Socceroos striker Alex Brosque says Japanese soccer is entering a golden age but Australia will still enjoy a physical edge in Tuesday's World Cup qualifier in Brisbane.
Japan has world-class players at the peak of their powers such as Manchester United-bound Shinji Kagawa, CSKA Moscow's Keisuke Honda and Inter Milan's Yuto Nagamoto.
"Every national team has their periods when players are playing in the best leagues," said Brosque, one of an increasing number of Australian players in the J-League.
"A couple of years ago we had that with our boys.
"Harry (Kewell) was at Liverpool, Lucas (Neill) at Blackburn, (Mark) Bresciano and Vinny (Grella) in Serie A.
"I think every national team goes through that period and Japan is going through that period (now)."
To emphasise how little separates the two sides, Japan (world no.23) leapfrogged the Socceroos (No.24) as the highest ranked Asian nation in FIFA's rankings this month.
However Brosque believed that Australia's physical intensity could still trouble the more technically-minded Japanese players.
"I think they see us more of a threat more because of our physical nature," he said.
"Playing in the J-League the players don't really like that.
"They are known for their passing and technique but when it comes to the physical side of it anyone that shows a bit of aggression in the J-League gets stopped a fair bit."
The Socceroos have developed a tasty rivalry with Japan since Australia's stunning 3-1 victory in Kaiserslautern during the group stages of the 2006 World Cup.
The next time they met, the Blue Samurai sent Australia crashing out of the 2007 Asian Cup in the quarter-finals on penalties.
Australia held Japan to a 0-0 draw in Yokohama and won 2-1 at home in World Cup qualifiers in 2009 before Japan trumped the Socceroos 1-0 in extra time at last year's Asian Cup final.
Socceroos defender Mark Milligan, who is also based in Japan, said towering Australian striker Josh Kennedy and Brosque cause all sorts of problems for J-League defences.
"I think we still hold that physical factor over a lot of teams," Milligan said.
"That not so much bullying but our work ethic, the way we stick together, that is very much a part of our game.
"I know playing over there it is still a factor I use."