World Rugby has changed the name of its group of elite national teams from "Tier 1" to "High Performance Unions" and included Japan in the new men's 11-member group, the Japan Rugby Football Union said Thursday.
As the first Asian nation in the top group, Japan will have a better chance to boost its presence in international rugby. Although unlike the other 10 nations, Japan do not currently participate in either of the world's top annual competitions.
The Brave Blossoms, however, have produced strong results at the last two World Cups.
In 2015 in England, Japan won three of their four pool games, including a historic upset of South Africa. Four years later, Japan defeated Ireland and Scotland at their home World Cup to reach the quarterfinals for the first time.