The Azzurrini produced possibly their best performance of the tournament as they dominated large spells of the game, however they just couldn't find the goal they probably deserved.
Japan were dangerous on the counter attack and Takayuki Morimoto brought out a fine save from Empoli goalkeeper Davide Bassi.
Into the second period and Italy threw everyone forward looking for the winner, the three substitutes all missing golden opportunities.
The game went straight to penalties at the end of the 90 minutes.
Italy dispatched all their spot-kicks confidently, while one Japanese player had his saved brilliantly, as Italy won 5-4 in the shootout.