Asako Takakura will step down as manager of the national women's team at the end of August when her contract expires, just over a month after Japan's quarterfinal exit at the Tokyo Olympics, the Japan Football Association's Women's Committee said Friday.
"It's been days of searching for what are Japan's strengths and choosing which to battle with against the world," said the 53-year-old, who was the first woman to manage one of Japan's senior national teams in the sport.
"There were areas we've managed to make good attempts, and some where we were way off. I'm hoping for the future development of women's soccer."
Japan won the 2014 under-17 Women's World Cup under Takakura and she took over Nadeshiko Japan in April 2016 after Japan failed to qualify for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Takakura inherited an aging squad with a core of players from the team that won the 2011 Women's World Cup and finished runners-up at the 2012 London Olympics.
She oversaw a generational change within the squad and Nadeshiko Japan won the 2018 Women's Asian Cup but failed to reach the quarterfinals at the following year's Women's World Cup.
She was expected to take the team to a medal at this summer's Olympics but instead oversaw a 3-1 quarterfinal exit against eventual silver medalists Sweden.
"I'd been thinking of the Olympics as the end of one chapter. There is nothing negative about leaving at the end of the contract," Takakura said. "I believe the time has come to pass the baton to the next person."
"I've seen positive things from the players and team...But we couldn't win at crucial stages of international tournaments. I think that frustration will stay with me forever."
Pinpointing the physicality and intensity of overseas rivals as areas in which Japan will always be tested, Takakura listed "technique, combination play and game management" as areas her country can sharpen.
Meanwhile, a member of the Women's Committee, which stuck with Takakura despite every game being lost during a March 2020 tour of Spain, England and the United States, failed to provide reasons for not extending her contract or suggest things that could have been done better.
With the buzz of the Nadeshiko Japan squad led by Ballon d'Or winner Homare Sawa long gone, issues surrounding the national-team setup need to be clarified if they are to recover their status in the footballing world and their domestic popularity.