Ayumi Morita, who beat fill-in singles opponent Elena Vesnina 6-4, 6-1, had Japan on the verge of an upset series win before Makarova took the court Sunday.
However, Makarova ran past Kimiko Date-Krumm 6-1, 6-1 in an hour to keep Russian hopes alive and then teamed with Vesnina for a 6-2, 6-2 win over Morita and Misaki Doi in the decisive doubles match.
Russia heads to the April 20-21 Fed Cup semifinals against the winner of a series between Serbia and the Slovak Republic. The other semifinal has two-time defending champion Czech Republic facing either Italy or the United States.
Morita and Russia's Maria Kirilenko each won singles matches Saturday and were to scheduled to open Sunday's play. But Kirilenko was unable to play and Russia turned to Vesnina. Morita piled up five breaks, including three in the second set, in putting Japan ahead 2-1 in the series.
Makarova answered with her lopsided win over Date-Krumm in 60 minutes, winning 58 percent of the points when receiving serve.
Makarova and Vesnina took control of the first set of the doubles match with three breaks and had two early second-set breaks for the lead before finishing off the match with their fifth break of the day. The Russians won 70 percent of the points on serve and faced one break point.