Neymar, hailed as the "modern successor" to Pele, netted with a stunning half volley in the third minute to help Brazil beat Japan 3-0 in Group A. Paulinho and Jo added the other goals in the second half.
The win, Brazil's second straight after a 3-0 victory against France this week in a friendly, might lift some of the gloom surrounding the national team.
Even after topping France, Brazil had won just two of its past seven matches and manager Luiz Felipe Scolari was being criticized for his less than free flowing style of play. Neymar wasn't immune to criticism, either.
Japan became the first nation to qualify for the World Cup but its defeat Saturday followed a 4-0 loss to Brazil in a friendly in October.
More than 1,000 seismic events had been recorded in Kumamoto and Oita prefectures by Thursday in the two weeks since a magnitude-6.5 earthquake struck southwestern Japan, while over 30,000 people remain evacuated from their homes. (Japan Today)
Japan has lodged a protest with Taiwan over a statement made by its president challenging Tokyo's claim to waters in the Pacific. Ma Ying-jeou described Japan's southernmost island as a rock around which it cannot claim an exclusive economic zone. (NHK)
A 28-year-old nursery school teacher who forced a 4-year-old boy to eat fried chicken covered with wasabi and recorded it on her smartphone, has received a suspended sentence from the Tokyo District Court. (Japan Today)