Japan History

By | March 8, 2021

Japan is a country located in East Asia, bordered by Russia, North Korea and South Korea. According to homosociety, it has a population of over 126 million people and an area of 377 thousand square kilometers. The capital city is Tokyo while other major cities include Osaka, Kyoto and Yokohama. The official language is Japanese but many other languages such as Ryukyuan languages are also spoken. The currency used in Japan is the Japanese Yen (JPY) which is pegged to the US Dollar at a rate of 1 JPY: 0.009 USD. Japan has a rich culture with influences from both Asian and Western cultures, from traditional music such as Gagaku to unique art forms like Ukiyo-e woodblock printing. It also boasts stunning natural landscapes such as Hakone National Park and Shiretoko National Park which are home to an abundance of wildlife species.

Japan’s history begins around 500 AD The country then consisted of several patriarchal controlled tribal communities, each with its own territories. Japan was an empire from the 6th century, but in 1185 the Minamotu family prevailed, taking the title of shogun (general), and the shogun became the country’s real ruler. Eventually, warring factions emerged that brought the country into the so-called “warring states” period or the Sengoku period. In 1600, the Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu won the Battle of Sekigahara and formed the Tokugawa Shogunate in the fishing village of Edo (today Tokyo). See shoefrantics.com for Japan traditions.

The Shogunate existed until 1868, when the empire was restored and Japan became a constitutional monarchy. During the Meiji period (the time until 1914), Japan received a modern bureaucracy, a substantial industry and a modern school system; moreover, the country became a military superpower in the Pacific.

After the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895, Japan gained influence in Korea and Formosa (Taiwan). See abbreviationfinder for geography, history, society, politics, and economy of Japan. In the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905, Russia suffered a catastrophic defeat, and Japan gained control of Russian rights in China and the southern part of the Sakhalin Peninsula. As an ally with the victorious forces of World War I, Japan gained German Pacific colonies and German rights in China.

In 1937, Japan went to war with China and moved into Indochina to cut off aid to China from the United States and Britain. At the same time, Japan strengthened the alliance with Germany and Italy. Japan entered into a non-attack pact with the Soviet Union in 1941 and then came into conflict with the United States, which imposed sanctions. On December 7 of that year, Japan’s response to this came in the form of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Japan joined in the Second World War. Japan capitulated on August 14, 1945 after the atomic bombs obliterated Hiroshima (August 6) and Nagasaki (August 9) and US forces landed in Japan.

  • COUNTRYAAH.COM: Provides latest population data about Japan. Lists by Year from 1950 to 2020. Also includes major cities by population.

Japan Life Expectancy 2021

Prehistoric times

The settlement in Japan probably dates back at least 100,000 years. From the end of the Stone Age, a number of archaeological finds are known in Japan. The Jōmon culture lasted from about 12,000 to about 300 BCE. It was a pure hunter, fisherman and sanker culture that is known from numerous settlements and shell dunes on the coast and the sea, occasionally also from South Korea. In a cave, the Fukin Cave, has been found some of the earliest ceramics known, carbon dated to about 12,000 BCE. This is one of the rare examples of ceramics being produced in a fishing environment, but also indicates that the settlement was semi-permanent.

There is great inequality between the ceramics in Eastern and Western Japan. In the west, it was made with plunger decor, while in the east it was decorated with shells. In the late Jōmon culture (c. 2500–1000 BCE) more emphasis was placed on deep sea fishing, and a harpoon for catching marine animals was invented.

In the central and northern parts of Japan, a younger variant of the Jōmon culture continued as a stone-age agricultural culture with catching catches up to about 700 AD. if necessary.). Probably new people have come to the islands. These have introduced rice cultivation, weaving and metal use. Around the middle of this period, large quantities of glass and bronze objects have been imported from China.

An orderly peasant life and a new burial practice testify to a stratified society. The conductive layer was cremated and buried in an urn. As grave goods, they carried weapons and mirrors imported from China. From about 200 AD the iron became the most important tool material, and the ceramics produced are of excellent quality.

Older history

Authentic Japanese history begins around 500 AD, as written sources for the country’s history begin. The most important sources of our knowledge of the oldest period are partly Chinese sources and partly Japanese annals.

At the transition to historical times, we glimpse a number of patriarchically ruled, mutually independent tribal communities (uji), each with their own land. Religion essentially consisted of ancestral worship and worship of certain natural deities. As descendants of the sun goddess, Amaterasu, and his descendant Jimmu tenno (according to the legend of the first emperor, 660 BCE), the chiefs of Yamato (near the present Nara) had the leadership in joint armies, partly against the Aino tribes and partly against the small states of Korea.

Chinese influence

Under the turbulent conditions in China in the 500s, Chinese scholars, printers and craftsmen had taken refuge in Korea. Chinese and, in part, Koreans who made their way to Japan, brought with them to the chieftains Chinese writing, art and religion; this became the first beginning of the powerful cultural influence of China in the following centuries. Not least, Buddhism became of great importance (from around 550); also Confucian thoughts were known.

The Chinese tendency was strongly supported by the talented spokesman and ruler Shōtoku Taishi (593–621), whose work was continued by the Fujiwara House’s leading men in the following centuries. A large-scale attempt to introduce Chinese administration around 650 succeeded only partially. All land was declared to belong to the emperor, according to Chinese pattern, imperial officials were appointed, and the class of officials was to be recruited through literary examinations (a university was established in 668).

The position of the imperial power was further sought to be strengthened by the founding of the first permanent capital, Nara, built according to the pattern of Chang’an (710). Chinese art and architecture saw a boom in Japan. The oldest Japanese literature was created. With donations, the Buddhist temples gradually became so rich that they became political forces of power. The provincial governors of the more distant provinces became more and more independent and increasingly showed the imperial house open. In 794, the capital was relocated to present-day Kyoto, and this city remained an imperial residence until 1868.

Rivalry among the aristocracy

From about 900 the provincial potentates strengthened their position decisively, as a knight’s class emerged at their court. The Lens Lord, daimyo, trained his personal bodyguard, consisting of lower knights (samurai); moreover, peasants were discharged for military service.

The Samurai soon came to form their own caste, which had its own laws and customs. Rivalry between the various daimyo led to long wars between them. Finally, the noble set Minamoto took off with the victory (1185), and the historical development into entirely new paths. Still, the Kyoto imperial court retained its symbolic position as supreme authority, but from now on, the chiefs of Minamoto and later the Hojo lineage were the country’s unrestricted military dictators. They left their residence in Kamakura (near present-day Tokyo), where they formed a powerful headquarters.

Administrative reforms were made in line with the new distribution of power. A general, Bakufu, was set up in Kamakura, and in each province, side-by-side officials, Shugo (War Commissioner) and Jito, were appointed in addition to the highest civilian officials, who handled administrative and judicial matters. A number of lords were deposed and replaced by trusted Kamakura people. An ironclad discipline was introduced and a new code of laws was issued in 1232.

The shogunate is created

Fight between Japanese and Mongols in 1281, from Moko Schurai Ekotoba, a picture scroll from 1293. The imperial collection.

battle against Mongols, 1281

By Bertelsmann Lexikon-Verlag, Gütersloh/※.

License: Limited reuse

In 1192 the important office of shogun (Grand General) was established. This meant that the chief commander of Kamakura was given dictatorial authority for any purpose indefinitely, thus becoming the kingdom’s chief military commander. The Emperor of Kyoto was thus reduced to a pure shadow, which was often not even consulted until important decisions were made.

Eventually, it became a rule that the shogunate forced the emperor to abdicate after a few years, thus introducing a new one. In essence, this state apparatus came into existence until 1868, when the power of the imperial house was restored. During the Kamakura Shogunate, the large-scale Mongol invasion occurred during the Khubilai Khan. Twice (in 1274 and 1281) large naval forces were sent against Western Japan from Korea, but the attacks were both fought back with heavy losses. Apart from these episodes, Japan experienced a peaceful and stable period throughout the whole of the 13th century.

In 1333, the house Ashikaga acquired the shogi property. Also, the warrior part had gradually come under the Chinese cultural influence of the Kyoto Imperial Court. Both for this reason and because the city was more central to control of Western Japan, Ashikaga moved the shogunate city of residence to Muromachi in Kyoto.

But soon the shogunate began to lose much of its old efficiency. The Shugo and Jito offices became hereditary, and many members of the war council began to enter the Kyoto environment with its splendor and luxury, while growing new generations of provincial officials with great freedom of action. Internal strife in the shogunate increased decentralization and eventually weakened the position of the Ashikaga House.

Trade and Mission

After a real Chinese dynasty, the Ming Dynasty, returned to power in China (1368), there was a major upsurge in trade with China, and the centers of this trade became the new thriving cities of Sakai, Hakata and the present Kobe, a little later also Osaka. The new trade patriots in these cities created a new cultural environment with new ways of living, and foreign travel brought a new and broader horizon.

This era, where Japan became a larger cultural country with growing national consciousness, brought the country into foreign policy problems. In 1542, the first Portuguese reached Japan and began a mission and trade. From 1567 Nagasaki was the center of this activity. Christianity had started with great progress, and many churches were built. A number of the provincial princes who were relatively independent at that time favored Christianity, especially at Kyushu. A new and powerful national collection, conducted by Oda Nobunaga (dead 1582) and his successors Toyotomi Hideyoshi (dead (1598) and Tokugawa Ieyasu(death 1616), however, brought a new situation, and in 1587 Hideyoshi issued an edict banning Christianity.

Japan’s gather under one regent

After Commander Toyotomi Hideyoshi had defeated the last of his opponents and thus was undisputed lord all over modern-day Japan, he appointed kwampaku (regent), set up a headquarters in Nagoya and invaded the mainland to make Japan the leading power in the East. The first battle was to be aimed at Korea; This large-scale campaign began in 1592, but was abandoned in 1598, partly because of fierce Korean resistance, and partly because of the support the Koreans received from Chinese forces.

Although Japan’s conquest plans on the mainland were unsuccessful, the country’s collection was a fact. The cornerstone of this development was laid at the Battle of Sekigahara (1600), when Tokugawa Ieyasu became Japan’s undisputed lord and thus Hideyoshi’s heir. He was the founder of the Tokugawa ruler house.

Tokugawa Shogunate 1603-1867

Tokugawa Ieyasu founded the Tokugawa Shogunate.

Tokugawa Ieyasu

By Kanō Tannyū (1602-1674).

License: Fell in the open (Public domain)

Tokugawa Ieyasu was appointed shogun in 1603, and the office was made hereditary in his lineage. The lands were distributed with a view to preventing continued resistance, and in 1615 the last enemies were overcome. Ieyasu died in 1616, but his work was continued by his son Hidetada (1616-1623) and his grandson Iemitsu (1623-1651). Ieyasu planned to encourage trade abroad and would not enforce the anti-Christian regulations. But eventually he became more suspicious, especially towards the Spaniards, and gave trade privileges to Englishmen and Dutch.

Christian persecution and isolation

In 1854, an American naval force, with MC Perry at the head, forced Japan into a trade agreement with the United States, which broke with the isolationist policies of the Japanese.

Japan (History) (trade agreement with the United States, 1854)

By Bertelsmann Lexikon-Verlag, Gütersloh/※.

License: Limited reuse

In 1606 he issued regulations against Jesuits and Franciscans, and in 1615 began severe persecution against Japanese Christians. Hidetada sharpened the persecution and banished all foreign priests for fear that Lords who sympathized with Christianity would receive weapons from outside. A rebellion in Shimabara, where Japanese Christians were implicated, was brutally beaten down in 1638, all Japanese were forbidden to leave the country, and only a few Dutch and Chinese were allowed to trade limited trade from Deshima Island at Nagasaki. Japan was now completely blocked off.

In this isolation, the administrative and social structure of society was consolidated. The hoopad, Kuge, retained its prestige, but all political and economic power lay with the warrior class. The Tokugawar government, Bakufu, was a rigorous military government headquartered in Edo (Tokyo). Through its officials, it controlled the domains of the Tokugawa House, and indirectly exercised control over the Lords. These had to stay a certain time of year in Edo, leaving their families there as hostages. The most trusted were given shelter in the central parts of the kingdom, and all roads to Edo and the Imperial Court in Kyoto passed through their shores.

Duties and privileges were laid down in the smallest detail for all rank classes, from the great lords, daimyo, to the lowest weapons of the samurai. Confucian norms became the guiding principle for their behavior. During the war class, farmers, craftsmen, merchants and the community outcasts ranked as actors, butchers and the like. All stalls were subjected to strict regulations regarding behavior, clothing and more.

Under the rigorous rule of the Tokugawa, there was unbroken peace. Edo, Osaka and other city towns grew, and a distinctive urban culture flourished with the rich development of theater, literature and color printing. The population increased to nearly 30 million in the early 18th century, but then stagnated. For the rest of this century and until the mid-1800s, the country was repeatedly haunted by famine and plague. This revealed weaknesses in the country’s economy and social order.

The Samurai class, which numbered about two million towards the end of the Tokuga era, spit on the community, but their income ended up largely with the new merchant and banker class. Bakufu wrote down the monetary value and imposed a compulsory loan, but this mostly went beyond the warrior class. It tried to torment more of the peasants, who reacted with frequent rebellions. In other words, the monetary economy was about to undermine the entire lens system, based on rice taxes.

Yoshimune, shogun in 1716-1745, eased a bit on the prohibition on learning from the West, and “Dutch studies” now gave impetus in the natural sciences. Economists came to the conclusion that Japan needed to trade abroad. Lower samurai were dissatisfied with the class divide, and historical studies aroused interest in the Shinto religion and the imperial institution, which became the focal points of a burgeoning nationalism.

Rebellion against the shogunate

In 1858 the shogunate was abolished and the emperor assumed power (the Meiji Restoration). The picture shows the Entrance into Edo (Tokyo), from a simultaneous lithograph.

entered Edo

By Fri/※.

License: Limited reuse

Samurai during the Civil War

By Felix Beato.

License: Fell in the open (Public domain)

The biggest dissatisfaction was in the southwestern clans Satsuma, Choshu, Tosa and Hizen, who had never completely reconciled themselves to the Tokugawa shogunate. Young Samurai of lower rank in these outer lands became the driving force in the rebellion against the shogun and in the restoration of the imperial power.

The occasion came when the shogunate faltered in its politics. Frightened by an American naval force in the Gulf of Tokyo under the command of Matthew C. Perry, the shogunate signed a trade treaty with the United States in 1854. The slogans of the rebels were: Drive the barbarians and obey the emperor. Attacks on consulates and merchant ships, however, led to British bombing of Kagoshima in 1863, and British-French-American bombing of Shimonoseki the following year.

The Emperor signed the trade treaties in 1865, Satsuma began building modern warships, and Choshu recruited the peasants into a modern infantry that the Shogun’s forces could not beat. In the fall of 1867, samurai from these clans had gained control of the imperial government, and embarked on a carefully planned revolution. After a brief civil war, the shogunate was abolished in 1868. Emperor Mutsuhito moved the residence from Kyoto to Tokyo.

Restoration of the imperial power (1868-1899)

Mutsuhito became Emperor when the Japanese Empire was restored in 1867. Photo from 1888.

Emperor Meiji

By Unknown.

License: Fell in the open (Public domain)

Japan beat China in the Sino-Japanese War in 1894-1895.

Chinese generals surrender

By Migita Toshihide.

License: Fell in the open (Public domain)

The restoration is the major turning point in Japan’s recent history. The following period was characterized by rapid development in the political, social and economic spheres. The lands that formed the foundation of the Tokugawa government were abolished, and the land was divided into ken (provinces) to be administered by officials.

The difference between the classes was revised, dividing the people into three categories: kizoku, nobility, shizoku, descendants of former samurai, and heimin, the common people. Unlike in the past, the public was given the right to choose work and residence under the motto “all social classes have equal rights”. Under the slogans “a rich country with strong military power” and “increase production, travel industry” a gigantic modernization process was initiated. An Ministry of Industry was established in 1870, two years later the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Education.

The state’s income was secured by a new land tax system, and state enterprises were raised. The coinage and postal system were established in 1871, and ordinary conscription was introduced in 1873. The old Shinto doctrine was declared state religion in 1869 and the imperial ideology thereby strengthened, while Buddhism lost its protected position. Foreign experts were invited and young Japanese sent out to study; under pressure from foreign nationals in the country, the ban on Christianity was lifted in 1873.

Various ideas from the West came to the country at the same time. Liberal ideas such as English utilitarianism, French republicanism and American socialism with Christian foundations came to mean a lot to the country’s intelligentsia.

The dissatisfaction of the old warrior class was great; they felt neglected. In 1877, a Samurai uprising led by Takamori Saigo broke out. The revolt was defeated by the government, which consisted of soldiers from different strata of society under the new military system.

State leadership was dominated more and more by a click around the emperor, recruited from a few counties. In response to the concentration of power, the movement for freedom and international law was founded, led by Taisuke Itagaki. The movement was supported by newspapers that also started in the 1870s. The leaders with Hirobumi Ito at the head had to bow to the pressure and promised in 1881 to introduce parliamentary rule within ten years. Itagaki immediately formed a new political party, Jiyu-to (Liberal Party), and the following year another party, Rikken kaishin two, was founded by Shigenobu Okuma.

The constitution was drafted according to the Prussian pattern and dealt with by the secret council established in 1888, and the following year the Meiji constitution was proclaimed by the emperor. In 1890, the country’s first parliament was opened. The Constitution stated that the government was responsible only to the emperor who was holy and inviolable, but not to the parliament, which had two chambers; one for the nobility and the other for the elected officials. The real power, however, still lay with the click of the emperor, who in the secret council formed a self-supporting oligarchy.

In the area of ​​foreign policy, there were two main objectives: to achieve full equality with other powers, and to clearly define the country’s borders with neighboring states. By a treaty of 1875, Sakhalin was declared Russian territory, while the Kurils were recognized as Japanese. In 1879, the Ryukyu Islands were incorporated as Okinawa Ken.

An emerging Japanese imperialism was aimed at the Chinese continent from the beginning. In 1876, Korea, which until then was under Chinese sovereignty, was forced to open three ports. War between Japan and China started when both countries in 1894 sent their military force to Korea to fight a peasant uprising. Japan’s modern army and navy won with ease in the war.

At the peace talks in Shimonoseki in 1895, China had to renounce Taiwan (Formosa), the Liaodong Peninsula with Port Arthur, recognize Korea’s independence and pay war reparations. However, after pressure from Russia, France and Germany, Japan abandoned Liaodong, which led to an anti-Russian sentiment among the people.

Japan as a great power

The Russian-Japanese War

Japan was considered a major power in the East. The extraterritorial rights of the Western powers were abandoned in 1899. The country participated on a par with the European superpowers in the suppression of the boxer rebellion in China in 1900. However, the conflict between Japan and Russia in the Far East became increasingly noticeable. In 1898, Russia leased Port Arthur and Dairen, occupied the Manjury during the boxing uprising and increased its influence in Korea.

Japan prepared and signed a defense agreement with the United Kingdom in 1902. When Russia did not withdraw from Manjury, as was promised in 1901, Japan attacked the Russian navy in Port Arthur (Russian-Japanese War). On land and at sea, the Japanese conquered. Japan, at the peace agreement, acknowledged its extensive interests in Korea, took over Liaodong and Russia’s interests in the South Yemeni railway, and Russia renounced South Sakhalin. Korea was annexed by Japan in 1910. Worldwide, a European power had been beaten for the first time by an Asian power.

The upheaval and industrialization continued; State-owned companies were sold to the private, and family groups such as Mitsui, Mitsubishi and Sumitomo increased their influence in finance, trade and industry. At this time also the labor movement and, later, the women’s movement arose. In 1901, an attempt was made to establish a Social Democratic Party, which was banned on the day. The turmoil among the industrial workers and the peasant population increased, but in 1910, when a plot to murder the emperor was revealed, all labor organizations were completely crushed by a process where a number of leaders were sentenced to death.

World war one

When World War I broke out in 1914, Japan declared war on Germany in accordance with the treaty between Japan and the United Kingdom. The Japanese consolidated their position in China as the Great War raged in Europe, and in May 1915, the Chinese government sent 21 demands aimed at making China a sound country. Sixteen of the requirements were approved under the threat of declaration of war, and Japan secured, among other things, major rights in South Male Jury and Inner Mongolia.

Before the war in Europe, Japan first sent a fleet of smaller warships to the Mediterranean in 1917 to secure the Allies’ waters. Japan signed the so-called Ishii-Lansing agreement with the US, which recognized Japan’s special interests in China. The Russian Revolution led to a break with Russia. Japan became a driving force in the Allied intervention in Russia. At the 1919 Versailles peace, Japan gained German possessions in Shandong, which gave rise to the anti-imperialist ” Fourth May Movement ” in China.

As a result of the nine-treaty agreement on China’s sovereignty and integrity of 1922, Japan waived its special rights in Shandong, and the Ishii-Lansing agreement expired. The country’s military expansion has so far been stagnated, but the military and nationalist forces have just been given new nutrition.

The interwar period

In the 1930s, Japan had a military regime, which gradually gained clear fascist features. The country signed the Antiquarian Pact with Germany in 1936, and in 1937 Japan attacked China. The picture shows Japanese occupying Nanking.

Japan (History) (Japanese occupy Nanking)

By Bertelsmann Lexikon-Verlag, Gütersloh/※.

License: Limited reuse

Japanese propaganda for the anti-communist pact, a pact made between Japan, Nazi Germany and Italy (the Axis Powers). Top images of Hitler, Konoe and Mussolini, bottom child with German, Japanese and Italian flags.

Japanese propaganda poster

By Unknown.

License: Fell in the open (Public domain)

The world war opened new markets for Japan, and the country’s goods were sold in all parts of the world. The industry became more versatile than before, and the number of workers increased. The upswing brought inflation and social struggles in Japan as in Europe. The great economic crisis of 1920, and a terrible earthquake in 1923 that devastated half of Tokyo, fueled the labor movement among industrial and agricultural workers, as well as the freedom movement of the country’s caste caste, eta, which formed a nationwide organization, suiheisha.

Takashi Hara had become Japan’s first non-noble head of government in 1918. The democratic efforts launched by several promoters resulted in the introduction of universal suffrage for men over the age of 25 in 1925, albeit with a strict law on the maintenance of public order. Calls for a radical labor movement were suppressed, and the organized trade union movement remained weak. In 1925, a working-peasant party was created, but eventually split into several factions.

In the period 1924-1932, the two political parties alternated seyukai and minseito to hold government power; these had intimate relations with the family groups (zaibatsu) Mitsubishi and Mitsui. When the worldwide economic crisis in the wake of the Wall Street crash in 1929 hit Japan and the bankruptcies became numerous, the Zaibatsu grew even larger by the merger and acquisition of bankrupt banks and corporations. The symbiosis between the political parties and the trusts and scandals in its wake created distrust of the party political system. Among the military, the anti-democratic tendency was growing stronger, and here expansionism with China became more grounded.

While the political leaders and the military were divided in view of the economy and foreign policy, the extreme elements of the army went to action in collaboration with a right-wing group outside parliament. Prime Minister Yuko Hamaguchi, who, with the majority in parliament behind him, had ratified the 1930 naval agreement in London, was severely wounded by an attack. Nor did his successor Wakatsuki manage to slow down the activists in the army. Clashes with Chinese troops were provoked by military groups despite politicians’ desire to limit conflicts.

In September 1931, a bomb attack on the south-man Jurassic railway off Mukden prompted an open war, and within a few months the Japanese occupied all important strategic points in the area. In March 1932, Chinese exile Pu Yi (Xuandong) was proclaimed emperor over a new state, Mandsjukuo. The League of Nations condemned Japan’s approach. The member states were obliged not to recognize Mandsjukuo, and Japan opted out of the League of Nations.

Tsuyoshi Inukai, who succeeded Wakatsuki as prime minister, was assassinated by a group of naval officers and right-wing extremist civilians in May 1932. The assassination marked a preliminary end to the party governments and the liberal government in Japan. The military divided into two factions, the moderate and the extremely nationalist, who emphasized the emperor’s sovereign power to rule the country as the leading nation in Asia without democratic institutions. When this group came to a minority, in February 1936, it made a bloody coup where prominent moderate statesmen were murdered. The uprising was overthrown and those responsible executed, but now it was the military extremists who determined the nation’s course through their representatives in government and in alliance with the various trusts that welcomed the expansion of the Chinese continent.

In the autumn of 1936, the new Prime Minister, Koki Hirota, signed the anti-communist pact with Germany, and the following year Italy joined. In July 1937, the war broke out seriously after a clash outside Beijing. The Japanese advanced rapidly in northern China. In November, the Chinese government moved to Chongqing; Nanjing was admitted in December, and many civilians massacred. Several major cities also fell. Meetings were also held with Soviet troops at the border of Mandsjukuo.

The war cost the Japanese huge sums, and in 1938 the National Mobilization Act was enforced by the military. This gave the government extensive powers. The political parties and labor unions were disbanded, and a new national unity party was created.

Developments in China made the relationship between Japan and the United Kingdom and the United States extremely tense. The United States terminated the trade agreement with Japan as early as 1939. After the Japanese moved into Indochina to cut off weapons aid from the United States and Britain to China, the alliance with the Axis powers was consolidated. In April 1941, the neutrality pact between the Soviet Union and Japan was signed, and the advance in Indochina continued. The United States, the United Kingdom, China and the Dutch East Indies responded by stopping all exports to Japan (ABCD front).


In September 1941, General Hideki Tojo formed a new government that was completely dominated by the military. Negotiations with the United States were now abandoned, and December 7, Japan went on a surprise attack in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Thus, both Japan and the United States had joined in World War II.

The Japanese made great progress in the beginning of the war and conquered the Philippines, the Dutch East Indies, Malaysia and Myanmar. In 1944, the Allied Marshall Islands, Guam and Leyte recaptured and began to force the Japanese back into Myanmar. February 5, 1945, Manila and June 11, Okinawa fell.

The Soviet Union declared war on Japan on August 8, two days after the first nuclear bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. The other was released over Nagasaki on August 9. Meanwhile, the Allies had drafted the Potsdam Declaration, which launched Japan’s course following a possible unconditional capitulation. Japan surrendered unconditionally on August 14, and US forces landed.

During the Moscow Conference in December 1945, an Allied Control Council was established with a seat in Tokyo and a Commission for the Far East with a seat in Washington. However, the real power lay in the hands of General Douglas MacArthur.