The boyish 24-year-old German, who had started from pole position for the 12th time this season, had needed only a point at Suzuka to clinch his second successive crown with four races to spare.
Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, the previous youngest double world champion when he won for Renault aged 25 in 2006, was a close second to Button on a beautiful sunlit afternoon at the Honda-owned circuit.
"Thank you so much, every single one," said Vettel, his voice trembling with emotion as he choked back the tears behind his visor, over the team radio after being told he was the 2011 world champion.
"We took nothing for granted and we did it."
Image: Red Bull Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany holds the trophy after finishing third in the Japanese Grand Prix to clinch the Formula One drivers championship, at the Suzuka Circuit in Suzuka, Japan on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2011.