Over view of the rule for foreign players in J League
J League has a certain limitation for foreign players. The purpose of the rule is to protect opportunities for Japanese players to play. As I told in the article Ownership rule in J League, the first purpose of the league was to reinforce Japan Men’s National Team. In that meaning, J League should have secured enough play time for Japanese players instead of foreign players. So now only 109 players (16.8%) in J1, 50 players (7.3%) in J2 and 34 players (7.5%) are in J League. And the most players come from Brazil. Total 110 Brazilian players are playing in J League (as of the article published date, Transfermarkt). It seems like a Japanese and Brazilian football league. We can say the purpose the rule is lost now.
Detail of the rule
You can see the original rule document here. The translation is as following:
(1) There is no limitation for registration of foreign players in J League
(2) A club can register foreign players in each match as follows:
J1 : 5 players / J2 & J3 : 4 players
(3) The following countries are alliance countries. Players from them are not regard as a foreign player:
Thailand / Vietnam / Myanmar / Cambodia / Singapore / Indonesia / Malaysia
When we see the current members in J League clubs, only 3 players in J1, 1 player in J2 and 1 player in J3 come from these countries allying with J League. They can play as same as Japanese player without any restriction. However, few J clubs use this advantage. if once they use it, they can expand their market into Asia easily. Japanese clubs got used to staying in domestic circumstance.
What should J League do?
What is the most necessary thing to J League is to become open to the world. All European leagues are practically international league. Because EU labor law allows European players can play in all EU countries. Additionally lots of good players come all over the world.
Japan has to relax its rule for foreign players and then proceed with internationalization for Japanese football. That requires people to change their domestic mind completely. Therefore Japanese football business starts its growth again.