Japan surrendered their lead to lose 2-1 to North Korea on Sunday night in the opening match of the EAFF East Asian Cup 2015 in Wuhan, China.
The defending champions had gone ahead after just three minutes when striker Yuki Muto scored the opening goal off Wataru Endo’s cross.
Attackers Kengo Kawamata and Takashi Usami both had chances before the interval, but Vahid Halilhodzic’s men could only go into half time leading by one goal.
Despite additional pressure from Japan in the second half, their opponents fought back to win in the last 15 minutes of play through goals by Ri Hyok-chol and Pak Hyon-Il.
Japan will next face fierce rivals South Korea on Wednesday before concluding the tournament against hosts China on Sunday, August 9.