Former Japan captain Tsuneyasu Miyatomo believes his nation can win the World Cup within the next 20 years, and predicts the Samurai Blue will qualify for the quarter-finals of next year's tournament in Brazil.
Japan are in a prime position to qualify for the 2014 World Cup - which would be their fifth consecutive since making a breakthrough in 1998 - sitting atop Group B in the AFC standings.
They have not yet progressed beyond the round of 16, but Miyatomo, a former Red Bull Salzburg defender, insists progress within Japan has them on the verge of another watershed moment.
"If we qualify, I think our team could reach the 2014 World Cup quarter-finals," he told FIFA.com. "It's good that we're playing in the Confederations Cup this year, as it'll be an excellent yardstick to see where we're at as a team, and in particular to assess the progress of our younger players.
"Football in Japan has progressed incredibly. Currently there's fantastic work being done at grassroots level and I think we're reaping the rewards of the 2002 World Cup, which had a huge impact on my country. I wouldn't be surprised to see a large number of Japanese players at big European clubs in the next ten years.
"The fact that a high number of matches from European leagues are currently widely available on television has contributed to football's increasing popularity in Japan."