Their improved performance has laid to rest the myth that they are inferior to the sides from other parts of the globe.
Japan rewarded Ritsu Doan with a start in the game after he scored as a substitute in Wednesday's stunning World Cup upset of Germany.
Asked whether the four-time world champions were still the mighty tournament team of the past as they face the prospect of a second early World Cup exit, he said the game on Sunday would determine their reputation.
Japan scored a thrilling 2-1 win over favourites Geramany in Group E.
The defeat was the third in a row in the opening match of a major championship for Germany.
Kai Havertz had a goal ruled out for offside while Maeda came close before half-time for Japan.
If Spain and Germany justify their billing, it won’t be difficult for them to progress from the group.
Japan is hoping to make at least the quarter-finals by emerging out of a group comprising Germany, Spain and Costa Rica.
A recovery tractor was on the track while the AlphaTauri driver was still lapping at speed in heavy rain and spray.
Both fell outside Japan's exclusive economic zone, and authorities were looking into what kind of missiles were launched, including the possibility that they were submarine-launched ballistic missiles.