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Japanese Soccer Personalities


Japan Football Hall of Fame

1st group of inductees, 2005
First president (time in post: 1921-1933)
Born in 1881.
Graduated from Tokyo Imperial University.
After spells as Ministry of Finance administrative official and as Vice Minister of Finance for International Affairs stationed in Russia, becomes president of Asia Forestry, and board member of Japan-Russia Industry.
Having been executive president of Greater Japan Sports Association, appointed president of JFA, which is inaugurated after receiving silver cup from the FA in England.
Also served as president of Greater Japan Wrestling Federation.
Elected into Japan Football Hall of Fame as part of first group of inductees in 2005.

*Information supplied by Japan Football Museum


Famous runner, influential in sports, first president of JFA

Meets Gendou Tsuboi as youth
Jikichi Imamura, the first president of the JFA, was born in 1881, making him 40 years of age when he was appointed as Greater Japan Football Association (now Japan Football Association) in 1921.
Jikichi was the second son of Yurin Imamura (1841-1924), a renowned scholar of French during the Meiji and Taisho eras, while his elder brother Shinkichi (1974-1946) was a pioneer in psychopathology in Japan and a professor at Kyoto Imperial University(Now University Of Kyoto).
Jikichi studied at the Tokyo Normal Higher School-Affiliated Elementary School and Junior High School before moving on to the First High School and to the University of Tokyo. After graduating in law from the University of Tokyo in 1904, he become a court clerk at the Ministry of Finance, and after a spell as Vice Minister of Finance for International Affairs stationed in Russia, would lead an active life in industry with positions including board member of Japan-Russia Industry and president of Asia Forestry.
His first experience of soccer came, according to records of his own recollections, when he was taught the footballing basics by the founding father of soccer in Japan, Gendou Tsuboi (1852-1922), during an advanced course at elementary school. However, during Imamura's school days, football was not yet even being played at First High School or at the University of Tokyo, and the main sports were still baseball and athletics (track and field).

Race around Shinobazu Pond
Considered a talented runner at a time where long distance competition was uncommon, Imamura participated in a school race around Shinobazu Pond in Ueno organized by First High School (over 12 miles = 20.92 km), and ultimately took victory after a fierce battle with Tosaku Kinoshita, a famous runner of the time.
Imamura continued to be active in track and field after entering the University of Tokyo, and there are records of him achieving three victories in the 200m, 400m, and 1000m events at an athletics meeting in November 1900.
His skills were not limited to running, as he also compiled translated versions of rulebooks, and become well known amongst others involved in the sport.
During the preliminary competitions for Japan's participation in the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, Imamura served on the competition committee. With the trust of Jigoro Kano, IOC member and initial president of the Greater Japan Sports Association (now Japan Sports Association), he also worked as board member of the Sports Association to raise funds through developing links with government and industry.

Great advances in ten years as initial president
In 1919, Japan was presented with a silver cup from the FA in England, and this gave Japan an incentive to create an organization to govern soccer in the country. Tokyo Normal Higher School professor Tairei Uchino (1884-1953) was at the centre of this initiative, and the cooperation of British Embassy Secretary William Hague helped along the creation of the organization, but electing a president was proving difficult.
A "Sports Association" had been founded because of Japan's participation in the Olympics, and the Olympics preliminary competition and the 1st Japanese Athletics Championships had been hosted under its authority. Despite difficulties in obtaining the approval of eminent personalities with a knowledge of sport, the executive president of Greater Japan Sports Association, Jikichi Imamura, was finally given the go-ahead to become president of the first single-sport governing body in Japan.
I would speculate that Imamura's path to appointment was smoothed by the successful completion of the collection of funds to send athletes to the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp - a major responsibility of his in the Greater Japan Sports Association - and the fact that his workload as Vice Minister of Finance for International Affairs stationed in Russia had settled down somewhat. After the appointment, the Greater Japan Sports Association gave a grant of 1,000 yen - a significant sum of money at the time - to the new JFA.
In first edition of the Greater Japan Football Association newsletter, for 1921, the following 25 persons were listed as members of the board of the association (as of December 1921).
* Honorary Presidents
Prince Iesato Tokugawa
British Ambassador Charles Eliot
* President
Jikichi Imamura
* Advisors
Jigoro Kano
Marquess Nao Nabeshima
Baron Shinpei Goto
Seiichi Kishi
* Patrons
William Hague
Komyo Otani
Hidejiro Nagata
Eikichiro Mishima
* Board Members
General Secretary Mokichi Kondo
General Affairs Tairei Uchino, Keizo Kumasaka
Accounting Junjiro Yoshikawa
Competitions Domei Nagai
Compilations Gunji Takei,Reihon Takahashi
Under this board led by Imamura, Japanese soccer would achieve astonishing progress within ten years, leading it to rank alongside the Republic of China as the best in East Asia in the 1930 Far Eastern Championship Games.


  • March 1881 - Born in Tokyo. His father, Yurin (1844-1924), was a scholar and teacher of the French language.
  • 1888 - Enters the Tokyo Normal Higher School-Affiliated Elementary School, where he is first introduced to football by Gendou Tsuboi.
  • 1897 - Graduates from the Tokyo Normal Higher School-Affiliated Junior High School (after six years). Enters the First High School.
  • 13 May, 1899 - Beats Jusaku Kinoshita at the finish of a head-to-head race around Shinobazu Pond in Ueno.
  • 1900 - Enters Tokyo Imperial University.
    November - Wins in three events - the 200m, 400m, and 1000m - at a university athletics meeting. Also wins 200m event at athletics meeting in November 1902.
  • 1904 - Graduates in law from Tokyo Imperial University. Becomes court clerk at the Ministry of Finance.
  • July 1911 - Greater Japan Sports Association founded, with Jigoro Kano as its initial president.
    November - Works as starter at a selection meeting for the Stockholm Olympic Games.
  • 1912 - Japan sends team leader Jigoro Kano, team manager Hyozo Omori, short-distance track athlete Yahiko Mishima, and marathon runner Shizo Kanakuri to the Games of the 5th Olympiad in Stockholm as the first ever representatives of the country. Their participation has a major impact on sport in Japan.
  • 1913 - Becomes one of seven general board members of the Greater Japan Sports Association after its statutes are rewritten.
    November - First ever track and field competition organised by the Greater Japan Sports Association is held. It is said that Imamura edited the regulations for this event, and that these were then applied to qualifying events throughout the country.
  • 1915 - Becomes one of nine board members appointed by the president of the Greater Japan Sports Association following another revision to its statues.
  • 1917 - 3rd Far Eastern Championship Games are held in Shibaura, Tokyo. Imamura devotes energies to raising funds for the Games.
  • 1919 - Attends the Harbin Conference in his role as Vice Minister of Finance for International Affairs stationed in Russia.
  • 1920 - Works at the centre of the Greater Japan Sports Association's efforts to collect fund to send athletes to represent Japan at the Games of the 7th Olympiad in Antwerp.
  • 1921 - The Greater Japan Football Association is formed, with Imamura as its inaugural president. Prince Iesato Tokugawa and British Ambassador Charles Eliot take honorary president positions.
  • 1925 - The Greater Japan Association of Athletics Federations (now: Japan Association of Athletics Federations) is formed, with Imamura named as advisor.
  • 1929 - A change in the statues of the JFA sees Shigeyoshi Suzuki appointed as standing director beneath president Imamura, and a further eight board members and eight branch board members installed, as the JFA seeks to become a more efficient organisation.
  • May 1930 - Japan beats the Philippines and draws with the Republic of China at the 9th Far Eastern Championship Games, held at the Meiji Shrine Outer Garden Stadium in Tokyo, to take joint first place with the Republic of China.
  • 1932 - No football competition takes place at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles. However, Imamura accompanies the Japanese squad as team consultant and as general manager to the wrestling team (in his positions as executive president of Greater Japan Sports Association and vice-president of the Olympics Support Club).
  • 1933 - Retires as JFA president.
  • 17 April 1943 - Dies at the age of 64. Given the posthumous name of Seitoku-in Jikishin Seidou Koji.