The Samurai Blue will be competing at their sixth straight finals and face a tough task to reach the knockout rounds for the third time, according to the Japan World Cup 2018 odds.
Japan progressed from their pool on home turf in 2002 and at South Africa 2010.
On the first occasion, they followed up a draw with Belgium by beating Russia and Tunisia, before losing 1-0 to Turkey in the last 16.
Eight years ago, the Samurai Blue secured wins over Denmark and Cameroon to qualify in second place behind Holland, prior to being edged out by Paraguay on penalties.
Brazil 2014 was a below-par effort, with losses to the Ivory Coast and Colombia coming either side of a goalless draw against Greece.
Opening up with a daunting rematch versus Colombia will prompt mostly negative Japan World Cup 2018 betting tips and predictions.
However, they showed plenty of spirit to top their Asian qualifying section, with last August’s 2-0 triumph over Australia in Saitama clinching a trip to Russia.
Odds correct on date of publication: 21/05/2018
Two familiar faces led the way in qualifying, with Keisuke Honda and Shinji Kagawa combining to score 13 of Japan’s 17 goals.
Honda is now plying his trade with Mexican club Pachuca, but the 31-year-old striker is better known for successful spells with CSKA Moscow and AC Milan in Europe.
Midfield playmaker Kagawa, 29, is enjoying a second stint with Borussia Dortmund in Germany, having had a couple of solid seasons at Manchester United in between.
In defence, Inter Milan full-back Yuto Nagatomo has had a decent loan spell with Galatasaray and can boast over 100 caps.
Southampton centre-half Maya Yoshida is another with plenty of experience and he is always a threat when going up for set-pieces.
Captain Makoto Hasebe has been a regular in Eintracht Frankfurt’s midfield again this term and offers more stability in a strong spine to this team.
Rank (world): 55
WC appearances: 5
Best effort: Last 16 in 2002 and 2010
Road to Russia
Saudi Arabia 1-0 JPN
JPN 2-0 Australia
Iraq 1-1 JPN
JPN 4-0 Thailand
UAE 0-2 JPN
JPN 2-1 Saudi Arabia
Australia 1-1 JPN
JPN 2-1 Iraq
Yuto Nagatomo (D)
Maya Yoshida (D)
Makoto Hasebe (M)
Shinji Kagawa (M)
Keisuke Honda (F)
Akira Nishino – JPN