News / Asia

Surprise Women’s World Cup Victory Brings Joy to Battered Japan

Japan's Homare Sawa (L) and head coach Norio Sasaki and pose with trophies after the end of their Women's World Cup final soccer match against the U.S. in Frankfurt, July 17, 2011
Japan's Homare Sawa (L) and head coach Norio Sasaki and pose with trophies after the end of their Women's World Cup final soccer match against the U.S. in Frankfurt, July 17, 2011

Japan is still grappling with one of its worst-ever peacetime disasters, but there was jubilation and praise early Monday for a squad of previously unheralded women - the national football (soccer) team. The squad defeated the United States in a penalty shootout to win the Women's World Cup Football final in Germany.

Spontaneous eruptions of joy, punctuated the early morning calm in the Japanese capital, Tokyo, Monday.

Video clip: Japan Women Wins World Cup

Fans of the country’s women’s football (soccer) team, at the famous Shibuya crossing, repeatedly shouted “Japan,” minutes after the squad posted an upset victory over the United States in the Women's World Cup finals in Germany.

A wonderful moment for Japan

It is a rare slice of good news for Japan, still coming to terms with the March 11 magnitude 9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami that has left more than 20,000 people dead or missing.

Football fan Kazuhiro Teramoto calls it a wonderful moment for the battered country.

Teramoto says the squad demonstrated Japan’s tenacity, and the victory will energize a troubled nation.

Loyal fans poured into Tokyo bars, which remained open for the pre-dawn telecast. The team and the tournament had attracted little public attention until the Japanese women made it through the preliminary rounds.

Football fan Keiko Muranao says she stayed up all night to watch the match. She says the victory has cheered up a country that has been in a somber mood for more than four months.

“We were able to show that we are strong and we are hanging in there and we will rebuild our nation as soon as possible,” she stated.

Japan's first win over the Americans

Japan outlasted the U.S. team 3-1 on penalty kicks, after coming from behind twice in a 2-2 tie. It is the first Asian team to claim the women’s football World Cup.

Fans refer to the team as “Nadeshiko,” a pink flower that symbolizes purity and femininity in Japan. The women played with a distinct size disadvantage to the much taller Americans.

Japan had been defeated by the United States in every one of their previous 25 encounters.

Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa told reporters the victory is encouraging to those working in the northeastern part of the country helping it recover from devastation.

He also said he hopes the achievement will be emulated by Japan's political establishment, which has struggled to cope with the nuclear meltdowns at the Fukushima power plant.

Ironically, one of the defenders on the Japan squad, Aya Sameshima, previously worked at the crippled Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant.

<object width="480" height="300" id="kickWidget_45137_301823" name="kickWidget_45137_301823" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" data="">
<!-- Firefox uses the 'data' attribute above, IE/Safari uses the param below -->
<param name="movie" value=""></param>
<param name="FlashVars" value="affiliateSiteId=45137&amp;widgetId=301823&amp;width=480&amp;height=300&amp;autoPlay=0&amp;playOnLoad=0&amp;revision=178&amp;;mediaType_mediaID=video_1609002" ></param>
<param name="wmode" value="transparent" ></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" ></param>
<param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always" ></param>

You May Like

Multimedia Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

Americans Think About Strange Stuff at Thanksgiving

Millions of Americans are celebrating Thanksgiving, but they’re not necessarily thinking about turkey and stuffing

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs