However, the Japan finisher made no mistake on the stroke of half-time, being found wide open to sprint in for a vital score.
Yu Tamura dispatched a simple penalty shortly after the restart to stretch Japan's advantage, before a brutal Labuschagne try followed as he ripped the ball from Andrey Ostrikov and streaked clear.
A gutsy Russia display was rewarded with three points from the boot of Yury Kushnarev, but Tamura hit back with a penalty of his own and Matsushima slalomed through to wrap up victory after Artemyev gifted away a tired kick.
FIFTH-MINUTE FRIGHT FOR HOSTS
Japan kicked off their 2015 campaign with one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history when they downed South Africa, but it was they who had to fend off an upset this time. The pressure of playing as hosts appeared to get to them as they were penned in early on and, having escaped when one kick was charged down, Tupou's fumble let Russia through.
MATSUSHIMA THE MAN FOR JAPAN
Russia had opportunities on the counter-attack later in the first half, yet they lacked a man as clinical as Matsushima. The Sunwolves star repeatedly got himself into space on the right wing and his pace took him away from recovering opponents for a pair of crucial scores before the interval, adding gloss with a late third.
Having successfully negotiated this potential banana skin, Japan have a week off before returning to their traditional role as underdogs for a highly anticipated clash with Ireland. Russia face Samoa next.