Despite a difference of nine places in the rankings, France are wary of a Japanese side that could cause some trouble in the Rugby World Cup.
The suitably nicknamed 'Brave Blossoms' enter the tournament with the nation's support firmly behind them after their horrific magnitude 9.0 earthquake resulted in a 40.5m-high tsunami, killing over 15,000 people.
The events have united the Japanese rugby team, however, and have seen them beat teams above them on the International Rugby Board ladder on their way to winning the Pacific Nations Cup earlier this year.
Despite Japan coming into the tournament with a narrow six-point World Cup warm-up win over the 18th-ranked United States, France full-back Cedric Heymans said his side have to focus if they are to avoid an upset in Saturday's Pool A match.
"The Japanese are to be taken seriously, they won the Pacific Nations Cup. It's not nothing," said Heymans.
As a result, the utility player said momentum from France's two pre-tournament friendlies against Ireland, whom they defeated 19-12 and 26-22, needed to be built on as they looked to advance from Pool A.
"We will try to structure our game. We will have to be reassured in the continuity of the two matches against Ireland," he added.
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