The historic victory has left Japan top of Pool A with a perfect record after two games, while Ireland, so impressive in beating Scotland last weekend, has suffered its first loss.
First half tries from Garry Ringrose and Rob Kearney, his effort converted by Jack Carty, had left the Irish 12-9 ahead at the half, with three penalties from Yu Tamura keeping Japan in touch.
But the second half saw Japan assume total command with wave after wave of attacks, culminating in a try for replacement Kenki Fukuoka, converted by Tamura.
Ireland went into the World Cup as the No.1 ranked team in the world and coach Joe Schmidt was “incredibly disappointed that we didn’t manage to control the end of the game but they are a tremendous side, they did really well,” he conceded.
His side will look to recover against Russia in its next game, while Japan faces tough clashes against Samoa and Scotland in its bid to reach the quarterfinals knockout stage.
For now, Japan coach Jamie Joseph could relish a victory that had been long in the making, seen as a crucial clash after the draw for the tournament was made.
“I’m very proud of the players, we obviously had a plan and we’ve thinking about this game for a long time,” he said.
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