Japan were a prominent force in the 1960s and 1970s, claiming the FIVB World Championship title three times (1962, 1967, 1974). They also claimed silver in 1978, but had to wait 32 years before their next World Championship medal, when they won bronze on home soil in 2010, with a 3-2 win over USA in the third-place playoff. In the most recent edition, in 2014, Japan finished seventh.
Together with Brazil and the USA, Japan are the joint-second most prolific participants in the competition, making their 16th appearance. They have missed just two editions in the history of the competition, in 1952 and 1956. Only Russia, including participation as the USSR have more appearances (17).
During their golden era, Japan also won several Olympic medals, including gold at their Tokyo 1964 home Games, and at Montreal 1976. In between, Japan continued to feature on the podium, claiming silver at Mexico City 1968 and Munich 1972. The team also picked up a bronze medal at the Los Angeles 1984 Games, and returned to the Olympic podium after 28 years with a win over Korea in the bronze medal match of London 2012. At Rio 2016, Japan reached the quarterfinals where they were knocked out 3-0 by the USA.
Japan are one of only two teams, along with China, to have played in all 25 editions of the FIVB World Grand Prix. However, they only have one medal; a silver in the 2014 edition, when they hosted the Final Six in Tokyo. Japan ranked 10th in the inaugural FIVB Volleyball Nations League this year, with a 7-8 record in pool play.
On a continental level, Japan have won numerous medals at the Asian Games and Asian Championships. At the 2014 Asian Games, they lost out on bronze to Thailand 3-0, but beat the same opponents in the final of the 2017 Asian Championship. Fans will be hoping that their home support will lift Japan back on to the podium this year.