Coach: Takeshi Okada
Key Player: Makoto Hasebe
World Ranking: 45
World Cup Record: Three appearances
Group E Schedule:
14 June – Japan v Cameroon
19 June – Netherlands v Japan
24 June – Denmark v Japan
Japan coach Takeshi Okada's refusal to back-track on his declared goal of a semi-final place at the World Cup despite all evidence pointing to an early exit appears to have added more pressure on his players.
The Samurai Blur have suffered a severe dip in form in the run-in to the tournament. Okada has come under fire for his selection policy and tactics and will leave the job after the tournament.
Injuries to playmaker Shunsuke Nakamura since his return to the J-League from Spanish side Espanyol are a concern but the form of CSKA Moscow's Keisuke Honda and Wolfsburg's Makoto Hasebe could compensate in the midfield area.
Honda and Hasebe look pivotal for Japan's hopes of scoring the goals they will need to have any chance of progressing.
Former Arsenal midfielder Junichi Inamoto could be a key player shielding Japan's defence against the superior firepower of the Netherlands, Cameroon and Denmark in Group E.
Seigo Narazaki (Nagoya Grampus), Eiji Kawashima (Kawasaki Frontale), Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi (Jubilo Iwata); Yuji Nakazawa (Yokohama Marinos), Marcus Tulio Tanaka (Nagoya Grampus), Yuichi Komano (Jubilo Iwata), Daiki Iwamasa (Kashima Antlers), Yasuyuki Konno (FC Tokyo), Yuto Nagatomo (FC Tokyo), Atsuto Uchida (Kashima Antlers); Shunsuke Nakamura (Yokohama Marinos), Yasuhito Endo (Gamba Osaka), Kengo Nakamura (Kawasaki Frontale), Junichi Inamoto (Kawasaki Frontale), Yuki Abe (Urawa Red Diamonds), Makoto Hasebe (Wolfsburg, Germany), Keisuke Honda (CSKA Moscow, Russia), Daisuke Matsui (Grenoble, France); Shinji Okazaki (Shimizu S-Pulse), Keiji Tamada (Nagoya Grampus), Yasuhito Okubo (Vissel Kobe), Kisho Yano (Albirex Niigata), Takayuki Morimoto (Catania, Italy).