTC+3
Report
Stadium: Education City Stadium
Attendance: 38,663
Referee: Khalid Al-Turais (Saudi Arabia)
24 January 2023 AFC Asian Cup GS Japan  3–1  Indonesia Doha, Qatar
14:30 UTC+3
Report
Stadium: Al Thumama Stadium
Attendance: 26,453
Referee: Khamis Al-Marri (Qatar)
31 January 2023 AFC Asian Cup R16 Bahrain  1–3  Japan Doha, Qatar
14:30 UTC+3
Report
Stadium: Al Thumama Stadium
Attendance: 31,832
Referee: Ahmad Al-Ali (Kuwait)
3 February 2023 AFC Asian Cup QF Iran  2–1  Japan Al Rayyan, Qatar
14:30 UTC+3
Report
Stadium: Education City Stadium
Referee: Ma Ning (China)
21 March 2026 World Cup qualification Japan  1–0  North Korea Tokyo, Japan
19:20 UTC+9
Report Stadium: Japan National Stadium
Referee: Adel Al-Naqbi (United Arab Emirates)
6 June 2026 World Cup qualification Myanmar  0–5  Japan Yangon, Myanmar
18:40 UTC+6:30 Report
Stadium: Thuwunna Stadium
Attendance: 21,200
Referee: Majed Al-Shamrani (Saudi Arabia)
11 June 2026 World Cup qualification Japan  5–0  Syria Hiroshima, Japan
19:10 UTC+9
Report Stadium: Edion Peace Wing Hiroshima
Attendance: 26,650
Referee: Ahmed Al-Ali (Kuwait)

Coaching staff[edit]

Current staff[edit]

As of 30 March 2024
Hajime Moriyasu, current head coach of Japan
Role Name
Head coach Japan Hajime Moriyasu
Assistant coach Japan Ryoichi Maeda
Japan Hiroshi Nanami
Japan Toshihide Saito
Physical coach Japan Ryoichi Matsumoto
Goalkeeper coach Japan Takashi Shimoda

Manager history[edit]

As of 11 June 2024 after the match against  Syria.
Manager Period Record
Matches Won Draw Lost Win %
Japan Masujiro Nishida 1923 2 0 0 2 0%
Japan Goro Yamada 1925 2 0 0 2 0%
Vacant 1925 2 1 0 1 50%
Japan Shigeyoshi Suzuki (1st) 1930 2 1 1 0 50%
Japan Shigemaru Takenokoshi (1st) 1934 3 1 0 2 33.33%
Japan Shigeyoshi Suzuki (2nd) 1936 2 1 1 0 50%
Japan Shigemaru Takenokoshi (2nd) 1940 1 1 0 0 100%
Japan Hirokazu Ninomiya 1951 3 1 1 1 33.33%
Japan Shigemaru Takenokoshi (3rd) 1954–56 12 2 4 6 16.66%
Japan Taizo Kawamoto 1958 2 0 0 2 0%
Japan Shigemaru Takenokoshi (4th) 1958–59 12 4 2 6 33.33%
Vacant 1960 1 0 0 1 0%
Japan Hidetoki Takahashi 1961–1962 14 3 2 9 21.43%
Japan Ken Naganuma (1st) 1963–1969 31 18 7 6 58.06%
Japan Shunichiro Okano 1970–1971 19 11 2 6 57.90%
Japan Ken Naganuma (2nd) 1972–1976 42 16 6 20 38.09%
Japan Hiroshi Ninomiya 1976–1978 27 6 6 15 22.22%
Japan Yukio Shimomura 1979–1980 14 8 4 2 57.14%
Japan Masashi Watanabe 1980 3 2 0 1 66.67%
Japan Saburō Kawabuchi 1980–1981 10 3 2 5 30%
Japan Takaji Mori 1981–1985 43 22 5 16 51.16%
Japan Yoshinobu Ishii 1986–1987 17 11 2 4 64.70%
Japan Kenzo Yokoyama 1988–1991 24 5 7 12 20.83%
Netherlands Hans Ooft 1992–1993 27 16 7 4 59.25%
Brazil Paulo Roberto Falcão 1994 9 3 4 2 33.33%
Japan Shu Kamo 1994–1997 46 23 10 13 50%
Japan Takeshi Okada (1st) 1997–1998 15 5 4 6 33.33%
France Philippe Troussier 1998–2002 50 23 16 11 46%
Brazil Zico 2002–2006 71 37 16 18 52.11%
Bosnia and Herzegovina Ivica Osim 2006–2007 20 13 2 5 65%
Japan Takeshi Okada (2nd) 2007–2010 50 26 13 11 52%
Japan Hiromi Hara (caretaker) 2010 2 2 0 0 100%
Italy Alberto Zaccheroni 2010–2014 55 30 12 13 54.54%
Mexico Javier Aguirre 2014–2015 10 7 1 2 70%
Bosnia and Herzegovina Vahid Halilhodžić 2015–2018 38 21 9 8 55.26%
Japan Akira Nishino 2018 7 2 1 4 28.57%
Japan Hajime Moriyasu[124][125][4][5][6] 2018–present 81 56 10 15 69.14%
Manager Period Record
Matches Won Draw Lost Win %

Players[edit]

Current squad[edit]

The following players were called up for the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualification matches against Myanmar and Syria on 6 and 11 June 2024, respectively.[126]

Caps and goals as of 11 June 2024, after the match against  Syria.[127]

No. Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club
1 1GK Daiya Maekawa (1994-09-08) 8 September 1994 (age 29) 2 0 Japan Vissel Kobe
12 1GK Keisuke Osako (1999-07-28) 28 July 1999 (age 24) 8 0 Japan Sanfrecce Hiroshima
23 1GK Kosei Tani (2000-11-20) 20 November 2000 (age 23) 2 0 Japan Machida Zelvia

2 2DF Yukinari Sugawara (2000-06-28) 28 June 2000 (age 23) 13 1 Netherlands AZ
3 2DF Shogo Taniguchi (1991-07-15) 15 July 1991 (age 32) 28 1 Qatar Al-Rayyan
4 2DF Ko Itakura (1997-01-27) 27 January 1997 (age 27) 29 1 Germany Borussia Mönchengladbach
14 2DF Daiki Hashioka (1999-05-17) 17 May 1999 (age 25) 9 0 England Luton Town
16 2DF Koki Machida (1997-08-25) 25 August 1997 (age 26) 10 0 Belgium Union SG
21 2DF Hiroki Itō (1999-05-12) 12 May 1999 (age 25) 19 1 Germany Bayern Munich
22 2DF Takehiro Tomiyasu (1998-11-05) 5 November 1998 (age 25) 42 1 England Arsenal
2DF Yuto Nagatomo (1986-09-12) 12 September 1986 (age 37) 142 4 Japan FC Tokyo

5 3MF Hidemasa Morita (1995-05-10) 10 May 1995 (age 29) 34 3 Portugal Sporting CP
6 3MF Wataru Endō (captain) (1993-02-09) 9 February 1993 (age 31) 62 3 England Liverpool
7 3MF Takumu Kawamura (1999-08-28) 28 August 1999 (age 24) 3 1 Japan Sanfrecce Hiroshima
8 3MF Takumi Minamino (1995-01-16) 16 January 1995 (age 29) 59 21 France Monaco[c]
10 3MF Ritsu Dōan (1998-06-16) 16 June 1998 (age 26) 50 10 Germany SC Freiburg
11 3MF Yuki Soma (1997-02-25) 25 February 1997 (age 27) 14 5 Portugal Casa Pia
13 3MF Keito Nakamura (2000-07-28) 28 July 2000 (age 23) 10 8 France Reims
15 3MF Daichi Kamada (1996-08-05) 5 August 1996 (age 27) 33 7 Italy Lazio
17 3MF Ao Tanaka (1998-09-10) 10 September 1998 (age 25) 27 8 Germany Fortuna Düsseldorf
18 3MF Reo Hatate (1997-11-21) 21 November 1997 (age 26) 9 0 Scotland Celtic
20 3MF Takefusa Kubo (2001-06-04) 4 June 2001 (age 23) 35 4 Spain Real Sociedad

9 4FW Ayase Ueda (1998-08-28) 28 August 1998 (age 25) 26 12 Netherlands Feyenoord
19 4FW Koki Ogawa (1997-08-08) 8 August 1997 (age 26) 3 5 Netherlands NEC Nijmegen
4FW Daizen Maeda (1997-10-20) 20 October 1997 (age 26) 18 3 Scotland Celtic
4FW Yuito Suzuki (2001-10-25) 25 October 2001 (age 22) 1 0 Denmark Brondby

Recent call-ups[edit]

The following players have also been called up to the squad in the last 12 months.[128]

Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club Latest call-up
GK Zion Suzuki (2002-08-21) 21 August 2002 (age 21) 10 0 Belgium Sint-Truiden v.  North Korea, 21 March 2024
GK Taishi Brandon Nozawa (2002-12-25) 25 December 2002 (age 21) 0 0 Japan FC Tokyo 2023 AFC Asian Cup
GK Ryosuke Kojima (1997-01-30) 30 January 1997 (age 27) 0 0 Japan Albirex Niigata v.  Tunisia, 17 October 2023
GK Daniel Schmidt (1992-02-03) 3 February 1992 (age 32) 14 0 Belgium Gent v.  Turkey, 12 September 2023
GK Kosuke Nakamura (1995-02-27) 27 February 1995 (age 29) 8 0 Portugal Portimonense v.  Turkey, 12 September 2023

DF Seiya Maikuma (1997-10-16) 16 October 1997 (age 26) 8 0 Japan Cerezo Osaka v.  North Korea, 21 March 2024
DF Tsuyoshi Watanabe (1997-02-05) 5 February 1997 (age 27) 3 0 Belgium Gent v.  North Korea, 21 March 2024
DF Yūta Nakayama (1997-02-16) 16 February 1997 (age 27) 22 0 England Huddersfield Town 2023 AFC Asian Cup
DF Ryoya Morishita (1997-04-11) 11 April 1997 (age 27) 2 0 Poland Legia Warsaw v.  Thailand, 1 January 2024
DF Haruya Fujii (2000-12-26) 26 December 2000 (age 23) 1 0 Belgium Kortrijk v.  Thailand, 1 January 2024
DF Sota Miura (2000-09-07) 7 September 2000 (age 23) 1 0 Japan Kawasaki Frontale v.  Thailand, 1 January 2024
DF Ayumu Seko (2000-06-07) 7 June 2000 (age 24) 3 0 Switzerland Grasshoppers v.  Peru, 20 June 2023

MF Kaishu Sano (2000-12-30) 30 December 2000 (age 23) 4 0 Japan Kashima Antlers v.  North Korea, 21 March 2024 INJ
MF Junya Itō (1993-03-09) 9 March 1993 (age 31) 54 13 France Reims 2023 AFC Asian Cup WD
MF Kaoru Mitoma (1997-05-20) 20 May 1997 (age 27) 20 7 England Brighton & Hove Albion 2023 AFC Asian Cup
MF Ryotaro Ito (1998-02-06) 6 February 1998 (age 26) 1 0 Belgium Sint-Truiden v.  Thailand, 1 January 2024
MF Kanji Okunuki (1999-08-11) 11 August 1999 (age 24) 1 0 Germany 1. FC Nürnberg v.  Thailand, 1 January 2024
MF Hayao Kawabe (1995-09-08) 8 September 1995 (age 28) 6 1 Belgium Standard Liège v.  Myanmar, 16 November 2023 INJ
MF Atsuki Ito (1998-08-11) 11 August 1998 (age 25) 3 1 Japan Urawa Red Diamonds v.  Myanmar, 16 November 2023 INJ
MF Sota Kawasaki (2001-07-30) 30 July 2001 (age 22) 0 0 Japan Kyoto Sanga v.  Peru, 20 June 2023

FW Takuma Asano (1994-11-10) 10 November 1994 (age 29) 52 9 Germany VfL Bochum v.  North Korea, 21 March 2024
FW Mao Hosoya (2001-09-07) 7 September 2001 (age 22) 6 1 Japan Kashiwa Reysol 2023 AFC Asian Cup
FW Kyogo Furuhashi (1995-01-20) 20 January 1995 (age 29) 21 5 Scotland Celtic v.  Myanmar, 16 November 2023 INJ

INJ Withdrew due to injury
PRE Preliminary squad / standby
RET Retired from the national team
SUS Serving suspension
WD Player withdrew from the squad due to non-injury issue.

Records[edit]

As of 5 December 2022[129]
Players in bold are still active with Japan.

Most appearances[edit]

Yasuhito Endō is Japan's most capped player with 152 appearances.
Rank Player Caps Goals Pos Career
1 Yasuhito Endō 152 15 MF 2002–2015
2 Yuto Nagatomo 142 4 DF 2008–present
3 Maya Yoshida 126 12 DF 2010–2022
4 Masami Ihara 122 5 DF 1988–1999
5 Shinji Okazaki 119 50 FW 2008– 2019
6 Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi 116 0 GK 1997–2010
7 Makoto Hasebe 114 2 MF 2006–2018
8 Yuji Nakazawa 110 17 DF 1999–2010
9 Shunsuke Nakamura 98 24 MF 2000–2010
Keisuke Honda 98 37 MF 2008–2018

Top goalscorers[edit]

Kunishige Kamamoto is Japan's top scorer with 75 goals.
Rank Player Goals Caps Ratio Career
1 Kunishige Kamamoto 75 76 0.99 1964–1977
2 Kazuyoshi Miura 55 89 0.62 1990–2000
3 Shinji Okazaki 50 119 0.42 2008–2019
4 Hiromi Hara 37 75 0.49 1978–1988
Keisuke Honda 98 0.38 2008–2018
6 Shinji Kagawa 31 97 0.32 2008–2019
7 Takuya Takagi 27 44 0.61 1992–1997
8 Kazushi Kimura 26 54 0.48 1979–1986
9 Yuya Osako 25 57 0.44 2013–2022
10 Shunsuke Nakamura 24 98 0.24 2000–2010

Captains[edit]

Name Pos Period Note
Shigeo Yaegashi MF 1968 Summer Olympics bronze medalist leading captain (1968)
Aritatsu Ogi MF 1969–1974
Kunishige Kamamoto FW 1975–1977
Nobuo Fujishima MF 1978
Hiroshi Ochiai MF DF 1978–1979
Hideki Maeda MF 1980–1981
Mitsuhisa Taguchi GK 1982–1984
Kazushi Kimura MF 1986
Hisashi Kato DF 1985–1987
Hiromi Hara FW 1988
Shigetatsu Matsunaga GK 1989
Shinichi Morishita 1990
Tetsuji Hashiratani MF 1991–1995 AFC Asian Cup winning captain (1992)
Masami Ihara DF 1996–1999
Masashi Nakayama FW 2001 FIFA Confederations Cup runners-up leading captain (2001)
Ryuzo Morioka CB 2000–2002 AFC Asian Cup winning captain (2000)
Hidetoshi Nakata CM 2002–2004
Tsuneyasu Miyamoto CB 2003–2006 AFC Asian Cup winning captain (2004), East Asian Football Championship runners-up leading captain (2003) (2005)
Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi GK 2006–2008 East Asian Football Championship runners-up leading captain (2008)
Yuji Nakazawa CB 2008–2010 East Asian Football Championship third place leading captain (2010)
Makoto Hasebe DM 2010–2018 AFC Asian Cup winning captain (2011)
Yuichi Komano DF 2013 EAFF East Asian Cup winning captain (2013)
Gen Shoji CB 2017 EAFF E-1 Championship runners-up leading captain (2017)
Maya Yoshida CB 2018–2022 AFC Asian Cup runners-up leading captain (2019)
Sho Sasaki LB 2019 EAFF E-1 Championship runners-up leading captain (2019)
Shogo Taniguchi CB 2022 EAFF E-1 Championship winning captain (2022)
Wataru Endo DM 2023–present

Competitive record[edit]

  Champions    Runners-up    Third place    Fourth place  

*Denotes draws includes knockout matches decided on penalty shootouts. Red border indicates that the tournament was hosted on home soil. Gold, silver, bronze backgrounds indicate 1st, 2nd and 3rd finishes respectively. Bold text indicates best finish in tournament.

FIFA World Cup[edit]

FIFA World Cup record Qualification record
Year Result Position Pld W D L GF GA Squad Pld W D L GF GA
Uruguay 1930 Withdrew Qualified as invitees
Italy 1934 Did not enter Did not enter
France 1938 Withdrew Withdrew
Brazil 1950 Suspended from FIFA Suspended from FIFA
Switzerland 1954 Did not qualify 2 0 1 1 3 7
Sweden 1958 Did not enter Did not enter
Chile 1962 Did not qualify 2 0 0 2 1 4
England 1966 Did not enter Did not enter
Mexico 1970 Did not qualify 4 0 2 2 4 8
West Germany 1974 4 1 0 3 5 4
Argentina 1978 4 0 1 3 0 5
Spain 1982 4 2 0 2 4 2
Mexico 1986 8 5 1 2 15 5
Italy 1990 6 2 3 1 7 3
United States 1994 13 9 3 1 35 6
France 1998 Group stage 31st 3 0 0 3 1 4 Squad 15 9 5 1 51 12
South Korea Japan 2002 Round of 16 9th 4 2 1 1 5 3 Squad Qualified as co-hosts
Germany 2006 Group stage 28th 3 0 1 2 2 7 Squad 12 11 0 1 25 5
South Africa 2010 Round of 16 9th 4 2 1 1 4 2 Squad 14 8 4 2 23 9
Brazil 2014 Group stage 29th 3 0 1 2 2 6 Squad 14 8 3 3 30 8
Russia 2018 Round of 16 15th 4 1 1 2 6 7 Squad 18 13 3 2 44 7
Qatar 2022 9th 4 2 1 1 5 4 Squad 18 15 1 2 58 6
Canada Mexico United States 2026 To be determined 6 6 0 0 24 0
Spain Portugal Morocco 2030 To be determined
Saudi Arabia 2034
Total Round of 16 7/22 25 7 6 12 25 33 143 88 27 28 324 91

Match history[edit]

FIFA World Cup history
Year Round Opponent Score Result
1998 Group stage  Argentina 0–1 Loss
 Croatia 0–1 Loss
 Jamaica 1–2 Loss
2002 Group stage  Belgium 2–2 Draw
 Russia 1–0 Win
 Tunisia 2–0 Win
Round of 16  Turkey 0–1 Loss
2006 Group stage  Australia 1–3 Loss
 Croatia 0–0 Draw
 Brazil 1–4 Loss
2010 Group stage  Cameroon 1–0 Win
 Netherlands 0–1 Loss
 Denmark 3–1 Win
Round of 16  Paraguay 0–0 (3–5 p) Draw (Loss)
2014 Group stage  Ivory Coast 1–2 Loss
 Greece 0–0 Draw
 Colombia 1–4 Loss
2018 Group stage  Colombia 2–1 Win
 Senegal 2–2 Draw
 Poland 0–1 Loss
Round of 16  Belgium 2–3 Loss
2022 Group stage  Germany 2–1 Win
 Costa Rica 0–1 Loss
 Spain 2–1 Win
Round of 16  Croatia 1–1 (1–3 p) Draw (Loss)

AFC Asian Cup[edit]

AFC Asian Cup record Qualification record
Year Result Position Pld W D L GF GA Squad Pld W D L GF GA
Hong Kong 1956 Withdrew Withdrew
South Korea 1960
Israel 1964
Iran 1968 Did not qualify 4 3 1 0 8 4
Thailand 1972 Withdrew Withdrew
Iran 1976 Did not qualify 5 2 1 2 4 4
Kuwait 1980 Withdrew Withdrew
Singapore 1984
Qatar 1988 Group stage 10th 4 0 1 3 0 6 Squad 4 2 1 1 6 3
Japan 1992 Champions 1st 5 3 2 0 6 3 Squad Qualified as hosts
United Arab Emirates 1996 Quarter-finals 5th 4 3 0 1 7 3 Squad Qualified as defending champions
Lebanon 2000 Champions 1st 6 5 1 0 21 6 Squad 3 3 0 0 15 0
China 2004 Champions 1st 6 4 2 0 13 6 Squad Qualified as defending champions
Indonesia Malaysia Thailand Vietnam 2007 Fourth place 4th 6 2 3 1 11 7 Squad 6 5 0 1 15 2
Qatar 2011 Champions 1st 6 4 2 0 14 6 Squad 6 5 0 1 17 4
Australia 2015 Quarter-finals 5th 4 3 1 0 8 1 Squad Qualified as defending champions
United Arab Emirates 2019 Runners-up 2nd 7 6 0 1 12 6 Squad 8 7 1 0 27 0
Qatar 2023 Quarter-finals 7th 5 3 0 2 12 8 Squad 8 8 0 0 46 2
Saudi Arabia 2027 Qualified 6 6 0 0 24 0
Total 4 Titles 11/19 53 33 12 8 104 52 50 41 4 5 162 19

Match history[edit]

AFC Asian Cup history
Year Round Opponent Score Result
1988 Group stage  Iran 0–0 Draw
 South Korea 0–2 Loss
 United Arab Emirates 0–1 Loss
 Qatar 0–3 Loss
1992 Group stage  United Arab Emirates 0–0 Draw
 North Korea 1–1 Draw
 Iran 1–0 Win
Semi-finals  China 3–2 Win
Final  Saudi Arabia 1–0 Win
1996 Group stage  Syria 2–1 Win
 Uzbekistan 4–0 Win
 China 1–0 Win
Quarter-finals  Kuwait 0–2 Loss
2000 Group stage  Saudi Arabia 4–1 Win
 Uzbekistan 8–1 Win
 Qatar 1–1 Draw
Quarter-finals  Iraq 4–1 Win
Semi-finals  China 3–2 Win
Final  Saudi Arabia 1–0 Win
2004 Group stage  Oman 1–0 Win
 Thailand 4–1 Win
 Iran 0–0 Draw
Quarter-finals  Jordan 1–1 (4–3 p) Draw (Win)
Semi-finals  Bahrain 4–3 Win
Final  China 3–1 Win
2007 Group stage  Qatar 1–1 Draw
 United Arab Emirates 3–1 Win
 Vietnam 4–1 Win
Quarter-finals  Australia 1–1 (4–3 p) Draw (Win)
Semi-finals  Saudi Arabia 2–3 Loss
Third place play-off  South Korea 0–0 (5–6 p) Draw (Loss)
2011 Group stage  Jordan 1–1 Draw
 Syria 2–1 Win
 Saudi Arabia 5–0 Win
Quarter-finals  Qatar 3–2 Win
Semi-finals  South Korea 2–2 (3–0 p) Draw (Win)
Final  Australia 1–0 Win
2015 Group stage  Palestine 4–0 Win
 Iraq 1–0 Win
 Jordan 2–0 Win
Quarter-finals  United Arab Emirates 1–1 (4–5 p) Draw (Loss)
2019 Group stage  Turkmenistan 3–2 Win
 Oman 1–0 Win
 Uzbekistan 2–1 Win
Round of 16  Saudi Arabia 1–0 Win
Quarter-finals  Vietnam 1–0 Win
Semi-finals  Iran 3–0 Win
Final  Qatar 1–3 Loss
2023 Group stage  Vietnam 4–2 Win
 Iraq 1–2 Loss
 Indonesia 3–1 Win
Round of 16  Bahrain 3–1 Win
Quarter-finals  Iran 1–2 Loss

Copa América[edit]

Japan is the first team from outside the Americas to participate in the Copa América, having been invited to the 1999 tournament.[14] Japan was also invited to the 2011 tournament and initially accepted the invitation. However, following the Tōhoku earthquake, the JFA later withdrew on 16 May 2011, citing the difficulty of releasing some Japanese players from European teams to play as replacements.[130] On the next day, CONMEBOL invited Costa Rica to replace Japan in the competition.

On 16 August 2013, CONMEBOL president Eugenio Figueredo announced that Japan was invited to the 2015 Copa América.[131] However, Japan later declined the invitation due to scheduling problems.[132]

On 14 May 2018, CONMEBOL announced that Japan, alongside Qatar, would be the two invited teams for the 2019 Copa América.[133]

FIFA Confederations Cup[edit]

FIFA Confederations Cup record
year Result Position Pld W D L GF GA Squad
Saudi Arabia 1992 Did not qualify
Saudi Arabia 1995 Group stage 6th 2 0 0 2 1 8 Squad
Saudi Arabia 1997 Did not qualify
Mexico 1999
South Korea Japan 2001 Runners-up 2nd 5 3 1 1 6 1 Squad
France 2003 Group stage 6th 3 1 0 2 4 3 Squad
Germany 2005 Group stage 5th 3 1 1 1 4 4 Squad
South Africa 2009 Did not qualify
Brazil 2013 Group stage 7th 3 0 0 3 4 9 Squad
Russia 2017 Did not qualify
Total Runners-up 5/10 16 5 2 9 19 25

Match history[edit]

Olympic Games[edit]

Summer Olympics record Qualification record
Year Result Position M W D L GF GA Squad M W D L GF GA
United Kingdom 1908 Did not enter Did not enter
Sweden 1912
Belgium 1920
France 1924
Netherlands 1928
Germany 1936 Quarter-finals 8th 2 1 0 1 3 10 Squad No qualification
United Kingdom 1948 Did not enter Did not enter
Finland 1952
Australia 1956 First round 10th 1 0 0 1 0 2 Squad No qualification
Italy 1960 Did not qualify 2 1 0 1 1 2
Japan 1964 Quarter-finals 8th 3 1 0 3 6 15 Squad Qualified as hosts
Mexico 1968 Bronze medalists 3rd 6 3 2 1 9 8 Squad 5 4 1 0 26 4
West Germany 1972 Did not qualify 4 2 0 2 14 7
Canada 1976 6 2 1 3 9 11
Soviet Union 1980 5 3 1 1 16 5
United States 1984 10 3 1 6 26 17
South Korea 1988 8 6 1 1 19 3
1992–present See Japan national under-23 team See Japan national under-23 team
Total Bronze medalists 4/17 12 5 2 6 18 35 40 21 5 14 111 49

Match history[edit]

Asian Games[edit]

EAFF E-1 Championship[edit]

EAFF E-1 Championship record
Year Result Position Pld W D L GF GA Squad
Japan 2003 Runners-up 2nd 3 2 1 0 3 0 Squad
South Korea 2005 3 1 1 1 3 3 Squad
China 2008 3 1 2 0 3 2 Squad
Japan 2010 Third Place 3rd 3 1 1 1 4 3 Squad
South Korea 2013 Champions 1st 3 2 1 0 8 6 Squad
China 2015 Fourth Place 4th 3 0 2 1 3 4 Squad
Japan 2017 Runners-up 2nd 3 2 0 1 4 5 Squad
South Korea 2019 3 2 0 1 7 2 Squad
Japan 2022 Champions 1st 3 2 1 0 9 0 Squad
Total Champions 9/9 27 13 9 5 44 25

Match history[edit]

EAFF E-1 Championship history
Year Round Opponent Score Result
2003 First match  China 2–0 Win
Second match  Hong Kong 1–0
Third match  South Korea 0–0 Draw
2005 First match  North Korea 0–1 Loss
Second match  China 2–2 Draw
Third match  South Korea 1–0 Win
2008 First match  North Korea 1–1 Draw
Second match  China 1–0 Win
Third match  South Korea 1–1 Draw
2010 First match  China 0–0 Draw
Second match  Hong Kong 3–0 Win
Third match  South Korea 1–3 Loss
2013 First match  China 3–3 Draw
Second match  Australia 3–2 Win
Third match  South Korea 2–1 Win
2015 First match  North Korea 1–2 Loss
Second match  South Korea 1–1 Draw
Third match  China 1–1 Draw
2017 First match  North Korea 1–0 Win
Second match  China 2–1
Third match  South Korea 1–4 Loss
2019 First match  China 2–1 Win
Second match  Hong Kong 5–0
Third match  South Korea 0–1 Loss
2022 First match  Hong Kong 6–0 Win
Second match  China 0–0 Draw
Third match  South Korea 3–0 Win

Head-to-head record[edit]

The following table shows Japan's all-time international record, correct as of 11 June 2024.[134]
Opponent From To Pld W D L GF GA GD
 Afghanistan 1951 2015 3 3 0 0 13 0 +13
 Angola 2005 2005 1 1 0 0 1 0 +1
 Argentina 1964 2010 8 2 0 6 4 15 −11
 Australia 1956 2022 27 11 9 7 39 32 +7
 Austria 2007 2007 1 0 1 0 0 0 0
 Azerbaijan 2012 2012 1 1 0 0 2 0 +2
 Bahrain 1978 2024 11 9 0 2 20 8 +12
 Bangladesh 1975 1993 5 5 0 0 22 1 +21
 Belarus 2013 2013 1 0 0 1 0 1 −1
 Belgium 1999 2018 6 2 2 2 11 8 +3
 Bolivia 1999 2019 3 2 1 0 4 1 +3
 Bosnia and Herzegovina 2006 2016 3 1 1 1 6 4 +2
 Brazil 1968 2022 14 0 3 11 6 36 −30
 Brunei 1980 2000 3 3 0 0 18 2 +16
 Bulgaria 1976 2016 6 1 1 4 10 13 −3
 Cambodia 1970 2015 4 4 0 0 10 1 +9
 Cameroon 2001 2020 5 3 2 0 5 0 +5
 Canada 2001 2023 4 3 0 1 10 4 +6
 Chile 2008 2019 3 1 1 1 4 4 0
 China 1917 2021 35 15 8 12 45 52 −7
 Chinese Taipei 1963 1983 7 4 2 1 17 8 +9
 Colombia 2003 2023 6 1 1 4 4 9 −5
 Costa Rica 1995 2022 5 3 1 1 10 3 +7
 Croatia 1997 2022 4 1 2 1 5 5 0
 Cyprus 2014 2014 1 1 0 0 1 0 +1
 Czech Republic 1998 2011 3 1 2 0 1 0 +1
 Denmark 1971 2010 2 1 0 1 5 4 +1
 Ecuador 1995 2022 4 2 2 0 5 1 +4
 Egypt 1998 2007 2 2 0 0 5 1 +4
 El Salvador 2019 2023 2 2 0 0 8 0 +8
 England 1995 2010 3 0 1 2 3 5 −2
 Finland 2006 2009 2 2 0 0 7 1 +6
 France 1968 2012 7 2 1 4 5 14 −9
 Germany 2004 2023 4 2 1 1 8 7 +1
 Ghana 1964 2022 8 5 0 3 18 14 +4
 Greece 2005 2014 2 1 1 0 1 0 +1
 Guatemala 2010 2013 2 2 0 0 5 1 +4
 Haiti 2017 2017 1 0 1 0 3 3 0
 Honduras 2002 2014 3 2 1 0 14 7 +7
 Hong Kong 1958 2022 24 13 5 6 48 21 +27
 Hungary 1993 2004 2 0 0 2 2 4 −2
 Iceland 1971 2012 3 3 0 0 8 3 +5
 India 1954 2006 12 9 0 3 36 11 +25
 Indonesia 1934 2024 19 11 2 6 42 26 +16
 Iran 1951 2024 19 6 6 7 22 21 +1
 Iraq 1978 2024 14 7 3 4 20 12 +8
 Israel 1973 1977 7 0 0 7 2 17 −15
 Italy 1936 2013 3 0 1 2 4 13 −9
 Ivory Coast 1993 2020 5 3 0 2 4 4 0
 Jamaica 1998 2014 4 2 1 1 7 3 +4
 Jordan 1973 2015 7 2 3 2 12 7 +5
 Kazakhstan 1997 2005 3 2 1 0 10 2 +8
 Kuwait 1978 1996 5 1 0 4 2 8 −6
 Kyrgyzstan 2018 2021 3 3 0 0 11 1 +10
 Latvia 2005 2013 2 1 1 0 5 2 +3
 Lebanon 1967 1967 1 1 0 0 3 1 +2
 Macau 1980 2000 4 4 0 0 26 0 +26
 Malaysia 1958 2004 26 9 7 10 40 43 −3
 Mali 2018 2018 1 0 1 0 1 1 0
 Malta 2006 2006 1 1 0 0 1 0 +1
 Mexico 1996 2020 7 1 0 6 6 15 −9
 Mongolia 2019 2021 2 2 0 0 20 0 +20
 Montenegro 2007 2007 1 1 0 0 2 0 +2
 Myanmar 1955 2024 16 9 5 2 39 12 +27
   Nepal 1986 1997 5 5 0 0 28 0 +28
 Netherlands 2009 2013 3 0 1 2 2 6 −4
 New Zealand 1981 2017 6 3 0 3 10 8 +2
 Nigeria 1968 2003 4 2 1 1 8 6 +2
 North Korea 1975 2024 20 9 4 7 20 14 +6
 Norway 2002 2002 1 0 0 1 0 3 −3
 Oman 1988 2021 15 10 3 2 21 6 +15
 Pakistan 1962 1988 3 1 1 1 5 2 +1
 Palestine 2015 2015 1 1 0 0 4 0 +4
 Panama 2018 2020 2 2 0 0 4 0 +4
 Paraguay 1995 2022 12 5 4 2 19 11 +8
 Peru 1967 2023 8 3 3 2 8 6 +2
 Philippines 1915 1983 20 15 0 5 88 35 +53
 Poland 1981 2018 7 2 0 5 10 14 −4
 Qatar 1983 2019 10 2 4 4 12 15 −3
 Romania 1974 2003 4 0 1 3 3 12 −9
 Russia 1978 2002 4 1 0 3 3 11 −8
 Saudi Arabia 1990 2021 16 10 1 5 25 13 +12
 Scotland 1995 2009 3 1 2 0 2 0 +2
 Senegal 1987 2018 4 0 2 2 4 7 −3
 Serbia 1961 2021 10 4 0 6 7 20 −13
 Singapore 1959 2015 26 21 2 3 58 18 +40
 Slovakia 2000 2004 3 2 1 0 5 2 +3
 Spain 2001 2022 2 1 0 1 2 2 0
 South Africa 2009 2009 1 0 1 0 0 0 0
 South Korea 1954 2022 81 16 23 42 76 124 −48
 South Vietnam 1961 1973 9 5 0 4 17 14 +3
 South Yemen 1982 1982 1 1 0 0 3 1 +2
 Sri Lanka 1972 1993 3 3 0 0 16 0 +16
 Sweden 1936 2002 5 1 3 1 7 7 0
  Switzerland 2007 2018 2 1 0 1 4 5 −1
 Syria 1978 2024 13 11 2 0 37 9 +28
 Tajikistan 2011 2021 4 4 0 0 19 1 +18
 Thailand 1962 2024 23 17 4 2 57 16 +41
 Togo 2009 2009 1 1 0 0 5 0 +5
 Trinidad and Tobago 2006 2019 2 1 1 0 2 0 +2
 Tunisia 1996 2023 6 5 0 1 8 3 +5
 Turkey 1997 2023 3 2 0 1 5 3 +2
 Turkmenistan 2019 2019 1 1 0 0 3 2 +1
 Ukraine 2002 2018 3 1 0 2 2 3 −1
 United Arab Emirates 1981 2017 20 6 8 6 22 18 +4
 United States 1993 2022 3 2 0 1 7 4 +3
 Uruguay 1985 2023 9 2 3 4 18 24 −6
 Uzbekistan 1996 2019 11 7 3 1 30 10 +20
 Venezuela 2010 2019 5 1 3 1 6 6 0
 Vietnam 2007 2024 6 5 1 0 12 4 +8
 Wales 1992 1992 1 0 0 1 0 1 −1
 Yemen 2006 2010 4 4 0 0 8 3 +5
 Zambia 2014 2014 1 1 0 0 4 3 +1
Total (112 Countries) 1917 2024 806 384 164 247 1,421 948 +473

Honours[edit]

Intercontinental[edit]

Bronze medalists (1): 1968
Runners-up (1): 2001
Champions (2): 1993, 2007
Champions (1): 2001

Continental[edit]

Champions (4): 1992, 2000, 2004, 2011
Runners-up (1): 2019

Regional[edit]

Champions (1): 1930
Champions (3): 1992, 1995, 1998
Champions (2): 2013, 2022
Runners-up (5): 2003, 2005, 2008, 2017, 2019
Third place (1): 2010

Minor-friendly[edit]

Champions (12): 1991, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2015

Awards[edit]

Years: 2000, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2010, 2011
Years: 2002

See also[edit]

National teams
Men's
Women's

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ A common methodology of nickname creation is done by taking the last name of incumbent head coach followed by "Japan". Past teams have been referred to as, "Osim Japan" (オシムジャパン, Oshimu Japan), "Zico Japan" (ジーコジャパン, Jīko Japan), "Troussier Japan" (トルシエジャパン, Torushie Japan)
  2. ^ North Korea were originally scheduled to play host to Japan in Kim Il-sung Stadium. However, North Korea then decided against hosting it due to "a malignant infectious disease" spreading in Japan.[121] Due to the time gap and North Korea's inability to provide an alternative venue, FIFA subsequently decided that the match shall neither be played nor rescheduled, and the matter will be decided by FIFA Disciplinary Committee.[122] It was later announced that Japan would be awarded a 3–0 victory by forfeit.[123]
  3. ^ Monaco is a Monégasque club playing in the French football league system.

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External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by Asian Champions