Late-night parties go on after World Cup win

Kyodo News

Japan’s World Cup victory over Cameroon on Monday prompted late-night parties by fans delighted and surprised at the achievement of a team considered by many as clear underdogs.

About 1,400 fans who gathered at Saitama Stadium 2002 for a public viewing of the game, which kicked off at 11 p.m., erupted joyously at the final whistle after the Blue Samurai withstood waves of attacks from the Indomitable Lions in the 1-0 win.

The chant of “Nippon, Nippon” echoed in the stadium, one of 10 venues in Japan used for the 2002 World Cup finals the country cohosted with South Korea.

Similar scenes unfolded on streets and in pubs across Japan following the result, which marked Japan’s first World Cup win outside home soil and threw wide open Group E, which includes European powerhouses the Netherlands and Denmark. The match was described by some foreign media as the biggest upset in the tournament so far.

Ratings agency Video Research said Tuesday that the game drew a viewer rating of 45.2 percent at one point in the Kanto region.

In a bar in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, dozens of people glued to television sets sprang to their feet when local hero Keisuke Honda scored the only goal of the match late in the first half.

“He was distinctive already as a player at our high school, and this is something he typically does on an occasion like this,” said Mai Nakai, a 24-year-old company employee who attended Seiryo High School, where the CSKA Moscow star honed his skills before turning professional.

At Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein, South Africa, Japanese supporters savoring the victory were joined in their celebrations by neutral spectators.

Kohei Kashiwada, a locally based businessman with a Japanese trading house, said after watching the game from the stands that he hopes Japan’s victory will raise the country’s profile in South Africa.

“The presence of Japan, as a country, is not strongly felt in South Africa, so hopefully the Japanese team will perform well here and it’ll work in favor of our business,” Kashiwada said.

Photographer robbed

JOHANNESBURG (Kyodo) A freelance Japanese photographer was robbed of a backpack containing cash, a camera and a passport by three perpetrators in Bloemfontein, central South Africa, after Monday’s World Cup match between Japan and Cameroon.

The 32-year-old photographer was unhurt in the incident, which occurred around 6:30 p.m. when he was walking from Free State Stadium to his hotel, according to the Japanese Embassy.