Garcia's Ryder Cup teammate Darren Clarke, who won the title the last two years, slumped to a 3-over 75 after opening with two birdies against six bogeys.
Garcia eagled the 18th on the Gotemba Course after a bogey on No. 17 and is tied with Taiwan's Yeh Wei-tze and Shinichi Yokota of Japan.
Japan's Ryuichi Oda overcame an early bogey to shoot a 6-under-par 66 and take a one-shot, first-round lead.
Keiichiro Fukabori, Toru Taniguchi and Nobuhito Sato all shot 67s to sit one stroke behind Oda in second place.
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