Two late penalty goals by five-eighth Tomasso Allan have been enough for Italy to hold off a resurgent Japan and tie their two-match rugby series with a 25-22 victory in the second Test in Kobe.
The Italians, humiliated 34-17 by an impressive and improving Japan side last week in Oita, had jumped out to a 19-3 lead on Saturday just after halftime, a much-needed buffer when the visitors mounted a spirited fightback in the last quarter.
Italy had been unable to take advantage of a yellow card to Japanese lock Samuela Anise in the fourth minute, but the first half remained in their favour and they opened the scoring in the 19th when winger Tomasso Benvenuti finished off a long-range try.
Hooker and captain Leonardo Ghiraldini scored from in close to give the Italy a 12-3 lead at the break.
Flanker Jake Polledri added a third try shortly after the restart to give a dominant Italy a 16-point advantage that should have been enough to hold on.
Japan, however, stormed back after being sparked by centre Will Tupou's try, followed by another by rampaging No.8 Amanaki Mafi within five minutes to drag them back to 19-17.
Italian No.10 Allan, however, slotted two crucial penalties to give his side an eight-point cushion with a little more than five minutes to play.
Japanese fullback Kotaro Matsushima completed the scoring in the 80th minute.
While Japan might be disappointed not to have sealed a 2-0 series sweep, their second-half fightback will give the 2019 World Cup hosts confidence ahead of their clash with Georgia next week in Aichi.