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Origins and History

Ninety Years of the JFA

The Japan Football Association was founded in 1921, inspired by the English Football Association's presentation in 1919 of the FA Silver Cup to Japan. The establishment of a Japanese body for the sport would have been delayed some years were it not for the dedicated efforts of William Haigh, a British diplomat in Japan, to forge these ties with the English FA. Indeed, without his involvement in the JFA's birth, our history as an organization may have been quite different.
Sadly, the historic cup vanished in World War II, when sporting trophies were impounded so that their precious metals could go to the war effort. The war isolated Japan from the rest of the world for some time. It was only in 1950 that the nation was allowed to rejoin FIFA, the sport's global federation. Japan sent its first team to the World Cup Qualifiers in 1954. In those years, Asian nations like the Philippines and Burma (today Myanmar) were invaluable opponents for Japan's footballers to test themselves.
After a long slump, in 1960 the Japanese national team welcomed the West German coach Dettmar Cramer, who set about creating a stronger Japanese program. With his help the team reached the round of eight at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games and won the bronze medal at the Mexico City Games four years later. At Cramer's urging, Japan also established its first national league, the Japan Soccer League.
The JSL remained active through the 1980s, when pressure mounted to professionalize the sport in Japan. The J. League, the nation's first professional league, kicked off its first matches in 1993. Thereafter the Japanese sport made tremendous strides. In 1998 the Japanese team reached the first of four straight final World Cup rounds. In 2002, Japan cohosted the World Cup finals with the Korea Republic. The global media broadcast images of the warm welcome and hospitality of the Japanese, resulting in a World Cup talked about to this day as one of friendly smiles. The tournament also helped to rebuild relations between the Japanese and Koreans, inspiring bilateral athletic, cultural, and artistic exchange in a way that politics had not been able to. Today, the JFA is expressing its gratitude for international support received in the past by actively dispatching coaches to other nations in Asia and providing financial support abroad. The JFA is also extending its ties with partners around the world, entering formal agreements with associations in the leading football nations of Europe and elsewhere.
The JFA celebrates its ninetieth anniversary in 2011, a year that has brought Japan great sorrow. Since the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, we have received generous donations and heartwarming messages of support from many members of the global football family. This outpouring of friendship has given the Japanese a new look at the power of football and the strength of the ties forged through the sport.
This has inspired us to take kizuna'―a Japanese word meaning the unbreakable ties that connect us to one another―as the theme for our activities commemorating the ninetieth anniversary of the JFA. The English Football Association has kindly re-created the FA Silver Cup that was lost in the war, and we have gratefully accepted this gift as a symbol of lasting peace.
In the midst of the aftermath of the March 11 disaster, Nadeshiko Japan, the women's national team, performed brilliantly at the women's World Cup tournament, lifting the championship cup for the first time ever. The players' hunger for victory was complemented by their strong desire to give new courage to the people of northeastern Japan who were afflicted by the earthquake and tsunami. Their passionate play brought rays of hope to the Japanese people.


KIZUNA: A Tale of Ties Reborn
London, August 23. At Wembley Stadium in northwest London, the mecca of the football world, The Football Association Chairman David Bernstein presents a gleaming silver cup to his Japanese counterpart Junji Ogura, president of the Japan Football Association. The cup is symbolic both of personal friendships and of the revival of a footballing relationship that dates back to the beginnings of the game in Japan.
The story begins in 1918, at a time when Japan still had no national structure in place to unite teams and players under a single organization. That year, several regional tournaments happened to take place in the major population centers of the country, mostly involving teams drawn from the higher schools and colleges of the prewar education system. In attendance at the Kanto tournament, contested by teams from the Tokyo and Yokohama region were the British ambassador Sir William Conyngham Greene and William Haigh, a young secretary working at the embassy. The early decades of the twentieth century were something of a honeymoon period for diplomatic relations between Britain and Japan. In 1902, the Anglo-Japanese Alliance had been signed as part of an effort to contain the ambitions of tsarist Russia, and in 1918 plans were underway for the state visit of the Japanese Crown Prince (later Emperor Hirohito) to Britain and a return visit to Japan by the Prince of Wales (later king Edward VIII), due to take place in 1921 and 1922. A proposal submitted from the British Embassy in Japan to the Foreign Office, and from there to the FA in London, resulted in a decision to donate a cup to strengthen the relationship between the two countries and foster the development of the game in Japan. A silver cup duly made its way across the seas from England to Japan in March 1919.
The arrival of a cup with such an impressive pedigree caused more than a little consternation in Japan, where there was no nationwide association in place and where games were still organized on an informal basis. The enclosed letter contained clear instructions that the cup should be awarded to "the winning team of the Japanese national championship." At first, Tairei Uchino, in charge of the football club at Tokyo Higher Normal School (today Tsukuba University) was unsure of what to do with this unexpected gift from across the seas. The clinching piece of advice came from Jigoro Kano, the martial arts master and educator famous as the founder of judo. Kano was the principal of the school at the time, as well as the president of the Greater Japan Sports Association. "This is a golden opportunity. You should hurry and form a proper association," he said. With help and advice from Haigh, Uchino worked fast, drawing up a list of regulations and assembling the first board of directors for what was to become the Japan Football Association. At the same time, the All-Japan Association Football Championship Tournament was launched to determine the first recipients of the FA cup. The competition continues to this day in the form of the Emperor's Cup.
In spite of these auspicious beginnings, the cup that led to the foundation of both the Japan Football Association and the Emperor's Cup had an unhappy destiny. Japan and Britain eventually came to blows over their rights and interests in Asia and wound up as enemies when World War II broke out. At the height of the conflict, with materials in short supply, the Japanese government called on people to contribute to the war effort by donating any reserves of iron, bronze, and precious metals. In January 1945, the FA cup was donated to the government and melted down for its silver. Officially, the donation was voluntary. The trophy had been presented as a sign of international friendship and goodwill; in the chaos of wartime, it was now melted down for use as a weapon against its country of origin.
William Haigh died aged just 32 in the Great Kanto Earthquake that devastated Tokyo and Yokohama on September 1, 1923. When Haigh was inducted into the Japanese Football Hall of Fame in 2008, it occurred to Junji Ogura to find out what had been done about the cup after the war. Had the JFA ever formally informed the FA? Had anyone ever apologized? The trophy had led to the birth of the JFA. Was it possible, he wondered, that the FA would allow Japan to use a replica of the cup to revive the tradition that had been so cruelly interrupted by war? With the JFA set to celebrate its 90th anniversary in 2011, there was surely no more fitting way of marking the occasion than by reviving the trophy that had played such an important role at the association's founding all those years ago.
Fortunately, newspaper articles and other sources made it possible to ascertain the size, weight, and design of the lost cup. Research carried out by a JFA employee undergoing training at the FA in London revealed that the company that had manufactured the original cup was no longer in business, but enquiries made with similar manufacturers suggested that it would still be possible to have a replica made. The only thing remaining was to obtain permission from the FA.
Earlier this year, Ogura made a stopover in England on his way back to Japan from a FIFA Executive Committee meeting to decide the number of teams from each continent who will participate in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. On March 4, he visited FA headquarters in Wembley Stadium, where he was led into the chairman's office for his first meeting with Bernstein, who had become FA chairman just two months earlier in January this year.
"A cup donated by the English FA was instrumental in the foundation of the JFA. Unfortunately, the original cup was donated to the war effort during World War II. I want to offer my apologies for what happened, and to ask for your permission to make a replica. The original was lost as a result of the tragedy of war―we want to revive the cup and use it to remind young people that the mistakes of the past must never be repeated."
At first, Bernstein looked surprised.
"This is the first time I have ever heard about the early background of the JFA," he said. Visibly moved, he went on with emotion in his voice. "What you've told me is a wonderful story. After what I've heard, I don't think that simply giving permission for a replica cup would be enough."
Now it was Ogura's turn to be surprised. "We'll make a new trophy and present it to you at Wembley," Bernstein said. With the top executives of the respective associations personally involved, the details were smoothed out in next to no time. It was arranged that the new cup would be ready in time for celebrations to mark the 90th anniversary of the JFA on September 12, and that an official presentation would take place at Wembley on August 23.
What should the JFA do to mark its 90th anniversary? When a committee was put together to discuss the question, it came up with the idea of compiling a collection of video images that could be passed on to future generations as an edited archive of Japanese football. Then someone made a suggestion:Given the vital support the JFA has received from so many people from around the world throughout its history, wouldn't it be a fitting gesture to put together something in print to provide people outside Japan with an account of the origins and development of the JFA? And so it was decided to mark the anniversary with a collection of three things: a printed book that would be distributed to representatives of the 208 football associations around the world, the re-launched FA Trophy, and a special commemorative painting of the Yatagarasu, the three-legged crow that is the symbol of the JFA.
Ogura was delighted to accept the new trophy on behalf of the JFA, having regarded Britain as his second home ever since spending time in London as an employee with the Furukawa Electric Company. Sir. Bobby Charlton and former FA Chairman Geoff Thompson had been a great friend of Japan and a fellow member of the FIFA Executive Committee. For Ogura, the donation of the new cup was a reminder of warm personal relationships as well as a gesture of friendship from England to Japan.
How should the new cup be used? In terms of its roots, the original cup was donated with the intention that it should be presented to the "champion club of Japan." The most appropriate thing would therefore be to present the trophy to the winner of the Emperor's Cup competition. Various cups and prizes are given to the winning team at the awards ceremony for the Emperor's Cup, including the Emperor's Cup itself and a cup carrying the name of the competition's media sponsors. But from the JFA, winners have until now received only an official certificate to commemorate their achievement.
A cup of this kind is a precious connection between past, present, and future, passed from one year's champions to the next as a symbol of the game's traditions. A trophy should not be hidden away inside a museum. It should be a living presence in people's lives, a topic of excitement on the lips of fans and players alike.
The JFA's anniversary year of 2011 has seen a number of auspicious achievements for Japanese football, including victory at the Asian Cup in January and the triumphant performance of the Nadeshiko Japan team at the Women's World Cup in July. But 2011 has also been a time of terrible national disaster, with the country still reeling from the unprecedented devastation of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. These trying circumstances have reminded us of the power of sport. Many people in Japan were deeply moved by the performances of the Japanese women's team in Germany, rewarding them shortly after their triumphant return with the prestigious People's Honor Award―the first time this honor has ever been given to a sports team. One major reason why people responded so strongly to the players was surely the way in which their performances underlined for all to see the importance of close ties between teammates. In Japanese, the word used to describe the strong connections of companionship that bind people together is "Kizuna."
A joy shared is a joy doubled. In times of sadness, too, having people around us to share the burden is a vital source of solace and strength. It is the encouragement that comes from our "kizuna" that provides us with the strength to rise above adversity and the courage to overcome our setbacks and misfortunes.
The revival of the FA cup is a powerful symbol of how these ties of friendship and support can transcend national borders and bring people together across the vastness of the seas.


1873 Ten years after the founding of the Football Association in England, Lieutenant-Commander Archibald L. Douglas arrives as the head of a Royal Navy mission to Japan. As instructor at the Imperial Japanese Navy Academy in Tsukiji, Tokyo, he teaches his cadets to play football as a pastime. This marks the first introduction of the game to Japan.
1878 The National Institute of Gymnastics is founded, with football as one of the sports covered in the curriculum.
1885 April Kogai yugi ho (Rules of Outdoor Games) by Gendou Tsuboi→73p is published. Chapter 17 introduces the rules of football (referred to as a kind of "kemari," a traditional Japanese ballgame played with the feet). This is believed to be the first Japanese mention of the game in print.
1888 March The Interport Match, the oldest fixture in Japan, takes place for the first time between teams of expatriates representing the Yokohama Country and Athletic Club (YC&AC) and the Kobe Regatta and Athletic Club (KR&AC).
1896 March A football club is founded at Tokyo Higher Normal School.
September A football society is founded at Kobe Jinjo Middle School.
1899 An Association Football Club is formed at the Mikage Normal School in Kobe.
1904 February In the first match between Japanese and foreign players, a team representing Tokyo Higher Normal School is thrashed 9-0 by the YC&AC.
May The Federation Internationale de Football Assocration (FIFA) is founded.
1907 November The first competitive match between Japanese teams takes place between Tokyo Higher Normal School and Aoyama Normal School.
1917 May Tokyo Normal Higher School represents Japan at the Third Far Eastern Championship Games in Shibaura, Tokyo.
Tairei Uchino→73p forms the Tokyo Shukyu Dan (Tokyo Football Group), the first club team in Japan.
1918 January-February Numerous competitions are held, including the Japan Football Championship in Osaka, the Tokai Football Tournament in Aichi and the Kanto Football Tournament in Tokyo.
1919 March Thanks to the efforts of William Haigh→74p, an assistant secretary at the British Embassy in Tokyo, the FA Silver Cup is presented to Japan by the English Football Association. Jigoro Kano accepts the cup as president of the Japan Sports Association.
1921 September The Japan Football Association is founded, with Jikichi Imamura→68p as its first president.
November Four teams take part in the inaugural National Association Football Tournament (now the Emperor's Cup). Captain Goro Yamada →74p accepts the FA Silver Cup from British Ambassador Sir Charles Eliot on behalf of the Tokyo Football Group.
1923 May Japan takes part in the Sixth Far Eastern Games in Osaka, in what is later recognized as Japan's first international "A" match.
August A Japanese edition is published of the instructional text How to Play Association Football by Kyaw Din →75p, an instructor at the middle school attached to Tokyo Higher Normal School and Waseda high school.
1925 March The Japan Football Association joins the Japan Sports Association.
1927 August A Japanese side led by Shigeyoshi Suzuki →76p defeats the Philippines at the Eighth Far Eastern Games in Shanghai―the first win by a Japanese representative side.
1929 May Japan joins FIFA (later expelled during World War II).
1930 May Japan takes part in the Ninth Far Eastern Championship Games in Tokyo, and due to great performances of players such as captain Shigemaru Takenokoshi→77p Shiro Teshima→78p and Hideo Shinojima→79p, Japan takes a share in its first title with a 3-3 draw with China.
1931 June The Japan Football Association flag is used for the first time. The three-legged crow emblem is proposed by President Tairei Uchino →73p and his fellow directors and designed by sculptor Jitsuzo Hinago.
October The Association's magazine newsletter Shukyu (Football) is founded.
1935 April Ryutaro Fukao →68p becomes the Association's second president.
1936 August Japan is represented at the Berlin Olympics. Captain Teizo Takeuchi →79p carries the flag at the entrance ceremony. Taizo Kawamoto →81p scores Japan's first Olympic goal as Japan defeats Sweden 3-2, a result that becomes known as the "Miracle of Berlin." The team makes it through to the quarter-finals.
1939 Autumn The Association's official song, "Shukyu Koshin Kyoku" (Football March) is completed.
1942 April The JFA is incorporated into the Greater Japan Sports Association.
1945 January The Greater Japan Sports Association responds to government calls for metal by donating trophies as part of the war effort. The Japan Football Association parts company with the FA Silver Cup (donated by the English FA) and other trophies.
Jitaro Tanabe→78p (representing the Kansai region) alternate as president until 1946.
1946 May The 26th annual national championship is held for the first time since the outbreak of war, under the title First National Reconstruction Championship.
November The first National Sports Festival of Japan is held.
1947 The official name of the association is changed to the Nihon Shukyu Kyokai (Japan Football Association)
April Ryutaro Takahashi →69p becomes the Association's third president.
April The Emperor and Crown Prince attend a game between teams representing the Kanto and Kansai regions at the Nile Kinnick Stadium near Meiji Shrine (now the site of the National Stadium).
1948 July The Imperial Household Agency donates the Emperor's Cup, the first of several donated to different sports in the postwar years. (In 1949 and 1950, the cup goes to the winners of an East-West match between teams representing the Kanto and Kansai regions.)
1950 September Japan rejoins FIFA.
1951 March Japan takes part in the first Asian Games, held in New Delhi. Hirokazu Ninomiya →82p appears as player-coach. Japan finishes third thanks to impressive performances from Toshio Iwatani →85p, Taro Kagawa →83p, and Masanori Tokita→85p.
May Keio BRB becomes the first winner of the Emperor's Cup.
November Helsingborg of Sweden is the first European team to visit Japan since the war, playing a match against a Japanese representative side.
1953 August A Japanese student team takes part in the World Student Games (later the Universiade) in Dortmund, finishing fourth out of ten. The team undertakes a European tour of nearly two months to give promising young players an opportunity to experience top-flight football.
1954 March Japan takes part in regional qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup in Switzerland. After a draw and a loss to Korea, Japan fails to progress to the finals.
May The Asian Football Conference (AFC) is founded (recognized officially by FIFA in June).
October Japan joins the AFC.
1955 April Yuzuru Nozu→69p becomes the Association's fourth president.
1956 November A Japanese team led by manager Shigemaru Takenokoshi→77p takes part in the Melbourne Olympics.
1958   Through efforts of individuals such as Takeo Tawa →83p football is included as part of the new national curriculum from elementary to high school level.
May Soichi Ichida becomes the first Japanese representative to be appointed to the FIFA executive committee.
May-June The Third Asian Games are held in Tokyo (Japan is eliminated at the group stages). Shigeaki Murakata →80p referees the final.
1959 April An Asian Youth Tournament is held at the suggestion of Japan. Japan finishes third.
1960 May Furukawa Electric becomes the first company team to win the Emperor's Cup.
August JFA President Yuzuru Nozu →69p and executive director Takuji Ono→77p succeed in bringing Dettmar Cramer →84p of the West Germany Football Association to Japan as coach. Together with manager Hidetoki Takahashi →81p, he begins to strengthen the team in preparation for the Tokyo Olympics. The national team undertakes a 50-day tour of Europe and the Soviet Union, training with Cramer at the Sportschule in Duisberg.
November Japan plays Korea Republic away in a qualifier for the FIFA World Cup in Chile. This is the first visit to Korea Republic by a Japanese sports team.
1961 April Cramer returns to Japan and works with the team over a period of 13 months.
1963 October The national side defeats a representative side of West German amateurs. This is Japan's first home win against European opposition.
1964 October Japan led by captain Ryuzo Hiraki →89p takes part in the Tokyo Olympics. Japan beats Argentina 3-2, and reaches the quarter finals. Genichi Fukushima →80p and Toshio Asami →88p act as match officials; Fukushima officiates as referee in the group stages.
1965 April-May Japan hosts the Seventh Asian Youth Tournament.
June The Japan Soccer League (JSL) kicks off with eight teams. One of Cramer's recommendations, Japan's first national league continues until 1992.
1966 June A new Emperor's Cup is presented to the Association by the Imperial Household Agency.
August Soccer is added as an event in the National High School Championships.
1967 June The Palmeiras team visits Japan from Brazil and plays a match against the national team. Defender Ryozo Suzuki→88p is outstanding as Japan wins 2-1, earning its first victory over a South American professional side.
1968 April Thanks to the efforts of JFA Vice President Hideo Shinojima, Japan's first specialist football program, English Pro Soccer (later Mitsubishi Diamond Soccer), airs on Tokyo Channel 12.
October Japan wins Bronze at the Mexico Olympics, led by manager Ken Naganuma→71p and coach Shun-ichiro Okano →72p. Japan also receives the inaugural FIFA Fair Play award. Led by captain Shigeo Yaegashi →89p, the team boasts an attack made up of leading goal-scorer Kunishige Kamamoto →95p, Masashi Watanabe→90p (scorer of the equalizer against Brazil), and Ryuichi Sugiyama→92p, a midfield built around Teruki Miyamoto →92p, Ikuo Matsumoto →93p, and Takaji Mori →94p, and a strong defense featuring sweeper Mitsuo Kamata→90p, Aritatsu Ogi →93p, Masakatsu Miyamoto →91p, Hiroshi Katayama →91p, Yoshitada Yamaguchi→95p and goalkeeper Kenzo Yokoyama →94p. Yoshiyuki Maruyama →86p acts as referee during the group stages.
1969 January From this year, the final of the Emperor's Cup is played on New Year's Day.
March Japan's Bronze-winning Olympic team receives the 1968 UNESCO Fair Play award.
April JFA President Yuzuru Nozu→69p (Vice President of the AFC) is appointed to the FIFA Executive Committee.
July-October The first FIFA Coaching School takes place.
1970   Kobe FC becomes the first Japanese club to become incorporated, with Misao Tamai →76p as its first president. Under Shiro Otani →82p, the club introduces an age-group membership system.
June Yoshiyuki Maruyama →86p becomes the first Japanese referee to officiate at the FIFA World Cup (Mexico), serving as linesman in the group stages.
June Journalist Sokichiro Ushiki →87p covers the Mexico World Cup―he has since covered 11 consecutive World Cups.
July-August JFA's first Coaching School is held.
December Brazil-born Daishiro Nelson Yoshimura →96p becomes a naturalized Japanese citizen, the first foreign-born footballer to take Japanese nationality.
1972 April The JSL Second Division is launched.
September The regular fixture between Japan and South Korea is held for the first time. (The series continues until 1991.)
December The Emperor's Cup is opened to all JFA member clubs.
1974 February The History of Japanese Football, edited by Sumioki Nitta →75p and others, is published to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the JFA.
March-April A Japan (B Team) led by manager Ryuzo Hiraki→89p wins the Malaharim Cup (Indonesia) for the first time.
May-June Journalist Hiroshi Kagawa→84p covers the FIFA World Cup in West Germany―the first of nine consecutive World Cups.
June Nozomu Ohata→86p founds the JSL Team Doctors Association.
July Tokyo Channel 12 carries Japan's first live broadcast of a World Cup game, showing the final of the FIFA World Cup from West Germany.
August The JFA is incorporated as a foundation.
1975 June Japan competes for the first time in the qualifiers for the Sixth Asia Cup, but fails to qualify.
1976 April Tomisaburo Hirai →70p becomes the Association's fifth president.
October The Japanese Football Supporters Club is launched.
1977 August The Japan Youth Championship starts, featuring 32 teams recommended by regional associations.
August The National Training Center opens, providing an elite training program for outstanding players from around the country.
October Yasuhiko Okudera joins 1. FC K?ln, becoming the first Japanese professional player.
1978 May The Japan Cup (later Kirin Cup Soccer) is held for the first time.
1979 April The JFA pioneers an age-group player registration system.
August-September Japan hosts the FIFA World Youth Championship (now the FIFA U-20 World Cup). Argentina takes the trophy, with a young Diego Maradona crowned player of the tournament.
1980 March The All-Japan Women's Football Championship is held for the first time.
October Shigemaru Takenokoshi →77p passes away. The JFA holds its first memorial service.
1981 February The Toyota Europe/South America Cup is held for the first time.
  The Captain Tsubasa comic strip begins in the popular Shonen Jump weekly. The series leads to a boom in the number of Children.
June A Japanese women's side competes for the first time at the Fourth Asian Women's Tournament in Hong Kong.
November Hiroshi Ochiai →96p sets a record of 260 consecutive appearances in the JSL.
1985 August-September Football becomes an official event at the Universiade in Kobe. Japan finishes fourth.
1986 April The Special License Player System allows a limited number of professional players. Yasuhiko Okudera and Kazushi Kimura are registered as professionals.
May-June Shizuo Takada officiates as referee and linesman at the FIFA World Cup in Mexico.
December Furukawa Electric wins the Sixth Asian Club Championship.
  Toshio Asami →88p becomes vice president of the AFC Referees Committee.
1987 March His Imperial Highness Prince Takamado becomes honorary patron of the JFA.
April Shizuo Fujita →70p becomes the Association's sixth president.
1988 January The Yomiuri Club becomes the second Japanese winner of the AFC Asian Club Championship.
March An action committee is established to discuss ways of improving the quality of Japanese football. The committee meets six times between March and October.
May-June A Japan representative side of young players from the JSL wins the Malaharim Cup under manager Yoshitada Yamaguchi→95p.
October A second action committee meets eight times between now and March 1989, leading to a proposal to establish a professional league.
1989 January A Japanese futsal side appears in the inaugural FIFA Indoor Five-a-Side World Championship.
June Following a proposal submitted by the JSL, the Association forms a professional league assessment committee.
August The Association joins the Japanese Olympic Committee.
September The Japan Women's Football League starts. (Renamed the L. League in 1994; now known as the Nadeshiko League.)
November Japan officially declares its candidacy as host for the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
December Prince Takamado Trophy All-Japan Junior Youth (U-15) Football Championship is held for the first time.
1990 June-July Shizuo Takada officiates as referee and linesman at the FIFA World Cup in Italy.
August A JFA assessment committee convenes for the first of six meetings to discuss the establishment of a professional league.
August-September The Prince Takamado Trophy All-Japan Youth (U-18) Football Championship is held for the first time.
October The JFA puts together a World Cup bidding committee.
1991 February The initial number of teams for Japan's professional league is set at ten.
March An office is established to prepare for the launch of a professional league.
June The Japan Bidding Committee for the 2002 FIFA World Cup is established.
July The "J. League" name is officially announced.
November The Japan Professional Football League is established as a legal corporation. Saburo Kawabuchi →72p becomes its first president on November 1st.
November The Japan women's team takes part in the first FIFA Women's World Championship in China (now the Women's World Cup).
1992 February Nissan Motors wins the Second Asian Cup Winners' Cup.
March Hans Ooft (Netherlands) becomes the first foreign manager of the national team.
May Hideo Shimada →71p becomes the Association's seventh president.
May Level-S Qualifications are launched for professional coaching.
July The Japan Football League (JFL) is launched.
August Japan wins the second Dynasty Cup in China.
August Kiichiro Tachi officiates as referee at the Barcelona Olympics.
September-November The Yamazaki Nabisco Cup marks the first official J. League fixtures. The Cup is won by Verdy Kawasaki.
October-November The Tenth Asia Cup is held in Hiroshima. Japan becomes Asian champion for the first time.
  Shizuo Fujita→70p receives the FIFA Order of Merit.
1993 April The Yokohama Marinos win a second consecutive victory in the Third Asian Cup Winners' Cup.
May The first season of the J. League kicks off with an opening ceremony at the National Stadium on May 15. The inaugural fixture pits Kawasaki Verdy against the Yokohama Marinos; Kawasaki's Hennie Meijer scores the competition's first goal. The league is a runaway success and the J. League brand name becomes one of the vogue terms of the year. The league opens a new era for Japanese sports, previously centered on company and school curriculum.
August Japan hosts the FIFA U-17 World Championship (now the FIFA U-17 World Cup). Japan reaches the quarter-finals.
October Japan defeats Cote d'Ivoire at home in the final of the Afro-Asian Cup of Nations.
October Japan narrowly misses out on a place at the FIFA World Cup in the USA when it concedes an equalizer in the dying seconds of its final qualification match against Iraq in Doha, Qatar. The result becomes known as the Agony of Doha.
1994 March Paulo Roberto Falc?o (Brazil) becomes manager of the national side.
May Ken Naganuma →71p becomes the Association's eighth president.
October The 12th Asian Games is held in Hiroshima.
October Shu Kamo becomes manager of the national team.
December Japan receives the Fair Play Award at an awards ceremony to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the AFC.
1995 January The Yokohama Fl?gels win the Fifth Asia Cup Winners' Cup.
January Japan makes its debut in the Intercontinental Championship (now the FIFA Confederations Cup) in Saudi Arabia.
February Japan retains the Dynasty Cup (Hong Kong).
February Japan confirms its official intention to bid for the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
April The Japan Mini Soccer League, founded in 1974, is re-launched as the Japan Futsal League.
April The Japan U-20 team receives the FIFA Fair Play Award at the FIFA World Youth Championship in Qatar.
June The Japan Women's team reaches the quarter-finals at the Second FIFA Women's World Championship (now the FIFA Women's World Cup) in Sweden, qualifying for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Referee Hisae Yoshizawa acts as assistant referee in the third-place decider.
June A decision is taken to establish a Fair Play Award for all tournaments in Japan.
August A FIFA All-Stars charity match raises funds for the Kobe earthquake.
August The Yokohama Fl?gels win the first Asian Super Cup.
September Japan wins for the first time at the Universiade Fukuoka.
December Bellmare Hiratsuka wins the Sixth Asian Cup Winners' Cup.
1996 February Teams representing the nine regions of Japan take part in the inaugural All-Japan National Futsal Championship (now the Puma Cup All-Japan Futsal Championship).
March Masami Ihara is chosen as the AFC Player of the Year for 1995.
  The format of the Emperor's Cup (now in its 76th year) changes. From now on, the competition features teams representing all 47 prefectures of Japan.
April The Association and J. League establish an endowed chair at the graduate school of Tsukuba University to support S-Level coaching courses.
May It is announced that the 2002 FIFA World Cup will be hosted jointly by Japan and Korea Republic. This is the first time the World Cup has been held in Asia, and the first ever jointly hosted tournament.
July At the Atlanta Olympics, the Japan U-23 side fails to make the last eight, despite beating favorites Brazil in the so-called Miracle of Miami. Japan's women are also eliminated in the group stages.
July The 2002 FIFA World Cup Preparatory Committee for Japan is launched.
December Ten cities are selected to host fixtures at the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
1997 June he Japan U-20 team reaches the quarter-finals at the Ninth FIFA World Youth Championship in Malaysia.
June Masami Ihara makes his 100th international "A" match appearance in the first-round Asian qualification match against Oman. (Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi and Yasuhito Endo also later achieve 100 caps.)
July The J. Village national training center opens.
October Takeshi Okada becomes manager of the national team.
November In the 3rd Asian Qualification Playoff for the FIFA World Cup in France, Japan defeats Iran with a golden goal, earning a berth in the finals for the first time. The game is remembered by fans as the Ecstasy of Johor Baru.
December Japan Organizing Committee for the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan is established.
1998 March Japan hosts the Fourth AFC Dynasty Cup. Japan wins for the third year running.
March Qualifications are introduced for junior youth and youth level referees.
April The JFA instructor system is introduced to train instructors for coaching courses at all levels of the game.
May Hidetoshi Nakata is chosen as the AFC Player of the Year.
June-July Japan goes out of the FIFA World Cup in France at the first stage after losing all three of its group matches.
July Shun-ichiro Okano becomes the Association's ninth president.
September Philippe Troussier (France) becomes manager of the national side.
November The first biennial Football Conference is held in Fukushima.
1999 March A two-divisional system is introduced to the J. League (J1 and J2).
April The referee registration system is introduced.
April The Japan U-20 side finishes runner-up in the Tenth FIFA World Youth Championship in Nigeria.
April Jubilo Iwata wins the Asia Club Championship for the first time.
April The inaugural Japan Football League (JFL) is held.
May Hidetoshi Nakata is selected as the AFC Player of the Year for the second year running.
June Japan appears as the guest team at the Copa Am?rica 99. Japan plays Peru, Paraguay, and Bolivia, and goes out at the group stage after two defeats and a draw.

June The Japan Women's team appears in the FIFA Women's World Cup in the USA.
  Hisae Yoshizawa officiates as assistant referee in the third-place decider.

November Jubilo Iwata wins the Asia Super Cup and qualifies for the Second World Club Championship (later cancelled).

December The Preliminary draw for the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan is held in Tokyo.
December JFA had the pleasure of Imperial couple’s company on semi-final match (Nagoya Grampus vs. Kashiwa Reysol) held in National Stadium.
2000 April The Association introduces a registration system for "senior" players.
April Shimizu S-Pulse wins the Asian Cup Winners' Cup.
September The Japan U-23 side reaches the quarter-finals at the Sydney Olympics.
  Hisae Yoshizawa officiates as assistant referee in the women's final.
October Japan wins its second victory in the 12th AFC Asia Cup in Lebanon.
November-December Fusaya Suzuki officiates as referee at the FIFA Futsal World Championship (now the FIFA Futsal World Cup) in Guatemala.
2001 March Tickets for the toto sports lottery go on sale nationwide.
April The J-STEP, Japan National training center opens in the city of Shimizu, Shizuoka Prefecture.
May-June Japan and Korea Republic co-host the FIFA Confederations Cup 2001. Japan loses to France in the final. Japan receives the FIFA Fair Play Award.
July Toru Kamikawa is referee in the third-place decider at the FIFA World Youth Championship in Argentina.
August Japan beats Australia to win the AFC/OFC Challenge Cup in Shizuoka.
August Japan wins the 21st Universiade tournament in Beijing.
2002 February The Special Referee (SR) system introduces professional contracts for referees.
April The Asian Youth Training Program starts.
May The Emperor and Empress attend a Kirin Challenge Cup match between Japan and Sweden.
May The East Asian Football Federation is founded, with its headquarters in Tokyo. Shun-ichiro Okano becomes its first president.
May-June Japan and Korea Republic co-host Asia's first FIFA World Cup. Japan makes it through to the final sixteen in only its second appearance in the finals. Toru Kamikawa officiates as referee during the tournament.
The first-ever jointly hosted World Cup strengthens the relationship between Japan and Korea Republic. The warmth and camaraderie between players and fans earns the tournament the moniker "The World Cup of Smiles."
July Saburo Kawabuchi →72p becomes the Association's tenth president.
July Zico (Brazil) becomes manager of the national side.
August JFA Vice-President Junji Ogura is the third Japanese official to be appointed to the FIFA Executive Committee.
August The Japan Women's U-20 team wins the FIFA Fair Play Award at the first FIFA Women's U-19 World Championship in Canada. Mayumi Oiwa referees the opening match and the third-place decider, the first time a Japanese woman has officiated as referee in a FIFA-sponsored international competition.
October The Captain's Mission (now President's Mission) establishes infrastructure improvements and spreading the game as priorities for the future.
November JFA Honorary Patron His Imperial Highness Prince Takamado passes away on November 21.
December Japan and Korea Republic receive the FIFA Fair Play Awards for 2002.
2003 March Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado becomes Honorary Patron of the JFA.
March The JFA Prince League U-18 regional competition is established.
April An individual futsal player registration system begins.
April The JFA Elite Program is launched with the aim of cultivating world-standard talent.
May Shinji Ono is chosen as the AFC Player of the Year.
June The JFA launches its Kids' Program.
June Japan receives the FIFA Fair Play Award at the Confederations Cup in France.
August Japan wins the 22nd Universiade in Taegu, South Korea.
September The new home of Japanese football opens at JFA House in Hongo, Tokyo, housing the new headquarters of the JFA, J. League, and associated groups and organizations.
September-October The Japan Women's Team appears at the Fourth FIFA Women's World Cup (USA). Hisae Yoshizawa officiates as assistant referee.
December Japan hosts the finals of the East Asian Football Championship 2003. Japan finishes runner-up to Korea Republic.
December The Japan Football Museum opens at JFA House.
2004 January The JFA holds the "Referees' College."
April A variety of projects are launched to commemorate the 2002 FIFA World Cup, including a project to support the building of model sports facilities, the JFA Sports Management College, and businesses to promote training camps, footballing exchanges, and effective use of World Cup venue stadiums.
April A registration system for JFA-accredited instructors is introduced.
May On FIFA's Centenary, JFA chief consultant Ken Naganuma →71p receives the FIFA Order of Merit.
June The JFA Consultative and Meediatory Committee is established.
July The Japan women's team becomes known as Nadeshiko Japan after a public vote.
August Japan wins the AFC Asia Cup for the second year running in China.
August Nadeshiko Japan receives the FIFA Fair Play Award at the Athens Olympics.
Shiho Ayukai officiates as assistant referee in the women's tournament.
November-December Kazuya Isokawa referees in the FIFA Futsal World Cup held in Chinese Taipei.
December The main road in front JFA House is renamed Soccer Road.
December A charity match between Zico Japan Dreams and Albirex Niigata raises funds for rebuilding after the Niigata Prefecture Chuetsu Earthquake.
December Homare Sawa is voted AFC Women's Player of the Year.
2005 January The JFA's Mission Statement 2005 sets out the JFA philosophy and vision under the slogan "Dreams Make Us Stonger."
March The J. League abandons the two-phase season.
May Japan finishes fourth at the inaugural FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup (Rio de Janeiro). Japan receives the FIFA Fair Play Award at the tournament.
May The Japanese Football Hall of Fame is founded.
June The Association joins the global warming movement Team Minus 6% (now the Challenge 25 Campaign).
July The Association takes part in a project to distribute soccer balls to the children of Asia, undertaken in association with the Dentsu Group and the National Federation of UNESCO Associations in Japan as part of UNESCO's World Terakoya Movement.
August Japan wins the 23rd Universiade Tournament in Izmir.
September The Association enters a partnership agreement with the French Football Association. Cooperation begins between the JFA Academy in Fukushima and the INF (men) and CNNE (women) training centers in France.
November President (Captain) Saburo Kawabuchi receives the first AFC Diamond of Asia Award.
November Natsuko Hara is selected as the AFC Women's Player of the Year.
December The first FIFA World Club Championship (now known as Toyota Presents the FIFA Club World Cub) is held. Japan hosts the competition through 2008.
2006 January The national team adopts the nickname "Samurai Blue."
March The JFA International Coaching Course opens for instructors affiliated with AFC member associations, as part of the Association's contributions to developing
the game in Asia.
March Homare Sawa becomes the first female player to make 100 international "A" match appearances in the international friendly against Scotland (Tomoe Sakai and Hiromi Isozaki also later achieve 100 appearances).
March The national team marks its 500th international "A" match with its Kirin Challenge Cup game against Ecuador.
April The JFA Academy Fukushima opens as an elite training facility.
May The AFC establishes the AFC Professional League Ad-hoc Committee to develop professional leagues in member countries. JFA President Saburo Kawabuchi becomes chairman. Aims include reforming the AFC Champions League and establishing fully professional leagues throughout Asia.
To tie in with the work of the committee, the JFA establishes an Asian Professional Leagues Project.
May Japan wins the AFC Futsal Tournament in Uzbekistan.
June Saburo Kawabuchi receives the FIFA Order of Merit.
June-July Japan appears in the FIFA World Cup in Germany. Toru Kamikawa and Yoshikazu Hiroshima officiate throughout the tournament, including as referee and assistant referee in the third-place decider.
July Ivica Osim (Bosnia-Herzegovina) is appointed manager of the national side.
September The Japan U-16 side wins the AFC U-17 championship in Singapore.
October The upper age limit for the Boys Football event at the National Sports Festival of Japan is lowered from 18 to 16.
October The first national beach soccer tournament championship takes place in Okinawa.
2007 April The "JFA Kokoro Project (Project for Minds)" starts, sending professional players into elementary schools to talk about the power of dreams and the importance of not giving in to disappointment and defeat.
April The Association establishes an environmental safety project on behalf of the football world.
April The JFA Green Project is launched to promote the use of grass pitches in sports facilities and schools.
April The referee training center system is launched.
June The Association publishes its "Nadeshiko Vision" for developing Japanese women's football. The three main pillars of the plan are widening participation, winning the FIFA Women's World Cup, and individual skills training.
June-July The Japan U-20 team receives the FIFA Fair Play Award at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Canada.
August Yuichi Nishimura (referee) and Toru Sagara (assistant referee) officiate in the final of the FIFA U-17 World Cup held in Korea Republic.
September Nadeshiko Japan appears at the FIFA Women's World Cup in China.
Mayumi Oiwa (referee) and Hisae Yoshizawa (assistant referee) officiate. Oiwa acts as fourth official in the final.
September The inaugural F. League (Japan Futsal League) is held.
October Japan defeats Egypt to win the AFC Asia/African Challenge Cup in Osaka.
October-November The Japanese women's futsal team gets off to a victorious start, winning the 2nd Asian Indoor Games in Macao.
November The Urawa Reds win the AFC Champions League for the first time.
November Midori Honda becomes the first woman to earn the Level-S Coaching Certification (Etsuko Handa and Asako Takakura also later qualify).
December Takeshi Okada becomes manager of the national team.
December The Urawa Reds finish third at the Toyota Presents FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2007.
December The St. Marianna University School of Medicine is accredited by FIFA as the FIFA Medical Center Kawasaki, the first facility to receive this recognition in Asia.
2008 February Nadeshiko Japan wins its first major victory by winning the East Asian Women's Football Championship in China.
March The Football Associations of all 47 prefectures and administrative regions become incorporated.
July Motoaki Inukai becomes the Association's 11th president.

July Tasuku Onodera referees at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in Marseilles.

August Nadeshiko Japan finishes fourth place at the Beijing Olympics.

October The Japanese Futsal Team appears at the FIFA Futsal World Cup in Brazil. Kazuya Isokawa acts as referee.

November Mana Iwabuchi is voted Player of the Tournament at the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in New Zealand.

November Gamba Osaka wins the AFC Champions League for the first time.

November Former JFA President Ken Naganuma receives a posthumous AFC Diamond of Asia Award.
November Homare Sawa is chosen as the AFC Women's Player of the Year.
December Gamba Osaka finishes third at the Toyota Presents FIFA Club World Japan 2008.
2009 April The JFA Academy Kumamoto-Uki opens.
July The Association becomes the 93rd Japanese member of the United Nations Global Compact―and the first governing body of any sport worldwide.
August The JFA Medical Center opens in the J. Village in Fukushima, the first medical facility to receive a grant from FIFA's Goal Program.
August The Japan U-19 Women's team wins the AFC U-19 women's championship in China.
September A bidding committee is established to host the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cups.
September The JFA Dream Asia Project is launched to encourage the development of Asian football.
October-November The Japanese Women's Futsal team wins the Asia Indoor Games for the second time in Vietnam.
November The Japan Beach Soccer team reaches the quarter-finals of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in Dubai. Japan receives the FIFA Fair Play Award. Tasuku Onodera officiates as referee.
November Yasuhito Endo is voted AFC Player of the Year for 2009.
2010 January To develop Japanese women's football, the Association introduces a system to send designated players to leagues overseas to gain experience and improve their skills.
January The Association signs a partnership agreement with the Spanish Football Federation.
February Nadeshiko Japan wins the East Asian Women's Football Championship for the second year running.
March The FIFA Early Warning System is introduced to J1 League fixtures to detect irregularities in games due to illegal sports betting.
April The National Training Center (J-Green Sakai) opens in the city of Sakai, Osaka.
June Vice President Junji Ogura receives the FIFA Order of Merit.
June-July Japan appears at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, reaching the round of sixteen. Yuichi Nishimura and Toru Sagara officiate as referee and assistant referee at the tournament. In the final, Nishimura serves as fourth official and Sagara is the reserve assistant referee.
July Junji Ogura becomes the Association's 12th president.
August Alberto Zaccheroni (Italy) becomes manager of the national side.
September The Japanese women's U-17 side is runner-up at the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago.
November The Japanese men's U-21 team and Nadeshiko Japan are both victorious at the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou.
November The Japan Beach Soccer team plays its first home international friendly in Okinawa.
December It is announced that the FIFA World Cup will be held in Russia in 2018 and in Qatar in 2022.
December Yuichi Nishimura is the referee and Toru Sagara and Toshiyuki Nagi are assistant referees in the final of the Toyota Presents the FIFA Club World Cup in the UAE.
2011 January Japan wins its fourth victory at the AFC Asian Cup in Qatar―the most by any country.
March The national team plays against a "J-League Team as One" selection side in a charity match at Nagai, Osaka following the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.
April The Prince Takamado Trophy U-18 Football League Premier League is reorganized as a national league.
April The Association joins a Sports Kokoro Project together with the Japan Sports Association, the Japanese Olympic Committee, and the Japan Top League federation, with its headquarters established within the JFA.
April The Association signs a partnership agreement with the Singapore Football Association.
June The Association signs a partnership agreement with the German Football Association.
June-July Japan U-17 receives the FIFA Fair Play Award at the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
June-July The Nadeshiko Japan women's team reaches its first final against the United States at the FIFA Women's World Cup in Germany. Japan wins on penalties after a thrilling game finished level after extra time. Japan receives the FIFA Fair Play Award and Homare Sawa takes the awards for Top Scorer and Player of the Tournament.
July Nagoya Oceans wins the AFC Futsal Club Championship 2011.
August The Nadeshiko Japan women's team receives a People's Honor Award.
August The Japan U-12 Football Championship is re-launched as an 8-a-side competition.
August The FA Silver Cup is reborn and a replacement trophy is presented to the JFA by the English FA.
2012 January SAWA Homare was awarded the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year for 2011, head coach SASAKI Norio was awarded the Women’s Coach of the Year Prize and the JFA received the FIFA Fair Play Award in the FIFA Ballon d'Or 2011.
July-August Jul.-Aug. U-23 Japan National Team participated in the London Olympics, finished at fourth place.
Japan Women’s National Team won silver medal at the London Olympics.
August-September Japan hosted the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.
U-20 Japan Women’s National Team reached the 3rd place.
2014 March-April U-17 Japan Women’s National Team became champions for the first time at the U-17 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica.
2015 June-July Japan Women’s National Team finished Runner-up in the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada.
December Japan hosted the FIFA Club World Cup 2015.
2016 January U-23 Japan National Team became champions for the first time at the AFC U-23 Championship in Qatar.

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