Litter-picking Japan fans win global hearts

Tokyo (AFP) - The team may have lost their opening World Cup match, but Japanese fans won plaudits around the world after picking up the trash in their stadium stand after the game.

Pictures posted on Twitter by @2014WC_Brazil showed photographs of Japanese supporters cleaning up after watching their team crash to a 2-1 loss to Ivory Coast, putting rubbish in big plastic bags.

"Japanese fans clean their part of the stadium yesterday after their defeat to the Ivory Coast," tweets @2014WC_Brazil.

Japan's Tokyo Shimbun newspaper and Kyodo News agency said Japanese fans have won praise from tournament hosts Brazil in local newspapers and on social networks.

"Despite defeat, the charisma of Japanese fans wins hearts in Brazil," Kyodo cited a local newspaper as reporting.

Asian champions Japan took the lead in the first match in Group C, with a fine Keisuke Honda strike after 16 minutes at the Pernambuco Arena in Recife.

But when Didier Drogba came off the bench, the Blue Samurai seemed to shrink back, letting their opponents score twice in rapid succession.

"OMG ..see the amazing attached photo...God bless em? Outstanding!!," said @Ks10Simmo1.

"Japanese are the most honorable people I have met, goes deep in to the culture from what I know." @markogada tweeted.

Not everyone on Twitter appreciated the litter collection, which stood in marked contrast to the behaviour usually associated with football fans.

"Weirdos" sniped @JamieCarney.

Civic duty and orderliness is taken very seriously in Japan, a country often praised for its manners.

In the aftermath of the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami, international media reports were full of examples of survivors who had lost homes and loved ones waiting patiently in queues at rescue centres for help, or lining up for fuel.