France proved too strong for Japan in Toyota on Saturday as the visitors claimed a 42-23 victory in the first of two Tests between the sides.
Although Les Bleus outscored their hosts by five tries to two they did not always have things going their way as Japan were competitive for long periods but they fell off the pace as the match progressed.
Melvyn Jaminet led the way for France as he finished with a 17-point haul after succeeding with three penalties and four conversions, while Damian Penaud (2), Matthis Lebel, Yoeram Moefana and Pierre Bougarit crossed the whitewash.
For Japan, Tevita Tatafu and Siosaia Fifita scored tries while Seung Sin Lee slotted three penalties and two conversions.
The visitors made a bright start when Penaud crossed for the opening try after just two minutes but Japan reduced the deficit when Lee kicked his first penalty shortly afterwards.
The Brave Blossoms held the upper hand during the next 10 minutes and were leading 10-7 by the 15th minute after Tatafu crossed for a converted try and Lee succeeded with his second shot off the kicking tee.
The closing stages of the half were evenly contested with Lee and Jaminet trading further penalties and the sides were deadlocked at 13-13 at half-time.
Just like the opening half, France were fastest out of the blocks after the interval and in the 44th minute Matthieu Jalibert made a telling break before offloading to Lebel, who scored under the posts.
Jaminet added the extras and extended the visitors’ lead with another penalty before Lee reduced the deficit with his third penalty, which meant the match was still evenly poised with Les Bleus holding a 23-16 lead after 55 minutes.
It was all France during the next 15 minutes and they were rewarded with further five-pointers from Penaud, Moefana and Bougarit before Fifita crossed for a consolation try for the Brave Blossoms in the game’s dying moments.
Tevita Tatafu (13′)
Siosaia Fifita (83′)
Seung Sin Lee (14′)(84′)
Seung Sin Lee (6′)(26′)(55′)
Damian Penaud (3′)(57′)
Matthis Lebel (45′)
Yoram Moefana (62′)
Pierre Bourgarit (68′)
Melvyn Jaminet (4′)(46′)(58′)(69′)
Melvyn Jaminet (19′)(29′)(53′)