Japan Women's National Football Team / World Championships

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Nihon-koku / Nippon-koku
Japan Football Association logo
World Cup record scorer : Homare Sawa (8)
World Cup record player: Homare Sawa (24)
Rank : 8th
Balance sheet
33 World Cup games,
14 wins,
4 draws,
15 defeats,
39:59 goals
First World Cup game Japan 0: 1 Brazil Foshan ( CHN ); November 17, 1991
JapanJapan BrazilBrazil
Biggest World Cup victory Japan 6-0 Argentina Columbus ( USA ); September 20, 2003
JapanJapan ArgentinaArgentina
Biggest World Cup defeat Japan 0: 8 Sweden Foshan , ( CHN ); November 19, 1991
JapanJapan SwedenSweden

World Championship
Participation in the finals 8 ( first : 1991 )
Best results World Champion 2011
Best placements in the countries that host the FIFA World Cup
Japan Women's World Cup placements.PNG
(As of June 25, 2019 )

The article contains a detailed account of the Japanese national soccer team for women at world championships . Japan was the only Asian team to qualify for all women's World Cup finals and is ranked 8th in the all-time table as the second-best Asian team. Japan is the only Asian nation to become world champions in football.

The national team at world championships


year Host country Participation until ... opponent Result Trainer Comments and special features
1991 People's Republic of China Preliminary round Brazil , Sweden , USA 12. Tamotsu Suzuki
1995 Sweden Quarter finals United States 08th. Tamotsu Suzuki Defeat against the defending champion in the quarter-finals
1999 United States Preliminary round Canada , Norway , Russia 14th Satoshi Miyauchi
2003 United States Preliminary round Argentina , Germany , Canada 10. Eiji Ueda
2007 People's Republic of China Preliminary round England , Argentina , Germany 10. Hiroshi Ōhashi
2011 Germany final United States World Champion Norio Sasaki First world champion from Asia
2015 Canada final United States Vice world champion Norio Sasaki Reached the final with six wins in a row, then highest defeat in the final (2: 5)
2019 France Round of 16 Netherlands Asako Takakura Qualified as Asian champion. Qualified for the knockout round as runner-up after games against Argentina, England and Scotland .


(Information incl. 2019: eight world championships)

  • not participated: never (0%)
  • qualified: eight times (100%)
    • Preliminary round: four times (50%; 1991, 1999, 2003 and 2007)
    • Round of 16: once (12.5%; 2019)
    • Quarter-finals: once (12.5%; 1995)
    • Vice world champion: once (12.5%; 2015)
    • World champion: once (12.5%; 2011)

The tournaments

World Cup 1991 in the People's Republic of China

The Japanese national team qualified second in the 1991 Asian Cup for the first World Cup. In the preliminary round four wins against North Korea , Hong Kong , Malaysia and Singapore . In the semifinals, the penalty shoot-out was necessary to eliminate the Republic of China in order to qualify for the World Cup. The final was then lost 5-0 to the People's Republic of China , but the first World Cup participation was already certain.

In the People's Republic of China , the first World Cup game was lost on November 17, 1991 in Foshan with 0: 1 against Brazil . Two days later a 0: 8 followed against Sweden and again two days later a 0: 3 against the USA . Japan was eliminated as the worst team in the tournament.

World Cup 1995 in Sweden

Four years later, the Japanese team qualified second at the 1994 Asian Games in Hiroshima for the second World Cup. Japan, the Republic of China, the People's Republic of China and South Korea initially met in a group of four. After a 1-1 draw against the People's Republic of China, both won against the other two teams and then met again in the final, which the Chinese won 2-0. Both finalists drove to the World Cup, which was taking place on European soil for the first time.

In Sweden, the Japanese lost the opening game 0-1, this time against European champions Germany . On June 7, 1995, however, the Japanese won their first World Cup against Brazil in Karlstad . Here come Akemi Noda to 0: 1 behind the first two World Cup goals for Japan, which reached to victory. Against Sweden a 2-0 win followed, but the Japanese reached the quarter-finals as the second-best group third. This was followed by a 4-0 defeat against defending champions USA. As the eighth best team, Japan had qualified for the first women's football tournament at the 1996 Olympic Games in which only the eight best teams from the World Cup could take part.

World Cup 1999 in the USA

For the third World Cup, Japan qualified third in the 1997 Asian Women's Soccer Cup . After three preliminary round victories against India, Hong Kong and Guam , with the 21-0 win against Guam, Japan failed in the semi-finals with 0-1 to North Korea . With a 2-0 win against the Republic of China in the game for third place, the qualification succeeded.

In the USA, the Japanese faced Canada in their first game and reached a 1-1 draw. But then there were two defeats against Russia (0: 5) and defending champions Norway (0: 4), with Japan being eliminated as bottom of the group.

2003 World Cup in the USA

The World Cup should actually take place in the People's Republic of China again . Because of the SARS epidemic, the tournament was moved to the USA at short notice. This was the second time that the World Cup took place in the USA. Since the number of starting places had been increased from 12 to 16, a fourth Asian team had the chance to qualify in the AFC / CONCACAF playoffs. Japan took advantage of this opportunity after only finishing fourth at the 2003 Asian Cup . There the Japanese had finished the preliminary round against Myanmar , the Republic of China, the Philippines and Guam with four wins and 34-0 goals, but in the semifinals and game for third place against North Korea with 0: 3 and South Korea with 0: 1 lost. They met Mexico in the playoffs and initially scored 2-2 in Mexico City . The second leg in Tokyo was then won 2-0 seven days later.

In the USA, the Japanese faced World Cup newcomers Argentina in the opening game and achieved their highest win in a World Cup game to date with a 6-0 win. The later record national player and goal scorer Homare Sawa scored the first two goals, Mio Ōtani even managed three. Against the eventual world champions Germany , however, followed a 0: 3 and against Canada a 1: 3. Japan was only third in the group. But since only all group winners and runners-up made it into the knockout round after the increase in the number of participants, Japan was eliminated as the second-best group third.

World Cup 2007 in the People's Republic of China

Even four years later, Japan had to go through the playoffs. At the 2006 Asian Cup in Australia , which has been part of the Asian Association since 2006, only fourth place was again taken. After three wins in the preliminary round against the People's Republic of China, the Republic of China and Vietnam , the semi-finals were lost to hosts Australia 2-0 and the game for third place against North Korea 3-2. Again Mexico were the opponents in the playoffs and this time Japan had home rights first. In Tokyo a 2-0 was presented, so that the 1: 2 could be absorbed a week later in Toluca .

In China, like four years before, Argentina and Germany were the group opponents, as well as England for the first time , against whom a 2-2 was achieved in the first game. After a 1-0 win against Argentina, Japan and defending champions Germany both had four points before the last group game and were ahead of England, which had drawn twice. But since Japan lost 2-0 to Germany while England won 6-1 against Argentina, Germany became group winners and later again world champions and England came second in the group ahead of Japan, which was eliminated.

World Cup 2011 in Germany

Lineups in the final

Japan then qualified for the World Cup in Germany without any detours. At the 2010 Asian Cup , for which Japan was directly qualified, came third. The preliminary round was again sovereign with three wins against North Korea , Thailand and Myanmar . In the semifinals, however, they lost 0-1 to later Asian champions Australia. With a 2-0 in the game for 3rd place against arch rivals China, however, the qualification succeeded. As the fourth-placed Asian team had no opportunity to qualify via intercontinental playoffs this time, a women's World Cup took place for the first time without the People's Republic of China.

In Germany, Japan met New Zealand in their first game and won 2-1. This was followed by a 4-0 win against Mexico, with Homare Sawa scoring three goals. Japan was already qualified for the knockout round before the last group game, so that the subsequent 2-0 defeat against England could be cope with. However, Japan only finished second in the group and met hosts and defending champions Germany in the quarter-finals, the first country to want to win the title for the third time in a row and against whom Japan had never won before. Despite stormy attacks, the German team failed to score in 120 minutes, but Karina Maruyama was able to complete a counterattack in the 108th minute to make it 1-0 and thus the first victory over Germany and reach the semi-finals of a World Cup for the first time. Japan met Sweden in the semi-finals and fell behind after just 10 minutes, but equalized eight minutes later. It stayed that way until half-time. In the second half, the Japanese were able to score two more goals and reach the final. Here they met the United States , against which they had never won before and initially fell behind again, this time through a counterattack against them. But this could be equalized in the 81st minute, so there was an extension. Here, too, the Japanese fell behind again. Homare Sawa was able to equalize with her fifth goal, which made her top scorer of the tournament three minutes before the end of extra time. In stoppage time, Azusa Iwashimizu received the red card because of an emergency brake , but it stayed that way, so the penalty shoot-out had to decide the world title. Since the only 170 cm tall Japanese goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori was able to save two penalties from the Americans and also shot one over the goal, while three Japanese women converted and only one did not, Japan became the first Asian team to become world champions. Homare Sawa was also awarded the Golden Ball as the best player and Japan as the fairest team.

2015 World Cup in Canada

Goal scene from the quarter final game against Australia

In the qualification , for which the Asian Cup served again , Japan asserted itself as Asian champions for the first time. In the preliminary round they were clearly beaten after a draw against Australia, Vietnam and Jordan (4: 0 and 7: 0). In the semifinals, Japan then prevailed 2-1 after extra time against the People's Republic of China by then winning 1-0 in the final.

When the groups were drawn, Japan was seeded and was designated as the group head of group C. The Japanese were drawn to the three newcomers to the World Cup, Switzerland , Cameroon and Ecuador , against whom Japan had not played before.

Japan won all three group games for the first time and advanced to the quarterfinals as group winners. The goals all fell in the first half hour and then the Japanese were mostly content to manage the result. They also took the lead early in the round of 16 against the Netherlands , but then scored one more goal in the second half. In stoppage time they still received the connection goal, but this time too they brought the result over time. Against Australia - against which they won the Asian championship 1-0 for the first time - they then had to wait until the 87th minute before the winning goal and thus the second semi-final. There they met England , against whom a World Cup game was lost four years earlier in the preliminary round and has never been won. In an even game, both were awarded a penalty that they converted. After that, the mutual efforts to score the winning goal were fruitless. It was only in stoppage time that the Englishwoman Laura Bassett underwent an own goal , which enabled her to repeat the 2011 final. In the final, the Japanese fell 2-0 after just five minutes, and after 16 minutes it was 0: 4, so the game was almost decided. Although the Japanese succeeded before the break after tactical changes and substitutions of two players, u. a. Record national player Homare Sawa made it 1: 4. When the US girls gave the Japanese an own goal shortly after the break, hope came up again, but two minutes later the final score was 2: 5. Japan could not imitate the German team and defend the title. Aya Miyama was awarded the bronze ball as the third best player.

World Cup 2019 in France

In qualifying for the World Cup in France, for which the Asians were again granted five starting places, Japan qualified by reaching the semi-finals at the 2018 Asian Women's Soccer Cup . Japan was automatically qualified for this championship, which will take place in Jordan in April 2018. In the first game against Vietnam a 4-0 was achieved, the second game against South Korea ended goalless. In the decisive third group game against Australia, which also scored 0-0 against South Korea, but won 8-0 against Vietnam, Japan were 1-0 in front after 63 minutes and would have been group winners if that result. Four minutes before the end of the game, Samantha Kerr managed to equalize 1: 1 for Australia and since it stayed that way and in the parallel game South Korea beat Vietnam 4: 0, Japan had both the semi-finals of the Asian Cup and the World Cup as group runner-up. Reached the finals. In the semifinals Japan then beat China 3-1 and defended the title by beating Australia 1-0 in the final.

At the World Cup, as in 2007, the Japanese faced Argentina and England, and for the first time in a World Cup match against World Cup newcomer Scotland . The Japanese started with a disappointing goalless draw against Argentina, which was the first to win a World Cup point. They improved against Scotland and won 2-1. They had few chances to score against England and lost 2-0. Since Argentina and Scotland drew a draw, it was enough to make it to second place in the group, so they met European champions Netherlands in the round of 16. The Japanese fell behind after a corner in the 17th minute, but were able to make the game evenly afterwards and became more dominant as the game progressed, but needed up to the 43rd minute to equalize. They were the better team in the second half, but couldn't use their scoring chances. When the teams were already preparing for extra time, there was a hand penalty for the Dutch in the final minute, which they used to score the winning goal. The Japanese were eliminated as the last Asian team, which means that for the first time no Asian team has reached the quarter-finals, as Australia and China had previously lost their round of 16 against European teams and South Korea had already been eliminated in the group stage.


Japan has played 33 World Cup games so far, of which 14 have been won and 15 lost, and four have ended in a draw. Twice games went into overtime because a winner had to be determined. Two of them were won (once by a goal, once by a penalty shoot-out). Japan never played in the opening game of the World Cup, but played twice (1995 and 2011) against the hosts (always in Europe). Japan played four times against the eventual world champions (1991, 2003 and 2007, always in the VR and 2015 in the final) and four times against the defending champions (1995 / VF, 1999 / VR, 2007 / VR, 2011 / VF). Japan played most often (4 times each) against Germany, England and the USA, with the USA always being the last opponent (only successful once). Eight games were the first so far against the respective opponents.

Japan already played against teams from all other confederations as well as their own. Japan played five times against the European champions, four times against the CONCACAF, three times against the South American champions and once against the Oceania champions.

Most games played Homare Sawa (24), who also scored the most goals (8).

All World Cup games
No. date Result opponent venue occasion Remarks
1 11/17/1991 0: 1 BrazilBrazil Brazil * Foshan ( CHN ) Preliminary round First game against Brazil
First game against a reigning South American champions
2 11/19/1991 0: 8 SwedenSweden Sweden * Foshan ( CHN ) Preliminary round
3 11/21/1991 0: 3 United StatesUnited States United States * Foshan ( CHN ) Preliminary round First game against a reigning CONCACAF champion
4th 06/05/1995 0: 1 GermanyGermany Germany * Karlstad ( SWE ) Preliminary round First game against Germany
5 06/07/1995 2: 1 BrazilBrazil Brazil * Karlstad ( SWE ) Preliminary round First win against a reigning South American champion
6th 06/09/1995 0: 2 SwedenSweden Sweden A. Västerås ( SWE ) Preliminary round
7th 06/13/1995 0: 4 United StatesUnited States USA (TV) * Gävle ( SWE ) Quarter finals
8th 06/19/1999 1: 1 CanadaCanada Canada * San Jose ( USA ) Preliminary round 100th international match
9 06/23/1999 0: 5 RussiaRussia Russia * Portland ( USA ) Preliminary round First game against Russia
10 06/26/1999 0: 4 NorwayNorway Norway (TV) * Chicago ( USA ) Preliminary round
11 09/20/2003 6-0 ArgentinaArgentina Argentina * Columbus ( USA ) Preliminary round First game against Argentina
Highest win of an Asian against a South American team, 150th international match
12 09/24/2003 0: 3 GermanyGermany Germany * Columbus ( USA ) Preliminary round
13 09/27/2003 1: 3 CanadaCanada Canada * Foxborough ( USA ) Preliminary round
14th 09/11/2007 2: 2 EnglandEngland England * Shanghai ( CHN ) Preliminary round First game against England
15th 09/14/2007 1-0 ArgentinaArgentina Argentina * Shanghai ( CHN ) Preliminary round
16 09/17/2007 0: 2 GermanyGermany Germany (TV) * Hangzhou ( CHN ) Preliminary round
17th 06/27/2011 2: 1 New ZealandNew Zealand New Zealand * Bochum ( DEU ) Preliminary round
18th 07/01/2011 4-0 MexicoMexico Mexico * Leverkusen ( DEU ) Preliminary round
19th 07/05/2011 0: 2 EnglandEngland England * Augsburg ( DEU ) Preliminary round
20th 07/09/2011 1: 0 a.d. GermanyGermany Germany (TV) A. Wolfsburg ( DEU ) Quarter finals First win against Germany
So far, only win against a reigning world champion.
So far, only win against a reigning European champion
21st 07/13/2011 3: 1 SwedenSweden Sweden * Frankfurt am Main ( DEU ) Semifinals
22nd 07/17/2011 2: 2 n.v., 3: 1 i. E. United StatesUnited States United States * Frankfurt am Main ( DEU ) final First world title
23 06/08/2015 1-0 SwitzerlandSwitzerland Switzerland * Vancouver ( CAN ) Preliminary round First game against Switzerland, 200th international game by Homare Sawa
24 06/12/2015 2: 1 CameroonCameroon Cameroon * Vancouver ( CAN ) Preliminary round First game against Cameroon, first game against an African team at a World Cup
25th 06/16/2015 1-0 EcuadorEcuador Ecuador * Winnipeg ( CAN ) Preliminary round First game against Ecuador
26th 06/23/2015 2: 1 NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands * Vancouver ( CAN ) Round of 16
27 06/27/2015 1-0 AustraliaAustralia Australia * Edmonton ( CAN ) Quarter finals 1st World Cup game between two AFC teams
28 07/01/2015 2: 1 EnglandEngland England * Edmonton ( CAN ) Semifinals
29 07/05/2015 2: 5 United StatesUnited States United States * Vancouver ( CAN ) final
30th 06/10/2019 0-0 ArgentinaArgentina Argentina * Paris ( FRA ) Preliminary round
31 06/14/2019 2: 1 ScotlandScotland Scotland * Rennes ( FRA ) Preliminary round
32 06/19/2019 0: 2 EnglandEngland England * Nice ( FRA ) Preliminary round
33 06/25/2019 1: 2 NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands * Rennes ( FRA ) Round of 16

Note: Teams in bold were / are continental champions at the time of the game.

Record against the other world champions at world championships

  • Germany : 4 games - 1 win, 3 defeats - 1: 6 goals
  • USA : 4 games - 1 draw (won on penalties), 3 defeats - 4:14 goals
  • Norway : 1 game - 1 loss - 0-4 goals

The Japanese team achieved their highest victories against the following countries in World Cup tournaments:

  • ArgentinaArgentina Argentina 6-0 (2003, preliminary round)
  • GermanyGermany Germany 1-0 aet (2011, quarter-finals) - only win against Germany
  • EcuadorEcuador Ecuador 1-0 (2015, preliminary round) - only game against Ecuador
  • EnglandEngland England 2-1 (2015, semi-finals) - only win against England
  • CameroonCameroon Cameroon 2-1 (2015, preliminary round) - only game against Cameroon
  • MexicoMexico Mexico 4-0 (2011, preliminary round) - also a 4-0 in a friendly match
  • SwedenSweden Sweden 3-1 (2011, semi-finals)

The Japanese team suffered their biggest defeats at a World Cup tournament against these countries:

  • GermanyGermany Germany 0: 3 (1995, preliminary round) - also a 0: 3 in the Algarve Cup final in 2014 and a 3: 6 in a friendly match
  • NorwayNorway Norway 0: 4 (1999, preliminary round) - also a 0: 4 in the OS preliminary round in 1996
  • RussiaRussia Russia 0: 5 (1999, preliminary round)
  • SwedenSweden Sweden 0: 8 (1991, preliminary round)


  • The oldest participant to become world champion without commitment: Nozomi Yamagō at the age of 36 years and 182 days at the 2011 World Cup. Oldest female world champion with commitment is Christie Rampone (USA) at the age of 40 and 11 days at the 2015 World Cup.
  • The oldest coach of a world championship team was Norio Sasaki in 2011 at the age of 53.
  • Japan ended the longest series without defeat by beating Germany 1-0 in the quarterfinals: Germany 15 games (2003 to 2011).
  • Most World Cup participations: Formiga (Brazil, 1995–2019) (7), Homare Sawa (1995–2015) (6)
  • The highest wins in a tournament:
    • 2003 Japan - Argentina 6-0 in the preliminary round
    • 2011 Japan v Mexico and France 4-0 Canada, both in the preliminary round
  • Most saved penalties in penalty shootouts : Ayumi Kaihori (2011), Gao Hong / China (1995), Hope Solo / USA (2011) 2 penalties each.
  • Japan is the first world champion who never made it through the quarter-finals before the world title.
  • Japan became the first group runner-up to become world champions.
  • Japan scored the fewest goals per game on the way to the World Cup in 2011 (2.00 / game).
  • Twice the defeated finalist scored more goals per game than the world champions on the way to the final: USA (2011, 2.2 goals / game vs. Japan 2.0 goals / game) and China (1999, 3.8 goals / game) vs. USA 3.6 goals / game)
  • Most goals in a World Cup final (excluding penalties): 5 goals in the 2015 final between the USA and Japan (5-2).
  • Japan is the first world champion after two defeats in the final (2011).

Negative records

  • Japan conceded the fastest goal since the start of the game in 1991 in the game against Sweden by Lena Videkull after 30 seconds, final score 0: 8
  • The fastest goals conceded in a World Cup final: 3rd, 5th, 14th and 16th minutes
  • First red card in a World Cup final: Azusa Iwashimizu (Japan), 2011
  • The longest series without a goal: Japan (1991–2005), Ghana (1999–2003), Nigeria (1991–1995 and 2007–2011) and North Korea (2007–2011) with 4 games each. Japan and Nigeria in the first four games.
  • Biggest defeat in a tournament: 1991, Japan 0-8 Sweden
  • Biggest defeat in the final: 2: 5 against the USA in 2015
  • Worst team in the tournament: 1991 (ranked 12th by FIFA)


  • Englishwoman Laura Bassett scored the latest own goal in World Cup history in the second minute of stoppage time in the 2015 semifinals.

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. 1 game (final) won on penalties
  2. The placements from 5th place onwards were determined by FIFA without any placement games, see Technical Report FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015 ™ , page 159
  3. Because England, as the seventh best team, was not allowed to start at the Olympic Games, Brazil was also able to participate as the ninth best team.
  4. fifa.com: "Olympic Football Tournament Atlanta Women 1996"
  5. fifa.com: "Sawa (2011: JPN vs. USA)"
  6. kicker.de Kaihori gives Japan its first World Cup title , accessed on January 24, 2015.
  7. youtube.com: "Women World Cup 2011 Final Japan USA"
  8. framba.de: "Women's World Cup 2015: group draw degenerates into a farce" ( Memento of the original from December 9, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / framba.de
  9. fifa.com: Australia and Japan qualify for France 2019