Les Bleus are expected to challenge hosts New Zealand for the top spot in the pool, and enter the tournament in good form having picked up back-to-back victories over Ireland.
They are expected to rack up a comfortable win at North Harbour Stadium (kick-off 7am BST), but Lievremont, who saw his side fall to a shock defeat against Italy in the Six Nations, knows from bitter experience that every underdog can have its day.
He told L'Equipe: "We take this team very seriously because it has such great talent. John Kirwan, their coach, is a former All Black and he has brought discipline and organisation to some great players with great courage.
"They have a very lively and beautiful individual technique. They are also more threatening with the ball than they were four years ago, when they were already producing an extremely offensive brand of rugby."
Lievremont, renowned for his lack of consistency in selection, has sprung a few surprises with his choice to face the Japanese.
Dimitri Yachvili is preferred to Morgan Parra at scrum-half after impressing in the first of those wins over Ireland, while Fabrice Estebanez slots into the centre alongside Aurelien Rougerie and Raphael Lakafia gets the nod ahead of Louis Picamoles at number eight.
Despite the pressure World Cups bring, Lievremont has been pleased to see his players in relaxed mood as the game's biggest event kicks off.
"Excessive pressure can damage players," he added. "You do not want a player banging his head on the wall 10 days before a game.
"It is better that the players are laughing together and expressing themselves.
"Our players have often required some form of fear to perform well, but this event and the need to succeed in this first game should provide enough motivation."
Kirwan's preparations have not been helped by the loss of New Zealand-born lock Justin Ives, who has been ruled out of the tournament with a knee injury. Yuji Kitagawa has been called up as his replacement.
But the Kiwi does have lock Luke Thompson and former Newport Gwent Dragons fly-half James Arlidge to call on.
Kirwan was part of the All Blacks side that won the 1987 tournament on home soil, and hopes his countrymen will back his side during the competition.
He said: "This is my home. I have asked New Zealand to support two sides this week.
"Next week, they can have a week off and then support us again."
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