The J.League's relationship with Asian countries
The J.League has conducted exchanges with a number of Asian countries over the years with an eye on the development of Asian football. The league has sought to foster improvement in competitiveness through events such as the A3 Championship (held between 2003 and 2006) which champions from the J.League, South Korea's K League, and Chinese Super League, and the J.League/K League All Star Game held in 2008 and 2009. Beyond fostering competitiveness, these tournaments have allowed leagues and club officials to share information and knowledge. This activity has not been limited to the league; J.League club Albirex Niigata began competing in Singapore's S-League as Albirex Niigata Singapore in 2004, while Urawa Reds have plotted their own Asian expansion through Urawa Reds Heartful Club in Asia.
Introducing the 'Asian Slot' in order to improve the level of Asian and Japanese football
Presently, European countries such as England, Spain, and Germany control the football market, while South American nations like Brazil and Argentina are also hotbeds of talent. The J.League believes that Asia cannot catch up to the global standard of football through Japan's success alone, and that the continent as a whole must catch up to the top teams in the world and earn strong results in international competitions such as the World Cup. By acquiring the best players in Asia and expanding the league's sphere of influence, the J.League will increase its level of competitiveness. If these players return to their countries to perform well for their national teams, Japan's national team will become stronger by having strong rivals. And by having Asian players playing in Japan, the J.League can attract the attention of Asia and become leader in the Asian football marketplace. With these goals in mind, the J.League increased the number of possible foreign player registrations in 2009, allowing each club to sign one additional player from an AFC nation and creating the "Asian Slot."
Expanding the Asian Marketplace
The J.League believes that by becoming the central figure of the growing football market in Asia, Japan can become a leading football nation both competitively and business-wise through a style that differs from Europe. For that to happen, it is necessary that the J.League establish itself in Asia through the creation of new business opportunities for its partners and clubs. To that end, the J.League has widened its exposure through TV broadcasting rights in Asia, offered know-how that the league has accumulated over the years, held football clinics and other events, and formed partnerships with ASEAN nations. Additionally, the J.League has cooperated with the Cool Japan Initiative run by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, offering itself as a "Japan Brand" capable of export. As a result of this, the J.League has created new business opportunities, contributed to the revitalization of Japan’s economy, and created synergy with "Japan Brands" in other genres. In order to propel these efforts, the J.League established the Asian Strategy Office in order to cultivate new business opportunities for the J.League, its clubs, and partners.
<About the J.League Asian Strategy>
The J.League's Asian Strategy Office was established in 2012. The goals of this office are to establish the J.League as leaders in encouraging the growth of Asian football, increasing the value of Asian football in the global market, increase the J.League's presence within Asia, create new business opportunities for the league, its partners, and its clubs, and maximize the future potential of Asia's football resources.
Sharing the J.League's Know-How With Asia
Beginning in 2012, the J.League signed partnership agreements with the Thai Premier League, Vietnam's V-League, and the Myanmar National League. These were the J.League's first partnerships with overseas leagues and were intended to allow for the exchange of information leading to the development of the leagues involved, increase the level of competitiveness in the leagues' respective countries, and increase the level of competition in Asian football. In 2012, a free-to-air TV station in Thailand started to air the J.League, and the league held local football clinics. Additionally, some J-League clubs held youth training camps in Thailand.