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Euphoria in Japan at Blue Samurai's World Cup win

By Kyung Lah, CNN
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Japan euphoric over World Cup win
  • Thousands of Japanese football fans celebrate with impromptu street parties
  • Hundreds poured on to the famous Tokyo Shibuya Crossing
  • Fans remained polite and law-abiding

Tokyo, Japan (CNN) -- Impromptu, massive street parties are not the norm in Japan. If you see a group of revelers in Tokyo, the events are almost always scheduled and pre-planned.

But the party that erupted in the Tokyo neighborhood of Shibuya in the wee hours of Friday morning was far from planned.

Shibuya Crossing, the multi-street pedestrian intersection made famous in the movie, "Lost In Translation," came alive with young revelers screaming, crying and waving their arms in joy. Thousands poured into the crossing to celebrate Japan's stunning 3-1 defeat of Denmark at the World Cup.

The Japanese revelers, ever-orderly even amid football jubilation, cleared the intersection as the lights changed to allow cars through the crowd as an estimated 100 police officers watched on.

The politeness and law-abiding manner is not so unusual, but the sweeping joy and expression of it is -- especially among the 20-somethings in this crowd.

Japan outclass Denmark to make last 16

Japan, the world's second largest economy, has been awash with tough news since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008 and the ensuing global economic slowdown.

It has shed a record-setting number of jobs. The social fallout from the recession is growing; while still below Western counterparts, homelessness and violence in the workplace is on the rise.

Younger Japanese are no longer seeing the guarantees of lifetime employment from companies, despite college and advanced degrees. The government's stimulus spending, at an all-time high, will most likely have to be repaid by the youth.

Young voters say they also feel increasingly disenfranchised by Japan's parliament, run by an entrenched, rather elderly political class. In poll after poll, youth report they feel pessimistic about the future.

But the Blue Samurai's victory beat expectations not just in the international community, but within Japan.

The last time there was anything resembling this Shibuya public celebration was in 2002, when Japan hosted the World Cup with South Korea. Analysts didn't expect the scene would replay, because many expected the national team would be eliminated in the first round.

"Don't count us out yet!" screamed fans to television cameras.

Say what you will about sports and the triviality of a game, but this morning in Tokyo, this victory was a moment to celebrate on the streets of Japan and be proud of the country's victory.

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