Finishing dead last on the World Series amongst core teams last season, the Brave Blossoms have been relegated off the circuit for the upcoming campaign. They’ll be replaced by Spain. This marked the second time in recent years Japan has been relegated from core status. The Blossoms originally qualified for the 14/15 season, were relegated during 15/16, re-qualified for 16/17, and are now back out. However, Japan the most surprising performance at the Rio Olympics, beating New Zealand in pool play and France in the quarterfinals to reach the medal rounds. They lost to eventual Gold medalists, Fiji, in the semifinal, and were beaten out by South Africa for Bronze.