Japan World Cup bid to focus on 2022

TOKYO, May 4 (Reuters) - Japan will concentrate on bidding for the 2022 World Cup after being told the 2018 tournament will go to Europe, the country's football chief said on Tuesday.

Japan Football Association (JFA) president Motoaki Inukai said he had been advised by FIFA boss Sepp Blatter to focus on taking the 2022 finals to Asia.

"The atmosphere was that they want to bring the 2018 tournament back to Europe," Inukai told reporters on his return to Japan.

"It will be a cut-throat battle (for 2022) and it will require an awful lot of leg-work."

Inukai will make a formal announcement after a bid committee meeting on May 11.

"President Blatter told us European countries would be involved in a fight to host the 2018 World Cup and it would be wiser to aim for 2022," Inukai said after a visit to FIFA headquarters in Zurich on Monday.

Japan will face competition in Asia for the 2022 World Cup from South Korea, with whom they co-hosted the 2002 finals, and Qatar.

England, Australia, Russia, the United States and joint bidders Belgium/Netherlands and Spain/Portugal are in the hat for both 2018 and 2022.

FIFA will name the host countries for both tournaments in December.