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Flag of Japan
In 1603, a Tokugawa shogunate (military dictatorship) ushered in a long period of isolation from foreign influence in order to secure its power. For 250 years this policy enabled Japan to enjoy stability and a flowering of its indigenous culture. Following the Treaty of Kanagawa with the United States in 1854, Japan opened its ports and began to intensively modernize and industrialize. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Japan became a regional power that was able to defeat the forces of both China and Russia. It occupied Korea, Formosa (Taiwan), and southern Sakhalin Island. In 1933 Japan occupied Manchuria and in 1937 it launched a full-scale invasion of China. Japan attacked US forces in 1941 - triggering America's entry into World War II - and soon occupied much of East and Southeast Asia. After its defeat in World War II, Japan recovered to become an economic power and a staunch ally of the US. While the emperor retains his throne as a symbol of national unity, actual power rests in networks of powerful politicians, bureaucrats, and business executives. The economy experienced a major slowdown starting in the 1990s following three decades of unprecedented growth, but Japan still remains a major economic power, both in Asia and globally. In 2005, Japan began a two-year term as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.
Map of Japan
More about Japan:
|Association||Japan Football Association|
|Most caps||Masami Ihara (123)|
|Top scorer||Kunishige Kamamoto (73)|
Japan 0 - 5 China
(Tokyo, Japan; May 9, 1917)
Japan 15 - 0 Philippines
(Tokyo, Japan; September 27, 1967)
Japan 2 - 15 Philippines
(Tokyo, Japan; September 10, 1917)
|Appearances||3 (First in 1998)|
|Best result||Round 2, 2002|
|AFC Asian Cup|
|Appearances||5 (First in 1988)|
|Best result||Winners, 1992, 2000, 2004|
The Japan national football team is the national football team of Japan and is controlled by the Japan Football Association. It is currently the highest-ranked Asian (AFC) national team in the official FIFA World Rankings. The team is commonly known by the fans and media as Nihon Daihyo (日本代表 "Japanese representatives"), Daihyo (代表 "representatives") or Zico Japan (ジーコジャパン Jiko Japan?) - the name of the current coach followed by the English "Japan".
After being overshadowed for years by baseball and sumo wrestling, football has been rapidly growing in popularity in Japan in recent years, especially since the launch of the J. League in 1993. Japan narrowly missed a ticket to the 1994 World Cup after failing to beat Iraq in the final match of the qualification round, remembered by fans as the Agony of Doha. The nation's first World Cup appearance was in 1998, where they lost all three matches. Japan's first two fixtures went 1-0 in favor of Argentina and Croatia, despite playing well in both games. Their campaign ended with an unexpected 2-1 defeat to rank outsiders Jamaica.
Four years later, Japan co-hosted the 2002 World Cup with South Korea. Despite being held to a 2-2 draw by Belgium in their opening game, 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.
Japan has had considerably more success in the Asian Cup, taking home the winner's trophy in three of the last four finals. Their principal continental rivals are South Korea, followed by Iran and Saudi Arabia.
On June 8, 2005, Japan qualified for its third consecutive World Cup by beating North Korea 2-0 in Bangkok, Thailand. For the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Japan is in Group F along with Australia, Brazil, and Croatia.
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