History was made in the German Bundesliga as four Japanese players appeared in the 1-1 draw between VfB Stuttgart and 1. FC Nuremberg on February 23, 2013 – though not all four Nippon internationals were on the pitch at the same time.
It was the first time that four Japanese players played in a single Bundesliga match.
Gotoku Sakai started the match for Stuttgart while Mu Kanazaki and Hiroshi Kiyotake were in the starting lineup for Nuremberg. Kanazaki was subbed out at halftime before Shinji Okazaki could be brought on for Stuttgart in the 73rd minute.
Japanese players are making big in-roads in Germany since Yasuhiko Okudera broke the barrier in 1977, playing for 1. FC Cologne, Hertha BSC Berlin and Werder Bremen.
One of the most successful Japanese players in Germany was Shinji Kagawa, who won the championship and cup double for Borussia Dortmund in 2012 before leaving in the off-season for Manchester United with a transfer fee of about 15 million euros.
All told, there are 11 Japanese players currently on Bundesliga rosters – on a total of nine clubs.
They are international defenders Hiroki Sakai (Hannover 96) and Atsuto Uchida (Schalke 04) and international midfielders Makoto Hasebe (VfL Wolfsburg), Hajime Hosogai (Bayer Leverkusen), and Takashi Inui (Eintracht Frankfurt).
Neither Fortuna Dusseldorf striker Genki Omae nor Hoffenheim midfielder Takashi Usami have made their debut with the Japanese national team.