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Japan fans jubilant after World Cup upset against Spain

Fans rejoice over Japan's advancement to the knockout stage at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, in this photo taken in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward early on Dec. 2, 2022. (Mainichi/Daisuke Wada)

TOKYO -- Japan's stunning 2-1 victory against Spain at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar wowed fans across Japan early on Dec. 2, sending young people swarming to the iconic scramble crossing in Tokyo's Shibuya and other spots to celebrate Japan making its way to the knockout stage.

    At sports bar Fields near Shibuya Station, about 40 fans watched the match that kicked off at 4 a.m., calling out "Nippon, Nippon" toward the screen. When Japan gave up a goal in the 11th minute, screams of lament reverberated across the bar. A 27-year-old woman from Tokyo's Nerima Ward, who took a day off from work to watch the game, said, "I want Japan to work a miracle once more like in the match against Germany."

    The big change came in the 3rd minute of the second half, when Ritsu Doan fired in the equalizer. When he netted a sharp mid-range shot from outside the goal area, fans at the bar erupted into roars. Their jubilation culminated when Ao Tanaka's shot three minutes later was ruled a goal by VAR. Japan then hung on for the remainder of the match to cement the upset win against the European powerhouse.

    When the whistle echoed across the pitch to signal the end of the game, securing Japan's advancement to the knockout stage at the top of Group E, fans erupted in joy, jumping and hugging each other while calling out, "Nippon, Nippon."

    Takamitsu Masui, 55, from Tsu, Mie Prefecture, said excitedly, "Japan's tenacity is a product of its experience from the 'Tragedy in Doha' (in which Japan narrowly missed out on its first World Cup berth in 1994). At this rate, Japan could even claim victory in the World Cup."

    Mamoru Tanaka, 68, manager of the Fields bar, commented, "Honestly speaking, I didn't think Japan would win. I feel like I'm dreaming."

    After the monumental victory, Shibuya's scramble crossing was filled with young people giving high fives and embracing each other. Police officers on heightened alert called out to them, "Do not stop, please move straight ahead."

    Kento Otani, a 20-year-old third-year college student from Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, who was taking photos with strangers in jubilation, commented, "I believed Japan would absolutely win. We won't succumb to Croatia in the coming match."

    Yura Sasahara, 20, a second-year college student from Ichihara, Chiba Prefecture, who watched the game at a nearby bar, told the Mainichi Shimbun, "It's such a cheery morning thanks to Japan's win. I'll head to my class now."

    (Japanese original by Hiroshi Endo, Tokyo City News Department)

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