2024 Worlds Preview: Japan

Japan looks to make an impact and earn a promotion at the 2024 Women's World Ice Hockey Championships.

2024 Worlds Preview: Japan
PWHL Ottawa's Akane Shiga is an exciting young player to watch at the 2024 Women's World Hockey Championships. | Photo by Simon Hopkins

Japan suffered a series of tough losses in 2023 and lost its spot in Group A. It will play in Group B for the first time since 2021. Many of Japan’s top players are joining the national team from pro leagues around the world. This team seems hungry for a spot back at the top. Japan played a three-game warmup series against South Korea in March and outscored the Koreans 22-1.



  • Miyuu Masuhara
  • Riko Kawaguchi
  • Haruka Kuromaru


  • Akane Hosoyamada
  • Shiori Koike
  • Ayaka Hitosato
  • Aoi Shiga
  • Kanami Seki
  • Shiori Yamashita
  • An Shinoda
  • Kohane Sato


  • Rui Ukita
  • Suzuka Taka
  • Haruka Toko
  • Yoshino Enomoto
  • Mei Miura
  • Remi Koyama
  • Hikaru Yamashita
  • Akane Shiga
  • Marin Nagaoka
  • Yumeka Wajima
  • Makoto Ito
  • Rio Noro

Player to Watch

Call me a biased writer from Ottawa, but Akane Shiga is electric on the ice. Her speed and dynamic ability with the puck make her one of the most exciting players to watch. I’ll always keep an eye on her because something magical is bound to happen when she’s making moves.

But credit where credit is due, Haruka Toko is having a world-class season in the Swedish league. Toko has 43 points in just 36 games - she’s second in SDHL assists. According to the IIHF, Toko led team Japan in their 2023 world championship campaign with two goals and two assists.

One of Toko’s signature assists came when she connected with red-hot linemates Rui Ukita and Shiga. They scored this historic goal against the Americans during the 2021 preliminary round.

The top Japanese forwards, Shiga and Toko, are going to be exciting to watch. Japan is in Group B this year, giving the strong forwards more opportunities to increase their goal tally. 

Back in Group B

Japan earned a promotion to the top tournament Group in 2021. They lost their first five games of the 2022 tournament against Group A teams but narrowly won their relegation games to maintain their place in the top Group. Last year, Japan lost every game they played, bumping them down to Group B in favour of promoted Finland, according to IIHF game logs.

Japan has become a cusp team, strong enough to lead Group B but not good enough to compete against the Group A teams. Czechia was in a similar place not too long ago, and now they’re a top team in the world. Japan’s young players are developing in foreign leagues like the PWHL, SDHL, and Switzerland’s SWHL.

Japan should be able to stamp its ticket to the elimination round with victories against weak Group B teams like China and Denmark. The young team’s test of strength will come in games that could put it back in Group A next year.

2024 will be the third tournament without long-time goaltender Nana Fujimoto. Japan’s success in 2021 was partially due to her. The team has looked to Miyuu Masuhara as its next starting goaltender, but Masuhara is only 22. She became the team’s primary goalie at 20.

Japan’s heavy workload is on players just as young as Masuhara, like Akane Shiga, who is 23. These young players developing in foreign leagues are going to make for an extremely dynamic and threatening team—but will that be this year? And if they challenge for another Group A spot, are they ready for a Group A spot? I can’t wait to see them try.


Group Stage Game 1: April 4 vs. China, 11 a.m.: TSN, NHL Network

Group Stage Game 2: April 6 vs. Germany, 3 p.m.: TSN, NHL Network

Group Stage Game 3: April 7 vs. Sweden, 11 a.m.: TSN, NHL Network

Group Stage Game 4: April 9 vs. Denmark, 7 p.m.: TSN