Japan is currently ranked 8th in the world and were runners-up in the 2015 World Cup and champions in 2011. This year Japan is in a group with 3rd ranked England, 20th ranked Scotland and 37th ranked Argentina.
Japan’s men’s team is not particularly strong and is currently ranked 26th in the world. However, they surprised many people by advancing to the knockout stage at this past summer’s world cup. Japan, however, ranks 110th in the gender gap index and 165th in female participation in government. Japan’s strength can potentially be attributed to the fact that they have had a women’s professional league for 30 years, while almost no other country has had a league consistently for anywhere near that long. In the other metrics, Japan ranked 42nd in GDP Per Capita, 30th for economic freedom, 17th for average level of education and 10th for population, all very strong scores, albeit not on metrics that were determined to be particularly significant.
While Japan does not fit in as nicely with our findings as France, looking at the data this way and pairing it with the knowledge of their strong professional league provides some insight into an possible explanation for the strength of their women’s team.