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Japanese Soccer Personalities


Japan Football Hall of Fame

1st group of inductees, 2005
Born in Osaka Prefecture on March 18, 1906
Graduated from Osaka University of Commerce (now Osaka City University)
Executive President of Tanabe Seiyaku pharmaceutical company
Appointed as vice-president of the Japan Football Association in 1946 after holding caretaker president role since 1945. Devotes great energy to recovery of soccer in Japan during a period of turbulence after the Second World War.
Provides financial support to Japanese soccer both before and after the war, including a large donation to fund the dispatch a Japanese national team to the 11th Olympic Games (1936, Berlin).
Also devotes energy from before the war to the establishment of the Kansai Football Association, is appointed as its first president, and contributes to the spread and development of soccer in the Kansai region.
Establishes Tanabe Seiyaku football club in the 1920s. A pioneer of the company team, Tanabe later becomes a leader of adult soccer after the war.
Held great knowledge of soccer matters both domestically and internationally, and achieved significant accomplishments in supplying a wide range of soccer information through work with the JFA magazine and other media. Particularly famous for his "Ukyutei Tales" serialized in the JFA's in-house magazine, "Soccer", between 1962 and 1971.
Huge collection of books and souvenirs remain in the "Tanabe Library" to convey his achievements to future generations.
Awarded 3rd Class Order of the Sacred Treasure in 1972.
Passes away in 1972.

*Information supplied by Japan Football Museum


Great knowledge, great memory, and a great care for others

Two years younger than "Noko-san" (Shigemaru Takenokoshi), Gohei Tanabe was part of what would go down in Japanese soccer history as the 1930 generation (9th Far Eastern Championship Games).

A son of the family behind Tanabe Shoten, a famous company within the pharmaceutical industry in Doshomachi, Osaka since the Edo Period, he developed a passion for soccer at the old Momoyama Junior High School (now St. Andrew's High School), and was already helping with work at the Osaka Football Association and the Kansai Football Association during his time at junior high school and university (Osaka University of Commerce - now Osaka City University).

After the 3-3 draw with the Republic of China at the Far Eastern Championship Games in 1930, it is said that he carried an exhausted Shigemaru Takenokoshi on his back all the way from the Meiji Shrine Stadium (now the National Olympic Stadium) to the team's lodgings at the Nippon Seinen-kan. After the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, there was another occasion in which Tanabe carried Taizo Kawamoto on his back all the way to the hotel after the latter had broken his leg in a friendly match in Zurich, and these episodes illustrate how he not only volunteered to take care of others, but also desired to introduce this attitude to Japan through football, both at home and abroad and throughout history.

Throughout the 1930s, Tanabe had managed to collect virtually all of the publications released by the original FA (Football Association), although he sadly lost his collection to the Great Hanshin Flood of 1938.

After the Second World War, and even after his appointment as president of the Tanabe Seiyaku pharmaceutical company, he devoted much effort in his role as JFA (Japan Football Association) vice-president to the regeneration of soccer in Japan after its hiatus during the war. He also assembled Japanese national team class players to build a strong Tanabe Seiyaku company team, with the wish that soccer players - for whom time spent in education had represented the peak of their focus on the sport - would continue to gain experience and reach a higher level even after graduation. This demonstrated great vision at a time where soccer was not a professional sport in the country.

Tanabe's broad perspective extended not only to top teams, for one of his major duties in the Kansai Football Association was to develop the All-Japan Junior High School Soccer Tournament (now All-Japan High School Soccer Tournament) into one of the strongest pillars of Japanese football after the war (the tournament would go on to move its venue to Tokyo and expand further). He also turned his eye to building on the success of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics to popularize soccer among young people and supply coaching to citizen sports clubs, and advocating a new soccer movement different to the school-based activities of the past, he led the way in founding Kobe Football Club (FC), the first private sports club with corporate status in Japanese history.

When he was young, he used to say that he studied in order to compete with Noko-san's philosophies, but the passion that he brought into his role as a attache of the team at the Berlin Olympics remained unfaltering after the war. His juniors, including myself, were always overwhelmed by his level of knowledge and fantastic memory, and his influence led me to look not only at soccer technical theory, but also the fascinating relationships between society and soccer in the various regions and countries of the world.

His "Ukyutei Tales" that were serialized in the JFA's in-house magazine, and the notes and huge collection of books and souvenirs that demonstrate his great knowledge remain today as a "treasure" of Japanese soccer in the form of the Tanabe Library.


  • 18 March 1908 - Born as Chitaro, the eldest son of Gohei, the 13th head of the Tanabe family.
  • 1930 - Accompanies the Japanese national team as officer at the 9th Far Eastern Championship Games.
  • 1933 - Appointed as director of the Tanabe Gohei Shoten pharmaceutical company.
  • 1934 - Graduates from Osaka University of Commerce (now Osaka City University). Accompanies the Japanese national team as officer at the 10th Far Eastern Championship Games in Manila.
  • 1936 - Serves as team attaché for Japan at the Berlin Olympics.
  • 1941 - Takes the name Gohei Tanabe XIV, following the death of his father, Gohei Tanabe XIII. Appointed as president of the family company.
  • 1943 - Family company name changed to Tanabe Seiyaku.
  • 1946 - Appointed as vice-president of the Japan Football Association.
  • 1950 - The Tanabe Seiyaku football team wins its first title at the 3rd All-Japan Company Football Tournament. Goes on to win six successive titles up to 1955.
  • 1959 - Named as chairman of Tanabe Seiyaku.
  • 1963 - Named as vice-president of the Hyogo Football Friends' Association.
  • 1965 - Becomes vice-principal of the Kobe Real Soccer School.
  • 1970 - Becomes vice-president of Kobe Football Club.
  • 16 October 1972 - Passes away at the age of 64. Given the posthumous name of Ryutoku-in Shinyo Jitsubun Kyoudou Koji.
  • 27 May 2005 - Elected into the Japan Hall of Fame as part of the first group of inductees.