Romelu Lukaku is also back as the central striker, with coach Roberto Martinez recalling his biggest name players after fielding practically a reserve team in their 1-0 win over England in their final Group G game. Just ask holders Germany.
But it would be Japan that would score again when a poor clearance from Belgium saw the ball fall to Takashi Inui who blasted a long-distance effort past Courtois to make it 2-0 in the 52nd minute.
"It will definitely be a hard match".
Belgium finished with a 100% record for a successive World cup beating Panama, Tunisia and England in the group stages. Honda, who has netted 37 times for Japan, is no longer a regular, but the 32-year-old former AC Milan player remains unsafe on free kicks.
Belgium have plenty to lose.
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That said, Monday's clash will likely be Belgium's toughest test of the tournament so far.
Belgium averaged three goals per game, and looked flashy even when playing mostly reserves against England in winning the last group game. But they haven't truly established themselves as a burgeoning power since then, with their loss to Wales at the Euros becoming emblematic of this generation's Belgium: a supremely talented squad that can't be relied upon when it counts.
Martinez, who has declared Lukaku, Thomas Vermaelen and Vincent Kompany fit to play at Rostov Arena, said of his team's potential route through the knockout stages: "To be successful in a World Cup is not about facing the opponent that everyone expects is going to be giving you the golden key to go through".
Japan held Belgium to a thrilling 2-2 draw in 2002 - though the current Belgian side are a very different proposition from the 2002 side, and Japan were the co-hosts in that year.
Japan have already achieved plenty considering that the Japanese FA fired coach Vahid Halilhodzic two months before the World Cup, replacing him with Akira Nishino, the technical director of the country's soccer association. In six matches so far, the Red Devils have won three of them, drawn twice and lost only once.
Belgium have gone past the last 16 on two previous occasions, reaching the quarter-finals four years ago in Brazil and the semi-finals in 1986 when they were beaten by a Diego Maradona-inspired Argentina. Belgium haven't showed any fear at this tournament. They may very well get that chance here in Russian Federation.
"No negatives today, it was about getting through", Martinez said.