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Rugby World Cup

Why rugby spirit matters to Japan companies

Domestic team owners Toyota, Canon and Panasonic leverage values of game to embrace diversity

Team Japan line up before the match against Russia in the Rugby World Cup 2019 at Tokyo Stadium on Sept. 20. The squad includes 15 foreign-born players, almost half the full roster's 31 players. (Photo by Toshiki Sasazu)

TOKYO -- The big corporate icons that field the 16 teams in the Japan Rugby Top League will dispute this, but it is ironic Japan is hosting this year's Rugby World Cup more than two decades after the sport began losing popularity here.

The number of rugby players in Japan today is 95,000, down from 125,000 in 2005, the earliest year for which the Japan Rugby Football Union has numbers.

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