Japan

Article

December 6, 2021

Japan (Japanese: 日本, Nihon or Nippon; formally 日本国, Nihon-koku or Nippon-koku; literally the state of Japan) is an island state and constitutional monarchy (empire) in East Asia. Japan is located in the Pacific Ocean, east of the Japanese Sea, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia and stretches from the Okhotsk Sea in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south. The signs that make up Japan's name mean "the origin of the sun", which is why Japan is sometimes called "the land of the sunrise". Japan is an archipelago of 6,852 islands. The four largest islands are Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku, which together account for 97 percent of Japan's area. Japan has the world's eleventh largest population with over 127 million inhabitants. Greater Tokyo, which includes Japan's de facto capital and several surrounding prefectures, is the largest metropolitan area in the world with over 35.7 million inhabitants in an area about the size of Skåne. Archaeological research shows that people lived in Japan as early as the Late Paleolithic. The first written mention of Japan is in Chinese historical texts from the first century. Influences from other countries followed by long periods of isolation have marked Japan's history. Victories in the late 1800s and early 1900s in the First Sino-Japanese War, the Russo-Japanese War and the First World War allowed Japan to expand its empire during a period of increased militarism. The Second Sino-Japanese War of 1937 expanded into part of World War II, which came to an end in 1945 through the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Since the adoption of its revised constitution in 1947, Japan has had a unified constitutional monarchy with an emperor and a popularly elected parliament. Japan, an economic power, is the world's third largest economy by nominal GDP and the fourth largest economy by purchasing power parity. It is also the world's fourth largest exporter and fourth largest importer. Although Japan has officially renounced its right to declare war, it maintains a modern military force for self-defense and peacekeeping. After Singapore, Japan has the lowest murder rate (including assassination attempts) in the world. According to both the United Nations and WHO estimates, Japan has the longest life expectancy of any country in the world. According to The World Factbook, Japan (only after Monaco) has the world's second lowest infant mortality rate (only one death per 500 newborns).

Etymology

The word Japan is an exonym, in Japanese the country is called Nihon or Nippon (日本), officially Nihonkoku or Nipponkoku (日本国), "Japanese Empire". The sign composition, which literally means "the origin of the sun", or as it is usually interpreted together with the sign for land, "Sunrise (land)", originates from the west of Japan located China. Previously, several names had appeared. The early (700s) name Yamato (大 和 or 倭) goes back to an even older (300s) name the Chinese used about Japan, Wa (倭). Wa was originally a pejorative term, "dwarf" (modern Chinese wō, meaning "short"). Japan was later written with the sign for a more positive homonym, today in Chinese usually pronounced hé (和), and came to be used in Japan first about the area around today's Nara and later (during the Nara period) about the country itself together with the sign for "large" (大). Marco Polo used the name Cipangu in his book, which probably reproduces the then (13th century) Chinese pronunciation of 日本國, "the land of Cipang", in Mandarin or the Wudi dialect. That the Chinese pronunciation had an impact in the Western world was due to the East Indies trade with China. Portuguese seafarers in the early 16th century were the first of these merchants to report back to Europe on the country's existence after expeditions to Malaysia and southern China. In Japan, Nippon was the most common pronunciation until the end of World War II, when Nihon began to be used everywhere

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