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Japan Introduction

The Japan national football team (Japanese: サッカー日本代表, Hepburn: Sakkā Nihon Daihyō), nicknamed the Samurai Blue (サムライ・ブルー, Samurai Burū), represents Japan in men's international football. It is controlled by the Japan Football Association (JFA), the governing body for football in Japan.

Japan was not a major football force until the end of the 1980s, with a small and amateur team. Since the 1990s, when Japanese football became fully professionalized, Japan has emerged as one of the most successful teams in Asia; they have qualified for the last seven FIFA World Cups with knockout stage appearances in 2002, 2010, and 2018, and won the AFC Asian Cup a record four times, in 1992, 2000, 2004 and 2011. The team also finished second in the 2001 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2019 AFC Asian Cup. Japan remains the only team from the AFC other than Australia and Saudi Arabia to have reached the final of a senior FIFA men's competition.

Japan's progression in a short period has served as an inspiration and example of how to develop football. Their principal continental rivals are South Korea, North Korea, China and, most recently, Australia; they also developed rivalries against Iran and Saudi Arabia.

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