The Japan Rugby Football Union on Monday announced it had signed a sevens contract with Panasonic Wild Knights' Yoshiaki Tsurugasaki as part of the buildup to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
"He is the first specialist sevens player for Japan. As a leader, he brings a wealth of sevens experience having played the version of the game since his school days and has participated in numerous international tournaments," said Kazuhiko Honjo, the director of development for Japan's sevens, in a press release.
Japan's sevens performance has been inconsistent at best, with clubs frequently withholding core players from the national team. They have been relegated both times they were included as a core team in the Sevens World Series, and having finished 15th in the recently completed series will sit out the 2017-2018 season.
"I want to thank both Tsurugasaki and Panasonic for their cooperation. We are grateful," Honjo said.
The JRFU envisions a Sevens Development Squad of around 20 players who will spend 150 to 200 days a year with the national team.
"We are preparing an environment to foster sevens skills for the Tokyo Olympics and beyond that the growth of Japan sevens, but I believe getting a medal is an important condition (for the program)."
The contract for the 27-year-old Tsurugasaki began on April 1 and runs to Aug. 31, 2018.
"I'm going to prepare thoroughly for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 so I can produce good performances," Tsurugasaki said. "I want to give my all."