It is the latest development in the row with the world’s governing body over the “One Love” initiative, with Fifa censoring Germany and other teams in Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal.
The four-time World Cup winners lined up for the photo opportunity on the pitch before the Group E match at the Khalifa International Stadium, collectively covering their mouths.
A statement from the German FA read: “We wanted to use our captain’s armband to take a stand for values that we hold in the Germany national team: diversity and mutual respect. Together with other nations, we wanted our voice to be heard.
“It wasn’t about making a political statement – human rights are non-negotiable. That should be taken for granted, but it still isn’t the case. That’s why this message is so important to us. Denying us the armband is the same as denying us a voice. We stand by our position.”
The German players also wore rainbow sleeves on their training tops during the warm-up.
German federal minister of the interior and community Nancy Faeser could be seen in the stands wearing the One Love armband before kick-off.
German vice chancellor Robert Habeck had declared his intent to wear the multi-coloured OneLove armband at Qatar 2022 in the build-up to the Japan match.
Asked by broadcaster ZDF whether players should wear the armband, Habeck replied: “I am not the media adviser of the DFB [German football association] and I am not Manuel Neuer, but the opportunity is there.
“I’m a politician trying to do my job properly, but what would happen if it happened now? I would like to know and I would take my chances,” he added.
Fifa has attempted to crack down on players wearing the armbands in support of diversity at this year’s World Cup.
In response, Rewe, one of Germany’s biggest supermarket chains, scrapped its advertising campaign with the DFB.