In this study, we analyze nationalism in the sense of its vague attachment to members of the same nation, also called “cognitive nationalism”. As pointed out in previous studies, the national stereotypes found in sports coverage play important roles in the construction of “cognitive nationalism”. Therefore, in this research, we look at the stereotype that “Japanese players are inferior in “physical ability”” in soccer magazines and analyze it quantitatively and qualitatively.
The first of the findings of this study is that the popular statement that “Japanese players are inferior in “physical ability”” was rarely seen until the early 1990s. These discourses were for the most part limited to the mid-1990s and early 2000s.
The second finding is that since the mid-2000s, Japanese players’ evaluation of “physical ability” has been highly consistent. In other words, discourses with the meaning “although Japanese players are inferior in the strength and size of the body, they compensate with superiority in momentum, quickness, and speed” continued to be produced over a long period of time.
Finally, the third finding of this study is that the consistent evaluation of the “physical ability” of Japanese players was possibly built by the slogan “Japanization of Japanese football” advocated by Ivica Osim, who was assigned to coach the Japanese national team in 2006.