Japan national football team

The Japan national football team (Japanese: サッカー日本代表, Hepburn: Sakkā Nippon Daihyō), nicknamed the Samurai Blue (サムライ・ブルー), represents Japan in international football and is controlled by the Japan Football Association (JFA), the governing body for football in Japan. The current head coach is Hajime Moriyasu, who is also the current coach of the Japan U-23 team.

(Samurai Blue)
AssociationJapan Football Association (JFA)
ConfederationAFC (Asia)
Sub-confederationEAFF (East Asia)
Head coachHajime Moriyasu
CaptainMaya Yoshida
Most capsYasuhito Endō (152)
Top scorerKunishige Kamamoto (80)[1]
Home stadiumVarious
First colours
Second colours
FIFA ranking
Current 28 (19 December 2019)[2]
Highest9 (March 1998)
Lowest62 (December 1992)
Elo ranking
Current 29 6 (25 November 2019)[3]
Highest8 (August 2001, March 2002)
Lowest123 (September 1962)
First international
 Japan 0–5 China 
(Tokyo, Japan; 9 May 1917)[4]
Biggest win
 Japan 15–0 Philippines 
(Tokyo, Japan; 27 September 1967)
Biggest defeat
 Japan 2–15 Philippines 
(Tokyo, Japan; 10 May 1917)[5]
World Cup
Appearances6 (first in 1998)
Best resultRound of 16 (2002, 2010, 2018)
Asian Cup
Appearances9 (first in 1988)
Best resultChampions (1992, 2000, 2004, 2011)
Copa América
Appearances2 (first in 1999)
Best resultGroup stage (1999, 2019)
Confederations Cup
Appearances5 (first in 1995)
Best resultRunners-up (2001)

Japan was not a major football force until the end of 1980s with its team just a small and amateur team, but since 1990s when Japanese football became fully professionalized, Japan has quickly emerged as one of the most successful teams in Asia, having qualified for the last six consecutive FIFA World Cups with second round advancements in 2002, 2010, and 2018, and having won the AFC Asian Cup a record four times, in 1992, 2000, 2004 and 2011. The team has also finished second in the 2001 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2019 AFC Asian Cup. Their principal continental rivals are South Korea, North Korea, China and most recently, Australia; though they also develop rivalries against Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

Japan was the first team from outside the Americas to participate in the Copa América, having been invited in 1999, 2011, 2015, and 2019 editions of the tournament, although they only played in the 1999 and 2019 events.[6]


Pre-war Era (1910s–1930s)

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.[7] Nevertheless, the game was promoted in Japanese schools in the 1920s.[8] The Japan Football Association was formed in 1921,[9] and Japan joined FIFA in May 1929.[8]

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.[8] Shigeyoshi Suzuki coached the national team to its first Olympic appearance at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.[9] Japan was an entrant for the 1938 FIFA World Cup qualification, but withdrew before its scheduled qualifying match against the Dutch East Indies.[10]

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.[8] Its last prewar match for purposes of Elo ratings was a friendly against the Philippines in June 1940.[11]

While Korea was under Japanese rule, several 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)

Japan's postwar debut was in the 1951 Asian Games in India.[11] 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.[9] Japan also joined the Asian Football Confederation in 1954.[8]

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.[12] 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.[13]

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.[12]

1990s: rise

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 and won the Asian Cup in their second appearance, defeating Saudi Arabia 1–0 in the final. The J.League was officially launched in 1993, causing interest in football and the national team to grow.

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". 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.

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, despite playing well in both matches. Their campaign ended with a 2–1 defeat to Jamaica.


In the 2000 Asian Cup, Japan managed to reclaim their title after defeating Saudi Arabia in the final, becoming Asian Champions for the second time.

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.

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.


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 put in Group E along with the Netherlands, Denmark and Cameroon.[14] Japan won its opening match of the 2010 World Cup 1–0 against Cameroon, but subsequently lost to the Netherlands 0–1 before defeating Denmark 3–1 to advance to the next round against Paraguay. In the first knockout round, Japan were eliminated from the competition following penalties after a 0–0 draw against Paraguay.

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 one of their best ever results, a 1–0 victory over Argentina.

At the start of 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.[15]

Japan then started their road to 2014 World Cup in Brazil with numerous qualifiers. 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, a team they had never before defeated. After a 1–1 draw with Australia they qualified for the 2014 World Cup, becoming the first nation (outside of Brazil, who hosted the tournament and qualified automatically) to qualify.

Japan started their 2013 Confederations Cup campaign with a 3–0 loss to Brazil. They were then eliminated from the competition after losing to Italy 3–4 in a hard-fought match but received praise for their style of play in the match. They lost their final match 1–2 against Mexico and finished in fourth place in Group A. 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. The road to Brazil looked bright as Japan managed a 2–2 draw with the Netherlands and a 2–3 victory over Belgium. This was followed by three straight wins against Cyprus, Costa Rica and Zambia.

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 despite 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 needed Greece to beat Ivory Coast. Greece beat Ivory Coast 2–1, but Japan could not perform well against Colombia and were beaten 4–1, eliminating them from the World Cup. Alberto Zaccheroni resigned as head coach after the World Cup. In July 2014, former Mexico and Espanyol manager Javier Aguirre took over and Japan lost 0–2 to Uruguay in the first game he managed.

Aguirre would begin a strong revamp of the team, switching out Zaccheroni's long-used 4–2–3–1 formation for his own 4–3–3 and applied this with a roster of the J.League's finest, dropping many regulars. A 2–2 draw against Venezuela was followed by a 1–0 victory over Jamaica. However, they lost their following match to Brazil 4–0, with Neymar scoring all four goals. Japan's sights turned to January and their title defense at the 2015 AFC Asian Cup.

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 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.

After the Asian Cup, Aguirre was sacked following allegations of corruption during a prior tenure. He was replaced by Vahid Halilhodžić in March 2015. Japan started on a rough note during qualification, losing to the UAE 1-2 at home. 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. 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.[16]

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,[17] 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.[18] Japan were defeated in their last group game in the Group H against Poland 0–1,[19] 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.[20] 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, passing the ball around to one another and keeping it in their own box, seeking to avoid any bookings and didn't attempt to take any serious shots on goal, despite losing 0–1, with some fans booing the players.[21][22][23] The match received comparison to the 1982 World Cup Disgrace of Gijón, in which a similar game was played.[24] Japan were the only AFC team to have qualified to the knockout stage.[25] 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.[26] 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.[27][28] However, Japan's impressive performance was praised by fans, pundits and medias for their fighting spirits, as demonstrated by Japan's win over Colombia, a draw to Senegal and a strong counter offensive against heavyweight Belgium.[29]

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,[30] Oman 1–0[31] and Uzbekistan 2–1.[32] The team, however, got criticized for its defensive approach, as Japan won the group with only one goal margin wins in all three matches and two later knockout stage's matches as Japan only beat fellow powerhouse Saudi Arabia in the round of sixteen and dark horse Vietnam in the quarter-finals both with 1–0 margin.[33][34] The semi-finals saw Japan put the best performance up to date, thrashing rival powerhouse Iran 3–0 to reach the final.[35] However, Japan's hope to win the fifth Asian Cup in two decades shattered with the team suffered a 1–3 loss to Aspire-based Qatar and finished runners-up of the tournament.[36]

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.[37] Japan, however, bounced back well and managed to unluckily draw against football giants Uruguay 2–2, who (Uruguay) were deemed to been saved by VAR.[38] 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.[39] Aftermath saw Japan played a friendly game against the Paraguayans, and won 2–0 at home.

Japan was grouped with Myanmar, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers. In a pretty easy group, Japan proved to be the dominant force in their group, having cruised Myanmar, Mongolia and Tajikistan without conceding a goal so far.


South Korea

Japan maintains a strong football rivalry with South Korea. Japan has played 78 matches against the South Korean football team with 14 victories, 22 draws, and 41 losses. The football rivalry is long-seated and is often seen as an extension of an overall historic rivalry between the two nations.


Japan began to develop a fierce rivalry with fellow Asian powerhouse Australia, shortly after the latter joined the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).[40] The rivalry is regarded as one of Asia's biggest football rivalries.[41] 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.[42] 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.[43]


Japan also has a long-standing rivalry with China, because of historical tensions between two countries in the past. China is leading the series with 16 wins, with Japan only has 14 wins; however Japan has achieved more successes than China.

Team image


The Japanese team is commonly known by the fans and media as Sakkā Nippon Daihyō (サッカー日本代表), Nippon Daihyō (日本代表), or Daihyō (代表) as abbreviated expressions. Although the team does not have an official nickname as such, it is often known by the name of the manager. For example, under Takeshi Okada, the team was known as Okada Japan (岡田ジャパン, Okada Japan).[44] Recently, the team has been known or nicknamed as the "Samurai Blue", while Japanese news media during the 2018 FIFA World Cup still referred it to by the recently departed manager's (Akira Nishino) last name, as "Nishino Japan" (西野ジャパン, Nishino Japan).[45][46]

Fan chanting

Japanese national team supporters are known for chanting "Nippon Ole" (Nippon is the Japanese word for Japan) at home matches.[47]


The national team kit design has gone through several alterations in the past. 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 Japan's first World Cup appearance in 1996 Asian Cup and in 1998, 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 used blue shirts in a 3–2 victory over Sweden in the first game of its maiden major international competition, the 1936 Summer Olympics.[48] 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.[49] Before that, Asics and Puma had been the team's official apparel sponsor alongside Adidas.

Kit suppliers

Kit supplier Period Notes
Asics, Puma, Adidas 0000–April 1999
Adidas April 1999–present Exclusive kit supplier

Kit deals

Kit supplier Period Contract
Value Notes
7 November 2014
2015–2022 (8 years)[50] Disclosed[51]


The crest or emblem of the national team was adopted in late 2017 as part of a larger rebranding by the Japan Football Association.[52] The crest features the Yatagarasu, a three-legged crow from Japanese mythology, holding a solid red football. 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.[53][54]

The previous crest 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.[53]


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, Kirin, Saison Card International, FamilyMart, JAL, MS&AD Insurance Group, Asahi Shinbun, Mizuho Financial, Daito Trust Construction and KDDI.


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 change uniforms.

For the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the Pokémon character Pikachu served as the mascot.[55]

Recent results and fixtures




Coaching staff

Position Name
Head Coach Hajime Moriyasu
Assistant Coach Akinobu Yokouchi
Assistant Coach Toshihide Saito
Goalkeeping Coach Takashi Shimoda
Physical Coach Ryoichi Matsumoto


Current squad

The following players were called-up for the 2019 EAFF E-1 Football Championship, held in December 2019.
Caps and goals as of 18 December 2019 after the match against South Korea.

No. Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club
1 1GK Kosuke Nakamura (1995-02-27) 27 February 1995 6 0 Kashiwa Reysol
12 1GK Ryosuke Kojima (1997-01-30) 30 January 1997 0 0 Oita Trinita
23 1GK Keisuke Osako (1999-07-28) 28 July 1999 2 0 Sanfrecce Hiroshima

2 2DF Daiki Suga (1998-09-10) 10 September 1998 1 1 Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo
4 2DF Shinnosuke Hatanaka (1995-08-25) 25 August 1995 7 0 Yokohama F. Marinos
5 2DF Genta Miura (1995-03-01) 1 March 1995 10 1 Gamba Osaka
15 2DF Tsuyoshi Watanabe (1997-02-05) 5 February 1997 1 0 FC Tokyo
19 2DF Sho Sasaki (1989-10-02) 2 October 1989 9 0 Sanfrecce Hiroshima
21 2DF Taiyo Koga (1998-10-28) 28 October 1998 1 0 Kashiwa Reysol
22 2DF Daiki Hashioka (1999-05-17) 17 May 1999 2 0 Urawa Red Diamonds

3 3MF Shunta Tanaka (1997-05-26) 26 May 1997 1 0 Osaka University
6 3MF Ryota Oshima (1993-01-23) 23 January 1993 7 0 Kawasaki Frontale
7 3MF Keita Endo (1997-11-22) 22 November 1997 2 0 Yokohama F. Marinos
8 3MF Yosuke Ideguchi (1996-08-23) 23 August 1996 15 2 Gamba Osaka
10 3MF Teruhito Nakagawa (1992-07-27) 27 July 1992 2 0 Yokohama F. Marinos
14 3MF Tsukasa Morishima (1997-04-25) 25 April 1997 2 0 Sanfrecce Hiroshima
16 3MF Yuki Soma (1997-02-25) 25 February 1997 3 0 Kashima Antlers
17 3MF Ao Tanaka (1998-09-10) 10 September 1998 2 0 Kawasaki Frontale
18 3MF Kento Hashimoto (1993-08-16) 16 August 1993 7 0 FC Tokyo

9 4FW Musashi Suzuki (1994-02-11) 11 February 1994 7 1 Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo
11 4FW Kyosuke Tagawa (1999-02-11) 11 February 1999 2 1 FC Tokyo
13 4FW Ayase Ueda (1998-08-28) 28 August 1998 6 0 Kashima Antlers
20 4FW Koki Ogawa (1997-08-08) 8 August 1997 1 3 Mito HollyHock

Recent call-ups

The following players have been called up to the Japan squad in the last 12 months.

Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club Latest call-up
GK Eiji Kawashima (1983-03-20) 20 March 1983 91 0 Strasbourg v.  Venezuela, 19 November 2019
GK Shūichi Gonda (1989-03-03) 3 March 1989 16 0 Portimonense v.  Venezuela, 19 November 2019
GK Daniel Schmidt (1992-02-03) 3 February 1992 5 0 Sint-Truiden v.  Kyrgyzstan, 14 November 2019
GK Masaaki Higashiguchi (1986-05-12) 12 May 1986 8 0 Gamba Osaka v.  Bolivia, 26 March 2019

DF Sei Muroya (1994-04-05) 5 April 1994 10 0 FC Tokyo 2019 EAFF E-1 Football Championship INJ
DF Naomichi Ueda (1994-10-24) 24 October 1994 11 0 Cercle Brugge v.  Venezuela, 19 November 2019
DF Shintaro Kurumaya (1992-04-05) 5 April 1992 4 0 Kawasaki Frontale v.  Venezuela, 19 November 2019
DF Ryosuke Shindo (1996-06-07) 7 June 1996 0 0 Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo v.  Venezuela, 19 November 2019
DF Hayato Araki (1996-08-07) 7 August 1996 0 0 Sanfrecce Hiroshima v.  Venezuela, 19 November 2019
DF Yuto Nagatomo (1986-09-12) 12 September 1986 122 4 Galatasaray v.  Kyrgyzstan, 14 November 2019
DF Maya Yoshida (captain) (1988-08-24) 24 August 1988 100 11 Southampton v.  Kyrgyzstan, 14 November 2019
DF Hiroki Sakai (1990-04-12) 12 April 1990 61 1 Marseille v.  Kyrgyzstan, 14 November 2019
DF Koki Anzai (1995-05-31) 31 May 1995 4 0 Portimonense v.  Kyrgyzstan, 14 November 2019
DF Takehiro Tomiyasu (1998-11-05) 5 November 1998 18 1 Bologna v.  Mongolia, 10 October 2019 INJ
DF Daiki Sugioka (1998-09-08) 8 September 1998 3 0 Shonan Bellmare 2019 Copa América
DF Tomoki Iwata (1997-04-07) 7 April 1997 2 0 Oita Trinita 2019 Copa América U23
DF Teruki Hara (1998-07-30) 30 July 1998 1 0 Sagan Tosu 2019 Copa América
DF Yugo Tatsuta (1998-06-21) 21 June 1998 1 0 Shimizu S-Pulse 2019 Copa América
DF Tomoaki Makino (1987-05-11) 11 May 1987 38 4 Urawa Red Diamonds v.  El Salvador, 9 June 2019
DF Gen Shoji (1992-12-11) 11 December 1992 18 1 Toulouse v.  El Salvador, 9 June 2019 INJ
DF Ryosuke Yamanaka (1993-04-20) 20 April 1993 2 1 Urawa Red Diamonds v.  El Salvador, 9 June 2019
DF Daigo Nishi (1987-08-28) 28 August 1987 2 0 Vissel Kobe v.  Bolivia, 26 March 2019
DF Tsukasa Shiotani (1988-11-05) 5 November 1988 7 1 Al-Ain 2019 AFC Asian Cup

MF Genki Haraguchi (1991-05-09) 9 May 1991 53 11 Hannover 96 v.  Venezuela, 19 November 2019
MF Hotaru Yamaguchi (1990-10-06) 6 October 1990 48 3 Vissel Kobe v.  Venezuela, 19 November 2019
MF Gaku Shibasaki (1992-05-28) 28 May 1992 45 3 Deportivo La Coruña v.  Venezuela, 19 November 2019
MF Takuma Asano (1994-11-10) 10 November 1994 20 4 Partizan v.  Venezuela, 19 November 2019
MF Shoya Nakajima (1994-08-23) 23 August 1994 19 5 Porto v.  Venezuela, 19 November 2019
MF Kyogo Furuhashi (1995-01-20) 20 January 1995 1 0 Vissel Kobe v.  Venezuela, 19 November 2019
MF Takumi Minamino (1995-01-16) 16 January 1995 22 11 Liverpool v.  Kyrgyzstan, 14 November 2019
MF Wataru Endo (1993-02-09) 9 February 1993 22 1 VfB Stuttgart v.  Kyrgyzstan, 14 November 2019
MF Junya Ito (1993-03-09) 9 March 1993 17 2 Genk v.  Kyrgyzstan, 14 November 2019
MF Daichi Kamada (1996-08-05) 5 August 1996 4 1 Eintracht Frankfurt v.  Kyrgyzstan, 14 November 2019
MF Ritsu Doan (1998-06-16) 16 June 1998 18 3 PSV v.  Tajikistan, 15 October 2019
MF Takefusa Kubo (2001-06-04) 4 June 2001 7 0 Mallorca v.  Tajikistan, 15 October 2019
MF Ko Itakura (1997-01-27) 27 January 1997 3 0 Groningen v.  Tajikistan, 15 October 2019
MF Koji Miyoshi (1997-03-26) 26 March 1997 3 2 Antwerp 2019 Copa América
MF Hiroki Abe (1999-01-28) 28 January 1999 3 0 Barcelona B 2019 Copa América U23
MF Yuta Nakayama (1997-02-16) 16 February 1997 1 0 PEC Zwolle 2019 Copa América U23
MF Tatsuya Ito (1997-06-26) 26 June 1997 0 0 Sint-Truiden 2019 Copa América
MF Taishi Matsumoto (1998-08-22) 22 August 1998 0 0 Sanfrecce Hiroshima 2019 Copa América U23
MF Kota Watanabe (1998-10-18) 18 October 1998 0 0 Yokohama F. Marinos 2019 Copa América
MF Shinji Kagawa (1989-03-17) 17 March 1989 97 31 Zaragoza v.  El Salvador, 9 June 2019
MF Yuki Kobayashi (1992-04-24) 24 April 1992 8 1 Waasland-Beveren v.  El Salvador, 9 June 2019
MF Hidemasa Morita (1995-05-10) 10 May 1995 3 0 Kawasaki Frontale v.  El Salvador, 9 June 2019
MF Takashi Inui (1988-06-02) 2 June 1988 36 6 Eibar v.  Bolivia, 26 March 2019
MF Takashi Usami (1992-05-06) 6 May 1992 27 3 Gamba Osaka v.  Bolivia, 26 March 2019
MF Toshihiro Aoyama (1986-02-22) 22 February 1986 12 1 Sanfrecce Hiroshima 2019 AFC Asian Cup

FW Kensuke Nagai (1989-03-05) 5 March 1989 12 3 FC Tokyo v.  Venezuela, 19 November 2019
FW Ado Onaiwu (1995-11-08) 8 November 1995 0 0 Oita Trinita v.  Venezuela, 19 November 2019
FW Yuya Osako (1990-05-18) 18 May 1990 45 15 Werder Bremen v.  Myanmar, 10 September 2019
FW Shinji Okazaki (1986-04-16) 16 April 1986 119 50 Huesca 2019 Copa América
FW Daizen Maeda (1997-10-20) 20 October 1997 1 0 Marítimo 2019 Copa América U23
FW Yoshinori Mutō (1992-07-15) 15 July 1992 29 3 Newcastle United 2019 AFC Asian Cup
FW Koya Kitagawa (1996-07-26) 26 July 1996 8 0 Rapid Wien 2019 AFC Asian Cup INJ

INJ Withdrew due to an injury.
PRE Preliminary squad.
RET Retired from national team.
U23 Included in the U-23 National Team.

Most caps and goals

Statistics below are from matches which the Japan Football Association consider as official.[1][56][57][58]

Updated to 14 November 2019:



As of 10 December 2019
Manager Period Record
MatchesWonDrawLostWin %
Masujiro Nishida192320020%
Goro Yamada192520020%
Shigeyoshi Suzuki (1st)1930211050%
Shigemaru Takenokoshi (1st)1934310233.33%
Shigeyoshi Suzuki (2nd)1936211050%
Shigemaru Takenokoshi (2nd)19401100100%
Hirokazu Ninomiya1951311133.33%
Shigemaru Takenokoshi (3rd)1954–561224616.66%
Taizo Kawamoto195820020%
Shigemaru Takenokoshi (4th)1958–591242633.33%
Hidetoki Takahashi1961–19621432921.43%
Ken Naganuma (1st)1963–196931187658.06%
Shunichiro Okano1970–197119112657.90%
Ken Naganuma (2nd)1972–1976421662038.09%
Hiroshi Ninomiya1976–197827661522.22%
Yukio Shimomura1979–19801484257.14%
Masashi Watanabe1980320166.67%
Saburō Kawabuchi1980–19811032530%
Takaji Mori1981–1985432251651.16%
Yoshinobu Ishii1986–198717112464.70%
Kenzo Yokoyama1988–199124571220.83%
Hans Ooft1992–199327167459.25%
Paulo Roberto Falcão1994934233.33%
Shu Kamo1994–19974623101350%
Takeshi Okada (1st)1997–19981554633.33%
Philippe Troussier1998–20025023161146%
Ivica Osim2006–200720135365%
Takeshi Okada (2nd)2007–20105026131152%
Hiromi Hara (caretaker)20102200100%
Alberto Zaccheroni2010–20145530121354.54%
Javier Aguirre2014–20151071270%
Vahid Halilhodžić2015–201836218757.58%
Akira Nishino2018721428.57%
Hajime Moriyasu2018–26184469.23%
Manager Period Record
MatchesWonDrawLostWin %

Competitive record

*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

FIFA World Cup record Qualifications record
Hosts / year Result Position GP W D* L GS GA GP W D L GS GA
1930Did not enter No qualification
1934 Did not enter
1938Withdrew Withdrew
1950Suspended from FIFA Suspended from FIFA
1954Did not qualify 201137
1958Did not enter Did not enter
1962Did not qualify 200214
1966Did not enter Did not enter
1970Did not qualify 402248
1974 410354
1978 401305
1982 420242
1986 8512155
1990 623173
1994 13931356
1998Group stage31st300314 159515112
2002Round of 169th421153 Qualified as hosts
2006Group stage28th301227 121101255
2010Round of 169th421142 14842239
2014Group stage29th301226 14833308
2018Round of 1615th411267 181332447
2022To be determined To be determined
TotalRound of 166/21215511202912068262624785

AFC Asian Cup

Head-to-head records against other countries

As of 19 November 2019.

Year Pld W D L GF GA GD

FIFA rankings

Last update was on 25 October 2018. Source:[63]

     Worst Ranking       Best Ranking       Worst Mover       Best Mover  

Japan's FIFA world rankings
Rank Year Games
Won Lost Drawn Best Worst
Rank Move Rank Move
-2019(to be determined)
50201814635 41 761 5
57201713634 40 757 11
45201610712 45 858 7
532015171151 50 558 8
54201413724 54 244 4
47201319838 21 248 7
22201212822 19 733 11
19201115951 13 1229 2
29201018846 29 1346 6
432009171133 31 443 9
352008191072 32 438 6
34200713751 30 746 5
    47200619946 15 149 13
152005201136 13 519 4
172004221723 17 429 1
29200316655 22 229 3
22200213553 22 838 4
34200113634 26 1144 9
    382000181062 34 1562 6
5719997043 33 057 13
    20199818728 9 1030 10
141997221174 14 420 2
211996131012 20 630 2
31199517647 31 741 8
3619949342 36 1454 12
    431993161132 43 2344 1

Team records

As of 23 January 2015[64]
Biggest victory
15–0 vs Philippines, 27 September 1967
Heaviest defeat
15–2 vs Philippines, 10 May 1917
Most consecutive victories
8, 8 August 1970 vs. Indonesia – 17 December 1970 vs. India
8, 14 March 1993 vs. United States – 5 May 1995 vs. Sri Lanka
8, 26 May 1996 vs. Yugoslavia – 12 December 1996 vs. China
Most consecutive matches without defeat
20, 24 June 2010 vs. Denmark – 11 November 2011 vs. Tajikistan
Most consecutive defeats
6, 10 June 1956 vs. South Korea – 28 December 1958 vs. Malaya
Most consecutive matches without victory
11, 13 August 1976 vs. Burma – 15 June 1976 vs. South Korea
Most consecutive draws
4, 13 August 1976 vs. Burma – 20 August 1976 vs. Malaysia
Most consecutive matches scoring
13, 19 December 1966 vs. Singapore – 16 October 1969 vs. Australia
13, 7 February 2004 vs. Malaysia – 24 July 2004 vs. Thailand
Most consecutive matches without scoring
6, 18 June 1989 vs. Hong Kong – 31 July 1990 vs. North Korea
Most consecutive matches conceding a goal
28, 6 November 1960 vs. South Korea – 11 December 1966 vs. Iran
Most consecutive matches without conceding a goal
7, 19 November 2003 vs. Cameroon – 18 February 2004 vs. Oman



Bronze Medal: 1968
Runners-Up: 2001


Champions: 1992, 2000, 2004, 2011
Runners-up: 2019


Champions: 1992, 1995, 1998
Champions: 2013
Champions: 1930


Champions: 1993, 2007
Champions: 2001


Champions (11): 1991, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011

Individual awards

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

See also


  1. 80 days to go – With 80 goals in 84 appearances, Kunishige Kamamoto is Japan's all-time leading goalscorer. (FIFA.com)
  2. "The FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking". FIFA. 19 December 2019. Retrieved 19 December 2019.
  3. Elo rankings change compared to one year ago. "World Football Elo Ratings". eloratings.net. 25 November 2019. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  4. "Japan National Football Team Results: 1910–1919". Football Japan. p. 29 December 2012. Retrieved 17 July 2014.
  5. Motoaki Inukai 「日本代表公式記録集2008」 Japan Football Association p.206
  6. Japan Invited To Copa America 2011 Along With Mexico Goal.com 2 June 2009
  7. 1917年の日本サッカー | 日本サッカーアーカイブ. 日本サッカーアーカイブ (in Japanese). Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  8. Horne, John, ed. (2002). Japan, Korea and the 2002 World Cup. Psychology Press. pp. 121–122. ISBN 0415275636.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  9. "Japan Football Museum| Japan Football Association". www.jfa.jp (in Japanese). Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  10. "World Cup 1938 Qualifying". www.rsssf.com. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  11. "World Football Elo Ratings". www.eloratings.net. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  12. "Origins and History|JFA|Japan Football Association". www.jfa.jp (in Japanese). Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  13. Matsushima, Ken. "History of the J. League". Rising Sun News. Archived from the original on 12 May 2006. Retrieved 2 November 2016.
  14. Hongo, Jun (9 February 2010). "Japan team has foot in World Cup door but can it kick?". Japan Times. p. 3. Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 29 June 2018.
  15. Staff and agencies (29 January 2011). "Australia 0 Japan 1 (aet): match report". The Daily Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group Limited. Retrieved 2 February 2011.
  16. "Japan coach gamble to pay off?". Pete Hall. Sky Sports. 19 June 2018. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  17. "Japan make history with World Cup win against 10-man Colombia". Agence France Presse. 19 June 2018. Retrieved 25 June 2018.
  18. Gendler, Daniel (24 June 2018). "Japan and Senegal Control World Cup Fates After Draw". New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 25 June 2018.
  19. Mather, Victor (27 June 2018). "Japan Advances in World Cup 2018 Despite Losing to Poland". New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  20. Tweedale, Alistair; Ducker, James (28 June 2018). "Lucky Japan qualify for knockout stages through Fifa's fair play rules despite losing 1-0 to Poland". The Daily Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group Limited. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  21. "World Cup's most shameful moment". NewsComAu. Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  22. "World Cup 2018: Japan go through but final group game ends in 'mind-boggling farce'". BBC Sport. 28 June 2018. Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  23. Glendenning, Barry (28 June 2018). "Japan 0-1 Poland: World Cup 2018 – as it happened". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  24. "'Anti-football': World Cup fair play farce embarrasses Japanese fans". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  25. FIFA.com. "2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ - FIFA.com". www.fifa.com. Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  26. "World Cup 2018: Belgium stun Japan to reach quarters". BBC Sport. 2 July 2018. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
  27. "A two-goal comeback after 48 years, and a new high for AFC". Debayan Sen. ESPN. 2 July 2018. Retrieved 3 July 2018.
  28. Dominic Fifield (14 July 2018). "England finish fourth at World Cup after Eden Hazard seals Belgium win". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  29. https://dailyfootballshow.com/talking-points-belgium-3-japan-2-blue-samurai-heartbreak-after-a-miracle-comeback/
  30. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2019/01/d5913d4da0ef-soccer-japan-come-back-to-beat-turkmenistan-3-2-in-asian-cup-opener.html
  31. https://www.fourfourtwo.com/news/oman-0-japan-1-controversial-haraguchi-penalty-seals-progress
  32. https://www.foxsports.com/soccer/story/qatar-japan-advance-in-asian-cup-with-perfect-record-011719
  33. https://www.foxsports.com/soccer/story/asian-cup-japan-tops-saudi-arabia-australia-wins-shootout-012119
  34. https://baokhanhhoa.vn/english/sports/201901/afc-asian-cup-quarter-finals-vietnam-0-1-japan-8103948/
  35. https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/01/29/587078/Japan-beat-Iran-30-to-advance-to-AFC-Asian-Cups-final
  36. https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/47092164
  37. "Alexis Sánchez scores first goal since January as Chile beat Japan". Guardian. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  38. https://www.apnews.com/45d46d5605f148c8804e8755b5d48fc0
  39. https://www.foxsportsasia.com/football/copa-america/1125799/ecuador-1-japan-1-draw-sees-both-nations-exit-copa-america/
  40. "Australia, Japan rivalry hits new heights". Football Federation Australia. Retrieved 30 September 2013.
  41. "Highlights". Foxtel.com.au. Archived from the original on 16 November 2014. Retrieved 3 May 2015.
  42. Sebastian Hassett. "Socceroos to resume Japan rivalry in qualifying group for Brazil". Smh.com.au. Retrieved 3 May 2015.
  43. "Japan-Australia: a classic football rivalry". theroar.com.au. Retrieved 30 September 2013.
  44. 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)
  45. ハリルジャパン、白星発進!!岡崎&本田のゴールで初陣飾る. Gekisaka (in Japanese). Kodansha. 27 March 2015. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
  46. 岡崎、本田がゴール! ハリルジャパン初陣を勝利で飾る. Football Channel (in Japanese). Kanzen ltd. 27 March 2015. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
  47. Chant of JAPAN National Team "NIPPON Ole" YT
  48. "Why does Japan wear blue soccer uniforms?". The Wichita Eagle.
  49. 11月6日、日本代表新ユニフォーム発表…歴代戦闘服を写真で振り返る
  50. Japan extends Adidas Kit Deal
  51. "JFA renews visual identity and reconstructs brand values". Japan Football Association. 1 November 2017. Retrieved 27 July 2018.
  52. "NEW JAPANESE NATIONAL TEAM LOGO UNVEILED". Soccer 365. 1 November 2017. Retrieved 27 July 2018.
  53. D'Asaro, Filippo. "The new Japan's National Team Logo". NSS Magazine. Retrieved 27 July 2018.
  54. Sanchez, Miranda (15 March 2014). "Pikachu Named Mascot of the 2014 World Cup".
  55. Yoon Hyung-Jin. "Japan International Match – List of Full International Matches". RSSSF. Retrieved 1 July 2012.
  56. Mamrud, Roberto. "Japan – Record International Players". RSSSF. Retrieved 2 July 2012.
  57. "Players Records". Japan National Football Team Database. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
  58. "El Presidente Figueredo Aguerre anunció la presencia del Japón en la Copa América Chile 2015" [President Figueredo Aguerre announced the presence of Japan at the 2015 Copa América in Chile] (in Spanish). CONMEBOL. 16 August 2013. Retrieved 1 July 2018. I want to announce that the Japan national team will participate at the 2015 Copa América.
  59. Sánchez Sandoval, Édgar (2 June 2016). "Copa América: Japón, el invitado más extraño" [Copa América: Japan, the most strange invitee] (in Spanish). Publimetro Chile. Retrieved 1 July 2018. Even in 2015, the japanese were asked to be part of the Copa América in Chile, but they withdrew again due to problems with their calendar and previously scheduled matches.
  60. González, Christian (4 May 2018). "Conmebol confirma a Japón y Qatar en la Copa América de 2019" (in Spanish). La Tercera. Retrieved 1 July 2018. CONMEBOL confirmed, via its website, what has been speculated several months ago: Japan and Qatar will be invited at the event that will be held in Brazil.
  61. "FIFA-ranking". Retrieved 11 September 2018.
  62. "Team Records". Japan National Football Team Database. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
Preceded by
1988 Saudi Arabia 
Asian Champions
1992 (1st title)
Succeeded by
1996 Saudi Arabia 
Preceded by
1996 Saudi Arabia 
Asian Champions
2000 (2nd title)
2004 (3rd title)
Succeeded by
2007 Iraq 
Preceded by
2007 Iraq 
Asian Champions
2011 (4th title)
Succeeded by
2015 Australia 
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