List of Japanese football champions

The Japanese football champions are the winners of the top league in Japan, the Japan Soccer League from 1965 to 1992 and the J1 League since then.

Japanese League (1st tier)
Japan Soccer League (1965–1971)
Japan Soccer League Division 1 (1972–1992)
J.League (1993–1998)
J.League Division 1 (1999–2014)
J1 League (2015–present)
Country
Japan
Japan
Founded
1965
Number of Teams
18 (2019 season)
Current Champions
Yokohama F. Marinos (2019)
Most successful club
Kashima Antlers
(8 championships)

Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Tokyo Verdy are the only teams that have won the title four times in a row (in 1965–1968 as Toyo Industries and in 1991–1994 as Yomiuri S.C./Verdy Kawasaki respectively). Notice that from 1985 to 1992 Japanese football adjusted to the "fall-spring" season schedule (common in most of Europe) but after establishment of J.League switched back to "spring-fall" scheme (common in North America, East Asia, and Nordic European latitudes).

Teams in bold have completed the double of the title and the Emperor's Cup in the same season. In 1985 no double was possible due to the season's timeframe change; thus, the doubles completed between then and 1992 are won in the middle of the season.

Japan Soccer League (1965–1971)Edit

Numbers in parentheses indicate number of wins at the date. Leading goalscorer's nationality is at the time of award and does not necessarily indicate the national team played for.

Year Champions
(number of titles)
Runners-up Third place Leading goalscorer Goals
1965
Toyo Industries Yawata Steel Furukawa Electric   Mutsuhiko Nomura (Hitachi) 15
1966
Toyo Industries (2) Yawata Steel Furukawa Electric   Aritatsu Ogi (Toyo Industries) 14
1967
Toyo Industries (3) Furukawa Electric Mitsubishi Heavy Industries   Takeo Kimura (Furukawa Electric) 15
1968
Toyo Industries (4) Yanmar Diesel Mitsubishi Heavy Industries   Kunishige Kamamoto (Yanmar Diesel) 14
1969
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Toyo Industries Yawata Steel   Hiroshi Ochiai (Mitsubishi Motors) 12
1970
Toyo Industries (5) Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Hitachi SC   Kunishige Kamamoto (Yanmar Diesel) 16
1971
Yanmar Diesel Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Nippon Steel   Kunishige Kamamoto (Yanmar Diesel) 11

Japan Soccer League Division 1 (1972–1992)Edit

Year Champions
(number of titles)
Runners-up Third place Leading goalscorer Goals
1972
Hitachi SC Yanmar Diesel Toyo Industries   Akira Matsunaga (Hitachi) 12
1973
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (2) Hitachi SC Yanmar Diesel   Akira Matsunaga (Hitachi) 11
1974
Yanmar Diesel (2) Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Hitachi SC   Kunishige Kamamoto (Yanmar Diesel) 21
1975
Yanmar Diesel (3) Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Hitachi SC   Kunishige Kamamoto (Yanmar Diesel) 17
1976
Furukawa Electric Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Fujita Industries   Kunishige Kamamoto (Yanmar Diesel) 15
1977
Fujita Industries Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Hitachi SC   Carvalho (Fujita Industries) 23
1978
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (3) Yanmar Diesel Fujita Industries   Kunishige Kamamoto (Yanmar Diesel)
  Carvalho (Fujita Industries)
15
1979
Fujita Industries (2) Yomiuri SC Hitachi SC   Ruy Ramos (Yomiuri) 14
1980
Yanmar Diesel (4) Fujita Industries Furukawa Electric   Hiroyuki Usui (Hitachi) 14
1981
Fujita Industries (3) Yomiuri SC Mitsubishi Heavy Industries   Hiroshi Yoshida (Furukawa Electric) 14
1982
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (4) Yanmar Diesel Furukawa Electric   Hiroyuki Usui (Hitachi) 13
1983
Yomiuri SC Nissan Motors Fujita Industries   Ruy Ramos (Yomiuri) 10
1984
Yomiuri SC (2) Nissan Motors Yamaha Motors   Tetsuya Totsuka (Yomiuri) 14
1985–86
Furukawa Electric (2) NKK SC Honda Motors   Hiroshi Yoshida (Furukawa Electric) 16
1986–87
Yomiuri SC (3) NKK SC Mitsubishi Heavy Industries   Toshio Matsuura (NKK) 17
1987–88
Yamaha Motors NKK SC Mitsubishi Heavy Industries   Toshio Matsuura (NKK) 11
1988–89
Nissan Motors ANA SC Yamaha Motors   Adílson (Yamaha Motors) 11
1989–90
Nissan Motors (2) Yomiuri SC ANA SC   Renato (Nissan Motors) 17
1990–91
Yomiuri SC (4) Nissan Motors Honda Motors   Tetsuya Totsuka (Yomiuri)
  Tsuyoshi Kitazawa (Honda Motor)
  Renato (Nissan Motors)
10
1991–92
Yomiuri SC (5) Nissan Motors Yamaha Motors   Toninho (Yomiuri) 18

J.League (1993–1998)Edit

In 1992, professional J.League was established. All teams elected to it strip themselves of corporate identities and adopt their own names. From 1993 to 2005 (except for 1996 season), and in 2015 and 2016, the league was contested in an Apertura and Clausura manner, thus the "runners-up" for these seasons are actually the winners of one of these tournaments which lost to the winners of the playoff. The "third places" are the highest-scoring teams in the aggregate table which were not involved in the playoff. If there was no playoff due to the champions winning both stages, the third place is the second-best points earning team who are not the champions.

Year Champions
(number of titles)
Runners-up Third place Leading goalscorer Goals
1992
Transition period; top flight clubs only play the J.League Cup, but Japan Football League plays inaugural season
1993
Verdy Kawasaki (6) Kashima Antlers Shimizu S-Pulse   Ramón Díaz (Yokohama Marinos) 28
1994
Verdy Kawasaki (7) Sanfrecce Hiroshima Kashima Antlers   Frank Ordenewitz (JEF United Ichihara) 30
1995
Yokohama F. Marinos (3) Verdy Kawasaki Nagoya Grampus Eight   Masahiro Fukuda (Urawa Red Diamonds) 32
1996
Kashima Antlers Nagoya Grampus Eight Yokohama Flügels   Kazuyoshi Miura (Verdy Kawasaki) 23
1997
Júbilo Iwata (2) Kashima Antlers Yokohama F. Marinos   Patrick Mboma (Gamba Osaka) 25
1998
Kashima Antlers (2) Júbilo Iwata Shimizu S-Pulse   Masashi Nakayama (Júbilo Iwata) 36

J.League Division 1 (1999–2014)Edit

Top flight becomes J.League Division 1 in 1999.

Year Champions
(number of titles)
Runners-up Third place Leading goalscorer Goals
1999
Júbilo Iwata (3) Shimizu S-Pulse Kashiwa Reysol   Hwang Sun-Hong (Cerezo Osaka) 24
2000
Kashima Antlers (3) Yokohama F. Marinos Kashiwa Reysol   Masashi Nakayama (Júbilo Iwata) 20
2001
Kashima Antlers (4) Júbilo Iwata JEF United Ichihara   Will (Consadole Sapporo) 20
2002
Júbilo Iwata (4) Yokohama F. Marinos Gamba Osaka   Naohiro Takahara (Júbilo Iwata) 26
2003
Yokohama F. Marinos (4) Júbilo Iwata JEF United Chiba   Ueslei (Nagoya Grampus Eight) 22
2004
Yokohama F. Marinos (5) Urawa Red Diamonds Gamba Osaka   Emerson (Urawa Red Diamonds) 27
2005
Gamba Osaka Urawa Red Diamonds Kashima Antlers   Araújo (Gamba Osaka) 33
2006
Urawa Red Diamonds (5) Kawasaki Frontale Gamba Osaka   Washington (Urawa Red Diamonds)
  Magno Alves (Gamba Osaka)
26
2007
Kashima Antlers (5) Urawa Red Diamonds Gamba Osaka   Juninho (Kawasaki Frontale) 22
2008
Kashima Antlers (6) Kawasaki Frontale Nagoya Grampus   Marquinhos (Kashima Antlers) 21
2009
Kashima Antlers (7) Kawasaki Frontale Gamba Osaka   Ryoichi Maeda (Júbilo Iwata) 20
2010
Nagoya Grampus Gamba Osaka Cerezo Osaka   Joshua Kennedy (Nagoya Grampus)
  Ryoichi Maeda (Júbilo Iwata)
17
2011
Kashiwa Reysol (2) Nagoya Grampus Gamba Osaka   Joshua Kennedy (Nagoya Grampus) 19
2012
Sanfrecce Hiroshima (6) Vegalta Sendai Urawa Red Diamonds   Hisato Satō (Sanfrecce Hiroshima) 22
2013
Sanfrecce Hiroshima (7) Yokohama F. Marinos Kawasaki Frontale   Yoshito Ōkubo (Kawasaki Frontale) 26
2014
Gamba Osaka (2) Urawa Red Diamonds Kashima Antlers   Yoshito Ōkubo (Kawasaki Frontale) 18

J1 League (2015–present)Edit

The league was renamed to J1 League in 2015.

Year Champions
(number of titles)
Runners-up Third place Leading goalscorer Goals
2015
Sanfrecce Hiroshima (8) Gamba Osaka Urawa Red Diamonds   Yoshito Ōkubo (Kawasaki Frontale) 23
2016
Kashima Antlers (8) Urawa Red Diamonds Kawasaki Frontale   Leandro (Vissel Kobe)
  Peter Utaka (Sanfrecce Hiroshima)
19
2017
Kawasaki Frontale Kashima Antlers Cerezo Osaka   Yū Kobayashi (Kawasaki Frontale) 23
2018
Kawasaki Frontale (2) Sanfrecce Hiroshima Kashima Antlers   (Nagoya Grampus) 24
2019
Yokohama F. Marinos (6) FC Tokyo Kashima Antlers   Teruhito Nakagawa (Yokohama F. Marinos)
  Marcos Júnior (Yokohama F. Marinos)
15

Total titles wonEdit

Thirteen clubs have been champions, though only ten have won the title since the establishment of J. League. Of these ten, Kashima Antlers, Gamba Osaka, Nagoya Grampus and Kawasaki Frontale have never been Japan Soccer League champions.

All Japanese champion clubs still exist and are competing in the J. League; however, some may have moved from their Japan Soccer League locations they won the title at, or may have cut off ties with their original parent company.

Years in italic indicate Japan Soccer League seasons. Clubs in bold compete in Division 1 as of the 2020 season; clubs in italic no longer exist.

Club Winners Runners-up Winning Seasons Runners-up Seasons
  Sanfrecce Hiroshima 8 3 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1970, 2012, 2013, 2015 1969, 1994, 2018
  Kashima Antlers 8 3 1996, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2016 1993, 1997, 2017
  Tokyo Verdy 7 4 1983, 1984, 1986–87, 1990–91, 1991–92, 1993, 1994 1979, 1981, 1989–90, 1995
  Yokohama F. Marinos 6 7 1988–89, 1989–90, 1995, 2003, 2004, 2019 1983, 1984, 1990–91, 1991–92, 2000, 2002, 2013
  Urawa Red Diamonds 5 11 1969, 1973, 1978, 1982, 2006 1970, 1971, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2014, 2016
  Cerezo Osaka 4 4 1971, 1974, 1975, 1980 1968, 1972, 1978, 1982
  Júbilo Iwata 4 3 1987–88, 1997, 1999, 2002 1998, 2001, 2003
  Shonan Bellmare 3 1 1977, 1979, 1981 1980
  Kawasaki Frontale 2 3 2017, 2018 2006, 2008, 2009
  Gamba Osaka 2 2 2005, 2014 2010, 2015
  JEF United Chiba 2 1 1976, 1985 1967
  Kashiwa Reysol 2 1 1972, 2011 1973
  Nagoya Grampus 1 2 2010 1996, 2011
  NKK SC 0 3 1985, 1986–87, 1987–88
  Nippon Steel Yawata 0 2 1965, 1966
  Yokohama Flügels 0 1 1988–89
  Shimizu S-Pulse 0 1 1999
  Vegalta Sendai 0 1 2012
  FC Tokyo 0 1 2019

Wins by regionEdit

This is a breakdown by Japanese region, as clubs have moved cities before and even during the J.League period. Sanfrecce Hiroshima, Júbilo Iwata, Yokohama F. Marinos, Cerezo Osaka and Nagoya Grampus are the only champion clubs who have always been based in their respective cities.

Note that JFA divides Japan into nine regions opposing to more traditional eight, splitting Chūbu into Hokushin'etsu and Tōkai. See Japanese Regional Leagues for further detail.

Region Number of titles Clubs
Kantō 35 Kashima Antlers (8), Tokyo Verdy (7), Yokohama F. Marinos (6), Urawa Red Diamonds (5), Shonan Bellmare (3), JEF United Chiba (2), Kashiwa Reysol (2), Kawasaki Frontale (2)
Chūgoku 8 Sanfrecce Hiroshima (8)
Kansai 6 Cerezo Osaka (4), Gamba Osaka (2)
Tōkai 5 Júbilo Iwata (4), Nagoya Grampus (1)

See alsoEdit

SourcesEdit