Japan

Article

July 6, 2022

Japan (Japanese: 日本, Nippon /ɲippoꜜɴ/ ( listen) or Nihon /ɲihoꜜɴ/ ( listen)), officially the State of Japan, is an island country in East Asia located in the northwestern Pacific Ocean. It is bordered by the Sea of ​​Japan to the west and stretches from the Sea of ​​Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south. Part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, Japan comprises an archipelago of 6,852 islands covering 377,975 square kilometers; the country's five main islands, from north to south, are Hokkaidō, Honshū, Shikoku, Kyūshū, and Okinawa. Tokyo is the capital and largest city in Japan although Yokohama, Osaka, Nagoya, Sapporo, Fukuoka, Kobe and Kyoto are also large and important cities. Japan is the 11th most populous country in the world, as well as one of the most densely populated and urbanized. About three-quarters of the country's terrain is mountainous and its population of 126 million is concentrated in narrow coastal plains. It is divided into forty-seven administrative prefectures and eight traditional regions, including the Tokyo metropolitan area, the most populous metropolitan area in the world, with more than thirty-seven million residents. Japan has been inhabited since the Upper Paleolithic (30,000 BC), although the first mentions of the archipelago appear in Chinese chronicles from the 1st century. Between the 4th and 9th centuries, the kingdoms of Japan were unified under one emperor and his imperial court based in Heian-kyō. Beginning in the 12th century, however, political power was vested in a series of military dictators (shōgun) and feudal lords (daimyō), and imposed by a class of warrior nobility (samurai). After a century of civil war, the country was reunited in 1603 under the Tokugawa shogunate, when it pursued an isolationist foreign policy. In 1854, a United States fleet forced Japan to open trade with the West, leading to the end of the shogunate and the restoration of imperial power in 1868. In the Meiji period, the Empire of Japan adopted a Western-style constitution and pursued a program of industrialization and modernization. In 1937, Japan invaded China and four years later entered World War II as an Axis power. After suffering defeat in the Pacific War and two atomic bombings, Japan surrendered in 1945 and came under seven-year Allied occupation, adopting a new constitution. Since 1947, Japan has maintained a unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy with a bicameral legislature, the National Diet. Japan is a great power and a member of numerous international organizations, including the United Nations (since 1956), the OECD, and the G7. Although it has given up its right to declare war, the country maintains a Self-Defense Forces that are ranked as the fourth most powerful army in the world. After World War II, Japan experienced high economic growth, becoming the world's second largest economy in 1972 before being overtaken by China in 2010.[13] Despite economic stagnation since the "lost decade", the country's economy remains the third largest by nominal GDP and the fourth largest by PPP. A leader in the automotive and electronics industries, Japan has made significant contributions to science and technology. Ranked second highest in Asia's Human Development Index after Singapore, Japan has the second highest life expectancy in the world, though it is experiencing population decline. Japanese culture is well known throughout the world, including its art, cuisine, music, and popular culture, spanning prominent industries from animation, video games, and manga.

Etymology

The name