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Team Profile

Japan                        Click here to download Team Profile in pdf format






It's been a long time between drinks for a Japanese side trying to reclaim the glory days of the 1960's and 70's.

Olympic Gold in 1964 and 1976, silver in 1968 and 1972 along with World Championship titles in 1962, 1967 and 1974 are a reflection of Japan's power and supremacy 30 years ago but now their national side is in the process of trying to relive those memories.

Team officials believe the non-participation in the last Olympics was a big setback and this has resulted in the appointment by the Japan Volleyball Association to hire present coach Masahiro Yoshikawa, the former head coach of Japan's then Championship Team, NEC.

However, Yoshikawa’s effort could not bear fruit despite his and his players’ hard work. In particular, the result at the World Championship in 2002 fell desperately short of the JVA’s expectations and the JVA finally reached a decision that drastic reform was absolutely necessary in order to qualify for the Olympics in Athens.

Shoichi Yanagimoto, a bronze medalist at the ’74 World Championship in Mexico and an experienced coach, replaced Yoshikawa, and launched his new squad immediately after the V. League, Japan’s premier league. Over thirty players - from two Olympians Tomoko Yoshihara and Asako Tajimi, to fresh and promising players Kana Oyama and Megumi Kurihara - were invited to the inaugural camp.

Naturally lacking in height - Sano at 158cm being the shortest player - Japan's liberos will be crucial to any substantial improvement but one thing can be guaranteed there will nothing lacking in Japan's determination to see their name back on the podium:

Core players remain the same as the previous years but younger talent like the lanky Sachiko Sugiyama (184 cm) are expected to be key players in the future.

Since April, through competing in many international competitions, such as The Volley Masters (6th) (Switzerland), the 2003 World Grand Prix, Italy (9th) and the Asian Championship (Vietnam), the young and promising players have been improving rapidly and the young Japanese team ended up runners-up by defeating their arch rivals Korea at the Asian women’s Championship – Japan was 4th at the previous Championship two years ago.

Not only technically gifted, but mentally as well, Japan’s squad is remarkably well-balanced. The skipper, Tomoko Yoshihawa, pulls all the members together by giving advice to young players and the setter, Takeshita, who is composed all the time, gives accurate indications to her teammates on the court. Being supported by those experienced players, newcomers can express themselves without feeling anxious about making errors.

Japan used to be a powerhouse in the past and Yanagimoto’s squad are strongly aware that the World Cup and going to Athens will be the first steps to returning to the top. They also know that, if they play like they do in everyday training, they will be able to get good results at the World Cup 2003.


Recent records

12th Asian Continental Championship in Vietnam (September)
Final: Japan lost to China 3-0(25-21, 25-23, 25-15)
Semifinal: Japan beat Korea 3-0 (26-24, 25-21, 25-19)
Quarterfinal: Japan beat the Philippines 3-0 (25-16, 25-23, 25-17)
Japan beat New Zealand 3-0 (25-11, 25-17, 25-17)
Japan beat Chinese Taipei 3-1 (25-21, 21-25, 25-21, 25-12)
Japan beat Vietnam 3-0 (25-14, 25-12, 31-29)
Japan beat Thailand 3-0 (25-18, 25-23, 25-15)

World Grand Prix (July-August, 2003)

Japan beat Cuba 3-2 (18-25, 25-18, 25-20, 19-25, 15-13) 
Japan beat Italy 3-2 (23-25, 16-25, 25-21, 26-24, 15-10)
Japan lost to Germany 3-1 (25-13, 17-25, 26-24, 25-21)
Japan lost to USA 3-2 (24-26, 25-17, 25-15, 23-25, 15-12)
Japan lost to the Netherlands 3-0 (25-16, 25-18, 25-19)   
World Cup record

1973 - Second
1977 - First
1981 - Second
1985 - Fourth
1989 - Fourth
1991 - Seventh
1995 - Sixth
1999 - Sixth

Other Tournament Records

2000 World Grand Prix 2000 8th
2001 Asian Championship (Thailand) 4th
2001 World Grand Prix 2001 6th
2002 World Championship (Germany) 13th
2002 World Grand Prix 2002 5th
2003 Asian Championship (Vietnam) 2nd
2003 World Grand Prix 2003 9th