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Chepkirui will return to Osaka after she posted a slow time back in 2015 when she was placed in position 14, clocking 2:41:47.
She has since evolved and will be the athlete to beat having improved her best time to 2:24:19 from her Prague victory.
"It is a crucial year to me because we have the World Championships. I will run in Osaka and probable defend my title in Prague in May. But the target is to get to the Kenya team and compete at the Doha World Championships in Qatar in October," said Chepkirui.
Kenya's Eunice Jeptoo will also be back in the run after failing to finish this race in last year's contest.
The 36-year-old took more than six minutes off her best time to win the recent Eindhoven Marathon in 2:26:13. However, the two Kenyans should not expect a walk in the park.
They will be up against Ethiopian Sutume Asefa Kebede, who has the best recent time among the internationals in the field with a 2:24:00 in Dubai 2016.
Three other Africans are positioned at the 2:26 to 2:27 level, perfect to help pace the Japanese women along to marathon qualification marks.
Japan are using the race as part of its trials and qualifier for the 2020 Olympic Games. Absent are last year's debut winner Mizuki Matsuda but there will be the 2016 winner Kayoko Fukushi, who will be running her first marathon since the Rio Olympics.
There is also the duo of Tomomi Tanaka and Rei Ohara, who went head-to-end until the final meters of the 2016 Nagoya Women's Marathon.
Ohara is already in for trials for Japan's Olympic team while China will have HE Yinli, who holds a fast time of 2:30:26 from the 2017 race in Wuxi.(01/26/2019) ⚡AMP
The Osaka International Ladies Marathon is an annual marathon road race for women over the classic distance of 42.195 kilometres which is held on the 4th or 5th Sunday of January in the city of Osaka, Japan, and hosted by Japan Association of Athletics Federations, Kansai Telecasting Corporation, the Sankei Shimbun, Sankei Sports, Radio Osaka and Osaka City. The first...more...