How Many Women's World Cups Has Japan Won?
The Japan Women’s National Football Team has participated in every World Cup since the first tournament in 1991. The international team has been one of the best in the sport since then, as they have competed in the Olympics five times, and have claimed two titles in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup. Japan won the World Cup in 2011 and also have a second-place finish in the tournament as well. How did they become one of four countries to win the Women’s World Cup and how have they played in other years? Keep reading to find out.
2011 World Cup Champions
Japan claimed its first and only Women’s World Cup in 2011. The champions started in Group B with England, Mexico, and New Zealand. Japan defeated New Zealand 2-1 in the opening game of the tournament. A 4-0 win against Mexico in the second match made the contest with England a battle to finish first in the group. Japan was held scoreless while England scored one goal in each half to finish atop Group B, meaning the Japanese faced off against the two-time defending champions, Germany, in the knockout stage.
Against Germany, Karina Maruyama scored the only goal of the game in extra time to push Japan to the semifinals. Next, a 3-1 win over Sweden saw Japan make the World Cup finals for the first time ever. In the final, the United States and Japan were tied 1-1 entering extra time. Abby Wambach put the U.S. in front but Homare Sawa evened the match in the 117th minute. Japanese goalie, Ayumi Kaihori, saved the first three penalty shots from the Americans as Japan won its first World Cup in the penalty shootout. Sawa finished the tournament with the most goals and Aya Miyama had five assists to lead the tournament.
2015 World Cup Runner-Ups
The Japanese team finished second in the 2015 Women’s World Cup. Japan competed in Group C alongside Cameroon, Switzerland, and Ecuador. The country earned victories against all three teams to finish first in the group.
After defeating the Netherlands 2-1 in the Round of 16 and Australia 1-0 in the quarterfinals, the Japanese were matched up with England in the semifinals. Miyama scored first to give Japan the lead, but an English penalty kick tied the game at 1. An own goal in extra time gave Japan a 2-1 lead that would stay for the rest of the game. Japan faced off with the United States in the finals. The Americans scored four goals within the first 16 minutes of the game. Japan fell 5-2 to the United States as they took second place in the tournament.
Japan has played in every Women’s World Cup since the first tournament in 1991 but has not had much success besides in 2011 and 2015. Besides the two finals appearances, Japan has only made it out of the group stage twice. In 1995, Japan finished third in Group A but was one of two third-place teams to advance to the knockout stage. Japan fell 4-0 to the United States in the quarterfinals. In 2019, Japan finished with four points and in second place in Group B. The Japanese fell 2-1 to the Netherlands in the Round of 16.