Current speech perception models propose that relative perceptual difficulties with non-native segmental contrasts can be predicted from cross-language phonetic similarities. Japanese (J) listeners performed a categorical discrimination task in which nine contrasts (six adjacent height pairs, three front/back pairs) involving eight American (AE) vowels [iː, ɪ, ε, æː, ɑː, ʌ, ʊ, uː] in /hVbə/ disyllables were tested. The listeners also completed a perceptual assimilation task (categorization as J vowels with category goodness ratings). Perceptual assimilation patterns (quantified as categorization overlap scores) were highly predictive of discrimination accuracy (r(s)=0.93). Results suggested that J listeners used both spectral and temporal information in discriminating vowel contrasts.