It would take 27 years until after World War II before Japan returned to the international hockey scene, which began with the 1957 World Championships. They next played in 1962 followed by a full return to regular appearances in 1967 when the won Pool C. They again finished first in Pool C in 1969 to earn promotion to Pool B where they would remain until 1981 with best finishes of 2nd in 1976 and 1978.
They were relegated back to Pool C for 1982 but immediately finished first and were back up to Pool B for three years through 1986. It was back down to Pool C for 1987, but they again won an immediate promotion to Pool B where they would stay for eight years, reaching 3rd in 1992.
Much to the benefit of Japan, in 1998 the IIHF revised the format of the World Championships, expanding the Top Division to 16 teams, up from 12. One of the four new spots was reserved for the Far East Qualifier in an attempt to boost ice hockey in Asia.
Regardless of whether Japan was in over it's head in the Top Division at the time, Japan was still strong enough to repeat as the Far East Qualifier for the next seven seasons, having little trouble defeating China and Korea. This allowed Japan to avoid the standard relegation penalty for finishing in 16th and last place five consecutive times from 1999 to 2003. In each of their seven years in the World Championships, Japan never won a game, managing two ties, 3-3 against Norway in 2001 and 3-3 against Slovenia in 2003, both times after holding 3-1 leads.
Since the reserved qualifying spot did not have the desired effect on Asian hockey, the protected spot was eliminated for the 2004 edition. Japan gamely fought to protect their position that year on merit and nearly avoided the Relegation Round. They were tied 3-3 in a critical game versus Denmark in the third period, but Nobuhiro Sugawara famously misfired on an attempt to fire the puck around behind his own net, but instead fired a perfect strike into his own empty goal. Now in the Relegation Round, they tied France and Ukraine but lost to Kazakhstan. The lack of a win left them short on points in the standings and were now relegated to Division I Group A for 2005.
They have maintained their place in the six team Division I for the last 11 years, finishing 3rd or 4th ever year but two. In 2005, they placed 5th and in 2011 they withdrew from the tournament following the devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami that devastated so much of the country. The IIHF graciously allowed Japan to maintain its place in Division I Group A, and instead relegated the fifth place finisher.
Japan has participated in the Olympics eight times, with the first being in 1936. Their second Olympics came in 1960. In Group A, Japan lost to Canada 19-1 and 19-0 to Sweden. In the Consolation Round, they played a double round robin format, tying Finland 6-6 and then defeating Australia 13-2. After losing to Finland 11-2, they rebounded by again beating the Australians 11-3 to finish eighth out of the nine teams for their highest placing ever in the Olympics.
Goaltender Teiji Honma at the 1936 Olympics, protecting his eyeglasses with a mask 23 years before Jacques Plante began the mask revolution in the NHL
The team is currently ranked 20th in the IIHF World Rankings, with a high of 15th in 2003.
Norio Suzuki is Japan's all-time leading scorer with 85 points in the Asian Cup and World Championships combined, having scored a total of 39 goals in the process. Toshiyuli Saki ranks first with 84 games played during his international career.
Also worth noting are Japan's victories in the Asian Winter Games in both 2003 and 2007.
This is the song of National Foundation Day.