Yu-Gi-Oh! Tournaments in Japan No Longer Accept Foreigners

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One of the most popular competitive card games in Japan is limiting participants to Japanese nationals. According to the rules of participation published by Konami — the organizers of the Yu-Gi-Oh! Japan Championship 2024 — eligible participation is limited only to nationals of Japan who have an address in this country at the time of advanced reservation for the qualifying round and on the day of the tournament itself. 

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Online Backlash Due to New Rule

It’s not surprising for there to be an address requirement (which was present in the 2023 rules), as the tournament is meant to reflect the standards and overall playerbase of Japan, rather than encourage players from other countries to travel for the tournament. However, the mention of “Japanese nationals” is new to the rules this year and has caused some uproar on social media. This requirement would exclude long-term residents of Japan who are citizens of other countries even if they live full lives in Japan through work, school or family ties.

It’s unclear what percentage of players this new regulation will lock out. The Yu-Gi-Oh! Japan Championship also mandates that only the “Yu-Gi-Oh! official card game (Japanese version) can be played, which means that it’s likely the entirety of the tournament will be run in Japanese. However, for Konami to explicitly create such a rule is essentially taking an active step to prevent certain players from getting involved. 

About the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game

Based on the Duel Monsters game inside the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise, the trading card game involves two opposing sides battling out to reduce their opponent’s life points through monster attacks and spells. The cards were first launched by Konami in Japan in 1999, then in North America in 2002. By 2009, Yu-Gi-Oh! became the top-selling trading card game in the world, according to the Guinness World Records. As of January 2021, it is estimated to have sold approximately 35 billion cards globally.

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