|Association||Japan Football Association (JFA)
|Sub-confederation||EAFF (East Asia)|
|Head coach||Akira Nishino|
|Most caps||Yasuhito Endō (152)|
|Top scorer||Kunishige Kamamoto (80)|
|Current||61 1 (7 June 2018)|
|Highest||9 (February 1998)|
|Lowest||62 (December 1992)|
|Current||44 (20 April 2018)|
|Highest||8 (August 2001, March 2002)|
|Lowest||123 (September 1962)|
| Japan 0–5 China
(Tokyo; 9 May 1917)
| Japan 15–0 Philippines
(Tokyo; 27 September 1967)
| Japan 2–15 Philippines
(Tokyo; 10 May 1917)
|Appearances||6 (first in 1998)|
|Best result||Round of 16, 2002 and 2010|
|Appearances||8 (first in 1988)|
|Best result||Champions, 1992, 2000, 2004 and 2011|
|Appearances||1 (first in 1999)|
|Best result||Group Stage, 1999|
|Appearances||5 (first in 1995)|
|Best result||Runners-up, 2001|
The Japan national football team (サッカー日本代表 Sakkā Nippon Daihyō) represents Japan in association football and is operated by the Japan Football Association (JFA), the governing body for association football in Japan. The current head coach is Akira Nishino.
Japan is one of the most successful teams in Asia, having qualified for the last six consecutive FIFA World Cups with second round advancements in 2002 and 2010, 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. Their principal continental rivals are South Korea and most recently, Australia.
Japan is the only team from outside the Americas to participate in the Copa América, having been invited in 1999 and 2011. Although they initially accepted the invitation for the 2011 tournament, the JFA later withdrew following the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.
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). Recently, the team has been known or nicknamed as the "Samurai Blue", while Japanese news media still refer it to by the manager's last name, as "Halilhodžić Japan" (ハリルホジ���チジャパン Hariruhojitchi Japan), or "Halil Japan" (ハリルジャパン Hariru Japan) in an abbreviated form.
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. However, 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.
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. 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.
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.
The football rivalry is long-seated and is often seen as an extension of an overall rivalry that runs deep between the two nations; Korea was under Japanese rule 1910–1945.
Controversies occasionally flare up between matches between the two nations, most recently at the 2013 EAFF East Asian Cup, where at the final match of the tournament, played between South Korea and Japan on 28 July, South Korean fans booed the start of the Japanese anthem and later upped the political sloganeering with a banner that covered most of the width of one end of the ground that read, in Korean, "The nation that forgets history has no future."(Korean: 역사를 잊은 민족에게 미래는 없다), in response to the Japanese Rising Sun Flag, apparently aiming at the Japanese leaders' reluctance to admit to wrongdoings during its militaristic and colonial past, after they displayed huge pictures of Ahn Jung-geun, who assassinated the first Prime Minister of Japan and then-Japanese Resident-General of Korea Itō Hirobumi back in 1909, and Yi Sun-sin, a Korean naval commander who is famed for his victories against the Japanese navy during the Imjin war in the Joseon Dynasty back in the 16th century.
Japan began to develop a fierce rivalry with fellow Asian powerhouse Australia, shortly after the latter joined the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). The rivalry is regarded as one of Asia's biggest football rivalries. 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. The rivalry began at the 2006 World Cup where the two countries were grouped together. The rivalry 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.
Japanese national team supporters are known for chanting "Nippon Ole" (Nippon is the Japanese term for Japan) at home matches.
Kits and crest
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. When Japan was coached by Kenzo Yokoyama (1988–1992) the kits were red and white, matching the colors 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 has one of the highest sponsorship incomes for a national squad. In 2006 their sponsorship income amounted to over 16.5 million pounds.
The mascots are "Karappe" (カラッペ) and "Karara" (カララ), two Yatagarasu wearing the Japan national football team uniform. The mascots were designed by Japanese manga artist Susumu Matsushita. Each year when a new kit is launched, the mascots change uniforms.
Recent results and fixtures
|23 March 2018 International Friendly||Japan||1–1||Mali||Liège, Belgium|
|15:20 (UTC+1)||Nakajima 90+5'||Report||Diaby 43' (pen.)||Stadium: Stade Maurice Dufrasne
Referee: Erik Lambrechts (Belgium)
|27 March 2018 Kirin Challenge Cup 2018 in Europe||Japan||1–2||Ukraine||Liège, Belgium|
|Makino 41'||Report||Ueda 21' (o.g.)
|Stadium: Stade Maurice Dufrasne
|30 May 2018 Kirin Challenge Cup 2018||Japan||0–2||Ghana||Yokohama, Japan|
|19:25 (UTC+9)||Report||Stadium: Nissan Stadium (Yokohama)
Referee: Chris Beath (Australia)
|8 June 2018 International Friendly||Switzerland||2–0||Japan||Lugano, Switzerland|
|19:00 (UTC+2)||Rodriguez 42' (pen.)
|Report||Stadium: Cornaredo Stadium
Referee: Amaury Delerue (France)
|12 June 2018 International Friendly||Japan||4–2||Paraguay||Innsbruck, Austria|
|15:05 (UTC+2)||Inui 51', 63'
Santander 77' (o.g.)
Referee: Oliver Drachta (Austria)
|19 June 2018 2018 FIFA World Cup||Colombia||v||Japan||Saransk, Russia|
|15:00 UTC+3||Report||Stadium: Mordovia Arena
|24 June 2018 2018 FIFA World Cup||Japan||v||Senegal||Yekaterinburg, Russia|
|20:00 UTC+5||Report||Stadium: Central Stadium
|28 June 2018 2018 FIFA World Cup||Japan||v||Poland||Volgograd, Russia|
|17:00 UTC+3||Report||Stadium: Volgograd Arena
|7 September 2018 Kirin Challenge Cup 2018||Japan||v||Chile||Sapporo, Japan|
|Stadium: Sapporo Dome
|11 September 2018 Kirin Challenge Cup 2018||Japan||v||Costa Rica||Suita, Japan|
|Stadium: Panasonic Stadium Suita
|12 October 2018 Kirin Challenge Cup 2018||Japan||v||Panama||Niigata, Japan|
|Stadium: Denka Big Swan Stadium
|16 October 2018 Kirin Challenge Cup 2018||Japan||v||Trinidad and Tobago||Saitama, Japan|
|Stadium: Saitama Stadium 2002
|20 November 2018 Kirin Challenge Cup 2018||Japan||v||TBD||Toyota, Japan|
|Stadium: Toyota Stadium
|9 January 2019 2019 AFC Asian Cup||Japan||v||Turkmenistan||Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates|
|Stadium: Al Nahyan Stadium
|13 January 2019 2019 AFC Asian Cup||Oman||v||Japan||Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates|
|Stadium: Zayed Sports City Stadium
|17 January 2019 2019 AFC Asian Cup||Japan||v||Uzbekistan||Al Ain, United Arab Emirates|
|Stadium: Sheikh Khalifa International Stadium
|Head Coach||Akira Nishino|
|Assistant Coach||Makoto Teguramori|
|Conditioning Coach||Naoki Hayakawa|
|Goalkeeping Coach||Yukiya Hamano|
The following players have been called up to the Japan squad in last 12 months.
- Statistics below are from matches which the Japan Football Association consider as official.
Updated to 12 June 2018:
- As of 16 December 2017
|Shigeyoshi Suzuki (1st)||1930||2||1||1||0||50%|
|Shigemaru Takenokoshi (1st)||1934||3||1||0||2||33.33%|
|Shigeyoshi Suzuki (2nd)||1936||2||1||1||0||50%|
|Shigemaru Takenokoshi (2nd)||1940||1||1||0||0||100%|
|Shigemaru Takenokoshi (3rd)||1954–56||12||2||4||6||16.66%|
|Shigemaru Takenokoshi (4th)||1958–59||12||4||2||6||33.33%|
|Ken Naganuma (1st)||1963–1969||31||18||7||6||58.06%|
|Ken Naganuma (2nd)||1972–1976||42||16||6||20||38.09%|
|Takeshi Okada (1st)||1997–1998||15||5||4||6||33.33%|
|Takeshi Okada (2nd)||2007–2010||50||26||13||11||52%|
|Hiromi Hara (caretaker)||2010||2||2||0||0||100%|
- *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 Finals record||Qualifications record|
|Hosts / year||Result||Position||GP||W||D*||L||GS||GA||GP||W||D||L||GS||GA|
|1930||Did Not Enter||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|1954||Did Not Qualify||2||0||1||1||3||7|
|1958||Did Not Enter||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|1962||Did Not Qualify||2||0||0||2||1||4|
|1966||Did Not Enter||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|1970||Did Not Qualify||4||0||2||2||4||8|
|2002||Round of 16||9th||4||2||1||1||5||3||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|2010||Round of 16||9th||4||2||1||1||4||2||14||8||4||2||23||9|
|2022||To be determined||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|2026||To be determined||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|Total||Round of 16||6/22||17||4||4||9||14||22||120||68||26||26||247||85|
AFC Asian Cup
FIFA Confederations Cup
Since 1992, the Olympic team has been drawn from a squad with a maximum of three players over 23 years age, and the achievements of this team are not generally regarded as part of the national team's records, nor are the statistics credited to the players' international records.
Japan is the only team from outside the Americas to participate in the Copa América, having been invited in both 1999 and 2011. However, Japan declined their invitation on 16 May 2011, after events related to the difficulty of releasing some Japanese players from European teams to play as replacements. On 17 May 2011, CONMEBOL invited Costa Rica to replace Japan in the competition; the Costa Rican Football Federation accepted their invitation later that day.
- Football at the Asian Games has been an under-23 tournament since 2002.
|Asian Games Record|
|2002–present||See Japan national under-23 football team|
East Asian Race Records
EAFF E-1 Football Championship
Far Eastern Championship Games
Head-to-head records against other countries
As of 12 June 2018.
Last updated 21 December 2017
|Key to FIFA World Rankings table|
- As of 23 January 2015
- 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. Malaya
- 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 (1): 1968
- Runners-Up (1): 2001
- Champions (1): 2013
- Champions (1): 1930
- Champions (2): 1993, 2007
- Champions (1): 2001
- Champions (11): 1991, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011
- Years (1): 2002
- Years (5): 2000, 2005, 2008, 2010, 2011
- List of Japan international footballers
- Japan–South Korea football rivalry
- Japan Football Association
- Football in Japan
- Japan national under-23 football team
- Sport in Japan
- 80 days to go – With 80 goals in 84 appearances, Kunishige Kamamoto is Japan's all-time leading goalscorer. (FIFA.com)
- "Japan National Football Team Results: 1910–1919". Football Japan. p. 29 December 2012. Retrieved 17 July 2014.
- Motoaki Inukai 「日本代表公式記録集2008」 Japan Football Association p.206
- Japan Invited To Copa America 2011 Along With Mexico Goal.com 2 June 2009
-  ESPNFC.com 17 May 2011
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- Matsushima, Ken. "History of the J. League". Rising Sun News. Archived from the original on 12 May 2006. Retrieved 2 November 2016.
- Hongo, Jun, "SOCCER IN JAPAN: Japan team has foot in World Cup door but can it kick?", Japan Times, 9 February 2010, p. 3.
- "Australia 0–1 Japan (AET". Daily Telegraph. 29 January 2011. Retrieved 2 February 2011.
- "Banner Controversy Mars Japan-Korea Soccer Match". Alastair Gale. The Wall Street Journal. 29 July 2013. Retrieved 30 July 2013.
- 안중근·이순신 현수막 논란…붉은 악마는 '응원 보이콧' [Ahn Jung-geun, Yi Sun-sin banners controversy…Red Devils' "Cheering boycott"] (in Korean). Seoul Broadcasting System. 28 July 2013. Retrieved 28 July 2013.
- "Australia, Japan rivalry hits new heights". Football Federation Australia. Retrieved 30 September 2013.
- "Highlights". Foxtel.com.au. Archived from the original on 16 November 2014. Retrieved 3 May 2015.
- Sebastian Hassett. "Socceroos to resume Japan rivalry in qualifying group for Brazil". Smh.com.au. Retrieved 3 May 2015.
- "Japan-Australia: a classic football rivalry". theroar.com.au. Retrieved 30 September 2013.
- Chant of JAPAN National Team "NIPPON Ole" YT
- "Why does Japan wear blue soccer uniforms?". The Wichita Eagle.
- Sanchez, Miranda (15 March 2014). "Pikachu Named Mascot of the 2014 World Cup".
- Orlowitz, Dan (31 May 2018). "Honda, Kagawa, Okazaki named to Japan's World Cup squad". football-tribe.com. Retrieved 31 May 2018.
- Yoon Hyung-Jin. "Japan International Match – List of Full International Matches". RSSSF. Retrieved 1 July 2012.
- Mamrud, Roberto. "Japan – Record International Players". RSSSF. Retrieved 2 July 2012.
- "Players Records". Japan National Football Team Database. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
- "Managers". Japan National Football Team Database. Archived from the original on 17 May 2014. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
- "Team Records". Japan National Football Team Database. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Japan national football team.|
- Japan Football Association (in Japanese)
- Japan Samurai Blue (in Japanese)
- Japan Football Association
- Japan FIFA
- Japan at the World Cups
1988 Saudi Arabia
1992 (1st title)
1996 Saudi Arabia
1996 Saudi Arabia
2000 (2nd title)
2004 (3rd title)
2011 (4th title)
2001 Ichiro Suzuki
|Japan Professional Sports Grand Prize
2002 Japan National Football Team
2003 Hideki Matsui