Japan began their quest to reach a third straight final with a poor goalless draw as Argentina earned their first ever point at a World Cup.
The Japanese won the tournament in 2011 by beating the United States, who gained revenge four years later.
An uninspiring contest saw Japan’s Yui Hasegawa screw a shot wide from a promising position in the second half – the closest either side came to a goal.
The draw leaves England top of Group D after they beat Scotland on Sunday.
And Phil Neville’s side will be confident of collecting another three points when they face the Argentines on Friday (kick-off 20:00 BST), while Japan face Scotland (14:00).
Coming into the tournament, Carlos Borello’s team were 500-1 outsiders to lift the trophy and had a wretched World Cup record, having lost all six of their previous games.
They finished bottom of their group on both previous occasions they had reached the finals, and their delight at the draw was clear to see, with players embracing each other and substitutes running onto the pitch to join in.
Although Japan dominated the match in Paris and had 72% possession, they were kept at bay by the dogged Argentine defence, with Yuika Sugasawa shooting wide from an angle after Kumi Yokoyama’s long range shot was parried.
Neither side had a shot on target in the first half, with Argentina striker Flor Bonsegundo’s tame strike straight at goalkeeper Ayaka Yamashita their best effort on goal.