Japan produced a spirited second-half display to hold France to a 23-23 draw at the U Arena in Paris.
France at least ended a run of five straight international defeats but failed to build on a first-half lead of 13-8 after Rabah Slimani went over to add to two Francois Trinh-Duc penalties.
The Brave Blossoms, who last weekend beat Tonga 39-6 in Toulouse, swiftly got themselves back into the contest after a try from Timothy Lafaele, which Yu Tamura converted to put the tourists ahead.
However, after Gabriel Lacroix's try and another Trinh-Duc penalty, his fifth succesful kick, Les Bleus looked set to lift the pressure on Guy Noves as they moved into the closing stages 23-18 ahead.
Japan, though, responded once again as Shintaro Ishihara went over with just seven minutes left to tie the match - and Tamura then missed the conversion chance for what could have been another remarkable Test win.
France v Japan - Match Highlights
France v Japan - Match Stats
France: (13) 23
Try: Slimani (40'), Lacroix (49')
Conversion: Trinh-Duc (41', 51')
Penalty: Trinh-Duc (14', 30', 68')
Japan: (8) 23
Try: Horie (23'), Lafaele (42'), Ishihara (73')
Conversion: Tamura (44')
Penalty: Tamura (5', 63')