Japan is an independent nation in Eastern Asia. With the capital city of Tokyo, Japan 2020 population is estimated at 126,476,472 according to countryaah. Japan became an empire in the 6th century, but the emperor’s power was undermined by the growing war class and from 1192 to 1868 the country was led by shoguns. Split and civil war alternated with quieter periods. At the end of the 16th century, the country was united and foreign interests were closed out. The insulation was broken in 1854 and then Japan quickly became a strong industrial and military force. The first decades of the 20th century were marked by Japan’s aggressive conquests of Korea as well as large parts of China and East Asia – an imperialism that ended with the devastating defeat of the Second World War.
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Already over 100,000 years ago, people lived on the Japanese islands, which were then linked to the Asian mainland. With immigrants from China via Korea came new impulses such as rice cultivation and metals such as bronze and iron. Agriculture was improved, weapons were forged, and at the end of the yayoi period (about 300 BC – 300 AD), the first state formations were added to the islands of Honshu, Kyushu and Shikoku. Gradually they united to larger states, and in the 600s the Naras Plains at Honshu became the center of such. It was dominated by Prince Shotoku, who influenced Buddhism to build a series of beautiful temple buildings. They are today considered the world’s oldest preserved wooden houses. During the years 710–794, Nara was formally the capital of Japan. For Japan political system, please check carswers.
Following the Chinese pattern, a new capital was then erected in Heian, later renamed Kyoto, which remained the imperial residence city for over a thousand years. The culturally flourishing Heian or Kyoto period lasted for almost 400 years. But the Heian emperors’ power was undermined by an emerging warrior class – the samurai. Two Samurai families fought for power and in 1192 the victorious Minamoto family moved the empire’s power center to Kamakura, southwest of today’s Tokyo. For nearly 700 years, then Japan was ruled by military governors – shoguns – while the emperors sat powerless in Kyoto. In 1274 and 1281, Mongol forces tried to invade Japan. Both attacks failed, in part because typhoons broke the invasion ships. The idea of Japan being godly and invincible was born, and the storms were named kamikaze (the wind of the gods).
After a series of insurgency and civil war, the country united at the end of the 16th century. Shogun Ieyasu Tokugaw moved the power center to Edo, today’s Tokyo. During the Tokugawa or Edo period of 1603-1867, Japan lived in stability and peace with its neighbors. Missionaries, merchants and other foreigners were expelled; only a few Dutch and Chinese were allowed to trade with Japan. But in 1854 an American naval force forced trade rights, and Russians, British, Dutch and French followed. Civil war and state coups shook the weakened shogunate.
In 1868 the last shogun was overthrown, the emperor again became ruler and the emperor’s seat was moved from Kyoto to Edo, which was renamed Tokyo (Eastern capital). The reign of Emperor Meiji 1868-1912, the Meiji period, became the epoch of renewal. Japan would learn from the West and reform efforts became intense. A modern state state with government and legislative assembly was adopted and in the 1880s the country gained its first political parties following the Western European model. Mandatory primary school, a new currency and a new tax system were introduced. In half a century, Japan went from feudal farmer state to modern industrialization.
Japan now challenged China for power over Korea and won the war between the countries 1894-1895. Beijing must exit Taiwan and the strategically important peninsula of Liaotung in Manchuria. Since the Western powers forced Japan to return Liaotung, Russia rents the peninsula from China. In the Russian-Japanese War of 1904-1905, Japan destroyed the Russian fleet, took over the lease of Liaotung and consolidated its position in Manchuria. Japan also recovered half the island of Sakhalin, previously swapped for the Kuril Islands.
In World War I, 1914-1918, Japan fought on the side of the Allies and was regarded after Germany’s defeat as one of the world’s great powers. Emperor Meiji, dead in 1912, was followed on the throne by first Emperor Taisho and then Emperor Hirohito in 1926, when the Showa period began. Industry grew and parliamentarism seemed stable. But the world depression also hit Japan, confidence in the politicians dropped and the military strengthened. Against the will of the government, the army occupied Manchuriet in 1931 and then parts of Inner Mongolia and northern China. In 1937, a full-scale war between Japan and China began. Gradually, the civilian government lost influence, two prime ministers were assassinated by right-wing extremists, and in 1941 General Hideki Tojo took over as prime minister. The military now ruled the country.
In 1940, Japan had entered into an alliance with Nazi Germany and fascist Italy. On December 7, 1941, without a declaration of war, Japan attacked the US naval base Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, and the Pacific War broke out. Japanese troops entered Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines and Burma (current Myanmar). In June 1942, the war turned in the battle between Japanese and American naval forces on the island of Midway. Japan lost several aircraft carriers and heavy cruisers, and soon the Western powers had dominion both in the air and at sea. During bloody battles, the Japanese were forced back from archipelago after archipelago. Japan responded by attacking enemy ships with suicide pilots, called kamikaze. In 1944, the US bombings reached Japan itself, killing hundreds of thousands of people. In April of the following year, US troops landed on Okinawa, and on August 6 and 9, 1945, the United States dropped two atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. More than a quarter of a million people were killed immediately or injured so badly that they died shortly thereafter. On August 15, a disgruntled Japan capitulated and was occupied by the Allies; in the practice of the United States. The war had then cost Japan over three million lives; soldiers and civilians.
Yukio Hatoyama new prime minister
DPJ leader Yukio Hatoyama takes over as prime minister for a coalition government consisting of DPJ, the New People’s Party and the Social Democratic Party.
The Democratic Party wins the election
The opposition party DPJ wins the parliamentary elections on August 30. Taro Aso resigns as party leader for LDP and is succeeded by Sadakazu Tanigaki.
LDP loses in local elections
The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) suffers a stinging defeat in the local elections in Tokyo, where the party dominated for four decades. Prime Minister Taro Aso announces parliamentary elections until August 30.
The Democratic Party changes leaders
Ichiro Ozawa resigns as party leader of the Democratic Party (DPJ). Yukio Hatoyama succeeds him.