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History of Japanese Soccer


The American stock market of the previous year brought about a global economic recession, and caused the prices of silk and rice to crash dramatically in Japan. A fall in exports caused factories in different industrial sectors to cut down on production, and the resultant reductions in workers' wages led to strikes taking place throughout the country.

Despite such social turmoil, however, passion for sports continued to rise, with growing interest in international matches with teams and players from foreign countries in various sporting disciplines.

The 9th Far Eastern Championship Games were held in Tokyo from 24 to 31 May, with the three East Asian countries of Japan, the Philippines, and the Republic of China competing in the disciplines of track and field, baseball, tennis, football, volleyball, basketball, and swimming. The Games were notable for the fact that the overall championship trophy was presented to the winners by the Taisho Emperor.

This was the third time that the Far Eastern Championship Games had been held in Japan, following the third edition in Shibaura, Tokyo in 1917, and the sixth edition in Osaka, but the 1930 Games saw greater media interest than ever before. One reason for the increased attention was a desire for Japan to become sporting leaders in Asia, which stemmed from pride in Japan the country being the most modernized in the region, and another was the incentive of receiving the cup from the Emperor himself.

Japan excelled on the East Asian stage in sports such as baseball, track and field, swimming, and tennis, but although the football team had managed to defeat the Philippines (2-1) at the 8th Games two years previously, it had never yet been able to record a victory over the Republic of China. At home in Tokyo, and indeed at the Meiji Shrine Outer Garden Stadium, the members of the JFA took it as their mission to ensure that both opponents would be defeated this time. The mindset was similar to that of JFA officials ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games in 1964, who had considered that "the embarrassment of failing to win a single match as host nation must be avoided at all costs". The attitude of the JFA towards this 9th Far Eastern Championship Games was one of the factors behind the organisational reforms and board member elections the year before.

The previous system of entering a representative team based around the members of the victorious side in a preliminary competition was abandoned, and instead, players from the two strongest national competitions at the time - the Kanto University League and the Kansai Student League - were selected to form a national team. Group practice sessions were held to mould the players into a unit.

Ultimately, most of the players were selected from the University of Tokyo, the strongest university side of the time. Over a training camp that lasted for as long as 50 days, led by manager Shigeyoshi Suzuki and captain/coach Shigemaru Takenokoshi, the team was instilled with a philosophy to "first of surpass our opponents in terms of work rate, and then beat them with organised play - in order to demonstrate the agility, the readiness for hard work, the industriousness, and the technical ability of Japanese footballers".

When the main event finally came in May, Japan beat the Philippines but again could not defeat the Republic of China, drawing 3-3. However, the team's bold approach to the match impressed large numbers of spectators, and received significant coverage in the mass media. The JOC (Japanese Olympic Committee) and Japan Sports Association recognised that Japanese football was growing stronger, and for the first time, it became possible to talk about possible Olympic participation.

Meanwhile, global football also saw an event that was to mark a major turning point in its history.

In July 1930, the first World Cup was held in the South American nation of Uruguay. An enormous stadium commemorating the 100th anniversary of the country's independence was built as the major competition venue, and thanks to the enthusiasm of the host nation in covering all costs for every competing nation, as well as the efforts of FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association) executives such as President Jules Rimet and Henri Delaunay, "a tournament to decide the true world champion, in which anyone is free to participate without Olympic-like restrictions on player eligibility" was born (at the time, the Olympics were strictly amateur).

With the lengthy voyage across the Atlantic Ocean presenting a major handicap, European participation was reduced to just four nations - Romania, Belgium, Yugoslavia, and Jules Rimet's home country of France. The United States and Mexico joined the four European entrants and seven South American countries - Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Brazil, Peru, Paraguay, and host nation Uruguay - to bring the total number of participants to 13, and the tournament was held in the capital city of Montevideo over 18 days from 13 to 30 July. The quarter-finals were contested by the winners of each of four first round groups, and Argentina and Uruguay each recorded 6-1 victories over the United States and Yugoslavia respectively to progress to the final. Here, Uruguay defeated their opponents by four goals to two to become inaugural world champions and receive the golden Jules Rimet Trophy depicting Nike, the ancient Greek goddess of victory.

In domestic football, the old Inter-High competition had grown stronger and stronger since it was first held in 1923, and was even producing players for the national team to compete at the Far Eastern Championship Games the same year. This year's tournament, however, saw greater steps taken not only in terms of the players' individual abilities, but also in areas such as teamwork and team strategies.

At the All-Japan Junior High School Football Championship Tournament (now the High School Championship), contested by teams slightly younger than their Inter-High counterparts, many of the generation that would go on to represent Japan at the Berlin Olympic Games competed in this year's regional preliminaries and finals tournament.

The late Taizo Kawamoto and Tokutaro Ukon, scorers of the first and second goals respectively when Japan came from behind to beat Sweden 3-2 in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, actually faced each other in the semi-finals of this year's junior high school competition.

Incidentally, 1930 also saw the birth of the late Ken Naganuma, manager of the bronze medal-winning Japanese national team at the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games.

Japan Soccer
  • Jan The First High School takes its first ever title victory in the 7th edition of the All-Japan High School Football Tournament
  • Jan The 12th All-Japan Junior High School Football Championship Tournament (the fourth to be held under the regional qualification format) is won by Kobe First Junior High School - the school's second title. Since the tournament was first held as the Japanese Football Tournament in 1918, Mikage Normal School has won nine titles (seven under the previous format), Kobe First Junior High School has two (once under the previous format), and Pyongyang Soongsil has one
  • Mar 19 candidates for the national team squad begin a training camp ahead of the 9th Far Eastern Championship Games (held until May)
  • May 9th Far Eastern Championship Games (Meiji Shrine Outer Garden Stadium).
    Japan national team beats the Philippines 7-2, and draws 3-3 with the Republic of China, to share first place with the latter with a record of one win and one draw (teams on level points were not separated by goal difference at the time)
  • Oct The University of Tokyo wins its fifth straight title in the Kanto University League (held until December)
  • Oct Kyoto University is champion of the Kansai Student League for the first time (held until December)
  • Dec The University of Tokyo beats Kyoto University 2-1 to achieve a second consecutive victory in the annual East-West University 1st Place Challenge Match
World Soccer
  • Jul 1st FIFA World Cup held in Montevideo, the capital city of the South American country of Uruguay. The host nation defeats Argentina 4-2 in the final to claim the inaugural title and the Jules Rimet Trophy (13 countries participate)


  • 7th All-Japan High School Football Tournament
    First High School takes title (January 1-7, University of Tokyo grounds, 23 schools participate * Formerly Inter-High)
    2nd round 3-0 Fifth High School
    Quarter-final 2-0 Seijo High School
    Semi-final 2-0 Mito High School
    Final 5-3 (after extra time) Hiroshima High School

  • 12th All-Japan Junior High School Football Championship Tournament(Currently, High School Championship)
    Kobe First Junior High School (representatives of Hyogo/Sanin region) takes victory (January 5-7, Koshien Stadium, 9 schools participate)
    1st round 2-1 Kumamoto Second Normal School (Kyushu)
    Quarter-final 3-2 Aichi First Normal School (Tokai)
    Semi-final 1-0 Ichioka Junior High School (Osaka/Wakayama)
    Final 3-0 Hiroshima Normal School (Chugoku)

  • 8th Kansai Student League
    Kyoto University takes victory (October 26 - December 14)
    (1) Kyoto University W4 L1
    (1) Kwansei Gakuin University W4 L1
    (3) Kansai University W2 D1 L2
    (4) Osaka University of Commerce W2 L3
    (5) Kobe University of Commerce W1 D1 L3
    (6) Osaka Institute of Technology L5
    Title play-off: Kyoto University 3-0 Kwansei Gakuin University

  • 7th Kanto University League
    University of Tokyo defeats Waseda University in play-off to take fifth successive title (October 19 - December 14)
    (1) University of Tokyo W3 L1
    (2) Waseda University W3 L1
    (3) First High School W2 L2
    (3) Keio University W2 L2
    (5) Tokyo Bunri University L4 (now Tsukuba University)
    Title play-off: University of Tokyo 1-0 Waseda University

  • 2nd East-West University 1st Place Challenge Match (University Championship Play-Off)
    December 28 - University of Tokyo 2-1 Kyoto University (Koshien South Sports Ground)
    *University of Tokyo
    FW -- Suzuki, Naito, Teshima, Shinojima, Miyake
    HB -- Hayashi, Nozawa, Saito
    FB -- Takeuchi, Funaoka
    GK -- Hoji Abe
    *Kyoto University
    FW -- Matsue, Toshio Ichifuji, Mizuno, Sawano, Kamoshita
    HB -- Yamamoto, Kiyoshi Nishimura, Ariga
    FB -- Kohata, Takemura
    GK -- Itaru Takeuchi

National Team

  • 9th Far Eastern Championship Games
    May 25
    Japan 7-2 Philippines (HT 5-2)
    Scorers (Japan) -- Wakabayashi (10, 13, 22), Own Goal (16), Teshima (32), Shinojima (41), Ichihashi (86)

    FK Japan 8 / Philippines 4
    CK Japan 10 / Philippines 8
    GK Japan 9 / Philippines 22

    * Japan XI
    FW -- Haruyama, Wakabayashi (Ichihashi) Teshima, Shinojima, Takayama
    HB -- Honda(Ide) Takenokoshi, Nozawa
    FB -- Takeuchi, Goto
    GK -- Saito

    May 27
    Republic of China 5-0 Philippines (HT 3-0)

    May 29
    Japan 3-3 Republic of China (HT 1-1)
    Scorer(Japan) -- Teshimia(23, 56) Shinojima(73)

    FK Japan 13 / Republic of China 4
    CK Japan 7 / Republic of China 3
    GK Japan 16 / Republic of China 29
    PK Japan 1 / Republic of China 0

    * Japan XI
    FW -- Haruyama, Wakabayashi(Ichihashi), Teshima, Shinojima, Takayama
    HB -- Honda, Takenokoshi, Nozawa
    FW -- Takeuchi, Goto
    GK -- Saito


  • Jan Embargo on gold exports lifted
  • Apr Workers at the Kanebo Yodogawa factory strike in protest at wage reductions. This triggers similar strikes in other factories
  • Apr Naval treaty signed at London Naval Conference
  • May 9th Far Eastern Championship Games held in Tokyo. Japan takes overall victory over the Republic of China and the Philippines, courtesy of victories in five events - track and field (individual and team), baseball, tennis, and swimming – and a joint first place with the Republic of China in the football event. The team is presented the victors' cup by the Taisho Emperor
  • Aug Facsimile transmission between Tokyo and Osaka begins
  • Sep The price of rice has dropped sharply
  • Oct Privy Council ratifies the Treaty of London
  • Oct "Tsubame" express train services begin operation between Tokyo and Kobe
  • Nov Prime Minister Osachi Hamaguchi is seriously wounded after being shot in Tokyo, and Foreign Minister Kijuro Shidehara becomes interim prime minister (Hamaguchi dies on 26 August, 1931)
  • Feb The Republic of China reaches an accord with other related nations over the restructuring of the Shanghai International Settlement, marking a step forward towards the end of extraterritoriality
  • Apr Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Italy sign the five-nation London Naval Treaty
  • Sep German federal election sees the Social Democratic Party maintain its leading share (143 seats). The National Socialist Party (107) and the Communist Party (77) make large gains
  • Oct Zhang Xueliang, the strongest warlord in northeast China (Manchuria), becomes second-in-command of the central army, and calls for the country to united under the Kuomintang