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Japan is an island nation in East Asia, located in the Pacific Ocean. Its Japanese name Nippon can be translated to "Land of the Rising Sun", and it is a great power with the third-largest economy in the world. For most of its existence, it has been confined to the islands of Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu, and Hokkaido, but from the 1890s to the 1940s it expanded to form the Empire of Japan, which included Korea, Taiwan, most of Southeast Asia and the Pacific islands, and a quarter of China along the coast. After World War II, Japan was politically limited by the United States, but its economy boomed and it grew to become a large corporate powerhouse.


Empire of Japan

The location of Japan

Japan was isolationist for much of its existence, with various noble families feuding for power across the centuries. In 1192, Japan was united under the Kamakura Shogunate, and the shogunates held power over the emperors of the Yamato dynasty until 1868. Daimyos (nobles) feuded until Ieyasu Tokugawa unified Japan in 1615 under the Tokugawa Shogunate, which was one of the first to open contact with the outside world. Japan persecuted Christians outside of the city of Nagasaki, where they had limited trade with Portugal and Holland. However, Japan was isolationist until 1853, when Commodore Matthew Perry of the United States intimidated the Emperor into opening Japan to trade with the rest of the world. Now, Europe intervened in Japanese affairs and helped in the Boshin War of 1868; the Emperor took control of Japan from the shogunate and modernized Japan. Western dress, government, and military styles were incorporated into the new society, and Japan became like the rest of the world. Japan flexed its military muscles by taking over Taiwan from China in the First Sino-Japanese War in 1894-1895 and taking over Korea and Port Arthur following the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905. Japan's defeat of the Russian Empire showed that it was a competent nation, and it became a more involved country after fighting in the Boxer Rebellion, World War I, and Russian Civil War.

Emperor Hirohito

However, the age of fascism and nationalism that followed World War I reached Japan in a negative way, with several Prime Ministers of Japan being assassinated by the Imperial Japanese Army, which gained the prerogative to veto or accept Prime Ministers. People like Kanin Kotohito, Sadao Araki, and Hideki Tojo held power in the government, and Japan conquered Manchuria from China in 1933. In 1937, Japan decided to invade China after the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, and Japan took over much of coastal China in the Second Sino-Japanese War, fighting against the Chinese and massacring millions of Chinese people and partisans. In 1941, Japan declared war on the United States after the USA enacted an oil embargo against Japan in response to its invasion of French Indochina, and Japan entered World War II as an ally of Nazi Germany and Italy in the Tripartite Pact. Japan took over much of coastal China, Southeast Asia, the Philippines, New Guinea, Indonesia, and several islands in the Pacific Ocean in a lightning offensive from December 1941 until early 1942, and they fought the Chinese in China, the United Kingdom in Burma and India, and the Americans in the Pacific islands. The Imperial Japanese Navy also showed off its strength, and it was worthy of fighting against the US Navy, defeating them at the Battle of Makassar Strait  and the Battle of Savo Island in 1942. However, they were forced back by the USA's island hopping from 1942 to 1945, and the British and Americans in Burma forced the Japanese back. By September 1945, the Americans had taken over Iwo Jima and Okinawa and were firebombing Japan, having dropped two nuclear bombs on Japan at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Emperor Hirohito, the last of all of the Axis leaders still fighting in World War II, reluctantly decided to surrender.

In the aftermath of Japan's surrender in September 1945, Japan was occupied by the United States into the 1950s. High-ranking war criminals were executed or imprisoned, and Japan was left in ruins due to the heavy bombing by the US Air Force. However, Japan used these opportunities to rebuild the country with all-new infrastructure, and Japan became the leading country in technological innovations such as in automobiles like Honda, Toyota, and Subaru and technology companies like Sony, Nintendo, Sega, and Nikon, with monorails, impressive buildings, and beautiful cities. By 2016, Japan was the country with the highest life expectancy and the lowest infant mortality rate, and it had the world's third-largest GDP despite being an island country. Today, it is still ruled by an Emperor, but the real power lies in the hands of the Prime Minister, similar to the politics of the United Kingdom.