Jamie Joseph quickly pinpointed the inspiration behind Japan's historic Rugby World Cup quarter-final appearance.

Typhoon Hagibis, the largest storm to hit Japan for 61 years, caused death and widespread destruction as it reached the mainland overnight on Saturday.

Wild winds, heavy rain and flooding forced the cancellation of three World Cup pool games - New Zealand's match against Italy, England against France and Namibia's quest for their first win in this arena over Canada.

The typhoon also threatened to wipe out Japan's final pool game against Scotland in Yokohama.

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In the end that match went ahead, Japan defeating Scotland 28-21 to remain unbeaten and advance from the group stages for the first time.

Rather than toast success, Joseph immediately turned attention to those locals affected by the major storm.

"It's important to acknowledge what went on last night with regards to the typhoon," Joseph said after his side scored four tries, three in the first half, to book their quarter-final with the Springboks on Sunday.

"Obviously there's been a lot of publicity around the rugby side of things but when we woke up this morning 19 people were killed in the typhoon. There were a further 12 people missing or still missing.

"We talked about that as a team. Sometimes those sorts of things can be overwhelming but I think that came out in the match today, particularly when there were times when it was really tough.

Japan players bow to the crowd as they celebrate after defeating Scotland 28-21 in their Rugby World Cup Pool A game. Photo / AP
Japan players bow to the crowd as they celebrate after defeating Scotland 28-21 in their Rugby World Cup Pool A game. Photo / AP

"Whilst we're celebrating about our victory there are a lot of people that are really suffering and that really helped our players today."

Japanese captain Michael Leitch, who continues to prove an inspirational figure in the loose forwards, followed Joseph's theme around the desire to play for the people of Japan.

"Before the match at the team hotel Jamie touched on it. The players already knew from conversations this morning," Leitch said.

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"This game was more than just us. There are a lot of people out there suffering from the typhoon. First of all for this game to happen there were a lot of people who did a lot of hard work – there were guys up last night with sponges sweeping the ground.

"We're grateful for the opportunity to inspire Japan. At this time Japan needs that and we showed that for 80 minutes tonight.

"This is great for not just Japanese rugby but rugby in Asia and tier two rugby. For us to firstly qualify for the quarter-finals, now we're shifting the goal posts.

"We're not coming out next week to have a good game and lose. We're coming out to win."

Scotland opened the scoring through Finn Russell but the first half then belonged to Japan as their speed, width and tempo blew Gregor Townsend's side away.

When man of the match finisher Kenki Fukuoka bagged his brace and the bonus point straight after halftime, Japan led 28-7.

But they were then forced to hold on grimly and desperately defend their line to close out their fourth victory at this tournament.

Joseph identified the passionate support playing a fundamental role in Japan's tenacity.

"A lot of that has to do with what's going on inside our own camp and the fact we're playing a home World Cup. We all feel and see the amount of support that's behind our team and that's incredibly motivational."

As momentum builds and the nation swings behind his team, Joseph revealed they were receiving thousands of fans applauding them at their hotel, while he experienced 50 people parting at Tokyo Station as if he were royalty.

"It's a little bit different, especially for me being from a small town in New Zealand, and it's different for us as a rugby team."

Japan's approach to this wave of support was limiting external noise early in the week to focus on preparations but embracing it as the match neared.

"It's hugely motivational and we understand we're representing the nation."