Japan: Flag and Anthem © Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved./© Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

Japan, island nation in East Asia, located in the North Pacific Ocean off the coast of the Asian continent. Japan comprises the four main islands of Honshū, Hokkaidō, Kyūshū, and Shikoku, in addition to numerous smaller islands. The Japanese call their country Nihon or Nippon, which means ―origin of the sun.‖ The name arose from Japan’s position east of the great Chinese empires that held sway over Asia throughout most of its history. Japan is sometimes referred to in English as the ―land of the rising sun.‖ Tokyo is the country’s capital and largest city. Mountains dominate Japan’s landscape, covering 75 to 80 percent of the country. Historically, the mountains were barriers to transportation, hindering national integration and limiting the economic development of isolated areas. However, with the development of tunnels, bridges, and air transportation in the modern era, the mountains are no longer formidable barriers. The Japanese have long celebrated the beauty of their mountains in art and literature, and today many mountain areas are preserved in national parks. Most of Japan’s people live on plains and lowlands found mainly along the lower courses of the country’s major rivers, on the lowest slopes of mountain ranges, and along the seacoast. This concentration of people makes Japan one of the world’s most crowded countries. Densities are especially high in the urban corridor between Tokyo and Kōbe, where 45 percent of the country’s population is packed into only 17 percent of its land area. An ethnically and culturally homogeneous nation, Japan has only a few small minority groups and just one major language–Japanese. The dominant religions are Buddhism and Shinto (a religion that originated in Japan). Japan is a major economic power, and average income levels and standards of living are among the highest in the world. The country’s successful economy is based on the export of high-quality consumer goods developed with the latest technologies. Among the products Japan is known for are automobiles, cameras, and electronic goods such as computers, televisions, and sound systems.

An emperor has ruled in Japan since about the 7th century. Military rulers, known as shoguns, arose in the 12th century, sharing power with the emperors for more than 600 years. Beginning in the 17th century, a powerful military government closed the country’s borders to almost all foreigners. Japan entered the 19th century with a prosperous economy and a strong tradition of centralized rule, but it was isolated from the rest of the world and far behind Western nations in technology and military power. When Western nations, eager to trade with Japan, forced the country to open its borders in the mid19th century, Japan’s shogun was ousted in a coup that restored the emperor to power. Under the rule of the Meiji emperor(1868-1912), Japan began a crash program of modernization and industrialization, as well as colonial expansion into Korea, China, and other parts of Asia. By the early 20th century, Japan had won a place among the world’s great powers.

Majestic Kinkaku Temple On the edge of a still pond stands the three-tiered pavilion of Kinkaku Temple (also known as the Golden Pavilion) outside Kyōto. Initially the home of a retiring shogun, the 14th-century structure was later converted to a Buddhist temple. With its gold-leaf ceilings and exquisite symmetry, the historic temple symbolizes both power and tranquillity. Craig Lovell/Corbis

Japan fought on the side of the Axis powers in World War II (1939-1945). By the time the war ended with Japan’s defeat, most of the country’s industrial facilities, transportation networks, and urban infrastructure had been destroyed. Japan also lost its colonial holdings as a result of the war. From 1945 to 1952 the United States and its allies occupied Japan militarily and administered its government. Under a revised constitution, the emperor assumed a primarily symbolic role as the head of state in Japan’s constitutional monarchy. During the postwar period, Japan rapidly rebuilt its economy and society. By the mid-1970s the country had established a lucrative trade with the United States and many other nations, and was well on its way to its present status as a top-ranking global economic power. The portion of the Asian mainland closest to Japan is the Korea Peninsula, which is 200 km (100 mi) away at its nearest point (in South Korea). Japan does not share a land border with any other country, but nearby are far eastern Russia, located to the northwest across the Sea of Okhotsk and the Sea of

Japan (East Sea); South Korea and North Korea, to the west across the Korea Strait and the Sea of Japan; and China and Taiwan, to the southwest across the East China Sea. The introduction to this article was contributed by Roman Cybriwsky.



Geography of Japan

377,837 sq km 145,884 sq mi 29,751 18,486 mi km


Highest point Fuji 3,776 m/12,387 ft

According to legend, the Japanese islands were created by gods, who dipped a jeweled spear into a muddy sea and formed solid earth from its droplets. Scientists now know that the islands are the projecting summits of a huge chain of undersea mountains. Colliding tectonic plates lifted and warped Earth’s crust, causing volcanic eruptions and intrusions of granite that pushed the mountains above the surface of the sea. The forces that created the islands are still at work. Earthquakes occur regularly in Japan, and about 40 of the country’s 188 volcanoes are active, a number representing 10 percent of the world’s active volcanoes. Japan’s total area is 377,837 sq km (145,884 sq mi). Honshū is the largest of the Japanese islands, followed by Hokkaidō, Kyūshū, and Shikoku. Together the four main islands make up about 95 percent of Japan’s territory. More than 3,000 smaller islands constitute the remaining 5 percent. At their greatest length from the northeast to southwest, the main islands stretch about 1,900 km (about 1,200 mi) and span 1,500 km (900 mi) from east to west.

Gateway to the Japanese Alps The Kappa-Bashi Bridge spans the Azusa-gawa in the town of Kamikōchi. Beautifully situated in the Japanese Alps on the central island of Honshū, Kamikōchi is a favorite base for hikers and mountain climbers. Tomomi Saito/Photo Researchers, Inc.

Shown here is a skiing area at Rusutsu Resort. Tōhoku. as well as Shikotan Island and the Habomai island group. Chūgoku. Chūbu. and the Volcano Islands (Kazan Rettō) extend south from Tokyo for 1. Russia has administered the disputed islands. High. steep mountains scored by deep valleys and gorges mark the Pacific side. while lower mountains and plateaus distinguish the Sea of Japan side. (Ogasawara Shotō). lies between Honshū. Shikoku. Okinawa. and the narrow Kammon Strait lies between Honshū and Kyūshū. Sapporo was the site of the 1972 Winter Olympic Games. an arm of the Pacific Ocean. The sea holds more than 1. Kinki. Rusutsu . and Kyūshū. the ―front‖ side facing the Pacific Ocean. Shikoku.000 islands and has two principal access channels. Hokkaidō The mountainous areas around the Japanese city of Sapporo are popular winter recreation sites. extend southwest from Kyūshū for 1. A1 Hokkaidō Rusutsu Resort. and Kyūshū and the Ryukyu Islands. Kii Channel on the east and Bungo Strait on the west. and Sakishima island chains. The largest city on Hokkaidō Island.Japan’s four main islands are separated by narrow straits: Tsugaru Strait lies between Hokkaidō and Honshū.200 km (700 mi). made up of the Amami. A Natural Regions A spine of mountain ranges divides the Japanese archipelago into two halves. and the ―back‖ side facing the Sea of Japan. Since the USSR dissolved in 1991. The Izu Islands. The Inland Sea (Seto Naikai). Japan also includes more distant island groups.100 km (700 mi). the Bonin Islands. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) took control of these islands from Japan after World War II ended in 1945. The Ryukyu Islands (Nansei Shotō). Japan also claims ownership of several islands north of Hokkaidō. Iturup Island (Etorofu-jima) and Kunashir Island (Kunashiri-jima). The country is traditionally divided into eight major regions: Hokkaidō. Kantō. These include the two southernmost Kuril Islands.

Miyagi. Hokkaidō has a number of volcanoes. and the cold currents off its shores supply cold-water fish. the Ishikari Plain. live on the island. Tōhoku’s most important flatland is the Sendai Plain. Tōhoku is mountainous. A3 Kantō Yokohama Bay Bridge . Hokkaidō contains coal deposits.‖ Like Hokkaidō. Many young people move away too. located on the Pacific Ocean side of the region. often permanently.Hokkaidō is Japan’s large northern island.290 m (7. its snowy winters and unspoiled natural beauty attract many skiers and tourists. housing about 5 percent of Japan’s population on approximately 20 percent of its land area. although its population density is about twice that of its northern neighbor. which stands 2. to enter the labor market and build careers in other regions. Most of the remaining Ainu people. Its capital. Tōhoku is an important agricultural area. The island of Hokkaidō forms a single prefecture. Tōhoku has been one of Japan’s slowest growing regions. forested. A2 Tōhoku The northern part of Honshū island is the region known as Tōhoku. Akita. Winters are long and harsh. Hokkaidō also holds one of Japan’s largest alluvial plains. During the cold winters. and generally lightly settled. However. is an important commercial and manufacturing center. Despite a short growing season. Hokkaidō is thought of as Japan’s northern frontier because Japanese people settled it only after the middle of the 19th century. many of Tōhoku’s farmers move to Tokyo and other cities for seasonal work in construction and factories. meaning ―the northeast. Its principal city is Sendai. Sapporo. and Fukushima. In addition. including Asahi Dake. so most of Hokkaidō is lightly settled. Iwate. Yamagata. Consequently. The island’s fertile soils support agriculture and provide the vast majority of Japan’s pasturelands. Tōhoku includes the prefectures of Aomori. Most of the island is mountainous and heavily forested.513 ft) high in the Ishikari Mountains and is the island’s highest peak. who populated Hokkaidō before the arrival of the Japanese.

At least ten peaks in the Alps exceed 3. and Kawasaki.000 m (10. The 3776-m (12. in east central Honshū.000 ft). Yokohama. The prefectures of Kanagawa. Chūbu. Japan This dormant volcano. cultural. the Kiso Mountains (Central Alps). meaning ―central region. Tokyo. Hills and mountains surround the plain on the east. South of Tōhoku on Honshū island is the Kantō region. or about 40 percent of the Kantō region. contains the three parallel mountain ranges that make up the alps: the Hida Mountains (Northern Alps). as well as its most famous peak. and the Akaishi Mountains (Southern Alps). creating one large urban-industrial zone. and it is a frequent subject in Japanese art and literature. Chiba. known as Tōsan. The Japanese Alps run through the center of Chūbu.387-ft) high peak is in Japan’s Chūbu region on central Honshū island.192 m (10. Major nearby cities— Yokohama. and is a popular site for tourism and pilgrimages. and west sides. north. which stands at 3. Masao Hayashi-Dunq/Photo Researchers. Gunma. Chiba. The population of Kantō is the largest of any of Japan’s regions. which contains many small cities and satellite towns. and numerous volcanoes. Covering most of the southern part of the plain is the Tokyo metropolitan area.474 ft) in the northern Akaishi range. The central district. Most of the farms that once covered the Kantō Plain have been replaced by residential.‖ encompasses central Honshū west of Kantō. the plain covers 13. Saitama. Japan’s largest flatland. Inc. commercial. its highest mountains. and economic heart of Japan. A4 Chūbu Fuji. This region contains some of Japan’s longest rivers. Tochigi. the political.000 sq km (5. Fuji. It centers on Japan’s capital city.000 sq mi). while the south side opens to the Pacific Ocean. is Japan’s highest mountain.The Yokohama Bay Bridge crosses part of Tokyo Bay in the heart of the Kantō region. dividing the region into three districts. The bridge reflects the modern character of the region. and the Tokyo Metropolis make up the Kantō region. and industrial construction. Ibaraki. Frilet/Sipa Press/Woodfin Camp and Associates. The highest peak is Kita Dake. which is dominated by an urban-industrial zone that includes the cities of Tokyo. Many shrines and temples are located on Fuji’s slopes. Kantō’s main natural feature is the Kantō Plain. Inc. Most inhabitants of the district live in elevated . and Kawasaki—merge with Tokyo. Chiba.

thousands of climbers ascend the mountain each day.E. It receives heavy winter snowfalls.basins and narrow valleys scattered among the mountains. A5 Kinki .P. Nagoya also had its a strong cultural identity. Nagoya Castle. and its rapidly flowing rivers provide bountiful hydroelectric power. Fuji. Referred to in Japan as Fuji-san. Nagano. a remarkably symmetrical volcanic cone that rises to 3. Ishikawa. Extensive rice fields cover Hokuriku’s plains. Many spend the night in order to see the sun rise the next morning from the horizon on the Pacific Ocean. Nagoya Castle itself was burned down and rebuilt in 1959. Tōkai.387 ft). when the city was a major center during the Edo period. a densely populated agricultural and industrial region.776 m (12. During the July and August climbing season. surrounded by its complex of moats and defenses. Fuji last erupted in 1707. the mountain is beloved by many Japanese and appears often in art and as a symbol of the country. Japan Nagoya Castle. W. is sunnier and warmer. and Aichi. Yamanashi. Gifu. Silk traditionally has been produced in Tōsan’s valleys. although that industry has declined in recent decades. the district east of the alps on the Pacific coast. is a vivid reminder of Nagoya’s feudal past. West of the alps lies the Hokuriku district on the Sea of Japan. Shizuoka. As well as being a wealthy center of trade. Also located in Tōkai is Japan’s highest mountain. Chūbu encompasses the prefectures of Niigata. is located on the Nōbi Plain. However. while its main cities are important manufacturing centers. Toyama. Nagoya. Chūbu’s biggest city. much of this heritage was destroyed by Allied bombing during World War II. Fukui. Most of Japan’s tea is produced there.

The region is also historically and culturally important as the location of the former capital cities of Nara and Kyōto. Wakayama. The outer walls. Japan’s second-most populous region. Known as the White Crane because of its stately form. Kinki holds the Hanshin Industrial Zone. Shiga. Kyōto. defenders poured boiling water or oil on invaders who made it past the first wall. Through apertures in the inner walls. Inc. The prefectures of Ōsaka. designed for defense. feature openings through which weapons were aimed. Masao Hayashi/Photo Researchers.Castle of the White Crane Japan's most magnificent castle is in the town of Himeji. which faces Ōsaka Bay on the Inland Sea and contains Ōsaka. Coastal plains edge Kinki’s mountainous interior. noted for heavy industry and chemical manufacturing. The largest of these is the Ōsaka Plain. Mie. and occupies the Kii Peninsula. Hyōgo. west of Kyōto on the country's main island. and Nara make up the Kinki region. a large thumb of land with heavily indented coasts jutting south into the Pacific Ocean. Kinki spans Honshū from the Sea of Japan to the Inland Sea. Honshū. The Kinki region lies west of Chūbu in west central Honshū. the region’s largest city. A6 Chūgoku . the castle was built starting in the 14th century and is surrounded by moats and high walls.

The Kōchi Plain. called San’yō or ―the sunny side.‖ lies between the Inland Sea and the Sea of Japan at the western end of Honshū. Hiroshima. The opening of three separate bridge systems between Shikoku and . Inc. Traditionally. and vineyards. A7 Shikoku The Shikoku region consists of Shikoku. Relatively low but steep mountains cover most of Shikoku island.‖ is colder. Okayama. terraced rice fields and tightly clustered homes of this agricultural village in the Chūgoku region of Honshū Island are typical of rural Japan. most Japanese lived in villages like this one. the towns of Matsuyama and Takamatsu serve as important regional commercial and industrial centers. Shimane. including the region’s principle city. Tottori.982 m (6. Also located on these plains are several major industrial and port cities. a zone of mild winters in the southern part of Shikoku island. There. which means ―middle country. The Sea of Japan coast. called San’in or ―the shady side. The tallest peak on the island (and in the region) is Mount Ishizuchi at 1. citrus orchards. and Yamaguchi.‖ has a mild climate and a relatively high population density.503 ft). The zone south of the mountains along the Inland Sea. but today most live in cities. The Chūgoku Mountains run from east to west through the center of the region. lacks natural harbors. the smallest of Japan’s four main islands. but these activities have declined due to industrial pollution. Shikoku’s mountainous terrain has limited settlement primarily to coastal plains on the northern shore along the Inland Sea. The Chūgoku region encompasses the prefectures of Hiroshima. Noboru Komine/Photo Researchers.Rural Japan The small. Its warm coastal plains support rice fields. and many small surrounding islands. The Sea of Japan traditionally has been important for fishing and aquaculture (water animal and plant cultivation). and is less urbanized. supports citrus fruits and various vegetables. Chūgoku.

788 m (5.Honshū since 1988 has reduced the region’s isolation. The volcanic cone on Sakurajima. Shikoku includes the prefectures of Kagawa. . some of which are active. Kagoshima. Inc. Ehime. has erupted more than 5. Kyūshū’s volcanic mountain scenery and the resorts built around its thermal hot springs attract many tourists. and the Ryukyu Islands. Kyūshū Thermal activity on Kyūshū makes the Japanese island a popular spot for hot spring resorts. the third largest of Japan’s four major islands.866 ft). The region of Kyūshū and the Ryukyu Islands consists of Kyūshū. Mike Yamashita/Woodfin Camp and Associates. located south of Kyūshū. measuring 1. A8 Kyūshū and the Ryukyu Islands Hot Spring Resort. A notable example is Mount Aso in central Kyūshū.000 times since 1955. Its huge caldera (round or oval-shaped low-lying area that forms when a volcano collapses) measures 80 km (50 mi) in circumference. Shown here is a bath at Myoken Spa. many small surrounding islands. a volcanic island off Kyūshū. The tallest mountain on Kyūshū is Kujū. Kyūshū’s interior is mountainous with numerous volcanoes. Tokushima. Kyūshū. and Kōchi.

Kyūshū’s largest city is Fukuoka. and machinery. The island is connected to the mainland by a bridge and several tunnels.Cinder Cone. Kyūshū A cinder cone rises from the volcanic soil of Aso Kuju National Park on Kyūshū island. Kyūshū’s farmers grow subtropical fruits and raise cattle. chemicals. the Shinkansen. Yamashita/Corbis Coal deposits in northern Kyūshū have made the area an important industrial center. as well as numerous hot springs. Japan . specializing in the production of iron. steel. Island of Okinawa. Mountainous Kyūshū is the site of several active volcanoes. In addition to rice and vegetables. including one for Japan’s high-speed train. Michael S.

Nagasaki. in which more than 140. the North American plate. As the plates push against one another. B Earthquakes Kōbe Earthquake In January 1995 an expressway connecting Kōbe with Ōsaka collapsed during the most deadly earthquake to hit Japan since 1923.200 km (700 mi) in a southwesterly direction from the main islands of Japan. Japan’s largest earthquakes in the 20th century were the Great Kantō Earthquake of 1923. where firestorms.500 earthquakes occur in Japan each year. Lindsay Hebberd/Woodfin Camp and Associates. While most of these are minor and cause no damage. the largest and most populated of the Ryukyu Islands.400 people were killed and hundreds of thousands were left homeless by the quake and resulting fires.000 people died in the Tokyo-Yokohama metropolis. The bathing beaches of Okinawa. they cause violent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. where four tectonic plates—the Pacific plate. Kumamoto. Earthquakes pose such danger to the country . More than 6. Ōita. typically several of them rattle buildings enough to cause dishes to break and goods to topple from shelves. The prefectures of Fukuoka. The Ryukyu chain’s larger islands are volcanic. Inc. Saga. Kagoshima. An earthquake centered offshore may cause a potentially deadly ocean wave called a tsunami. which extend about 1. Their southerly position gives the Ryukyus a warmer climate than Japan’s northern islands.400 people. and Okinawa make up the Kyūshū and Ryukyu Islands region. highways. and the Philippine plate—come together. Occasionally earthquakes are severe enough to cause widespread property damage and loss of life. while the smaller ones are coral formations. the Eurasian plate. raged through the city. The Kōbe quake also caused massive damage to buildings. and the 1995 earthquake in Kōbe that killed more than 6. ignited by the quake. Miyazaki. As many as 1. make it an especially popular tourist destination. The quake devastated parts of Kōbe. Huynh Cong/AP/Wide World Photos Japan lies in a zone of extreme geological instability.Okinawa is the largest of the Ryukyu Islands. Farmers grow sugarcane and pineapples in the islands’ frost-free climate. and other infrastructure in Kōbe and its vicinity.

Sea stacks are formed when waves erode a headland. Michael S. The coastlines of Hokkaidō and western and northern Honshū are relatively straight. the Noto Peninsula. and continued erosion causes the arch to collapse.486 mi). The only conspicuous indentations in this coastline are Wakasa and Toyama bays and one major peninsula.that Japan has become a world leader in earthquake prediction.751 km (18. which flank the peninsula on opposite coasts. and disaster preparedness by both civil defense forces and the general public. earthquake-proof construction techniques. Further erosion widens the tunnel. The western coast of Honshū on the almost tideless Sea of Japan possesses Japan’s largest sandy beaches and its tallest dunes. Japan These sea stacks are located on the coast of the Shakotan Peninsula of Hokkaidō. . eventually producing a sea arch. first cutting a tunnel through it. The eastern coast of Honshū north of Tokyo has few navigable inlets. Yamashita/Corbis Japan has a long and irregular coastline totaling some 29. Japan. The most prominent features of Hokkaidō’s coastline are the Oshima Peninsula at the south end of the island and the Uchiura and Ishikari bays. C Coastline Sea Stacks on Coast of Hokkaidō. leaving an isolated column of rock in front of the headland.

The economic importance of Japan’s coastline is seen in its hundreds of towns and villages given to fishing.Shipping Port on Ise Bay The southern Japanese city of Nagoya is one of the country’s leading seaports and industrial centers. Rivers in Japan often have low water levels during dry seasons but may flood during rainy periods and after winter snows melt. and other uses. All of these bays have major harbors. Only a few are navigable beyond their lower courses. Except in the highest mountains. Japan’s southern Pacific coastline has many large industrial complexes and major harbor facilities like this one. Izu. and Ōsaka Bay at the Kōbe-Ōsaka metropolis. arises in the mountains of central Honshū and flows for 367 km (228 mi) to empty into the Sea of Japan. and aquaculture. oil storage tanks. the Shinano. many rivers have multiple dams and chains of reservoirs to regulate water flow and to supply cities and farms downriver with water for industry. the coastlines of eastern Honshū south of Tokyo and of Kyūshū contain deep indentations resulting from erosion by tides and severe coastal storms. and domestic use. and Kii peninsulas. Ise Bay near Nagoya. The dams also generate electric power. Japan’s most important bays are all on the irregular Pacific coast of central and southern Honshū: Tokyo Bay at Tokyo and Yokohama. as well as in its several major international ports and many huge industrial complexes. Japan’s longest river. D Rivers and Lakes Most of Japan’s rivers are relatively short and swift flowing. irrigation. the courses of almost all rivers have been altered by flood control measures such as artificial channels and levees. Other major rivers are the Tone River in the northern Kantō Plain and the Ishikari River in Hokkaidō. the coastline has been extended by reclamation projects to create new land for sprawling factories. whaling. Inc. Japan’s . In many urbanindustrial areas. Kyūshū’s coastline is marked by the Satsuma and Nagasaki peninsulas and Kagoshima Bay. airports. The eastern coast of central and southern Honshū also contains several of Japan’s most prominent peninsulas: the Chiba. In addition. expanded harbor facilities. By contrast. Most of Japan’s urban centers are located on or near the coast. Gilles Klein/Sipa/Woodfin Camp and Associates.

Biwa is a popular scenic attraction. Biwa. The waters of this lake are acidic and barren of fish. Various types of seaweed grow naturally or are cultivated in offshore waters. and the tree peony. It measures 168 sq km (65 sq mi) and is an important source of eel. The most common varieties of edible seaweed are laver (a purple form of red algae also known as nori). one of the most popular cultivated flowers. and wakame (a large brown algae). Tim Davis/Tony Stone Images More than 17. standing 186 m (610 ft) high. It measures 670 sq km (260 sq mi) and is 104 m (341 ft) deep at its deepest point. Japan’s largest lake. The lotus blooms in August. on the Kurobe River in Toyama Prefecture. Azaleas color the Japanese hills in April. Lake Kussharo in Hokkaidō is an example of a caldera lake. blossoms at the beginning of May.000 species of flowering and nonflowering plants are found in Japan. . It measures 80 sq km (31 sq mi) and has an island in its center formed by a volcano. kelp (a large. lies in central Honshū’s Shiga Prefecture. E Plant and Animal Life Japanese Macaques A group of Japanese macaques groom in a hot spring on a winter day. Japan’s second-largest lake is Kasumigaura. adding variety to the Japanese diet. leafy brown algae also called kombu). and in November the blooming of the chrysanthemum occasions one of the most celebrated of the numerous Japanese flower festivals. an important source of freshwater fish. carp. and a local transportation artery. and other freshwater species.largest dam is the Kurobe Dam. and many are cultivated widely. The habitat of the Japanese macaque is the northernmost of the members of the macaque family. located in the central Honshū prefecture of Ibaraki.

oranges. It is occasionally caught and eaten by humans. poplar. The Japanese giant salamander is found on Kyūshū and western Honshū islands. Unlike most other salamanders. larch. and beech trees. and the warmer parts of Honshū. plums. pears. subtropical trees such as camphors and banyans thrive. and cherries. take three years to mature. from which the resins used to produce lacquer are derived. it never leaves the water. Andrias japonicus. Kyūshū. . where trees are important in soil and water conservation. Tom McHugh/Photo Researchers. Tree types vary with latitude and elevation. Forests cover 66 percent of Japan’s land area. mulberry trees for silk production. and lacquer trees. Japanese cedars and cypress are found throughout wide areas of the country and are prized for their wood.Japanese Giant Salamander One of the largest denizens of Japanese streams is this giant salamander. The female lays eggs in a long string. It preys on crustaceans. and other amphibians and is distinguished by its loose. and chestnuts. which the male guards after he has fertilized each egg. Central Honshū’s more temperate climate supports beech. spruce. In Shikoku. fish. or larvae. wrinkly skin. Forests are concentrated on mountain slopes. They hatch in two to three months. The southern areas also have thick stands of bamboo. The young. Cultivated tree species include fruit trees bearing peaches. along with alder. which grows to about 2 meters (about 5 feet) long and weighs up to 40 kilograms (88 pounds). Inc. and northern fir are most common. Potted miniaturized trees called bonsai are popular among hobbyist gardeners in Japan and are a highly evolved art form. willows. In Hokkaidō.

Mammals include wild boar. Coal deposits in Hokkaidō and Kyūshū are more abundant but are generally low grade. particularly at around latitude 36º north. and as a result the country has developed one of the world’s largest hydroelectric industries. squirrels. and inconveniently located with respect to major cities and industrial areas (the areas of highest demand). The waters off Japan abound with fish and other marine life. Domestic reserves of natural gas are similarly negligible. amphibians. Tokyo Fisheries Experiment Station Japanese animal life includes at least 140 species of mammals. particularly petroleum. a redfaced monkey found throughout Honshū. Foxes and badgers also are numerous and.Japanese Goldfish Goldfish are highly prized in Japan. Water birds are common. however. storks. herons. and various species of bear. deer. house swallows. and ducks. Ranchu. Most conspicuously lacking are fossil fuel resources. are a kind of goldfish popular in Japan. as pets and for their beauty. cormorants. and fish. Japan does have abundant water and hydroelectric potential. The only primate mammal in Japan is the Japanese macaque. rabbits and hares. swans. Small domestic oil fields in northern Honshū and Hokkaidō supply less than 1 percent of the country’s demand. where the cold Oyashio and warm Kuroshio currents meet and create ideal conditions for larger species. including cranes. costly to mine. shown here. possess supernatural powers. according to traditional beliefs. and a wide variety of reptiles. as well. 450 species of birds. The most common birds are sparrows. . and thrushes. F Natural Resources Japan has had to build its enormous industrial output and high standard of living on a comparatively small domestic resource base.

with short. Average annual precipitation in Sapporo is 1. The mountain ranges running through the center of the islands also influence local weather conditions. A month-long rainy season called baiu begins in southern Japan in early June. bauxite. but its great mines at Ashio in central Honshū and Besshi on Shikoku have been depleted and are now closed. violent storms called typhoons come ashore in Japan. the shūrin rains come to much of the country. Japan’s distant tropical islands also suffer typhoon damage. Northern Honshū and Hokkaidō receive relatively little summer precipitation.Japan is also short on metal and mineral resources. Some forests in Hokkaidō and northern Honshū have been logged excessively. its demand for lumber. paper. humid summers. depending on latitude and elevation) is particularly festive.240 mm (88 in). From June to September this pattern reverses. Japan is blessed with bountiful coastal waters that provide the nation with fish and other marine foods. where annual accumulations of 8 to 10 m (26 to 30 ft) are common. lead. then rise as they encounter Japan’s mountain barriers. Hokkaidō and other parts of northern Japan have long. humid summers. as well as with imports. demand is so large that local resources must be supplemented with fish caught by Japanese vessels in distant seas. throughout the summer the Sea of Japan coast is protected from the Pacific influences by the mountains and is relatively dry. It was once a leading producer of copper. traveling north as the month progresses. and marked in most places by four distinct seasons. The heaviest snows are in Nagano Prefecture. cooling further and dropping their moisture in the form of snow. moist air and heavy precipitation to Japan’s Pacific coast. harsh winters and relatively cool summers. G Climate Japan’s climate is rainy and humid. Monsoon winds from the Pacific tropics bring warm. and other wood products exceeds domestic production.130 mm (45 in). often as torrential downpours that trigger landslides and floods. causing local environmental problems. Cold air masses originating over the Asian continent absorb moisture as they pass over the Sea of Japan. The country’s wide range of latitude causes pronounced differences in climate between the north and the south. Meanwhile. mild winters and hot. with frost-free winters. During this period. and the country produces more than 60 percent of its food. pulp. most often in Kyūshū and Shikoku. The season when cherry blossoms open (typically late March to early May. humid weather. Although arable land is limited. Average temperatures in the southern city of Kagoshima are 7°C (45°F) in January and 26°C (79°F) in July. agricultural resources are significant. temperatures average 3°C (38°F) in January and 25°C (77°F) in July. Farther south. In late August and September. zinc. Central Japan has cold but short winters and hot. and other ores are negligible.410 mm (55 in) and in Kagoshima it is 2. Kyūshū is subtropical. Reserves of iron. the Ryukyu Islands are warmer still. Average temperatures in the northern city of Sapporo dip to –5°C (24°F) in January but reach only 20°C (68°F) in July. However. By contrast. Japan’s crop yields per land area sown are among the highest in the world. While the country is heavily forested. Baiu is followed by hot. Autumn and spring are generally pleasant in all parts of Japan. Pacific Japan lies in a snow shadow on the sheltered side of the mountains and experiences fairly dry winters with clear skies. while in Tokyo it is 1. The Sea of Japan side of the country is extremely snowy in winter. The climate of Japan is influenced by the country’s location on the edge of the Pacific Ocean and by its proximity to the Asian continent. In Tokyo in central Honshū. .

mercury contamination in fishing waters caused Minamata disease. It passed successive laws to combat pollution and compensate victims of pollution. Citizen protests like this one sparked environmental reform in Japan during the 1960s and 1970s. From the 1950s to the 1970s. . Some of the worst pollution incidents caused great human suffering. The government took important steps to improve environmental quality in the late 1960s and early 1970s in response to pressure by citizens’ groups. Yamashita/Corbis Japan experienced severe environmental pollution during its push to industrialize in the late 19th century and again during the rush to rebuild the economy after World War II. Japan A crowd of demonstrators march in Kumamoto.H Environmental Issues Environmental Protest. sickening much of the local population. The Nature Conservation Law of 1972 requires that all natural ecosystems be inventoried every five years. and polychlorobiphenyl (PCB) poisoning produced by industry in the 1970s caused other health problems. in Toyama Prefecture. Japan. Japan has enacted some of the world’s strictest legislation for environmental protection. Crusading legislator Tanaka Shōzō led citizen protests that represented an important first step in the creation of a Japanese environmental movement. Significant environmental problems remain. In the early 20th century cadmium poisoning caused an outbreak of a painful bone disease. Since that time. in support of court proceedings against a company accused of dumping the industrial mercury wastes that cause Minimata disease. however. Smog. arsenic poisoning. called itai-itai. Nevertheless. Pollution of bays and other coastal waters is a continuing threat to the fishing and aquaculture industries. One of the first episodes began in the late 19th century. Emissions by power plants and heavy industry have resulted in acid rain (a type of air pollution) and increasing acidity of freshwater lakes. more environmental disasters followed. Michael S. an affliction of the central nervous system named after the town in Kyūshū where thousands became ill and hundreds died. when copper mining operations released effluents that contaminated rivers and rice fields in the mountains of central Honshū. In 1971 it established the Environmental Agency to monitor and regulate pollution.

The Land and Resources section of this article was contributed by Roman Cybriwsky.459 (2007) Official language Chief religious affiliations Japanese Buddhist. In September 1999 Japan’s worst nuclear accident occurred at a uranium processing plant in Tokaimura when human error caused an uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction and leak. with population Tokyo. the total amount of garbage produced per person has increased sharply since the mid-1980s.983 Ōsaka. and the country faces a severe shortage of landfill sites. An extensive series of wildlife preserves and special wildlife sanctuaries covers more than 8 percent of the land. exposing nearly 70 workers to high doses of radiation. importation of nuclear fuel. 3 percent 55 4 percent percent Life expectancy Infant mortality rate Literacy rate 82. the country’s high reliance on nuclear energy poses some environmental hazards. Japan has 28 major national parks and more than 350 lesser parks. In addition.1 years (2008 estimate) 3 deaths per 1. covering more than 14 percent of the country. Despite successes in promoting recycling and reuse. 8.695 Yokohama.510. The United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency reported that the incident did not cause any lasting harm to the surrounding population and environment. Shintoist. Per capita domestic visits to national parks are among the highest in the world. 2. 3. The Japanese are passionate about their country’s natural heritage.000 live births (2008 estimate) 99 percent (1995) Japanese Kimonos .339. III PEOPLE AND SOCIETY People of Japan Population Population density 127. Christian.562.288.Smog continues to plague traffic-choked urban areas. Risks are involved with nuclear waste storage. and export of spent fuel for reprocessing. Waste disposal is a mounting problem in Japan’s urban areas. At least 28 marine parks have also been established.420 (2008 estimate) 340 persons per sq 880 persons per sq mi (2008 estimate) 34 percent (2005 estimate) (2007) (2007) km Urban population distribution 66 percent (2005 estimate) Rural population distribution Largest cities.

000 in 1955 to an estimated 4. At present.000 persons per sq km (about 33. when it was common for couples to have three or more children.2 percent in 1998. Inc. Life expectancy increased over the same period. Sumo Wrestling The Image Bank The age structure of Japan’s population has changed tremendously in recent decades.288. it is also one of the slowest growing. These women have wrapped their kimonos with a sash called an obi. In 1995 Japan’s elderly outnumbered its youth for the first time in the country’s history. The slow rate of increase is due to low birthrates (7. It is also one of the most crowded. where overall population density is about 13. Birthrates are now less than one-third what they were in Japan before the 1950s. The population is distributed unevenly within the country. The prospect of such significant decline raises worries in Japan about whether the country will have a sufficient labor force to meet economic needs and enough people of working age to support the growing proportion of the population that is elderly.14 percent. The total population of the country is expected to begin declining soon because Japan’s net reproduction rate has been below 1. Japan ranks as the world’s ninth most populous nation. The number of people in Japan aged 85 or over increased from 134.420 (2008 estimate). Though most Japanese now wear Western-style clothing.4 percent in 1950 to 15. and is now 86 years for females and 79 years for males. The segment of the population between the ages of 0 and 14 declined from 35. largely due to improved health conditions.The kimono. the annual population growth rate is -0. Susan McCartney/Photo Researchers. The most crowded area is central Tokyo.5. Projections call for population totals of about 118 million in 2025 and about 94 million in 2050.0 percent. .9 births per 1. is the traditional garment of Japan.000 people in 2008) and a relatively low rate of foreign immigration. Densities range from very low levels in the steep mountain areas of Hokkaidō and the interior of Honshū island to extraordinarily high levels in the urban areas on Japan’s larger plains.0 for a number of years (meaning that the Japanese population is not replacing itself). Although Japan is one of the world’s most populous and crowded countries.3 million in 1998. while the number of people aged 65 or older increased from 4.000 per sq mi). with an average population density of 340 persons per sq km (880 per sq mi).9 percent to 16. in both cases the highest expected longevity in the world. they wear kimonos on holidays and other special occasions. a robelike dress. About 66 percent of Japan’s people are concentrated in urban areas. making Japan one of the most heavily urbanized nations in the world. The average number of children per couple in Japan is now less than 1. with a population of 127.

Steve Vidler /eStock Photo Japan’s largest city is Tokyo. a busy commercial center. . Japan’s second largest city is Yokohama. a hub of Japan’s preeminent Keihin Industrial Zone (an area of industrial concentration). It grew quickly and continues to be Japan’s largest port. In addition to being the center of government. Ōsaka was an important commercial center and castle town. The third largest city in the country is Ōsaka. the settlement became a major port and international trade center after it was opened to foreign commerce in 1859. and along with Tokyo and neighboring Kawasaki. higher education. Tokyo ranks as the most populated metropolitan area in the world. and other businesses.A Principal Cities Tokyo. Today it is the leading financial center of western Japan and the principal city of the Hanshin Industrial Zone. Japan Mount Fuji rises behind the skyline of Tokyo. with about 35 million inhabitants in 2003. It is also a leading center of manufacturing. banks. the capital and largest city of Japan. It is the most populated metropolitan area in the world. and cultural center. and communications. Tokyo serves as Japan’s financial. commercial. Even in Japan’s feudal era. located near Tokyo in Kanagawa Prefecture. the national capital. home to most of the country’s largest corporations. educational. and it was known as ―Japan’s kitchen‖ because of its role in warehousing rice for the nation. Tokyo is Japan’s principal commercial center. industrial. Originally a small fishing village.

Tokyo by Night Tokyo. It has been nicknamed the Venice of Japan because of its numerous canals and rivers. is a major port and a center for finance and transportation. is especially famous as an ancient capital of Japan and the site of many historic temples. a major port and shipbuilding center. Wernher Krutein Other major cities are Nagoya. Paul Hurd/ALLSTOCK. . and brightly lit store windows. Sapporo. It is also known for manufacturing silk brocades and textiles. Other neighborhoods offer similar land-use mixtures. INC. Hokkaidō’s capital and an important food-processing center. and restaurants cluster around railroad stations. Ōsaka. and traditional gardens. hotels. Tokyo has no single central business district. and Kōbe. the focus of the Chūkyō Industrial Zone and a major port on Ise Bay. on southern Honshū Island. office buildings. Japan. Japan Two women walk along the landscaped banks of a canal in Ōsaka. Japan’s seventh-largest city. Ōsaka. glitters by night with street lights. electric signs. shrines. by some measures the world's largest city. Kyōto. but rather areas scattered throughout the city where shops.

The Ainu once inhabited a wider area of northern Japan but are now concentrated in a few settlements on Hokkaidō. All told. Japan is also home to comparatively small groups of Koreans. and arms began in childhood and was completed by the age of 15 or 16. and residents from other countries. George Holton/Photo Researchers.000 native Ainu. the indigenous people of Japan. the Japanese people are believed to have migrated to the islands of present-day Japan from the Asian continent and the South Pacific more than 2. who arrived long before the first Japanese. Altaic. This heavily urbanized strip is known as the Tōkaidō Megalopolis. Closely related to other East Asians. making Japan one of the most homogeneous countries in the world in terms of ethnic or national composition. the non-Japanese portion of the population totals no more than 2 percent.Most of these major cities are crowded into a relatively small area of land along the Pacific coast of Honshū. The cities are now interconnected by expressways and Japan’s high-speed Shinkansen railway. Tattooing of a girl's lips. Chinese. Their physical characteristics suggested to early anthropologists that they were Caucasoid (ultimately originating in southeastern Europe) or Australoid (originating in Australia and Southeast Asia). The Ainu are Japan’s only indigenous ethnic group. and Kaneto Kawamura (18931977). Pictured here are two Ainu elders. very few native speakers of the Ainu language remain. and Uralic peoples of Siberia. . More recent scholarship suggests that they are related to the Tungusic. B Ethnic Groups Ainu in Traditional Costume The Ainu.000 years ago. traditional belief holds that they descended from the earliest settlers of Japan. The overwhelming majority of Japan’s population is ethnically Japanese. signaling her eligibility for marriage. named for a historic highway that connected Tokyo with Kyōto. between Tokyo and Kōbe. left. Although the origins of the Ainu are uncertain. Inc. Of the current population of about 20. Ainu women traditionally had a dark border tattooed around their lips as a sign of their adulthood and beauty. Tosa Monno (1903-1986). today live primarily on Hokkaidō island in Japan. hands.

and Iran have come to Japan on temporary visas to work in construction and industry doing so-called 3K jobs (kitsui. Newspapers tend to mix the two styles. and Americans also live in Japan. but they face roadblocks to full citizenship and often suffer discrimination. the Philippines. and a rich material culture. Many Koreans living in Japan today are the children of these unwilling immigrants. fishing. Pakistan. some of whom were likewise forcibly relocated during Japan’s occupation of Taiwan in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. or ―difficult. kitanai. When the Japanese colonized Korea in the early 20th century. or in tourism in their distinctive villages. they forced many Koreans to move to Japan to work in Japanese mines and factories. and kiken. Koreans are the largest nonnative group in Japan. dirty. Taizo Ochiai/Mainichi Newspapers . The next-largest group is the Chinese. or horizontally from left to right. Sizable communities of Brazilians. Koreans make up more than 51 percent of all foreign residents in Japan. Bangladesh. They have permanent resident status in Japan and most rights of citizenship. and dangerous‖) that Japanese workers avoid. and logging.The Ainu have a distinct language and religious beliefs. Since the 1980s workers from Asian countries such as China. Filipinos. The newspaper featured here has vertical text in the main body of the page. These foreign workers often live in inferior conditions and are generally shunned by many Japanese. C Language Japanese Newspaper The Japanese language can be written vertically from right to left. Many engage in agriculture. and horizontal text in the right column.

Japanese is the official language of Japan. The Japanese language is distinctive and of unknown origin. However, it has some relation to the Altaic languages of central Asia and to Korean, which may also be an Altaic language. Linguists also find similarities between Japanese and the Austronesian languages of the South Pacific. Japanese has a number of regional dialects. Standard Japanese, the form heard most commonly on national television and radio, is traditionally the dialect of educated people in Tokyo but is now understood everywhere in Japan. Although standard Japanese has begun to replace some regional accents, many of these remain quite strong and distinctive. For example, dialects spoken in southern Japan—most notably on Kyūshū and Okinawa—are virtually incomprehensible to speakers of other dialects. Residents of western Japan around Ōsaka, Kyōto, and Kōbe also speak with distinctive accents. Japanese speech is sensitive to social relationships. Several degrees of politeness and familiarity exist to distinguish between superiors, equals, and inferiors based on factors such as age, sex, and social status.

Japanese Calligraphy This hanging scroll is an example of Japanese calligraphy. Although calligraphy is generally considered a form of lettering, it is also a drawing style. The lettering and figure of a sage are done in ink, using a brush. The rectangular forms are made with stamps, using red ink. Bridgeman Art Library, London/New York

Japanese was solely a spoken language before the Chinese writing system was introduced to Japan in about the 5th century. By the 9th century, Japanese people had adapted Chinese writing to their own

language and assimilated many Chinese words. Modern Japanese writing combines Chinese characters (kanji) with two syllabaries (alphabets in which each symbol represents a syllable), hiragana and

katakana. Kanji are used to write native Japanese nouns and verbs, as well as the many Japanese
words that originated in Chinese. Although there are tens of thousands of kanji, the government has identified about 2,000 for daily use. The hiragana syllabary is used for grammatical elements and word suffixes, while non-Chinese foreign words are written using katakana. Japanese includes many such loan words taken from Portuguese, Dutch, German, and, increasingly, English. An example from English is kompūtā, the Japanese word for computer. The Roman alphabet also is used commonly in advertisements and for emphasis and visual impact. It is not uncommon to see kanji, katakana, hiragana, and roman letters all used in the same sentence. Japanese is usually written vertically and from right to left across a page. Thus, the first page of a Japanese book is what readers of English would normally think of as the last page. In modern times, Japan has adopted the Western style of writing horizontally and from left to right for some publications, such as textbooks. Written or printed Japanese has no spaces between words. Ainu is Japan’s only other indigenous language. It is apparently unrelated to Japanese and is now nearly extinct. Korean and Chinese residents of Japan usually speak Japanese as their first language. Many Japanese students study foreign languages, most commonly English.



Shinto Shrine This Shinto shrine is covered with traditional Japanese prayer cards. By tying prayers (or fortunes) to shrines or trees, the Japanese connect with Shinto deities. These deities, or Kami, are mainly divinities personifying the natural world, such as the sky, the earth, or aspects of the weather. Almost all Japanese practice some aspect of the Shinto religion. David Stoecklein/ALLSTOCK, INC.

Japan is primarily a secular society in which religion is not a central factor in most people’s daily lives. Yet certain religious traditions and practices are vitally important and help define the society, and most Japanese people profess at least some religious adherence.

The dominant religions in Japan are Shinto and Buddhism. Shinto is native to Japan. Generally translated as ―the Way of the Gods,‖ Shinto is a mixture of religious beliefs and practices, and its roots date back to prehistory. It was first mentioned in 720 in the Nihon shoki, Japan’s earliest historical chronicle. Unlike most major world religions, Shinto has no organized body of teachings, no recognized historical founder, and no moral code. Instead, it focuses on worship of nature, ancestors, and a pantheon of kami, sacred spirits or gods that personify aspects of the natural world. From 1868 to 1945, under the Japanese imperial government, Shinto was Japan’s state religion. After Japan’s defeat in World War II, the occupation government separated Shinto from state support. Buddhism originated in India, arriving in Japan in the 6th century by way of China and Korea. In the centuries that followed, numerous Buddhist sects took root in Japan, among them Zen Buddhism. Zen was introduced from China in the 12th century and quickly became popular among the dominant warrior class under the rule of Japan’s first shogunate (military government), the Kamakura. Today the largest Buddhist sect in Japan is the Nichiren school. Shinto and Buddhism have been intertwined in Japanese society for centuries, and a majority of the population identify themselves as members of one or both of these religions. Indeed, most Japanese blend the two, preferring attendance at Shinto shrines for some events—such as New Year’s Day, wedding ceremonies, and the official start of adulthood at age 20—and Buddhist ceremonies for other events, most notably Bon (a midsummer celebration honoring ancestral spirits) and funerals. Confucianism and Daoism, which came to Japan from China by way of Korea, have also profoundly influenced Japanese religious life. More than 20 million Japanese are members of various shinkō shūkyō, or ―new religions.‖ The largest of these are Sōka Gakkai and Risshō Kōseikai, offshoots of Nichiren Buddhism, and Tenrikyō, an offshoot of Shinto. Most of the new religions were founded by charismatic leaders who have claimed profound spiritual or supernatural experiences and expect considerable devotion and sacrifices from members. Although it is very small in comparison to other religions, one of Japan’s new religions, Aum Shinrikyo, gained considerable notoriety when some of its members released nerve gas into the Tokyo subway system in 1995, killing 12 people and injuring more than 5,000.

Small communities of followers of other world faiths live in Japan as well. depending on the region. Japan also has a significant minority of Christians. Portuguese and Spanish missionaries introduced Christianity to Japan in the 16th century. Here. known as Bon in Japan. According to tradition. Inc. E Education . Karen Kasmauski/Woodfin Camp and Associates. The religion made strong inroads there until the Japanese government banned it as a potential threat to the country’s political sovereignty from the mid-17th century to the mid-19th century. Lanterns are lit to guide them. Today.Bon Festival in Hiroshima The Mahayana Buddhist festival of Ullambana. the lanterns float in front of the Atomic Bomb Memorial Dome in Hiroshima. and about one-third are Roman Catholics. this is when the ancestral spirits return to their former homes. constituting about 4 percent of the population. about twothirds of Japan’s Christians are Protestants. is held in mid-July or mid-August.

Often translated into English as ―cram schools.Corash/United Nations With an adult literacy rate exceeding 99 percent. Japanese students take calligraphy classes to learn the art of fine handwriting. In almost all schools. Japan ranks among the top nations in the world in educational attainment. In 1998 there were 604 fouryear universities in Japan and 588 two-year junior colleges. In addition to their regular schooling.‖ these schools offer supplementary lessons after school hours and on weekends. Schooling generally begins before grade one in preschool (yōchien) and is free and compulsory for elementary and junior high school (grades 1 through 9). A disappointing score on a college . Most students who finish junior high school continue on to senior high school (grades 10 through 12). the capital of Japan. students wear uniforms and adhere to strict rules regarding appearance. Students who are preparing for college entrance examinations attend special schools called yobikō. More than 99 percent of elementary school-aged children attend school. Students attend classes five full weekdays in addition to half days on Saturdays. some students—particularly students at the junior high school level—enroll in specialized private schools called juku. Whether public or private. Most high schools and universities admit students on the basis of difficult entrance examinations. high schools are ranked informally according to their success at placing graduates into elite universities. Approximately one-third of senior high school graduates then continue on for higher education. Nearly 25 percent of high schools are private. and Keio University in Tokyo. Kyōto University. and on average do considerably more homework each day than American students do. as well as tutoring to improve scores on senior high school entrance examinations. J. Important and prestigious universities include the University of Tokyo.Calligraphy Student A child learns to write his characters in calligraphy school in Tokyo. The school year in Japan typically runs from April through March and is divided into trimesters separated by vacation holidays. About 1 percent of elementary schools and 5 percent of junior high schools are private. Competition to get into the best high schools and universities is fierce because Japan’s most prestigious jobs typically go to graduates of elite universities.

such as disposing of the dead and slaughtering animals. as evidenced by the discrimination in employment. From about 1640 to 1868. some significant social differences do exist in Japan.entrance examination means that a student must settle for a lesser college. Two periods of social upheaval in the modern era did much to soften these class divisions. Japanese men and women experienced greater freedom in making personal decisions. In 1867 there were more than 14. favoring memorization of facts at the expense of creative expression. Nevertheless. The early history of education in Japan was rooted in ideas and teachings from China. and a remarkable 90 percent or more of Japanese people consider themselves middle class. During this period. decide not to attend college at all. a guarantee of equal access to free. Changes included the present grade structure of six years of elementary school and three years each of junior and senior high school. and marriage faced by the country’s Korean minority and by its burakumin. education became increasingly nationalistic and militaristic. European missionaries also influenced Japanese schooling. or study for a year or more at a yobikō in preparation to retake the examination. Kōbe. with the largest concentrations living in the urban area encompassing Ōsaka. Japan does not exhibit the deep ethnic. such as choosing a spouse or career. education. As a result of this change.000 temple schools in Japan. and geared to encouraging social conformity. and class divisions that characterize many countries. Nevertheless. and today they generally intermingle with the rest of the population. public education. or about 2 percent of the national population. Buddhist temple schools called terakoya assumed responsibility for education and made great strides in raising literacy levels among the general population. during Japan’s period of isolation under the Tokugawa shoguns. for centuries they were treated as a separate population because they worked in occupations that were considered unclean. . The first was the push for modernization under the Meiji government at the end of the 19th century. In 1872 the new Meiji government established a ministry of education and a comprehensive educational code that included universal primary education. Japan looked to nations in Europe and North America for educational models. F Social Structure A largely homogeneous society. They are scattered in various parts of the country. The number of burakumin is thought to be about 3 million. usually in discrete communities. However. Reforms also sought to encourage students’ self-expression and increase flexibility in curriculum and classroom procedures. and an end to the teaching of nationalist ideology. when profound social and economic distinctions were maintained between Japan’s aristocracy and its commoners. their descendants still suffer discrimination in Japan. Among the most profound of the transformations that took place in the modern era was the empowerment of individuals rather than extended families and family lines as the fundamental units of society. Burakumin means ―hamlet people. Despite laws to the contrary. After Japan’s defeat in World War II. and Kyōto. the second was the period of Allied occupation after World War II. This contrasts with most of Japan’s previous recorded history. As the Japanese empire expanded during the 1930s and 1940s. some observers still believe that education in Japan is excessively rigid. The gaps between rich and poor are not as glaring in Japan as they are in many countries. Burakumin are indistinguishable from Japanese racially or culturally. In the 16th and early 17th centuries. the educational system was revamped.‖ a name that refers to the segregated villages these people lived in during Japan’s feudal era. religious.

to forgo personal gain for the benefit of the group as a whole. Most groups are structured hierarchically. extracurricular clubs during senior high school and college. Japan’s agricultural population. the Japanese nation as a whole may be thought of as a group to which its citizens belong and have obligations. most of the population resides in metropolitan areas. Daily commutes by bus. upon entering adulthood. most Japanese people lived in agricultural villages or small fishing settlements along the coast. neighborhood. which has been declining since the 1950s. constituted only about 5 percent of the total population in the early 2000s. the workplace. the individual is taught to be dedicated to the group. Tokyo Many Japanese people commute a long way to work each day. Everyday life for most urban Japanese involves work in an office. Membership in groups expands with age to include the individual’s class in school. All along. At the highest level. or subway are typically long. or other segment of the metropolitan economy. train. and socialization of young people in Japan emphasizes respect and deference to one’s seniors. Seniority has traditionally been the main qualification for higher rank. Historically. Japanese children learn group consciousness at an early age within the family. factory. Inc. and. Kima Newton/Woodfin Camp and Associates. Individual members have a designated rank within the group and responsibilities based on their position. In Tokyo. G Way of Life Crowded Commuter Train. Trains and subways can become very crowded during peak commuting hours. Now. some stations have ―people pushers‖ to help cram as many people as possible onto the trains.Despite the shift toward individual empowerment. store. particularly in . the basic group of society. and to value group harmony. Japanese society remains significantly grouporiented compared to societies in the West. A disproportionate fraction of the population that has remained to live and work in Japan’s agricultural areas is elderly because the majority of migrants to cities are young. The form of character building that instills these values is called seishin shūyō.

department stores and shopping malls are jammed with crowds of bargain hunters. Japan’s traditional style of wrestling. Likewise. The object of the sport is to push the opponent out of the ring. The commute is also extraordinarily crowded. Nevertheless. Sumo Wrestling Match Sumo wrestling is a popular spectator sport in Japan. Sundays are the busiest shopping days in Japan. many borrowed from other cultures. Between 1968 and 1994 the number of Japanese traveling abroad each year increased from 344. for example. imported from the United States in the late 19th century. some commuter lines employ ―pushers‖ to shove riders into jam-packed train or subway cars before the doors slide closed. or force his body to touch the mat below the knees. Japanese sports fans give equal weight to sumo. many Japanese enjoy a high standard of living and comforts such as the latest fashions in clothing. The Japanese diet. new appliances and electronics. emphasizes rice.5 million. Australia. Arranged marriages. dating back hundreds of years. Size is an advantage in sumo wrestling. and other items that have been staples in the society for centuries. During rush hours. .Tokyo. Contemporary weddings in Japan often combine traditional Shinto ceremonies. During the afternoon hours.000 to 13. New York City. Nevertheless. and new models of automobiles. Japanese also enjoy travel and often go abroad or to popular domestic resorts during holidays. as to baseball. Japanese life blends traditions from the past with new activities. Hong Kong. with Western-style exchanges of wedding bands. common in Japan before World War II. seafood. but also includes international cuisine such as Italian and Chinese dishes. and the major capitals of Europe. the tradition of family involvement in selecting a mate endures. have declined in favor of so-called love marriages based on a couple’s mutual attraction. such as ritual exchanges of sake (rice wine). Among the most popular destinations are Hawaii and the West Coast of the United States. so wrestlers strive to gain weight. and arranged marriages still occur. REUTERS/THE BETTMANN ARCHIVE Most houses and apartments are small in comparison to those in many other developed countries because of the country’s high population density and costly land. and American-style fast-food hamburgers and French fries.

a traditional midsummer honoring of ancestral spirits. signaling the arrival of spring. such as golf. The emperor’s birthday is also a national holiday. Professional Japanese baseball teams draw millions of fans each year. Adult’s Day. Baseball is a popular sport at all levels in Japan.Young Sluggers. when people eat special foods. many Japanese enjoy travel and leisure activities. and the annual national high school baseball tournament is one of biggest sporting events in the world. tennis. visit Shinto shrines. Robert Holmes/Corbis Major holiday celebrations in Japan include Bon. and the New Year. is celebrated to honor all young people who turned 20 in the past year. and hiking. During Golden Week. people celebrate with picnics under the trees. a time in late April and early May when several holidays come together. . when families with young boys fly giant carp (a symbol of success) made of cloth or paper from the roofs of their houses. Each year on May 5 the Japanese celebrate Children’s Day. Tokyo A junior league baseball team mugs for the camera in Tokyo. on January 15. and Respect for the Aged Day is observed on September 15. and call on family and friends. When Japan’s cherry trees blossom.

small cakes of cooked rice that are filled or topped with other ingredients. Lifetime job security. and gambling. others long-term and slowly improving. causing the gift-giving tradition to become a significant financial support for Japan’s manufacturing sector. Quite a few of them were brought to these circumstances by alcoholism or mental illness.Sushi A staple of the Japanese diet. rice is often used to make sushi. Japan is a stable country with a high degree of domestic tranquility. some of them new and worsening. However. Some of the most difficult recent troubles arose from the economic recession that began in Japan in the 1990s. the attitude that women should . These people exile themselves to one of the many communities of newly homeless people. Crime is another growing problem. and its package delivery services. Japanese are greatly concerned about recent increases in violent crime and crimes against property. Sometimes people who lose their jobs or suffer the failure of a business feel too ashamed to face their families in Japan’s tradition-bound society. Efforts to increase women’s opportunities have enabled more women to succeed in business or professions. but most attribute the problem to the combination of economic recession and the high desirability of consumer goods among the younger generation. as shown here. unemployment was virtually unknown in Japan to all but the oldest citizens who lived through the economic chaos of the years immediately after World War II. but the number of people who are homeless because of unemployment has risen. Nevertheless. H Social Issues For the most part. no longer exists in many companies. Organized crime by mobsters known as yakuza continues to be a strong force in Japan. and in general women do not have equal access to employment opportunities and advancement within the ranks of a company or along a career path. Until recently. The prolonged recession is one of the chief causes of an increase in homelessness in Japan. mostly middle-aged and older men. expensive concert tickets. during the 1990s unemployment rose as companies and financial institutions that were once thought to be financially solid cut back on their workforces or closed altogether. and selecting a gift involves elaborate rules and customs about what kinds of gifts are appropriate in the precise situation. fewer women than men attend four-year universities. Yet the country faces a number of social problems. An important long-term social problem in Japan concerns the status of women. and Japanese law affords women the same economic and social rights as men. and other desired items. and experienced workers now find themselves competing for inferior jobs with younger people looking for entry-level positions. These girls are seeking money for the latest clothing fashions. once a hallmark of Japan’s economy. Some fault the growing number of foreigners in Japan for rising crime. The total cost of gifts exchanged is high. Esbin-Anderson/The Image Works Japanese engage in ritual gift giving during New Year’s and at midsummer. However. Although Japan is one of the safest countries in the world. A particularly disturbing aspect of the problem reported widely in the Japanese media has been the large increase in prostitution among high school girls. The Japanese constitution forbids discrimination on the basis of sex. the country’s retail enterprises. Tokyo and other cities have thousands of homeless people. pornography. Strong social obligations dictate who must give gifts to whom. controlling prostitution. The younger generation in turn is finding it hard to enter the economy because jobs that were once plentiful for high school and college graduates are now in short supply.

Furthermore.stay home to be wives and mothers remains more pervasive in Japan than in many other industrialized countries and is a roadblock to many women who opt for other challenges. unemployment compensation. Third. I Social Services Japan has a well-developed social welfare system designed to protect the quality of life of legal residents against a broad range of social and economic risks. as well as by subsidies from government funds. and public pensions. which added to the number of people receiving public assistance. The recession of the 1990s. IV ARTS AND CULTURE . Subsidized nursing homes. providing for the needs of the elderly is becoming harder for the government. the system provides social welfare services to address various special needs of the aged. and recreational activities at community centers are services for the elderly that may be impossible to provide in the future. The problem is made worse because the time-honored tradition of family members taking care of aged relatives is declining in Japan. First. low-cost medical care. the disabled. through public assistance it provides a basic income for people unable to earn enough on their own for subsistence. has posed major challenges for Japan’s welfare system. The cost of social welfare has risen in Japan and accounted for nearly 20 percent of the national budget in 1995. with the country’s rapidly aging population. it provides citizens with social insurance in the form of health and medical coverage. The system has four principal components. home care. and children. it provides public health maintenance to attend to sanitation and environmental issues and to safeguard the public from infectious diseases. Second. regular health examinations. putting more of the burden for care on government. The People and Society section of this article was contributed by Roman Cybriwsky. Most social insurance programs are funded by contributions from employers and employees. And finally.

the arts were almost exclusively the preserve of the ruling elite. and finally transformation of these elements into uniquely Japanese art forms. ARS Planning Cultural imports began to arrive in Japan from continental East Asia around 300 BC. In the middle of the 6th century.Himeji Castle. Japan Himeji Castle in Hyōgo Prefecture. weapons that had recently been introduced to Japan from Europe. For most of the 8th century the court was located . The design of the castle was an attempt to combine strength and elegance. followed by assimilation of foreign traditions with native ones. Japan borrowed primarily from China and Korea in premodern times and from the West in the modern age. Buddhism was particularly important. not only as a religion but also as a source of art. Japan. especially in the form of temples and statues. The high rock wall on which the castle sits was necessary to protect the inhabitants from firearms. the Kofun period endured from the early 4th to the 6th century AD. some evidence indicates that the Japanese initially were drawn more to its architecture and art than to its religious doctrines. Japan embarked on a second phase of extensive cultural borrowing from the Asian continent—largely from China. These new technologies eventually helped build a more complex Japanese society. A Historical Development Festival on the Water. Although Buddhism eventually became a major religion of Japan. This woodcut is a relatively late work from the Edo period. In Japan’s first state. Japan Festivals on the water were one of the great sights of Edo (now known as Tokyo). Named for these tombs. Continuum Productions Corporation/Werner Forman Japanese cultural history is marked by periods of extensive borrowing from other civilizations. Among the major imports from China were Buddhism and Confucianism. In this print a crowd crosses Nihonbashi in the centre of Edo. whose most remarkable and enduring structures were huge. a class of courtiers who served as ministers to the emperor. key-shaped tombs. while boats of revelers sail the waters on a summer evening. The building is made of wood coated with white plaster. starting with agriculture and the use of metals. was originally built in the 14th century but was rebuilt in its present form in 1609.

known as the Heian period (794-1185). In a so-called dry garden like this one. architecture (especially residential architecture). Poetry flourished especially. Dry gardens were developed by Zen Buddhist priests as an aid to meditation and are sometimes called Zen gardens. . the emperor’s courtiers had developed a brilliant culture and lifestyle that owed much to China but was still uniquely Japanese. a class of warriors (samurai) emerged in the provinces. but important developments also took place in prose literature. music. Japan entered a feudal era of frequent wars and samurai dominance that would last for nearly four centuries. At the end of the 8th century the capital moved to Heian-kyō (modern Kyōto). raked white sand or pebbles take the place of water and appear to flow past rocks and under a stone bridge. and painting (both Buddhist and secular). Japan. In the late 12th century the first warrior government (known as a shogunate) was established at Kamakura. Haruzo Ohashi As the Heian court reached its height of cultural brilliance. Kyōto The Daisenin Garden occupies a confined area at the Daitokuji Temple in Kyōto.at Nara. the first capital of Japan. By the beginning of the 11th century. Japanese Dry Garden. first under the Kamakura and then under the Ashikaga shoguns. and Japan entered its classical age. however. which gave its name to the Nara period (710-794).

and color. Although the Kyōto courtiers lost their political power to the samurai. and histories of Buddhist temples and of shrines of Japan’s native religion. Anonymous war tales were among the major achievements in prose. . and twigs as well as flowers can be used.Ikebana Arrangement Ikebana is the Japanese art of flower arranging and has its origins in Buddhism. Warrior society contributed to the national culture as well. they continued to produce outstanding poetry. Lowell Georgia/Corbis The culture of the Kamakura period (1185-1333) is noteworthy particularly for its poetry. There should be three elements to an ikebana arrangement. shape. and they should complement each other in line. Painters produced narrative picture scrolls depicting military and religious subjects such as battles. prose. Mosses. fungi. Shinto. the lives of Buddhist priests. and painting.

Bridgeman Art Library. Japan again sent missions to China. as well as countless objects of art and craft. with knots and couched and raised work. also developed at this time. performed for the upper classes of society. During the reign of the Ashikaga (known as the Muromachi period). in which several poets take turns composing alternate verses of a single long poem. satin and stem. or linked verse. The piece is part of the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum. Then in 1338 the Ashikaga shoguns established their seat near the emperor’s court in the Muromachi district of Kyōto. the tea ceremony. contributed to the development of Muromachi-period artistic forms. London/New York The Kamakura shogunate ended with a brief attempt to restore imperial rule. London. The poetic form of renga. The stitches used are long and short. a gathering of people to drink tea according to prescribed etiquette. which lasted until 1573. This time they brought back the latest teachings of Zen Buddhism and Neo-Confucianism.Japanese Embroidery This example of Japanese embroidery is from the second half of the 19th century. . Chinese monochrome ink painting became the principal painting style. The satin fabric is embroidered with colored silk and silver gilt thread in a classical design. Dramatists created classical nō theater. evolved. became popular among all classes of society. which had been introduced to Japan during the Kamakura period. Zen Buddhism. The linked verse style. And beginning in the 15th century.

The bamboo screen provided privacy while still allowing easy access for customers. and cities grew larger than they had ever been. and brothels of the areas known as the pleasure quarters. Domestic commerce thrived. while the shoji (rice-paper screens) allowed light into the interior while maintaining privacy. the puppet and kabuki theaters. and Kyōto. These so-called chōnin. bourgeois culture that included 17-syllable haiku poetry. prose literature of the pleasure quarters.Japanese Merchant’s House This reconstruction of a traditional merchant’s house in Japan shows some characteristic features of Japanese architecture. . produced a new. closing its borders to almost all foreigners. In great cities such as Edo. in a country where glass was once uncommon. The overhang of the tiled roof gave protection from the rain to those standing outside. the urban class dominated by merchants. performers and courtesans mingled with rich merchants and idle samurai in the restaurants. the Tokugawa shogunate. and the art of the wood-block print. and Japan entered a long period of peace that historians consider the beginning of the country’s modern age. During this era. or townsmen. known as the Tokugawa period (1603-1867). wrestling booths. Ōsaka. Sadao Hibi In 1603 a third warrior government. established itself in Edo (present-day Tokyo). in a building that served as both private house and business premises. Japan adopted a policy of national seclusion.

and Japanese novels have been translated into English and other languages. and the Meiji (1868-1912) and Taisho (1912-1926) periods respectively. influencing styles in design. Shimada-mage was worn by young single women. and the novel. known as the Meiji period (1868-1912). Japan’s seclusion policy ended when Commodore Matthew Perry of the United States sailed into Edo Bay in 1853 and established a treaty with Japan the following year. Since the beginning of the 20th century. Japan’s influence on that culture has been especially pronounced since the end of World War II (1939-1945). marital status. During the early years of the new order. Japanese movies. young men. Icho-gaeshi and Maru-mage were typical among married women during late Edo. The Tokugawa shogunate was overthrown in the Meiji Restoration of 1868. hairstyles not only showed regional variations. literary forms. traditional Japanese culture has flowed around the world. All Rights Reserved.Japanese Women’s Coiffure In traditional Japanese culture. Tate-Hyogo and Shimada-mage were very popular among ordinary women. have received international recognition and acclaim. profession. © Microsoft Corporation. and various crafts. Ignoring many of their traditional arts. painting. for example. The Edo Period (1603-1867) is regarded as the era when women’s coiffure was at its most spectacular and most developed. and Kabuki actors of the time. Japan has moved steadily into the stream of international culture. the Japanese set about adopting Western artistic styles. and social status of the wearer. During the Edo Period. architecture. influenced by the hairdos of courtesans. Taregami became popular among women of aristocratic and samurai families during the Heian Period (794-1192). and Japan entered the modern world. Western culture largely overwhelmed Japan’s native heritage. however. the Japanese not only had resuscitated many traditional art forms but also were making impressive advances in modern styles of architecture. they also indicated the age. class. B Literature . and music. it was seen as a style free from the Chinese influence of earlier periods. Meanwhile. By the end of the Meiji period. such as ceramics and textiles.

most writing was in Chinese. begun in 905) set the standard for all future court poetry. London/New York Throughout most of their history. whom he has sent outside to build a snowman.The Tale of Genji The Tale of Genji. while watching his housemaids. 720) of the early Nara period. Chester Beatty Library and Gallery of Oriental Art/Bridgeman Art Library. using forms such as the fictional diary and the miscellany. Murasaki. the great majority of them in the 5-line. court poets. The two greatest Heian prose writings were the work of court women: Makura no sōshi (Pillow Book). Its two main subjects were the beauties of nature. reduced the range of poetic topics. but even at this early time Japanese poetry was primarily personal. Prince Genji is visiting with his favorite wife.500 poems written in the 7th and 8th centuries. The Kokinshū (Collection of Ancient and Modern Poems. In this scene from the novel. an aesthetic known as mono no aware.) The invention of kana also stimulated the development of a prose literature. The mid-Nara period witnessed the compilation of Manyōshū (Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves). especially as found in the changing seasons. During the Heian period. and heterosexual romantic love. 712) and the Nihon shoki (Chronicles of Japan. the Japanese people have written poetry and prose in both Chinese and Japanese. Some of the poems are celebrations of public events. and the like. Kakinomoto no Hitomaro. 31-syllable waka (or tanka) form. The novel is remarkable for its detailed depiction of the refined culture of Heian-period Japan. an anthology of some 4. also wrote in a longer form that makes up a small percentage of the poems in the anthology. lists. Court women took the lead in writing prose. such as coronations and imperial hunts. the invention of the kana syllabary (in which each symbol represents a syllable) enabled the Japanese to write freely in their own language for the first time. Japan’s earliest literary writings are simple poems found in the country’s oldest existing books.. (Previously. Proper subjects had to meet the poets’ ideal of courtliness ( miyabi) and demonstrate a sensitivity to the fragile beauties of nature and the emotions of others. the best known of the poets. This section deals mainly with literature written in the Japanese language. a miscellany by Sei Shōnagon. written by Japanese writer Murasaki Shikibu in the 11th century. Meanwhile. . a collection of jottings. Courtiers wrote most of the poems in Manyōshū. is generally regarded as the earliest novel in any culture and as the greatest masterpiece of Japanese literature. anecdotes. the Koji-ki (Records of Ancient Matters. using the waka form exclusively.

which ranks with Kokinshū as the finest of the court poetry anthologies. Hōjōki describes the attempts of its author. linked verse gained great popularity. Shin kokinshū. winner of the Nobel Prize for literature. The tale evokes the lives of both the warrior and the courtier elites during the transition from the ancient courtly age to the feudal age. including English. begun 1220?) recounts the story of the war between the Taira clan (also known as the Heike) and the Minamoto clan during the late 12th century. especially when composed by a master such as Bashō. haiku enjoys enormous popularity in Japan. 1212). Japanese writers have steadily gained international prominence. considered Japan’s first modern novel. such as Sōgi in the late 15th century. One of the most important literary developments of the middle and late Muromachi period was linked verse poetry (renga). translated in English as The Makioka Sisters. and over the years countless non-Japanese have tried their hands at composing haiku. Since Futabatei Shimei published Ukigumo (The Drifting Cloud. a re-creation of the life of an Ōsaka family in the years just before World War II. and Abe Kōbō. to divest himself of all but the most minimal material possessions to prepare himself. German. the novel is the literary medium that has enjoyed the most artistic success. author of Sasameyuki (1943-1948. See also Japanese Literature. Haiku. French. In the Tokugawa period. 1010?) by Murasaki Shikibu. the second Japanese recipient of the Nobel Prize for literature. townsmen living in the great cities produced most of Japan’s major literature. and his own style has been characterized as haiku-like. Kawabata draws heavily on traditional Japanese literary styles. The product of more than a century and a half of textual development. Another is Kawabata Yasunari. became famous not only for their poetry but also as traveling teachers who spread the linked verse method throughout the country. One of Japan’s most acclaimed novelists is Tanizaki Jun’ichirō. consisting of just the first seventeen syllables of the waka. Prose writer Saikaku gained fame for his stories about the affairs of the pleasure quarters. Even today. 1887-1889). Much of Genroku culture focused on the pleasure quarters of the great cities. became a means for expressing emotional insights. C Art and Architecture . to enter the Pure Land paradise of the Amida Buddha (see Pure Land Buddhism). Although the modern age has seen important developments in poetry. upon death. Inspired both by their native literary traditions and by writings in European languages. 1205?) and Hōjōki (An Account of My Hut. especially about courtesans and prostitutes and the merchants and samurai they entertained. The last years of the 17th century and the first years of the 18th century saw an epoch of cultural flourishing known as the Genroku period. a lengthy novel evoking court life during the mid-Heian period. former courtier and priest Kamo no Chōmei. and Russian. The Heike monogatari (Tale of the Heike. The early Kamakura period saw the production of two great works of literature: Shin kokinshū (New Collection of Ancient and Modern Poems. stresses achieving ―depth‖ in verse through the application of aesthetic values such as yūgen (mystery and depth). Japanese writers have created a corpus of fine novels. or enlightenments.and Genji monogatari (Tale of Genji. Renga masters. In his novels. Heike monogatari was not completed until the late 14th century. Prominent late 20th-century writers include Ōe Kenzaburō. 1957). As the creative potential of the classical waka declined. It ranks second only to the Tale of Genji among the great Japanese prose writings of premodern times.

To please the Japanese.000 BC. . sculptors fashioned terra cotta figurines called haniwa that depicted a variety of people (including armor-clad warriors and shamans). buildings. During the Kofun period. The Daibutsu (Great Buddha) figure at Kamakura. The figure depicts Amitabha (also known as Amida Buddha) in perfect repose and passionless calm. pottery. SuperStock Japan’s oldest indigenous art is handmade clay pottery.Kamakura Daibutsu Buddhism was introduced to Japan in ad 539. when a Korean ruler sought an alliance with the ruler of Yamato in Japan. The figurines were placed on the tombs of Japan’s rulers. or cord pattern. animals. which he described as the greatest treasures he could send. was cast in bronze in 1252. and boats. called Jōmon. it marked the beginning of a rich ceramic-making tradition that has continued to the present day. Produced beginning about 10. Japan. the Korean ruler sent a statue of the Buddha and some Buddhist scriptures.

has the world’s oldest wooden buildings. Shinto produced artistically fine structures such as the Ise Shrine and the Izumo Shrine. on the island of Honshū in Japan. Drawing on native traditions such as raised floors and thatched roofs with deep eaves. This Shinto shrine receives numerous pilgrims and is the site of festivals. Hōryūji temple. During the Nara period. a distinct style of Shinto architecture began to develop. as well as an impressive collection of Buddhist paintings and statues. where an approximately 16m (53-ft) Daibutsu (Great Buddha) statue is housed in the world’s largest wooden building. many new temples were erected in and around the city. is believed to be the oldest shrine in Japan and may date back as far as the 8th century. its architecture and art profoundly influenced native styles. Sesshū’s Falcons and Herons . although always along the same plan. Possibly inspired by the temples of Buddhism. built near Nara in the early 7th century. Sakamoto Photo Research Library/Corbis When Buddhism arrived in Japan. The most famous temple is Tōdaiji. It has been rebuilt many times since. Japan The Izumo Shrine.Izumo Shrine.

LLC During the early Kamakura period. Kugler/FPG International. represent one of the first forms of indigenous. Kyōto Katsura Detached Palace. The esoteric Shingon sect of Buddhism arrived from China creating a demand among Heian courtiers for the visual and plastic arts of Shingon.Japanese artist Sesshū. The scroll portrays landscape scenes. which featured ponds fed by streams that often flowed under the residences’ raised floors. While studying in China. narrative picture scrolls from the late Heian period depict these residences of the courtier elite. individualized figures. for a prince of the imperial family. Many were now built in remote areas. The buildings of the palace complex were designed to reflect the clean. . where they were designed to blend harmoniously with their natural settings. was completed about 1662. during the Edo period. with some innovative restatements. J. Katsura Detached Palace. the Tale of Genji. which depicts the journeys of Ippen. Japan. Buddhist temples. One of the most impressive examples of emakimono is an illustrated version of the 11th century prose epic. with the notable exception of the earlier Tale of Genji scroll. Indeed. But probably the finest products of Kamakura art were narrative picture scrolls. an evangelist of Pure Land Buddhism. These rambling structures opened onto raked-sand gardens. These included mandalas (diagrams of the spiritual universe used for meditation) and paintings and statues of fantastic beings. Nara-era traditions of realistic sculpture inspired a sculptural revival that produced dynamic. THE BETTMANN ARCHIVE After the emperor’s court moved to Heian-kyō in 794. also a Zen Buddhist priest. Sesshū was influenced by the use of monochromatic coloring. painted Falcons and Herons in the 15th century. Although no examples of shinden residences exist today. the construction of Buddhist temples continued. known as emakimono. most of the finest surviving emakimono date from the Kamakura period. a technique demonstrated in Falcons and Herons. sometimes fierce with extra limbs or heads. towns. simple lines of classic Japanese teahouses. secular painting in Japan. and Shinto shrines throughout Japan. A traditional Japanese garden surrounds the complex. These include the Ippen scroll. These scrolls. Beautifully appointed residences (called shinden residences) also began to appear at this time. in Kyōto.

Japan In Nikkō. . The landscape paintings of masters such as Shūbun and Sesshū exemplify the adaptation of the style in Japan. are on Zen temple grounds. and shrubs) constructed in Muromachi times. Japan. featuring rush matting (tatami) for floors. The shrine contains the mausoleum of the first Tokugawa shogun. Notable examples are the so-called ―Five Mountains‖ temples of Kyōto. built in the early 17th century during Japan’s Edo Period (1603-1867). the Golden and Silver pavilions. Inc. The creation of the tea ceremony accompanied the development in the 15th century of the shoin style of room construction. Two of Japan’s most famous buildings. stands the magnificent Toshōgū shrine. the Muromachi period is best known for a monochrome ink style that originated in China during the Song Dynasty (960-1279). Architecturally. In painting.Toshōgū Shrine. which were situated mainly around the outskirts of the city to take advantage of the mountain scenery that borders Kyōto on three sides. Masao Hayashi/Photo Researchers. sliding doors. and built-in alcoves and asymmetrical shelves. Tokugawa Ieyasu. stone. These temples became the settings for most of the best dry landscape gardens (waterless gardens of sand. the Muromachi period is best remembered for the construction of Zen temples. north of Tokyo.

Hokusai’s The Wave Among the thousands of woodblock prints that Japanese artist Hokusai made during his prolific career. willowy courtesans. curling wave. Artists often used the woodblock print technique to create ukiyo-e. while Sharaku famously captured the spirit and emotions of kabuki actors. however. or ―pictures of the floating world‖ (referring to the pleasure quarters of Japan’s great cities). including one that used Western techniques such as shading and foreshortening to produce the illusion of space and depth. From mid-Tokugawa times. or art depicting people at work and play. Hokusai and Hiroshige. . Hokusai became famous throughout the world for The Wave (1831). the most popular medium for genre art was the wood-block print. In the late Tokugawa period. among the most famous is The Wave. created in 1831. was genre art. Hiroshige created the print series Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō (1833). which is considered a masterpiece and is well known outside Japan. Among the favorite subjects of ukiyo-e artists were courtesans and kabuki actors. Giraudon/Art Resource. a view of Mount Fuji through a huge. The artist Utamaro is particularly known for his tall. genre art was dominated by two artists. The most popular by far. NY Many schools of painting flourished during the Tokugawa period.

the shrine is surrounded by wooded grounds featuring trees from all parts of Japan. built during the same period. Ando Tadao. and Isozaki Arata. built in the 17th century. By contrast. Isozaki. Empress Shōken. who studied under Tange. Its clean. and Cairo. D Music and Dance . Texas. is best known in the United States for his Modern Art Museum in Fort Worth. Tokyo Meiji Shrine was built as a memorial to Emperor Meiji. See Japanese Art and Architecture. designed the Los Angeles Museum of Modern Art and museums in Nice. Located just west of central Tokyo. All have won international fame. France. Among Japan’s best-known modern architects are Tange Kenzō. who ruled Japan from 1867 to 1912. Tange’s buildings include the Hall Dedicated to Peace at Hiroshima and the main Sports Arena for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. who is largely self-taught and a prolific theorist. and his consort. Egypt. Ando. is extraordinary for its elaborate decoration.Meiji Shrine. geometric lines had a powerful influence on post-World War II residential architecture in many foreign countries. the mausoleum of the shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu at Nikkō. Kimimasa Mayama/REUTERS/Corbis One of the greatest architectural works of the Tokugawa period was the Katsura Detached Palace.

and as in gigaku. Drums. and gong ensembles. In addition to the instruments already mentioned. gagaku employed a type of double-reed pipe or oboe (hichiriki) and a mouth organ (shō). the dancers often wore masks.Classical Dance of the Ryukyu Islands. the exotic tones of these two instruments are probably the most unusual to Western ears. In gigaku. masked dancers performed dramas to the accompaniment of flute. accompanied dancing called bugaku. drum. The earliest reported form of music and dance in Japan was gigaku. In kagura. Of all the musical sounds of Japan. imported from China by a Korean performer sometime in the early 6th century. Japan The art of dance on the Japanese Ryukyu Islands has developed along two main lines—the tradition of court classical dance and the diverse inheritance of the folk song-dance. performers danced for the pleasure of the gods and expressed prayers asking for prolonged or revitalized life. . flutes. and sometimes cymbals provided music. gagaku. The ritual music of the emperor’s court. The ancient music and dance of Shinto is called kagura. Synapse Co. Ltd. This elaborately costumed dancer is performing one of the court dances according to strict choreographic conventions.

Peformances today often involve juggling and are put on as popular entertainment.Daikagura Daikagura is an acrobatic dance traditionally performed at Shinto temples in Japan to frighten off evil spirits. a class of professional female entertainers that emerged in Tokugawa times. These masked dancers perform at a temple on Mount Komagatake near Tokyo. Agematsu Town Tourist Association Sometime in the late 16th century. which had originated in the Ryukyu Islands. No sound is more symbolic of the Tokugawa ―floating world‖ than the notes of the samisen. . Japanese musicians began playing a three-stringed. Both the kabuki and puppet theaters adopted the instrument as an accompaniment. banjolike instrument called the samisen. Even today it commonly accompanies classical dance recitals. and it was also played frequently by geisha.

Michael S. conductors. fermented rice beer. singing. Sake. E Theater and Film . and composers. and conversation. is called atsukan when it is served hot. Yamashita/Corbis In the modern era the Japanese wholeheartedly embraced Western classical music. as here. Japan has produced some of the world’s leading classical performers. Modern Japanese dance draws on both traditional and Western styles. an internationally renowned conductor. who acts as a hostess at geisha parties. who gained fame for composing modern music using traditional Japanese instruments. Well-known Japanese musicians of the 20th century include Ozawa Seiji. The training of a geisha.Geisha Serving Sake A businessman in Japan is served sake by a geisha wearing a kimono and obi (broad belt). and Tōru Takemitsu. involves mastery of the arts of dance. and includes the avant-garde butō dance form. See also Japanese Music.

dance. including juggling. The earliest kyōgen served as interludes in nō plays to provide background information about the characters and their settings. Japanese nō theater dates from the 14th century and has remained virtually unchanged since then. . slapstick humor. The movements and dance in nō are highly stylized. and a chorus narrates the story and shares dialogue with the actors. plotoriented style of earlier dramatic forms into a style of performance emphasizing symbolic meanings and graceful movements. music. Theater developed in close conjunction with music and dance in premodern Japan. For example. In the late 14th century the classical drama form of nō (meaning ―ability‖) was created out of the dramatic elements of sarugaku and dengaku. In a common kyōgen plot. and magic. the emotional or psychological problems of the main character provide the theme of most nō plays. kyōgen skits provided medieval audiences with at least a measure of broad. Kan’ami and his son Zeami. A nō play has been described as a dramatic poem that is based on remote or supernatural events and centers on a dance by the main actor. acrobatics. In contrast to nō. Kyōgen (―mad words‖) are humorous. All Rights Reserved. mime. The main character might be a warrior still fighting ancient battles or a court lady from the Heian period still agonizing over a lost love. UPI/THE BETTMANN ARCHIVE/"The Stone Bridge" from Japan 5: Music of the Noh Theatre (Cat. There is little of the conflict between characters that is a cornerstone of Western theater. Thus gigaku. A small orchestra of flutes and drums accompanies the actors. which is usually serious and gloomy. fast-paced prose plays that developed along with nō. and poetry. Kan’ami and Zeami changed the straightforward. various other elements were added to Japan’s theatrical repertoire. even ritualistic. Nō plots are usually very simple. bugaku.# Ocora C 559005) (p) 1987 Ocora/Radio France. Later. and kagura were early forms of theater. two major forms of theater incorporating all of these elements had evolved: sarugaku and dengaku. Actors frequently use masks and wear resplendent robes. presenting a sumptuous visual display to audiences. Nō combines drama. clever servants outwit their warrior masters.Kyogen Scene from Japanese Nō Theater Inspired both spiritually and artistically by Zen Buddhism. By the Kamakura period. Rather. a person from the past returns as a ghost. in a typical play. and a Buddhist priest assists him or her in overcoming worldly passions and achieving salvation in Amida Buddha’s Pure Land paradise. But actors also performed kyōgen as unrelated comical or farcical skits. Historians attribute this transformation largely to the efforts of two dramatists.

and stylized costumes. Although it drew upon the traditions of nō and kyōgen. they display exaggerated facial expressions and strike dramatic poses. for example. and a prostitute. and the playing of the samisen as accompaniment to the performance. a man who plays women’s parts. Asian Theater.Kabuki Performance In Japanese Kabuki theater. and in the 20th century the Japanese film industry evolved into one of the most prolific and respected in the world. and star-crossed lovers. already committed by his family to another woman. and kabuki became all male. in the 16th and 17th centuries. flashy sword fights. In this form. See also Japanese Drama. which has enjoyed enormous popularity since its 17th-century beginnings. However. Yamashita/Corbis The townsman culture of the Tokugawa period produced two new forms of theater. kabuki evolved primarily out of dances and skits performed by troupes of female actors. Kabuki plays are composed of numerous episodes and feature spectacular fights and dances. whose most famous films . heroic sacrifices. puppet theater brings together puppets that enact stories. chanters who narrate the stories. Yet contemporary Japanese drama has probably achieved its greatest success in film. Michael S. Japanese performers have used puppets to entertain audiences at least since the Heian period. and kabuki actors embellish or alter scenarios as they see fit. quick costume changes. To reveal emotions. Borrowing elements from other types of drama. Kabuki is renowned for its grand entrances. Kabuki means ―off balance‖ and was used to describe novel or eccentric behavior. Japan produced its first movies in the 1890s. which often combines elements of traditional Japanese dramatic forms with Western themes and theatrical devices. follows a love affair between a merchant. Each costume symbolizes a specific character well known to Japanese audiences. Puppet theater reached its high point in the plays of Chikamatsu Monzaemon. Japanese film reached its golden age in the period immediately before and after World War II. Women performers were later banned from kabuki for engaging in prostitution. all roles are played by men. puppet theater developed its characteristic form in the 16th century. Often the lovers in such plays commit double suicide. This led to the creation of the onnagata. Japan has a vital modern theater. whose best-known works focus on the conflict between duty and human feelings. One plot. The text of the plays is less important than the acting. kabuki and puppet theater. Among the masterpieces of that time are the films of director Akira Kurosawa.

other Japanese directors have gained fame for the aesthetic qualities of their work.include Rashomon (1950) and The Seven Samurai (1954). Photograph by Osamu Murai For a country of its size. Ugetsu. many Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines maintain collections of art. It was Isozaki's intention that the museum be created from plain cubes. and archaeological items. . who made 16 films with the director. F Museums and Libraries Museum of Modern Art. the story of King Lear. Toshirō also performed in several American movies. The Kyōto National Museum. contains Chinese and Japanese fine arts. shown in this image. Takasaki. Japan has a large number of museums. specializing in traditional Japanese art. and ceramics museums. with the minimum of decoration. At the entrance. earned wide acclaim and was one of the first films to draw international attention to the quality of the Japanese film industry. housing both Japanese and foreign art. another of Japan’s major museums. One of the finest such directors was Mizoguchi Kenji. the story of an enchanted romance in medieval Japan. with important collections in virtually every major city. Two of the country’s finest museums are located in Tokyo: the Tokyo National Museum. set in 16th-century Japan). and the National Museum of Modern Art. The great variety of other Japanese museums include archaeological. Moreover. The building is composed of large cubes with panels of aluminium and glass. Whereas Kurosawa is probably best known for his samurai stories. ethnographic. The quintessential Kurosawa actor was Mifune Toshirō. 1954). sunlight filters through the square frames creating attractive patterns on the walls and floor. on the grounds that a museum is a ―frame‖ for the objects of art it contains. handicrafts. Japan The Museum of Modern Art (1971-1974) is one of the most important of Japanese architect Arata Isozaki's early works. including some based on Shakespeare such as Ran (1985. whose beautiful film Ugetsu monogatari (1953.

193. It serves as an international book exchange and an information center for Japan. In 2006 Japan’s gross domestic product (GDP) was $4. consisting of 100 sen 66.344 (2006) 4.S.7 percent (2004) Japan is the world’s second largest economy after the United States. such as the Ōsaka Prefectural Nakanoshima Library and the Kōbe City Library. Meiji University Library.16 trillion for the United States. such as the one at Kyōto University. fuses traditional Japanese architectural concepts with modern ideas of museum design. the structure uses Japan’s traditional building material—wood—along with modern materials such as glass and reinforced cement.$) Monetary unit Number of workers Unemployment rate $34.$) $4.37 trillion (2006) GDP per capita (U. Among the important university libraries in Tokyo are the University of Tokyo Library. Among the most important is the National Diet Library. Nara. Major collections are housed in the libraries of the provinces. There are also many important university libraries outside of Tokyo. completed in 1961. It produces the effect of an upto-date version of the Japanese tea house. V ECONOMY Economy of Japan Gross domestic product (GDP in U. A work by architect Isoya Yoshida.Yamato Bunkakan Museum. Japan’s national library. and Nihon University Library. Taira Photo Tokyo outranks all other Japanese cities in number of major libraries.S. Japan The Yamato Bunkakan Museum in Nara. The Arts and Culture section of this article was contributed by Paul Varley. Japan also has one .201. compared to $13.60 (2006) 1 yen.37 trillion.

Japan had conducted almost no trade. GDP. Between 1885 and 1900 foreign trade grew to 18 percent of GDP. Japan’s GDP grew 3. A Historical Development Japan’s economy experienced two periods of rapid development in modern times. Strong Army. A1 From the Meiji Restoration to World War II In 1868 a group of disaffected feudal lords. The Meiji Restoration. level in 1955 to 56 percent in 1970. Japan’s per capita GDP rose from 21 percent of the U. and construction) made up 30 percent. railroads. but economic growth gained strength late in 2005. This measure takes into account the countries’ differing costs of living. Japan experienced three and a half decades of prosperity and generally steady growth. 86 percent of the U.8 percent in 1998.‖ They wanted Japan to become economically and militarily powerful so it could retain its independence. postal system. steam engines. Nor did it have modern business institutions. and agriculture (including forestry and fishing) contributed 2 percent. government. Japan welcomed foreign advisers and sent missions to the United States. After recovering from the war. From 1890 through 1938. while industry (mining. The first began in the late 19th century after a long interval of national seclusion.920. Germany. services make up the largest part of Japan’s economy. It had few natural resources aside from coal and silk. far faster than the United States and the countries of Western Europe at a similar stage of development. By this measure.3 percent each year. Before the Meiji Restoration. and real estate) accounted for 68 percent of Japan’s GDP. By 1992 per capita GDP had reached $19. spurring leaders to reevaluate the structure of the economy. Despite the overall strength of the Japanese economy.of the world’s highest living standards. soaring from 8 percent of GDP in 1888 to 32 percent by 1938. or newspapers. which had grown slowly in the early 1990s. ended 250 years of self-isolation for Japan and introduced an era of rapid economic change. and the second followed the end of World War II in 1945. Yet Japan had no modern machinery. The country’s new rulers adopted the slogan ―Rich Country. Economists compare living standards in different countries using a measure called purchasing power parity. The recession continued into the early 2000s. After the restoration. The country’s takeoff was explosive. and samurai responded to the threat of foreign domination by overthrowing Japan’s military government and replacing it with a new imperial government under the Meiji emperor. telegraphs. level. Manufacturing grew especially rapidly. Recession plagued Japan in the 1990s and early 2000s. manufacturing. France. in the late 1990s Japan was mired in its longest recession since World War II. In 2004 services (such as trade. As is typical in a mature economy. although problems began to surface in the 1970s. steel mills. such as banking and public corporations. to avoid dependence. Japan restricted foreign investments and loans.S.S. 43 percent of boys and 10 percent of girls had some schooling. . court aristocrats. fell 0.4 percent in 1997 and another 2. Still. Its main resource was a population that was highly literate for a preindustrial country. and Britain to learn the best techniques in economy and government. At that time. This was the first time in the postwar era that Japan’s GDP declined two years in a row. as it came to be known.

the government had to fill the vacuum in promoting industrialization because business was so weak. With the new international situation. occupation of Japan ended. Heavy industry rose from 35 percent of manufacturing in 1930 to 65 percent by 1940. the occupation authorities embraced economic democratization as their first priority.000 calories worth of food per day. To promote economic growth. stood at their core. which were headed by rich families such as Mitsui. led Japan to increasingly centralize and militarize its economy. Topping the corporate pyramid were a dozen large corporate groups known as zaibatsu. and banks. occupied Japan militarily and controlled economic policy from 1945 to 1952. steel. The GDP was only one-third of its prewar level.Initially. the United States provided financial assistance and opened its markets to Japanese goods.S. Riots broke out among people who were barely surviving on 1. The government passed laws giving itself control over imports. By the turn of the century. combined with other factors. The change in policy became known as the reverse course. They also broke up the zaibatsu. such as petroleum. government agencies supplied more than one-third of all financial capital and encouraged modern industries. the zaibatsu were reforming. The rise of the Cold War in the late 1940s pitted a bloc of countries led by the United States against another bloc led by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). one-quarter of Japan’s buildings lay in ashes. A2 Postwar Devastation and Reconstruction When World War II ended in 1945. which owned 40 percent of all equity (stock) in Japanese companies. and electricity. creating enormous demand for Japanese goods. and authority to promote heavy industries needed by the military. Economic recovery exploded to 12 percent growth per year from 1950 to 1952. The government owned few industries. one of Japan’s opponents in the war. A3 The Era of High Growth . Industries were organized into cartels (groups of business firms acting in concert to reduce economic competition in a particular market). The groups of affiliated companies were now called keiretsu. military began buying supplies from Japan. fertilizer. The United States. In 1952 Japan regained its sovereignty and the U. The legacy of this period was a pattern of corporate organization and government-business relations that remains influential today. but from 1868 to 1900. business replaced government as the leading economic force. subsidizing the manufacture of basic products such as coal. In 1950 the Korean War broke out. machine tools. To get recovery started. power to direct private bank loans to priority industries and firms. By the late 1950s. the government instituted a ―priority production‖ system. At first. They introduced land reform and permitted workers to unionize. iron and steel. and Sumitomo. aircraft. and the U. Iwasaki (operating under the company name Mitsubishi). Japan’s economy did not return to its prewar GDP levels until 1955. however. occupation authorities adopted a new priority: to make Japan into a strong ally for the United States. and automobiles.S. rather than rich families. The worldwide economic slump of the 1930s.

Japan’s household saving rates. Japan’s takeoff was unparalleled. or a color television. and televisions. Inc. Throughout the era of high growth. Brian Brake/Photo Researchers. Economists attribute Japan’s growth during this period to a number of factors. about 7 to 9 . Japan’s GDP grew an average of 12 percent a year. was the third largest in the world. a car. Japan’s GDP grew an average of 9 percent annually from the end of postwar reconstruction in 1955 until the oil crisis of 1973 (called the oil shock in Japan). By 1970 living standards had tripled. During this period. The fruits of growth were widely spread among the Japanese people. One important element was high rates of saving and investment.Robots Welding Japan's Cars Along an automobile assembly line in Japan. Traditionally. People began speaking of the ―Japanese economic miracle‖ Instead of exporting easily broken toys and cheap blouses. In its years of highest growth. While countries often grow quite rapidly during their industrial takeoff. efficient robots weld the new cars that are so sought after on the world market. five times as large as in 1955. a washing machine. a refrigerator. Whereas in the 1950s few households enjoyed piped-in water. Japan was now renowned for its high quality steel. virtually every household did by the late 20th century. real (inflation-adjusted) wages per person increased between 7 and 8 percent per year. The automobile industry is just one of the manufacturing success stories that transformed postwar Japan into an economic giant and a world leader. Japan maintained one of the world’s most equal distributions of income as well as consistently low unemployment and no permanent underclass. ships. from 1965 to 1970. By 1973 Japan’s economy. cars. when international oil prices rose dramatically.

percent of income. such as textiles. and reliable. the country began to export more than it imported (a trade surplus). New technology and education also stimulated growth. In response. the government provided special tax credits to favored industries and directed banks to provide low-interest loans to targeted sectors. However. gradually replaced lower-demand items. Until the mid-1960s. Governmental measures helped accelerate savings and investment. For example. The process of industrialization itself accelerated growth. A4 The Era of Slower Growth . However. and television got their start serving the domestic market. such as color televisions.S. when Japan’s auto industry was able to compete on its own. as many workers moved from lowproductivity farming and textile production into modern industries enjoying higher efficiency and economies of scale (factors decreasing costs of production while increasing output). the absorption of new technologies. such as petroleum refining and aviation. by 1970 farmers and fishers accounted for only 17 percent of all workers while the manufacturing workforce had risen to 40 percent. and Japanese television makers adopted solid-state technology that allowed them to produce televisions that were more compact. Japan invested heavily in technology imports in the 1950s. business savings from growing corporate profits were even more important. As a share of GDP. all soon began relying on the export market for growth. such as machinery. and other factors gradually raised saving rates to 20 percent of income by 1973. Household and business savings provided capital for high levels of investment in things such as new factories and machinery that fed economic growth. higher-value goods. By 1970 much of Japan’s industrial output consisted of products that had not even existed in the Japanese market 20 years earlier. huge tax incentives. Japan imported more goods than it exported (a trade deficit) nearly every year. counterparts. petrochemicals. were not high by international standards. production of higher-demand. but perhaps not at ―miracle‖ rates. and the shift to modern industries and high-value exports. The increase in exports accelerated industrialization. Acting before their U. Although industries such as steel. the government allowed only negligible imports of foreign cars until 1965. While some industries that received aid were notable failures. An export boom was also a critical factor. as a result of the industrial shift to higher-demand goods. Equally important. Japanese steel makers built new plants with electric arc furnaces that helped them to produce quality alloy steels more efficiently. Japan could not have paid for all the imports of raw material and food it needed. increasing prosperity. Without exports. but much of the evidence indicates that it played a crucial role. and air conditioners. From 1955 to 1971 Japanese exports increased 15 percent per year. In 1950 farmers outnumbered factory workers. In addition to protecting emerging industries. the overall success rate was high. Virtually every key export industry enjoyed protection and promotion during its early stages. powerful. in 1953 Japan’s young automobile industry was almost wiped out by cheap European car imports. and in several industries Japanese firms were among the first to adapt or commercialize technology invented elsewhere. Economists disagree about how important government economic policy was in fostering Japan’s growth. Without government industrial policy Japan would still have industrialized. cars.

allocate market share. particularly the United States. The value of the yen rose. After 1987 official recession cartels were stopped. growth always slows dramatically. Japan argued that its market was fully open and that foreign exporters were not trying hard enough. In response to the oil shocks of 1973 and 1979. Japan’s GDP declined for the first time since postwar recovery. But the sectors that produced goods for domestic consumption—farming. Moreover. and. construction. However. raise prices. Its growth rate was the highest of the major industrialized countries. the fixed exchange rate system. and by the late 1990s frictions over trade became less prominent. and materials industries such as glass and cement making—were shielded from both domestic and foreign competition and thus were much less efficient.In the fall of 1973 the first oil shock set off a global recession. Government influence over private business decisions also continued in an indirect manner. fundamental trends were slowing Japan’s growth anyway. some observers believed. Most importantly. but some industry associations continued these practices on their own. The government had begun to reduce overt trade restrictions such as quotas (limits on the quantity of imports) and tariffs (taxes on imports) in the 1960s. from 1975 to 1990. Japan’s economy grew at 4 percent. Japan suffered from a dual economy that made the growth of the 1980s unsustainable. once a country’s industrial takeoff is completed. which caused sales of Japanese goods overseas to slow. spurred by competition with other countries. It consistently ran huge trade surpluses despite a rising yen. Then. Japanese industries that had excess capacity (that is. were superbly efficient. While the oil shock triggered the end of high growth. and computer chips. they could make more goods than they could sell) formed associations to control production. and government regulations that slowed the import process and made it more expensive. In addition. block imports in hidden ways. Some foreign exporters who had difficulty selling their products in Japan believed that Japan also maintained invisible barriers to trade. Despite the economic setbacks of the 1970s and 1980s. such as collusion among members of keiretsu groups. Its export sectors. and most restrictions were eliminated by the end of the 1970s. It also shifted much of its manufacturing from resource-intensive products such as steel to more capital-intensive and knowledge-intensive products such as cars. By the 1980s Japan no longer openly protected its domestic industries from competition with foreign imports. such as the open import restrictions of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) or the official list of . Some analysts predicted that Japan would overtake the United States as the world’s largest economy. In the high-growth era. Japan seemed to be doing very well. Japan imported few industrial products that would compete with ones manufactured in Japan. Japan conserved on energy. raising the price of Japanese exports. exports grew at half the rate they had during the high-growth era. which had held the value of the yen (Japan’s basic unit of currency) steady since the end of the 1940s. retailing. just half of its pre-1973 rate. Tensions over trade in the 1980s gave rise to a series of negotiations between Japan and its trading partners. ended in 1971. consumer electronics. This was due in part to government-organized recession cartels. By the end of the 1980s Japan began to import more manufactured goods. far more Japanese people worked in domestic than in export sectors. Nevertheless. From 1972 to 1990. the government guided the economy through clear laws and powers.

with growth rebounding significantly in 1995 and 1996. as Japanese stocks lost nearly 70 percent of their value between 1989 and 1992. the government responded with standard recipes to stimulate the economy. growth would inevitably slow. Instead. In 1986 a report by the government-appointed Maekawa Commission recommended fundamental structural reforms to avoid long-term stagnation. Rising stock and real estate prices stimulated an investment boom that led to rapid economic growth. ministries have tended to use informal ―administrative guidance‖ (gyōsei shidō) instead. MITI used administrative guidance in the 1980s to encourage Japanese auto manufacturers to cooperate with voluntary export restrictions requested by the United States. Instead. and commercial real estate prices remained 80 percent below their highest levels. The economy appeared to respond. and the MOF increased government spending. and then bringing on a collapse. the BOJ steadily raised interest rates in 1989 and 1990. Japan’s GDP fell 5 percent. Fearing a crash. hoping that the economy would slow gradually. In the 1980s Japan compensated for its domestic inefficiencies—and thereby temporarily hid them—by greatly increasing investment. an overvaluation of 400 to 500 percent. From 1992 to 1994 growth averaged a meager 0. Instead. if they do not. By 1989 the average stock was valued at 100 times the annual corporate earnings. Had Japan’s economy been healthy. Unless Japan devoted ever-larger portions of national income to investment. The effectiveness of administrative guidance varies widely from industry to industry. which began to escalate in a self-feeding spiral. Within a year and a half of its 1997 peak. This guidance takes the form of suggestions or directives that do not have the force of law. A5 Bubble and Bust The structural flaws in Japan’s economy came to a head in the late 1980s. a new recession began in April 1997. . In general. Anxious to balance Japan’s budget and calculating that it was safe to ease stimulus measures. Presuming that Japan was just suffering from a normal recession. But its investment was also inefficient. The BOJ once again lowered interest rates. its power has diminished over time. In the late 1990s Japan’s stock market was still 65 percent below its 1989 peak. triggering a regional economic crisis and jeopardizing Japanese trade and investments in the region. Japan needed to invest 35 percent of GDP (private plus government investment) just to get the same growth that a more efficient economy could have gotten from 25 percent. Businesses generally comply voluntarily with administrative guidance. This raised the price of stocks and real estate.5 percent a year. ministries may punish them indirectly by enforcing unrelated regulations. the value of several Southeast Asian currencies fell sharply. Japanese exports fell and economic growth slowed. first generating a five-year period of financial euphoria known as the bubble.favored industries for bank loans of the Ministry of Finance (MOF). In recent decades. After the value of the yen rose sharply in 1985. The financial bust ended the economic boom. This was like running on a treadmill that keeps going faster. A few months later. it could have absorbed these setbacks. the MOF reduced government spending in 1996 and raised Japan’s consumption tax (a tax added to the price of goods and services) in 1997. the Bank of Japan (BOJ) cut interest rates to stimulate investment and growth. the bubble burst abruptly.

It still owns the major television network. agriculture. the government has steadily sold off the few big enterprises that it did own. The biggest employers were services (23.3 percent). Traditionally. and fishing (7.3 percent in 1996 and rose to a postwar high of 5. and other reforms were subsequently implemented to further deregulate financial markets.0 percent). manufacturing (22. in which post offices accept deposits into various types of savings accounts. In addition. through extensive formal regulations as well as administrative guidance.The combination of financial collapse and recession meant that many companies could no longer repay their debts to banks. insurance. Japanese policymakers began calling for deregulation of sectors including telecommunications and transportation. Postal savings are turned over to the MOF’s Trust Fund Bureau. 41 percent. and utilities (0.7 percent). in which firms employ workers for their entire career. mainly full-time male workers in big companies. In 1996 one-quarter of all banking assets were in Japan’s government-controlled postal savings system. Many private estimates were twice as high. Nippon Hōsō Kyōkai (NHK). and real estate (4. construction (10. which lends the money to businesses. transportation and communications (5. The government hoped to spark recovery by 1999. C Labor In 2006 Japan’s labor force totaled 66. It also addressed the banking problem with a series of bills that authorized the nationalization of failed banks and the sale of bad assets. known as the Big Bang. It was 3.6 percent). the size of the unpayable debt kept increasing. Over time. finance. were completed by 2001. such as Nippon Telephone and Telegraph (NTT) and Japan National Railway (JNR). the government plays a big role. By 1998 the MOF said that bad debts amounted to about 80 trillion yen ($600 billion). In 2006 men comprised 59 percent of the labor force and women.7 percent). Signs of a turnaround appeared in 2005 as exports rose.1 percent). and the Japanese government launched a series of moves to deregulate banks. government (6. government ministries influence private business activities. do not offer this guarantee. Japan has had a low unemployment rate. but Japan’s economy remained stagnant in the early 2000s.7 percent). .2 million workers.5 percent in late 2001. covers about 20 percent of the workforce. wholesale and retail trade (16. In 1998 the government reversed itself again and created three large spending packages. Since the early 1980s. forestry. and provided funds to protect depositors and inject government funds into the banks. Small and medium-size firms. Most of the banking reforms. Japan’s famed lifetime employment system.5 percent).6 percent). In banking. or about 15 percent of GDP. for which the majority of Japanese work. B Government Role in the Economy Government ownership of business enterprises is very low in Japan.

In 2004 agriculture (along with forestry and fishing) constituted 2 percent of GDP. Unionization fell to 33 percent of the workforce by 1964 and to about 20 percent by the early 21st century. often violent. which resulted in violent clashes with the leftist unions. That year a law was passed establishing workers’ right to organize.5 percent. known as Rengō. Over time. Japanese manufacturers have developed compact agricultural machinery to work the fields. on southern Honshū Island in a rural area near Hiroshima. In 1989 the nation’s leading federations of private trade unions merged into a single group.In 1945 only 3. most unions were controlled by Japan’s Socialist and Communist parties. and by 1946 unionization had exploded to 41. many unions cut their ties to leftist political parties and became less militant. D Agriculture Modern Japanese Agriculture Since most farms in Japan are very small. continued for years. the Japan Trade Union Confederation. Union membership peaked at 50 percent of the workforce in the early 1950s. but it did not achieve this harmony until rapidly rising living standards made union militancy unnecessary. Here. Paul Quayle/Panos Pictures As of the early 2000s. A pattern of frequent strikes. agriculture employed 5 percent of Japan’s labor force. a farmer harvests rice using a small machine that both cuts and bags the rice. down from 21 percent in 1970. Initially. Companies set up their own company unions. Japan is now well-known for harmony between labor and management.2 percent of Japanese workers were unionized. .

Cabbage Field, Japan Rain clouds pass over a cabbage field in Nagano, on central Honshū Island. Cabbage is a major crop for domestic consumption in Japan, and features prominently in many Japanese dishes. Michael S. Yamashita/Corbis

Due to Japan’s many mountains, only 12.9 percent of the country’s total land area is cultivated or used for orchards. Although farms are found in all parts of Japan, commercial farming is concentrated in Hokkaidō, northern and western Honshū, and Kyūshū. Rice is the most important crop, and more than 40 percent of farmland is devoted to rice production. The government encourages farmers to convert rice fields to other crops because Japan produces more rice than it needs. In addition to rice, wheat and barley are important grain crops. Other leading crops include sugar beets, potatoes, cabbages, and citrus fruits. Relatively little acreage is used for livestock. Although agricultural productivity increased dramatically in Japan after World War II, Japan still imports much of its food. In 1946 and 1947, U.S. occupation authorities confiscated land from absentee landlords and resold it to former tenant farmers at low prices. Japan also embarked on a program to modernize farming with new crop strains, fertilizers, and machinery. These measures raised rural living standards and elevated farm productivity. However, as farm plots remained small, averaging 1.4 hectares (3.5 acres), productivity leveled off. To help maintain farmers’ incomes, the government eventually restricted food imports and granted subsidies to farmers amounting to as much as 75 percent of their incomes. Nevertheless, most farmers work part-time in industry in addition to running their farms. Despite the subsidies and quotas, Japan imports about a third of its food.


Forestry and Fishing

Salmon Fishing Commercial fishers haul in silvery salmon off the coast of Hokkaidō, Japan’s northernmost and second-largest island. Fujifotos/The Image Works

Japan is still heavily forested, but the trees are needed to prevent soil erosion, and the timber harvest remains relatively small. Japan’s annual timber harvest in 2006 was 16.7 million cu m (590 million cu ft). Japan imports most of its lumber needs, mostly in the form of logs and raw lumber rather than as finished products. Many houses in Japan are made of wood, and thus timber is in great demand.

Tuna Trading Fresh tuna are tagged and readied for auction at the Tsukiji Central Wholesale Market in Tokyo. Early each morning, wholesalers vigorously bid for the best of the catch, carting off shrimp, squid, and various types of fish to supply the city's restaurants and shops. Seafood, always scrupulously fresh, is essential to the Japanese diet. Van Bucher/Photo Researchers, Inc.

Japan’s fishing industry is one of the largest in the world, with a total fish catch of 5.4 million metric tons in 2005. Coastal fishing by small boats, set nets, or breeding techniques contributes about onethird of the industry’s total production, while offshore fishing from medium-sized boats accounts for more than half of the total. Deep-sea fishing by large vessels operating far from Japan makes up the remainder. Among the species caught are sardines, bonito, crab, shrimp, salmon, pollock, mackerel, squid, clams, saury, sea bream, tuna, and yellowtail. Japan is also among the world’s few remaining whaling countries. Although it officially outlawed commercial whaling in 1986 in conformance with an international ban on whaling, Japan continues to hunt minke whales in waters near Antarctica, saying this is for scientific purposes. Fish is second only to rice as a staple in the Japanese diet. Japan’s fishing fleet provides most of the fish consumed domestically, although due to rising demand and decreasing catches, fish imports exceed exports.


Mining and Manufacturing

and the country is almost entirely dependent on imports. from tiny electronic toys to automobiles and massive oil tankers. copper. coal.000 manufacturing jobs were eliminated. Japan’s mineral resources are tiny. Japan’s manufacturing sector has decreased in importance. lead. 850.Japanese Manufacturing Japanese products. helping to create increasingly more efficient and advanced products. up from 28 percent in 1990 but down from 36 percent in 1970. . Manufacturing output accounted for about 30 percent of GDP in the early 2000s. it was estimated that at least 2 million more were lost by 2004. Inc. Japanese businesses tend to reinvest a substantial portion of their sales revenues into research. and zinc. This picture of computer-chip manufacturing at the Fujitsu company shows some of the modern procedures common to Japanese technical factories. Between the early 1990s and 1996. Chuck O'Rear/Woodfin Camp and Associates. Among the minerals mined in Japan are limestone. are valued worldwide for their high standards of quality. As in all maturing modern economies. Manufacturing also suffered from the stagnation of the 1990s.

food and beverages. steel. and publishing and printing. it reaches a height of 296 m (971 ft) and houses a hotel. H Tourism . Yamashita/Corbis Japan’s leading manufacturing industries include general and electrical machinery. Japan imports iron ore as a raw material. The most important service sectors are real estate. and electronic equipment. Michael S.Japanese Steel Plant At a Nippon Steel factory in Kitakyūshū. and restaurants. the Landmark Tower is situated in a newly developed commercial district in Yokohama called Minato Mirai. ships. molten iron is poured into a basic oxygen furnace for conversion into steel. Japan Completed in 1992. on northern Kyūshū island. wholesale and retail trade. Yokohama. Their contribution to GDP has increased from 48 percent in 1966 to 55 percent in 1981. Mitsubishi Estate Building Management Services have gained in importance for Japan’s economy. The tallest skyscraper in the city. and finance and insurance. personal services (such as hairdressing and health care). a shopping center. to 68 percent in 2004. transportation equipment. iron and steel. Japan is among world leaders in production and export of automobiles. chemicals. machine tools. offices. transportation and communications. business services (such as business accounting and legal services). and steel manufactured in Japan is largely for domestic use. fabricated metal products. G Services Landmark Tower.

spending $8. and coal. natural gas. the United States. Japan developed effective ways of conserving energy. Following the oil shocks of the 1970s. and hydroelectric plants. As a source of energy. Japan sustains a rapidly expanding industrial sector and a large populace with one of the highest standards of living in the world. More than 50 nuclear power plants are scattered throughout the country. nuclear power plants. such as this plant in Fukui Prefecture. Its energy use per person in the 1990s was less than half that of the United States. Japan has pursued nuclear power as a source of energy in part to limit imports of petroleum. Katsumi Kasahara/AP/Wide World Photos Japan depends almost entirely on imports for oil.In 2006. 7. Japan also moved away from using petroleum. and the United Kingdom. Although its natural energy sources are limited. Nuclear power generated from more than 50 nuclear plants provided 30 percent of the country’s energy in the early 2000s. amounting to 7. Japan Nuclear power plants generate a significant portion of Japan’s electricity.3 million foreigners visited Japan. The bulk of Japan’s foreign visitors come from South Korea. Japan generates most of its electricity in thermal plants using coal or petroleum. I Energy Nuclear Power Plant. China. To do this it has followed a policy of developing nuclear energy. . petroleum fell from 75 percent of total energy consumption in 1973 to 57 percent in the early 1990s. Popular destinations include Tokyo and the historic capitals of Nara and Kyōto. with their many ancient temples. In 2003 Japan consumed 946 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity. Honshū Island.413 kilowatt-hours per person.5 billion.

In the late 1950s Japan began constructing the Shinkansen. The Shinkansen runs sleek trains known as bullet trains. Later construction extended the Shinkansen from Fukuoka on the island of Kyūshū in the south to Hachinohe in the north and to several cities in the west.J Transportation Bullet Train.052 km (12. linking Tokyo and Ōsaka. Japan One of Japan’s ―bullet trains‖ rockets through a rice field near Mount Fuji. a high-speed rail network linking major cities. . The first branch. Dean Conger/Corbis Japanese depend heavily on rail transport. began operating in 1964. of which about 71 percent was electrified.460 mi). The bullet trains are part of a high-speed passenger rail system called the Shinkansen that links Japan’s major cities. Railroad track in 2005 totaled 20.

Kansai International Airport. In 2004 Japan had 441 cars for every 1.140 mi) are expressways.177. Completed in 1998. designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano.529 ft).000 km (732. Japan Ōsaka’s second international airport. of which 5. Ōsaka. Kansai.99 km (1. Built to withstand earthquakes. Bridges or tunnels link all of Japan’s main islands. it measures 1. Akashi Kaikyo Bridge.000 people. the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge.000 mi) of roads.990 m (6. The terminal. pictured here. Japan The Akashi Kaikyo Bridge in Japan is the longest suspension bridge in the world. The bridge connects the city of Kōbe with Awaji Island and carries both road and rail traffic. the bridge survived a 1995 tremor measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale. opened in 1994 on an artificially created island in Ōsaka Bay.054 km (3. includes a light-filled corridor four stories high. the bridge has a center span of 1. In 1998 Japan completed construction of the world’s longest suspension bridge. Dennis Gilbert/Renzo Piano Workshop Architects/Arcaid Japan has 1. . Linking Kōbe and Awaji Island over the Akashi Strait.24 mi) between its two supporting towers.

with the exception of the oil shock years. Its imports totaled $383 billion. Until the mid-1980s the government-owned Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) provided all telephone service. Nippon Hōsō Kyōkai (NHK). primarily a domestic service. . chemicals. and agricultural raw materials. and textiles. As of the early 2000s. In 2000 Japan had 728 television sets and 956 radios for every 1. K Communications All media enjoy freedom of communication in Japan. Japan Air Lines. Tokyo is the nation’s major hub for both domestic and international flights. Japan has one of the world’s best telecommunications systems and high per capita telephone ownership. The Japan Broadcasting Corporation. Ōsaka is the second largest center for air travel. ores and metals. Several commercial broadcasters also offer television and radio programs. food. has expanded its international operations in recent years. and Japan had the second largest number of computers linked to the Internet. and Fukuoka. Chief imports include machinery and equipment. Personal computers in use in 2004 totaled 542 per 1. The largest share of this trade surplus comes from the United States. steel. automobiles. with 6.000 people. and other companies were permitted to enter the field.000 people. provides international air service. The largest dailies are Asahi Shimbun and Yomiuri Shimbun. In 1985 NTT became a private company. phone call rates in Japan remain high by international standards. while All Nippon Airways. dominates the broadcasting industry. and many viewers subscribe to cable television or satellite services. with other countries in Asia coming next. fuels. China and the United States are Japan’s leading trade partners. operating two public television networks and three radio networks nationally. Sapporo. and manufactured goods. NHK programs are financed by viewer subscriptions. despite the somewhat increased competition.8 million gross registered tons in 2007. one of the highest in the world. established in 1951. L Foreign Trade and Investment In 2003 Japan’s merchandise exports totaled $472 billion. However.Getty Images Japan has one of the world’s largest merchant fleets.519 vessels totaling 12. The size of the surplus fluctuated up and down depending on the yen exchange rate and the relative growth rates of Japan and its trading partners. Japan had run a trade surplus (meaning its exports exceeded its imports) every year since 1965. as well as satellite channels. which are circulated nationally. chemicals. manufactures accounted for 93 percent of exports compared with 57 percent of imports in 2003. after the United States. Japan’s leading exports include general and electrical machinery. In general Japan exports manufactured goods and imports raw materials. Their combined circulation exceeds 73 million. and important airports are also located in Nagoya. Daily newspapers published in the country number 108. food. Cellular phone usage has grown rapidly since new carriers offering digital mobile service entered the Japanese market in the mid-1990s.

the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). VI GOVERNMENT Government of Japan Form of government Constitutional monarchy . The Bank of Japan. The companies were able to meet the foreign countries’ domestic content requirements (which mandate that a certain percentage of an item be produced within the foreign country). The Economy section of this article was contributed by Richard Katz. bank loans. established in 1882. avoid quotas and other restrictions. Thomas Ives/The Stock Market Japan’s basic unit of currency is the yen (116 yen equal U. Beginning in the 1980s. due to both the increased value of the yen and growing resistance to Japanese exports from Japan’s trading partners. In 1993 Japan’s gross national product was second in the world behind the United States. M Currency and Banking Japanese Currency The rapidly expanding Japanese economy rivals that of the United States. and in some cases. The Tokyo Stock Exchange is one of the world’s leading securities markets. the basic currency of Japan and one of the strongest currencies in the world.Japanese firms used the trade surpluses to invest heavily in overseas stocks. Japan is an active member of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Shown here is a yen. real estate. bonds. Manufacturing or assembling goods at facilities in foreign countries gave Japanese companies several advantages. Japanese firms now produce more cars and consumer electronics outside Japan than in Japan. the World Trade Organization (WTO). many Japanese companies established production facilities overseas. 2006 average). and new business ventures.$1.S. is the country’s central bank and sole issuer of currency. About 140 private commercial banks constitute the heart of the financial system. and the Asia Pacific Economic Community (APEC). save money on land or labor costs.

Japan’s 47 prefectures and several thousand city. make peace. Any new legislation. The Meiji constitution also failed to provide an effective mechanism for resolving conflicts between the executive and legislative branches of government. The Meiji constitution enshrined the emperor at the top of government. and promulgate all laws. required the approval of both the emperor’s executive cabinet of ministers and the legislature. allowing others to act in his name. The Meiji constitution was adopted not long after Japan opened its borders to the West. Military leaders claimed that they were not subject to civilian control because the emperor—the nation’s absolute sovereign—was the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. as lawmakers used their power over the budget to obtain leverage in other matters. where Japanese legislators added nearly four dozen amendments. A Constitution The Constitution of Japan became effective in 1947 as an amendment to the 1889 Constitution of the Empire of Japan (also called the Meiji constitution for the emperor Meiji. which was revised by American and Japanese officials. The resulting constitution made several fundamental changes to Japan’s government. which necessarily limited the power of the emperor. The 1947 constitution was created during the military occupation of Japan by the Allied Powers following World War II and reflects reforms proposed by the occupation authorities. 480 members House of Councillors. in which the authority of the central government is superior to that of the country’s prefectural governments. Occupation officials produced a draft constitution. command the military. The constitution did. The constitution did not contain express limitations on the legislature’s powers. and village governments enjoy a significant degree of autonomy over local affairs. However. the most significant of which involved the structure of government. Yet the politically powerful cabinet was not responsible to the relatively weak legislature. in practice and by tradition. which were fully independent of the political branches. This situation led to frequent battles between the branches. significantly restrict the scope and substance of administrative enactments. so the judiciary had no occasion to review statutes for their constitutionality—and thereby to check legislative overreaching. 247 members 3 May 1947 Supreme Court Head of government Prime minister Voting qualifications Universal at age 20 Constitution Highest court Japan is a parliamentary democracy. town. However. conclude treaties. The draft was then debated in Japan’s parliament. The military was able to exploit this standoff between the branches to take effective control of the government during the years leading up to World War II. however.Head of state Legislature Emperor Bicameral legislature (Diet): House of Representatives. It attempted both to preserve the authority of the centuries-old imperial line and to introduce a parliamentary government. . including the annual budget. The result was a sometimesambiguous delegation of powers. granting him the authority to declare war. Japan is a unitary state. the emperor remained passive. played an important role in enforcing these constraints. Thus the courts. An emperor acts as functional head of state. although his official status under the constitution is the ―symbol‖ of the Japanese nation and its people. who promulgated it).

The judiciary has the authority to rule on the constitutionality of all legislation. Japan renounces war or the threat of war as a means of settling international disputes and is prohibited from maintaining military forces.‖ freedom of occupation. headed by a prime minister. Although its origins are disputed. Although temporary transfers to other agencies have become common. who then appoints a cabinet. The prime minister has the power to appoint and dismiss other cabinet members. and academic freedom. Among the rights protected by the constitution are the rights to minimum standards of living and equal education. as acceptance of the constitution and its fundamental principles has broadened over time. a bicameral (two-house) legislature. creed. By contrast. By its provisions.The postwar constitution corrected most of these structural shortcomings. the size of the national civil service is relatively small compared to most other industrial democracies. however. Japan’s constitution has not been amended since 1947. which demilitarized Japan. and the right of workers to organize and bargain collectively. although from time to time proposals are introduced to revise some of its provisions. Constitutionally protected freedoms include freedom from discrimination on the basis of ―race. The postwar constitution also expanded and more fully protected the political and social rights of Japanese citizens. Most ministries have only two politically appointed posts—the minister and one of two vice ministers. and assembly. B Executive Executive power in Japan is vested in a cabinet. social status or family origin. His duties now are primarily ceremonial. the cabinet consists of the heads of 12 ministries and the directors of 9 administrative agencies. All could be modified by statute. the postwar constitution guarantees more than 25 specific rights and freedoms of Japanese citizens. Finally. The most controversial aspect of the postwar constitution is Article 9. The emperor continues to function as head of state. The Meiji constitution had granted a number of rights to subjects of the emperor. The executive cabinet is fully accountable to the legislature. Article 9 was included in the constitution at the insistence of the occupation authorities. particularly those on demilitarization and the status of the emperor. . the prime minister must either resign or dissolve the lower house of the Diet and hold a new general election in hopes of winning majority support in the legislature. Most of these rights and freedoms can be limited by legislation if necessary for the public welfare. with the majority party (or coalition) in the Diet selecting a prime minister. with potential employees subject to strict national examinations. the right to work. If the Diet passes a vote of no confidence. First. nearly all civil servants in Japan spend their entire careers within a single ministry or agency. The prime minister is elected by the Diet and typically is the leader of the majority party in the Diet. speech. The influence of career ministry and agency officials is enhanced by several features of the organization of Japan’s government. including the right to trial by judges and freedom of religion. All law-making authority is vested in the Diet. such as receiving ambassadors and convening legislative sessions. None of these rights were absolute. In addition to the prime minister. B1 Ministries and Administrative Agencies Japan’s ministries and agencies are staffed primarily by career civil servants. but only as a symbol of the nation. Public support for constitutional revision is weak. The civil service also is highly professional.

Therefore. Nevertheless. Japanese officials thus develop a strong sense of identification and loyalty to the single ministry or agency in which they work. The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI).there is little opportunity for permanent career change among public agencies or. and influential private interests. which has jurisdiction over export and import policies as well as domestic industrial policy. the majority party in the Diet ultimately controls all legislative enactments. A law is often drafted initially by bureaucrats in the ministry or agency with jurisdiction and technical expertise over its subject matter. which ensures its preeminence among all the ministries. Some ministries wield more influence within the government than others. The prestige of these ministries makes them highly sought-after places of employment and draws some of Japan’s best minds to public service. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) is another top organization. The Ministry of Finance (MOF) initially formulates the annual budget. individual members of the Diet whose support is politically significant. C Legislature . Before the law is sent to the Diet for a vote. The drafting ministry also takes into account the views of career officials in other ministries or agencies affected by the legislation. Japan’s ministries and administrative agencies play a relatively active role in creating legislation. into private enterprises. In addition to cabinet oversight. Ministries incorporate the views of academic specialists and private interests through special advisory commissions. The final product of Japan’s legislative process generally reflects the views of the leaders of the majority party in the Diet. primarily through cabinet oversight. the cabinet’s Legislation Bureau may review or revise it. B2 Role of Ministries and Agencies in the Legislative Process As is the case in other parliamentary democracies. the ministries are also constrained by the need for broad consensus among those affected by proposed legislation. is also very influential. all legislation in Japan reflects policies that are either determined or approved by the cabinet. until retirement. Each of these factors contributes to the cohesion and stability of Japan’s ministries and agencies and thereby their political influence.

Japan The lower house of the Japanese legislature. A bill becomes law if a majority in each house approves it. Their term may be shorter. The House of Representatives has 480 members. For this reason the House of Representatives is the more powerful of the two bodies. it can still be passed into law if two-thirds of the lower house approves it on a second vote. 300 of whom are elected by simple majority vote in single-member districts (geographical areas that each have one representative). the selection of the prime minister. or adoption of treaties with foreign countries. Councillors’ term of office is six years. However. of whom 96 are elected by proportional representation from a national constituency and 146 are elected from Japan’s 47 prefectures. House of Representatives Japan’s legislature. meets in this chamber of the Imperial Diet Building in Tokyo. If the upper and lower houses disagree over approval of the budget. The House of Councillors has 242 members. if the prime minister or members of the House of Representatives decide to dissolve the house before the term is up in order to hold a general election. The maximum term of office for representatives is four years. if a bill does not receive upperhouse approval.House of Representatives. however. It can seat 480 people. the decision of the lower house becomes law after 30 days without a second vote. with one-half of the members elected every three years. the House of Representatives. The upper house is not subject to dissolution. D Judiciary . the National Diet. comprises two houses—a lower House of Representatives and an upper House of Councillors. The remaining 180 members are elected by proportional representation from a list of candidates selected by the political parties.

District courts serve as the principal courts of first instance. All judges may be removed by impeachment. Japan’s appellate courts also have the power of revision. towns. Japan has relatively few judges. and other family matters. the cabinet appoints all judges except the chief justice. who is appointed by the emperor at the direction of the cabinet. including contested divorces. Below the prefectural level are cities. towns. succession. in addition to nominating lower court judges and hearing appeals. as opposed to the determination of facts). Japan does not have a jury system. E Local Government Japan is divided into a total of 47 prefectures. Cities. and Supreme Court justices may also be removed by popular vote when their names appear on the ballot in the first election after their appointment and every ten years thereafter. As in the United States. which are almost always renewed. and Hokkaidō. The Japanese judiciary is notable for its autonomy and public trust. including Okinawa. Below the Supreme Court are eight high courts with jurisdiction to hear appeals on issues of both law and fact. courts at all levels may rule on the constitutionality of any statute or other formal government measure. and villages. In addition to 43 regular prefectures. where ordinary civil and criminal cases are first brought to trial.000 yen or less and minor criminal cases. Under the postwar constitution. Judicial candidates receive extensive training at a government institute. both urban prefectures. 5 of the 15 Supreme Court justices are career judges. The postwar constitution provides explicitly for the power of judicial review. local units of government have significantly greater autonomy than they did under the prewar system.Japan’s court system is organized in four tiers. and the advice of nominating agencies and senior judges in appointing justices to the Supreme Court. however. a special prefectural district. Its 15 justices have jurisdiction to hear appeals on issues of law (those involving legal interpretation. there are four special prefectures: Tokyo. As a matter of law. or the power to enter new judgments on appeal. Lower court judges serve ten-year terms. By convention. Japan’s most senior career judges tend to share markedly conservative attitudes toward the role of the courts and the foundations of public trust. The Supreme Court. 5 are former practicing lawyers or prosecutors. and judicial caseloads tend to be extraordinarily heavy. and 5 are former government officials or scholars. the cabinet accepts the recommendations of the Supreme Court in the appointment and promotion of lower court judges. In the bottom tier are summary courts. Kyōto and Ōsaka. Most first instance district court cases are tried by a three-judge panel. which constitutes a metropolitan prefecture. Domestic relations cases in the family court must be submitted to a panel of court-appointed lay conciliators who try to reconcile the parties. As in Germany. their jurisdiction is restricted to civil cases involving claims of 900. Their influence in the administration of the judiciary has thus ensured a cautious judiciary that generally follows rather than leads judicial and public consensus. as well as juvenile offenses. Each prefecture is governed by a popularly elected governor and a unicameral (single-house) prefectural assembly. also sets judicial procedures and manages the judicial system. At the top is the Supreme Court. In practice. For every district court there is also a separate family court with jurisdiction over domestic relations cases. and villages also have popularly elected . then serve a ten-year term as assistant judge before being promoted to full judgeship.

The national government exercises control over local governments through their fiscal dependency and through national legislation. advocating socialist revolution and military neutrality. which local authorities must implement. F2 Opposition Parties Until recently. Local governments have authority to levy taxes. Ashida Hitoshi. F Political Parties Political parties have existed in Japan since the 1870s. the party was dominated by relatively stable factions grouped around politically powerful leaders. it also championed various social welfare issues. For many decades. but traditionally it emphasized economic development and close ties with the United States. dropping . following the adoption of the Meiji constitution. With other opposition parties. but they still depend on the national government for grants and subsidies. succeeded Katayama as prime minister and kept the left-center coalition together for another five months. F1 The Liberal Democratic Party In post-World War II Japan. but they began to develop more fully when the first national legislature was created in 1890. and the three-party coalition fell apart the following year. To improve its ability to pass legislation in the Diet. In recent years it has also focused on administrative reform and economic liberalization. However. For many years the party embraced a leftist platform.mayors and legislative assemblies. when Socialist Party prime minister Tetsu Katayama formed a coalition government that lasted for ten months. the Social Democratic Party of Japan (SDPJ) and New Party Sakigake. The elections produced a one-seat gain for the LDP. It returned to power in 1996 when it formed a coalition government with two opposition parties. In 1993 the LDP again lost control of the government. In the late 1980s the SDPJ began to move to the right. In 1997 the LDP regained a small majority in the lower house. by mid-1993 a number of leading politicians and their supporters had withdrawn from the party. A series of corruption scandals in the late 1980s and early 1990s caused the LDP to lose its majority in the upper house. causing the LDP to lose its majority in the lower house on the eve of national elections. An eight-party coalition of opposition parties governed Japan from 1993 to 1996. but the LDP remained the largest single party in the Diet. The LDP was created in 1955 from the union of the Liberal Party and the Democratic Party. the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) became the dominant political party. and the party began to fracture. However. such as national health insurance. The party’s philosophy is not well defined. leader of the Democratic Party. with the exception of a brief period in 1947-1948. The LDP and its predecessors governed Japan from 1946 until 1993. the LDP subsequently formed coalitions with minor parties. the factions recently have become more volatile. For several years the LDP was able to maintain control of the Diet through its hold on the more powerful lower house. Japan’s leading opposition party was the SDPJ (known as the Japan Socialist Party until 1991). including the Liberal Party and New Komeito. two conservative parties that emerged in the aftermath of the war. but the party did not regain a majority.

The Japan Communist Party (JCP) advocates unarmed neutrality and a peaceful transition to socialism. In 1994 the Diet adopted a number of electoral reforms. in Japanese. Two of the party’s leaders have served as prime minister: Tetsu Katayama in 1947-1948. New Komeito is a centrist party that was initially affiliated with a religious organization known as Sōka Gakkai but officially severed its ties to the group in 1970. These included restrictions on the fundraising activities of individual politicians and the introduction of a mixed system of single-member electoral districts and proportional representation. Many political analysts believed that Japan’s pre-1994 electoral system contributed to the strength of factions. Factions have been accused of creating negative effects such as raising the cost of elections. which entered into a coalition with the LDP in 1999. Japan has several other major long-standing opposition parties. giving rise to a number of new parties. and promoting individual politicians rather than beneficial public policies. the New People’s Party. at the expense of factions. The DPJ is a centrist party that was founded in the 1990s to advocate reforms such as the decentralization of government power.the goal of socialist revolution from its party platform. multimember districts (geographical areas that have more than one representative). or faction. The most important of these was the Japan New Party. Furthermore. . the cost of local organization and factionalism was great. However. in order to win votes. the Liberal Party was absorbed by the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) in 2003. Although the system was thought to ensure greater representation for minority parties. Hosokawa Morihiro. The NFP split apart in 1997. During the years of LDP dominance. From 1925 to 1994 voters elected Diet members from medium-sized. became prime minister at the head of the eight-party coalition government in 1993. many observers felt that political competition among the LDP factions was more significant than that among the different parties. With the fracturing of the LDP in the early 1990s. several new opposition parties were formed by LDP defectors. and Murayama Tomiichi from 1994 to 1996. the Japan New Party merged with several other reform groups to form the New Frontier Party (NFP. candidates had to distinguish themselves from their party’s other candidates. including the Liberal Party. Parties were thus forced to organize intensively at the local level during elections in order to encourage voters to distribute their votes evenly among the party’s candidates. fostering influence-peddling. The Democratic Socialist Party (DSP) was formed by a right-wing group that split from the SDPJ in 1960. The reforms give the party power. After the coalition fell apart in 1994. In 2005 a group of LDP defectors who opposed the reforms of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi (Western style) formed another new party. F3 Electoral Reform Japanese politics have long been characterized by strong political factions. In the late 1990s the SDPJ lost its former prominence as a variety of new parties emerged as the LDP’s principal opposition. which advocated government reform. the number of seats the party controlled in the Diet would not reflect its popular support within the district. Shinshinto). but each voter could vote for only one candidate. Most parties put forward candidates for more than one of the available seats. Its leader. often by developing a personal following. Under this system it was possible for a single popular candidate to win such a large percentage of the vote that the party’s remaining candidates might lose to minority party candidates. In this case.

As its name implies. and a central staff. a navy (44. is voluntary.900 members. In 2004 the SDF consisted of about 239. Since then they have been reconstituted as separate political parties. but they are dominated by a relatively constant group of leaders. The turmoil of party politics since the early 1990s largely reflects the instability of factions. Within these parameters Japan maintains the technologically most advanced military establishment in East Asia.200). rather than that of parties or politicians. Japan's primary military body. Known today as the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (SDF). These parties continuously change and realign themselves. Many of the newly created conservative parties were factions within the LDP before 1993.600). Japan’s military was first established as the National Police Reserve in 1950. The effect of the reforms on factions nevertheless remains uncertain. the SDF’s stated purpose is to defend the country from attack rather than to fight aggressive wars. . The Japanese constitution forbids the SDF to take military action for purposes other than self-defense or taking part in United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions. Although Japan spends more on defense than any of its neighbors. G Defense Japanese Peacekeeping Mission Service in the Self-Defense Forces (SDF). an air force (45.over political candidates.400). it still spends less than half of the amount spent by the United States (measured as a percentage of gross domestic product). Here. members of the SDF disembark a transport plane in Cambodia as part of a UN mission to monitor a 1991 peace treaty. Service in the SDF is voluntary. The country also has a coast guard. These comprised an army (148. All police forces in Japan are controlled by the central government. The creation of the SDF has been legally justified on the basis that all nations possess an inherent right of self-defense. It also establishes both legal and political restraints for all government decisions related to defense. David Portnoy/ PictureQuest Article 9 of the postwar constitution renounces war and the maintenance of military forces. It also carries out domestic disaster relief operations.

Haley. In recent years Japan has displayed greater independence. particularly in Asia. Japan sent mine sweepers to help remove mines from the gulf. Under substantial international pressure. H International Affairs and Organizations After World War II Japan pursued a set of international affairs policies associated with Prime Minister Yoshida Shigeru. including the Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). and the World Health Organization (WHO). In 1992 the Diet passed legislation permitting Japanese forces to participate in UN peacekeeping operations in noncombatant roles. but Japan has no obligation to defend the United States from attack. including one to monitor a peace treaty signed in Cambodia in 1991. the most powerful UN body. In the early 2000s Japan was seeking a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.‖ Japan’s constitution also limits its participation in United Nations (UN) military and peacekeeping operations. The Government section of this article was contributed by John O. and it plays a prominent role in a number of UN agencies. Thus. the Educational. Japan’s government has long interpreted Article 9 as prohibiting the deployment of the SDF outside of Japan. and since then the SDF has taken part in several operations. After the war.-Iraq War) in the early 2000s. still in effect.S.Legal and political constraints prevent Japan from participating fully in collective international military actions. but Japanese foreign policy is still relatively passive and emphasizes caution and consensus. VII HISTORY . While Japan rarely asserts itself independently. Japan also sent SDF troops to Iraq (see U. Since the 1970s Japan has become a major source of foreign aid to developing countries. In 1997 a controversial revision to the guidelines for U. and avoidance of independent international political commitments.-Japan military cooperation extended the scenarios for cooperation to include emergencies ―near Japan. Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). it does participate actively in international organizations and humanitarian efforts.S. The so-called Yoshida Doctrine emphasized economic growth. Japan provided funds but not personnel in the Persian Gulf War (1990-1991). both nations pledge to resist any attack on Japanese territory. dependence on the United States for security and leadership in international affairs. under the 1960 Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between Japan and the United States. Japan’s ability to participate actively in regional and international security arrangements remains a significant domestic and international issue. Japan has been a member of the UN since 1956.

bamboo. Very little is known about where these people came from or how they arrived on the islands. or braided cords over the outer surface. during the ice ages of the Pleistocene Epoch (1. Known as the Jōmon people (after the cord markings that decorated their pottery). However. Scala/Art Resource. The Paleolithic culture of Japan’s earliest inhabitants produced rough stone tools and articles of bone. . made distinctive pottery for boiling.000 to 300 bc.000 years ago. who thrived from 10. NY Human beings may have inhabited the Japanese island chain as early as 200.Jōmon Pottery Japan’s Jōmon people.6 million to 10. Historians theorize that successive waves of Paleolithic hunters from the Asian mainland may have followed herds of wild animals across these land routes. but they did not know how to work metals. plant fibers. Archaeological evidence suggests that a large number of Neolithic hunter-fisher-gatherers migrated to Japan before sea levels rose at the end of the last ice age. steaming. these immigrants used more sophisticated bone and stone tools and low-fired clay pots. and a land bridge temporarily linked the Japanese islands to the Korea Peninsula and eastern Siberia on the Asian continent. The pots were made with coils of clay and then decorated by rolling carved sticks. and wood.000 years before the present) sea levels were lower than they are today. The Paleolithic culture of prehistoric Japan gave way to a Neolithic culture around 10. This cord-marked (jōmon) pottery gave the culture its name. and storing food.000 BC.

bronze weapons. Agriculture enabled peasant cultivators to store food surpluses from year to year and encouraged them to abandon the nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle and live in fixed settlements.E. but it is also likely that migration from the continent continued in later centuries.Pottery of the Yayoi Culture These vessels are characteristic of the pottery of Japan’s Yayoi culture. The Ainu inhabitants of the northern island of Hokkaidō and the inhabitants of the Ryukyu Islands to the south are the only people on the Japanese archipelago who appear to have more direct genetic links to the Jōmon people. and iron-working techniques in Kyūshū around 300 BC revolutionized the lives of the islands’ inhabitants. Tahara Honchoo B. By AD 300 the new agricultural way of life (called Yayoi culture after the archaeological site where its artifacts were first discovered) had spread to the majority of the population. The use of iron farming tools as well as other implements made of wood increased peasants’ productivity. which began about 350 or 300 bc. The hunter-gatherer way of life persisted only in the northern part of Honshū. and as productivity grew. as the majority of the modern Japanese gene pool reflects an inflow from the continent after agriculture arrived. which they sometimes fired with red slip (clay and water). The arrival of paddy rice cultivation. this theory is not universally accepted. Although some historians hypothesize that Yayoi culture was the result of another major migration from the Asian continent by sea. DNA evidence suggests that modern Japanese people descend from both the Jōmon and the Yayoi peoples. The Yayoi people used the pottery wheel to create their earthenware pottery. A Development of the Early State . so did the population.

The mounds often combined a round top with a square bottom in a shape that resembles a keyhole. houses. and inanimate objects such as hats. covering .Haniwa Figure Beginning in the 4th century. a rich and fertile plain south of the modern city of Kyōto. By the 4th century local rulers in Japan’s Yamato region. Representing human figures. Eventually. According to Chinese reports from that time. Giraudon/Art Resource. The largest keyhole-shaped mound. haniwa were placed in rings around the huge keyhole-shaped earthen tombs built for Japan’s early rulers. relatively self-sufficient village communities. clay sculptures called haniwa were produced in Japan. animals. Fortified hilltop and highland village sites surrounded by moats or earthen embankments became increasingly common. and fans. The moated earthen mounds cover stone burial chambers. when emissaries of a ―king‖ (likely a tribal chief) of a territory in ―Wo‖ (the Chinese name for Japan) arrived at China’s imperial court and received a gold seal from the emperor. The size and complexity of the mounds indicate that the Yamato rulers controlled considerable labor forces and other resources. clusters of villages united in small territorial or tribal units under local chieftains. by the 3rd century the Wo people were divided into a number of small ―countries. Archaeological evidence suggests that by the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD fighting broke out among these local chieftains as they sought to expand their territories. The first recorded contact between Japan and China occurred in AD 57. They lived in small.‖ probably consisting of tribal confederations. Chinese historical chronicles provide additional evidence of the state of Japanese political organization during this period. had begun to build large burial mounds ( kofun). NY The earliest settlers of the islands did not have a very complex political organization.

60 hectares (150 acres). Writing made it possible for a new specialized class of scribes to compile and keep records. Korea also transmitted Chinese social and religious philosophies to Japan during this period. Scholars estimate that constructing this mound required the labor of 1. and it opened Japan to the influence of continental literary. it does not seem likely that a large invading force and their mounts could have crossed over from the Korea Peninsula. and material resources. and philosophical culture. had brought many of the small ―countries‖ on the Japanese archipelago under loose control. and saddles. firing finer and more durable ceramics. Korean artisans had brought in more advanced methods of working iron. the Korean kingdom of Paekche sent the Yamato court a Chinese scholar who brought with him a set of the basic writings of Confucianism. the Yamato rulers became increasingly aware of political developments on the Asian continent. new materials. the great pyramids of Egypt. Discoveries at the burial mounds. technical skills. In the middle of the 6th century the ruler of Paekche sent a group of Buddhist priests to Japan ( see Buddhism). As Japan was drawn further into the Chinese sphere of cultural influence. Clay figurines (haniwa) placed around the periphery of the mounds and burial goods found within them indicate that those buried were horse-mounted warriors equipped with body armor and archery weapons. and historical records indicate that. and manufacturing stirrups. however. bridles. The priests brought with them Buddhist religious images. Given the state of shipbuilding technology at that time. religious. and immigrants was arriving in Japan from the Korea Peninsula. and calendars. mobilizing superior manpower. The Japanese learned how to cast bronze spearheads and bells. The Chinese writing system was introduced to Japan at about the same time. if not in height. In the late 4th century or early 5th century. dwarfed in area. making swords and armor. B Chinese-Style Monarchy . Historical records suggest that by the 6th century the Yamato ruling family. by the late 5th century. Some historians have used this archaeological evidence to hypothesize that an invasion of horse riders from the Asian continent in the 5th century brought with it the elements of Kofun culture. indicate that a continuous flow of new technologies.000 or more people working full time for four years. scriptures. Most do not accept this theory.

instituted the Taika reforms. until 645. who managed the Yamato ruler’s treasury and had become powerful patrons of Buddhism. The turn toward the continent was promoted by the chiefs of the Soga clan. Japanese tradition credits Prince Shōtoku with introducing a hierarchy of ranks for court officials in 603 and composing 17 injunctions (sometimes called the Seventeen-Article Constitution) in 604. nor were their powers clearly defined. Naka no Oe . the uji controlled their own territories. the injunctions outline the qualities necessary for good government. the Soga gained increasing power at court. the Yamato rulers were in no sense absolute monarchs. and practices to strengthen their position. at times dominating the Yamato rulers. with the help of monks and scholars who had studied in China. who ruled Japan during the 7th century. The Yamato court was impressed by China’s Sui and Tang dynasties. which were intended to curb the influence of powerful clans. for example. However.Japanese Emperor Tenji Emperor Tenji. Aimed primarily at officials. the Yamato prince Naka no Oe (later the ruler Tenji) engineered a coup that ended the power of the Soga at court. No significant institutional changes occurred. These dynasties ruled China from the 6th century to the 10th century. He drew up the reforms. however. They relied on chiefs of subordinate uji (clans) to manage local peasant populations. laws. drawing heavily on Confucian ethical and political ideas (see Confucius). In that year. a member of the Yamato lineage and regent to the female ruler Suiko. By intermarrying with the royal family. They emphasize. Tanzan Shrine For all of their expanding influence. The introduction of the Chinese political model in Japan is often attributed to Shōtoku Taishi. which reunified the Chinese monarchical state after nearly 400 years of division. and chieftains in remote parts of the country often challenged Yamato authority. In the 7th century the Yamato rulers embarked on a massive importation of Chinese political institutions. that state officials should be selected on the basis of talent and virtue rather than heredity.

and promulgated a new system of ranks. The Taihō Code of 701 and the Yōrō Code of 718. and land was to be reallocated based on any population changes. drawing up a series of reforms in 645 and 646 with the help of scholars and monks who had studied in China. as they came to be known. and administration. it housed the ministries and offices of a new Chinese-style bureaucracy. The country was divided into provinces managed by governors who were dispatched from the capital. elaborate sets of laws modeled on those of China’s Tang dynasty. dispatched provincial officials to supplant them. administered the government. established a penal code and outlined administrative organization and procedures. The Taika reforms. To do this. It then granted an allotment of land to every man and woman over the age of six. The purpose of the land redistribution was to provide the adult population with enough land to feed itself. In 710 the reorganized imperial court established a new Chinese-style capital at Heijō-kyō (the modern city of Nara). center. organized into eight hierarchical ranks.then set about consolidating the power of the central government. were intended to undercut the influence of the powerful clan chieftains. Prince Shōtoku Prince Shōtoku. The codes specified that every six years a new census was to be taken. This undated painting is part of the collection of the Japanese imperial household. . These reforms marked the beginning of the conversion of the Yamato ruler from a great lord ( taikun) to an emperor (tennō). the reforms abolished the clan chieftains’ control over local land and people. labor. Laid out in a rectangular grid. Corbis The economic base of the imperial court. with its expanded bureaucracy and new capital. The government surveyed all cultivated land in the country and took a population census. In return. The Japanese government seems to have conducted regular surveys throughout the country during most of the 8th century. landholders were obliged to pay taxes in the form of rice. began a process of administrative reform in the early 7th century that culminated in the establishment of Japan’s first centralized state. Japan’s new imperial state was highly centralized. or some local product. was a land and tax system modeled on the Chinese system. taxation. Appointed officials.

C The Heian Aristocracy After the move to Heian-kyō. Many students and scholars accompanied these missions and often remained in China for years. Between 701 and 777 the Japanese court dispatched seven missions to China. without the personal character. During the course of the 7th and 8th centuries Japanese settlers had pushed north as far as the modern city of Sendai on Honshū island. It housed a huge statue of the Buddha. and other luxury goods brought in from all over Asia. scholars. The Buddhist priesthood acquired enormous political influence. and agricultural workers. hoping to escape the influence of the Buddhist temples. Yamato emperors expanded their rule over all of the main islands of Japan except Hokkaidō. and experience needed to play a strong political role. and their commanders were the first to receive the title of sei-i-tai shogun (―barbarian-conquering supreme general‖). a number of them financed by the new imperial state. the Shōsōin. Often the emperor was a child or youth. aristocratic officials were given official land. They dominated both the politics and cultural activities of the imperial court until the 12th century. Beginning in the late 8th century. Indirect contact with India. lacquerware. and western Asia also enriched the higher culture at Japan’s imperial court. Political power in the imperial court shifted into the hands of influential aristocratic families. the Ezo of northern Honshū had been largely subdued. built between 743 and 752 as the centerpiece of a nationwide system of temples. and then in 794 to Heian-kyō (the modern city of Kyōto). usually shortened to shogun.The imperial government continued to maintain contacts with the Asian continent through diplomatic embassies sent to China’s Sui and Tang courts. especially during the reigns of several female emperors in the mid-8th century. The capital at Heijō-kyō was also the site of many large and powerful Buddhist temples and monasteries. An imperial treasure house that still exists in Nara. Emperors thus became figureheads whose main function was to preside over official ceremonies and religious rituals. is filled with ceramics ( see Pottery). The aristocrats held the highest official ranks and occupied the most important bureaucratic offices. and monks returned to Japan with new forms of Buddhist practice. The most impressive was Tōdaiji. known collectively as Ezo (now called Ainu). and they paid no taxes. and new styles of literature. Secure in their inherited wealth and position. where the imperial palace remained almost without interruption until 1868. C1 Aristocratic Control Despite such signs of imperial power. aristocratic families accumulated huge amounts of land and power over the generations. most of whom descended from the clan chieftains who had been allied with the Yamato rulers in the 6th and 7th centuries. They usually inherited their positions. Students. new ideas about writing history. moved the capital in 784 to Nagaoka. residences. The campaigns began to achieve success by the early 9th century. the political role of the emperor shrank in importance during the 9th century. By the middle of the 9th century. silk cloths. skills. The flow of people reinforced the flow of culture. . each comprising 500 to 600 people. Central Asia. estimated to have required 338 tons of copper and 16 tons of gold. the court dispatched a series of military expeditions to northern Honshū to conquer the land still occupied by indigenous tribal groups. household servants. In place of a salary. The emperor Kammu.

At the same time. The influence of the Fujiwara family remained strong until the middle of the 11th century. and the great Buddhist temples at the capital gradually came to depend on a system of private estates (shōen) for revenue. a period often considered Japan’s classical age. the Japanese developed their own forms of artistic and literary expression. were tax-free. but their power diminished. Two emperors were his nephews and three were his grandsons. when Fujiwara regents were displaced by retired emperors who dominated their minor successors. a style depicting scenes of court life. The estates’ aristocratic proprietors shared the income from the land with local estate managers. the development of kana. Provincial officials stopped forwarding tax revenues to the capital and instead used their official powers to enrich themselves. These large hereditary estates. C2 The Rise of the Warriors . a new phonetic writing system. Many peasants and small landholders commended their land to such estates to escape the heavy burden of taxes levied on public land. The most successful of the Fujiwara leaders was Fujiwara Michinaga. and literary works became popular. (For more information. In literature. The imperial family. Thereafter. In painting. the aristocratic families. more and more landholdings escaped the public tax registers. descendants of a clan chieftain who had played a central role in the Taika reforms. the Fujiwara continued to hold high office. then served as regents ( kampaku) or chancellors (sesshu). and with the end of direct contacts.The most powerful of the aristocratic families were the Fujiwara. The official bureaucratic structure ceased to have anything to do with the actual functioning of government. landscapes. and land redistribution were abandoned because the imperial government lacked the number of educated people needed to manage such a system. who married four daughters to successive emperors in the late 10th and early 11th centuries. land surveys. reducing the inflow of official income. The elaborate land and tax system instituted in the 8th century fell into decay as regular population censuses. see the Culture section of this article. Rank and office were sold to aristocrats hungry for more land or prestige. encouraged new forms of poetry and a native prose literature. exercising powers delegated to them by infant or minor emperors. and eventually most positions became purely hereditary. who supervised the peasant farmers. located in every part of Japan. After 838 the court no longer sent diplomatic missions to China. Culture flourished in the era of aristocratic rule.) Aristocratic domination of the imperial court signaled the decline of the Chinese-model state. Beginning in 858 the heads of the Fujiwara family married their daughters into the imperial family.

and marrying one of his daughters into the imperial family. to command these regional alliances. Kiyomori continued to build his influence at court. usually small estate proprietors or estate managers. Much of their time was devoted to the cultivation of martial skills—archery. many of them descended from the imperial family or aristocratic families. . but Taira Kiyomori emerged as the dominant figure at court. Often warriors served as local district officials. The Taira and one branch of the Minamoto together defeated the Fujiwara faction. With their land holdings. which maintained no standing army of its own. and they dominated the surrounding peasant communities. with each faction recruiting military leaders to its cause. His authority was briefly and unsuccessfully challenged in 1160 by an alliance between the Minamoto and the Fujiwara. Particularly important were two warrior families descended from early 9th-century emperors: the Seiwa Minamoto. often relied on regional alliances of warrior bands to put down local rebellions or to deal with piracy. military skills. placing relatives in key offices at the capital and in the provinces. In 1156 an attempt by a Fujiwara official to regain power sparked an imperial succession dispute at the court. responsible for collecting taxes on remaining public lands. The warriors were typically landholders. and the Ise Taira. horsemanship. fortified compounds. based in the southwest. His infant grandson became emperor in 1180. Thereafter.Minamoto Yoritomo During the late 1100s Japanese warrior Minamoto Yoritomo established the shogunate. Local warrior families often banded together for protection into larger groups based on kinship ties. power in the provinces devolved to local warriors ( bushi or samurai). These warrior bands were effective in settling disputes over land and protecting their local communities from brigands and bandits. Sakamoto Photo Research Laboratory/CORBIS-BETTMANN As the effective influence of the imperial court gradually waned from the 9th century through the 12th century. and access to local office. They lived in small. a military dictatorship that ruled Japan for nearly 700 years. based in eastern Japan. and swordsmanship. surrounded by palisades or earthen fortifications. The court appointed members of distinguished provincial families. By the mid-12th century the Minamoto and the Taira had been drawn into political disputes at the capital. The imperial court. the warriors constituted a powerful local elite.

the imperial court granted Yoritomo the title of shogun. Minamoto Yoritomo created a new set of governmental institutions at Kamakura in eastern Japan as an alternative to the decrepit central imperial government. real power in the Kamakura shogunate passed to his widow’s family.That same year Minamoto Yoritomo. ended five years later in 1185 when the Taira forces were finally defeated at the Battle of Dannoura near the modern city of Shimonoseki on the Inland Sea. The new style of military government was called a bakufu. The imperial court empowered Yoritomo to appoint two new kinds of officials: provincial constables ( shugo). By the end of the war. The ensuing civil war. a Minamoto leader. These personal vassals held offices at Kamakura or were appointed as constables or land stewards. In effect. This made him the country’s supreme military commander with powers to preserve domestic peace. led an uprising against the Taira. D The Kamakura Shoguns Japan's First Shogun Ruler After defeating the rival Taira clan in a bitter war that left him virtual ruler of Japan in the late 12th century. THE BETTMANN ARCHIVE During the course of the civil war. known as the Gempei War. In 1192. often referred to in English as a shogunate. instead the family prevailed upon the imperial court to appoint figurehead shoguns. Yoritomo’s government had extended its control beyond Kyōto to Kyūshū. charged with maintaining law and order in the provinces. often children. Minamoto Yoritomo established a feudal military administration that set the pattern for governmental structure in Japan until the Meiji restoration of 1868. After Yoritomo’s death in 1199. while a Hōjō leader served as regent. and land stewards (jitō). who were assigned to private estates to protect the rights of their proprietors. Yoritomo had become a feudal warrior monarch. after Yoritomo’s forces subdued a powerful branch of the Fujiwara family based in northern Honshū. sharing power with the civil imperial monarch at Kyōto. In 1221 the Hōjō . Their influence in the provinces was usually greater than that of the provincial governors and district chiefs appointed by the imperial court. No Hōjō ever became shogun. Yoritomo ruled through a network of personal vassals (gokenin) who pledged complete and unconditional loyalty to him. the Hōjō.

Go-Toba This illustration depicts Japanese emperor Go-Toba working at an anvil after his exile in 1221 after an unsuccessful attempt to restore imperial power. a Mongol invading force of about 40. While the Hōjō enjoyed a reputation for fairness and efficiency. Between 1201 and 1239 he compiled the Shin kokinshū. just off Japan’s shores. According to these teachers. The code also attempted to restrain and discipline unruly warriors by enjoining them to respect the rights of other groups. now known as the Jōei Code. including those of the religious establishments attached to temples and shrines. Inc. preached reliance on the power of the Amida Buddha. Two great religious leaders. a collection of Japanese poetry. their authority was seriously shaken by two attempted Mongol invasions. The Japanese had prepared extensive defensive fortifications. stressing meditation and intense self-discipline.000 landed in northern Kyūshū in 1274. who attempted to take back the reins of government. Nichiren. The large Buddhist monasteries and temples in the capital catered to the needs of the aristocratic families who patronized them. In the 13th century the Mongol Empire stretched across the entire Eurasian landmass. After the Kamakura government brusquely refused the Mongols’ demand that Japan acknowledge the suzerainty of the Mongol leader. a central Buddhist text. but the new schools of Pure Land Buddhism stressed personal salvation for ordinary believers. but before . Khublai Khan.succeeded in crushing a rebellion led by the retired emperor Go-Toba. another influential but contentious Buddhist leader. In 1232 the Kamakura shogunate promulgated a new 51-article legal code. and the warrior leaders at Kamakura patronized its monasteries and temples. also took hold among the warrior class. It laid out the rights of the warrior class and clarified the duties of constables and other Kamakura officials. an invocation to the Buddha. from Central Asia to China and Korea. Honen and Shinran. Private Collection/Laurie Platt Winfrey. this new legal code replaced the elaborate Chinese-modeled codes adopted by the imperial government in the 8th century. insisted that believers should instead invoke the name of the Lotus Sutra. The Zen sect. Go-Toba was a poet and patron of the arts. A set of practical laws based on local customs and practices. all believers could enter paradise by simply repeating the chant namu amida butsu. The era of Hōjō rule also witnessed the spread of new forms of popular Buddhism.

in 1281. Yoshimitsu is also remembered as the builder of the Golden Pavilion at his elegant retreat in the Kitayama section of Kyōto. persuaded the emperor at Yoshino to abdicate and worked out a compromise over the imperial succession. who in turn appointed Takauji as shogun. who had been exiled for having defied the shogunate. Takauji set up his own candidate for emperor. For the next 56 years. Yoshimitsu tried to establish the shogunal court at the center of culture as well as of politics. and other resources to defend Kyūshū demanded rewards for their efforts. The long civil war between the Northern and Southern courts had contributed to a growing independence of the local warrior class. weapons. Holding lavish gatherings for emperors.they were fully tested against the battle-wise Mongols. Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. A second invasion force of 140. E2 Descent into Civil War . and warrior discontent grew in the provinces. For them.‖ or kamikaze) destroyed much of the invading fleet. the Ashikaga shoguns were never able to assert as much control over the country as the Kamakura shogunate had. aristocrats. Under his patronage. E The Ashikaga Shoguns and Civil War Rise of the Ashikaga E1 In 1333 the retired emperor Go-Daigo. organized a rebellion against the Hōjō. and high-ranking warrior leaders.000 met a similar fate seven years later. bringing the Kamakura shogunate to an end. near the imperial palace. The defeat of the Mongols had a high political cost. near Nara. Known as the Kemmu Restoration. Despite the splendor of the shogunal court. During the civil war. Kamakura fell to the rebel forces and the Hōjō were ousted from power. where they could keep an eye on the Northern Court. civil war had provided an opportunity to expand their land holdings at the expense of their neighbors and the aristocratic owners of private estates. to establish a rival court. The dispute over dynastic succession was of little importance to the warriors who joined the armies of the two imperial courts. For the next two years. The dispute was eventually resolved in 1392. civil war between the Northern Court (at Kyōto) and the Southern Court (at Yoshino) divided the country. a powerful warrior leader in eastern Japan. the Ashikaga shoguns had established their political base in Kyōto. the uprising was spearheaded by Ashikaga Takauji. Warrior families who had mobilized men. In 1336 Ashikaga Takauji turned against Go-Daigo and drove him from the capital at Kyōto. but the Kamakura government had no confiscated land or booty to satisfy their claims. new art forms such as nō drama and Chinese-style ink painting flourished. As a result. Go-Daigo attempted to restore the authority of the imperial throne. a sudden storm (later known as ―the divine wind. Go-Daigo and his supporters fled south to Yoshino. By the time the war ended. when the third Ashikaga shogun. Ashikaga Yoshimitsu had built a splendid Palace of Flowers in the Muromachi section of Kyōto. confidence in the Hōjō declined. The cumulative effect of the civil war was therefore to accelerate the drift toward feudal anarchy.

when the country was plunged into more or less constant internal warfare. while many more were their vassals or independent warrior leaders who fought both the constables and each other to build regional domains under their complete and absolute control. Instead they built territorial regimes that were centered on castles and relied on the support of local warrior followers. near the modern city of Gifu. and by 1573 he was confident enough of his own power to depose the last Ashikaga shogun. the existence of the imperial capital at Kyōto was a potent reminder that the country had once been unified. but instead of protecting landholders’ rights. already impoverished by the collapse of the estate system. levied taxes directly on the peasantry. In 1600 Tokugawa Ieyasu. Ieyasu established a new capital at Edo (modern Tokyo) in eastern Japan. and the authority of the Ashikaga shoguns completely collapsed. A major turning point came with the outbreak of a new civil disorder. After a series of successful campaigns in the 1580s and early 1590s. central political authority was in rapid decline. rose to power. The century following the Ōnin War is usually known as the era of warring states. Hideyoshi succeeded in establishing political sway over the entire country. his leading generals fell to fighting among themselves for control of the consolidated realm. they overran weaker neighbors or bullied them into alliances. the constables gradually acquired large. began the process of reunifying the country by building up a strong domain in central Japan across the main trade route linking the eastern and western parts of the country. took refuge in the provinces. By the early 15th century. and burned time after time. The daimyo abandoned any semblance of loyalty to central authority. however.The shogunate delegated increasing power to the constables responsible for maintaining order in the provinces. each backed by a coalition of warrior leaders. They paid little heed to orders from above that did not serve their interests. Before Nobunaga could consolidate his rule. Although the powers of the shogun and emperor had been eclipsed. Local warrior families. During this period. Many court aristocrats. emerged victorious over his rivals at the Battle of Sekigahara. son of a minor daimyo in central Japan. As these upstart warlords expanded their territories. Some were former constables. nearly autonomous domains for themselves. a new breed of feudal lords. a man of humble origins who had become one of Nobunaga’s leading generals. the Ōnin War of 1467-1477. many headed by constables. who had been an ally of both Nobunaga and Hideyoshi. As a result of their steady inroads on the estate system. known as daimyo. leaving an infant heir. The war began with a dispute between two candidates for the shogunal succession. local warriors undermined the remaining economic base of the Kyōto aristocracy. E3 Reunification The most ambitious daimyo aspired to dominate the whole country. issued their own legal codes. were fiercely attached to their land and concerned only with their local power. which was left in ruins after being fought over. and other public works. new irrigation systems. continued the process of unification. Toyotomi Hideyoshi. and promoted local economic development through land reclamation. Oda Nobunaga. Administration was likewise local: the daimyo raised their own feudal armies. In 1568 he secured military control over Kyōto. Most of the fighting took place in Kyōto. and in 1603 assumed the title of shogun. When he died in 1598. . He also launched two unsuccessful invasions of Korea. he met a premature death at the hand of one of his principal vassals. looted.

had become Roman Catholics. during the era of warring states the Japanese had their first contacts with Westerners. While the map lacks northern Honshū and Hokkaidō islands. F The Tokugawa Shoguns The Bakuhan System F1 . Firearms decisively changed the face of Japanese warfare. Liaison Agency Meanwhile. a small island off the southern coast of Kyūshū. a Jesuit missionary. brought Roman Catholicism to Japan. Southeast Asia. and in 1549 Francis Xavier. the Japanese learned the use of firearms. it does depict southern Japan with relative accuracy. The Jesuit missionaries. and they introduced the Japanese to the practices of smoking tobacco and deep-frying foods. rendering obsolete the horseriding warrior who had dominated the battlefield for centuries. sketches. which they soon began to manufacture themselves.E4 Contact with the West 16th-Century Map of Japan This map of Japan was drawn in the 16th century by Flemish geographer Abraham Ortelius. offering the lure of trade as bait. In 1543 Portuguese traders arrived at Tanegashima. and written accounts. were extremely successful in making converts. relying on sailors’ charts. several hundred thousand Japanese. By the time of the Battle of Sekigahara. With the arrival of the Portuguese. and other parts of Asia. The Portuguese traders were also an important source of goods from China. including a number of daimyo in Kyūshū and western Japan.

The Tokugawa shogunate gave Japan peace and stability for more than 250 years. The rest was dominated by the daimyo. until the Meiji Restoration brought it to an end. who had their own governments. and his grandson Iemitsu (1623-1651). fiefs controlled directly by the Tokugawa family. The Tokugawa family had direct control over only about one quarter of the productive land in the country. and the han. ―outside lords‖). © Microsoft Corporation. The Tokugawa shogunate was the most effective government that Japan had experienced so far in its history. Less trustworthy daimyo were left in outlying fiefs and were closely watched.Japan Under the Tokugawa Shoguns Under the Tokugawa shogunate (1603-1867). warrior armies. tax and land systems. and those who had fought against them (known as tozama. Ieyasu made a distinction between the daimyo who had fought with the Tokugawa at the Battle of Sekigahara (known as fudai. The emperor continued to rule as the civil monarch in Kyōto. however. All daimyo. Altogether there were about 250 to 300 daimyo. In redistributing land. The Tokugawa shogunate consolidated its power during the reigns of Ieyasu (1603-1605). ―hereditary vassals‖). but it was not a centralized monarchy like the old imperial government at Kyōto. his son Hidetada (1605-1623). castle towns. . which functioned as the central government. Each daimyo was free to govern the family fief but could be deposed by the shogun and had to attend him every second year in Edo (modern Tokyo). All Rights Reserved. feudal domains under the control of the daimyo). Many daimyo had survived military unification with their existing domains intact. but he had little actual power. formed the basis of government. The shogun shared power and authority with the local daimyo in a system known as bakuhan (a combination of the bakufu. The tozama were assigned domains on the periphery of the islands and were generally excluded from positions in the central government. or controlled indirectly through related or allied daimyo (feudal lords). were required to pledge their personal feudal loyalty to the shogun in return for the right to rule their domains. while other domains were newly created by Ieyasu and his heirs. and courts.

While consolidating their domestic position. in 1603. the daimyo had to secure the shogun’s permission to build new castles.Tokugawa Ieyasu Born in the 16th century at a time when Japan was beset with divisions and warfare among many small clans. prohibiting travel or trade outside the country. labor. who were confined to Deshima. the daimyo were required to provide materials. and in the 1620s Japanese converts to Christianity endured persecutions and massacres. as a subversive religion that would undermine authority within society and the family. . Tokugawa Ieyasu subdued his rivals. But the Japanese continued to trade with their Asian neighbors. If a daimyo committed some infraction of bakufu laws or died without an heir. Asian Art and Archaeology As a feudal ruler. The central figure in armor in this woodblock print. announcing that Christianity was a ―pernicious doctrine. the shogun imposed many duties on the daimyo to keep them in line. and funds for the construction of large public works. The only Westerners permitted to trade in Japan were the Dutch. known as the sankin kōtai (―alternate attendance‖) system. unified the country. such as the shogun’s castles and the mausoleum for Ieyasu at Nikkō. they regarded Christianity. the first three shoguns also restricted Japan’s contacts with the outside world. Under the first three shoguns. and the Japanese carried on trade with the Ryukyu Islands and with Korea through the island of Tsushima in the Korean Strait. They feared that the missionaries were simply a prelude to European conquest. and laid the foundation for 250 years of peace. enabled the shogunate to keep the daimyo under constant surveillance. The Tokugawa welcomed foreign traders but were concerned about the spread of Christianity. which demanded that the highest loyalty be given to God. an artificial island in the harbor of Nagasaki on Kyūshū. This practice. In 1614 Ieyasu. Tokugawa proclaimed himself shogun. Further. the shogun had the right to confiscate his land or reassign him to a new domain.‖ ordered the expulsion of Christian missionaries. or contract marriages with other daimyo families. and forbidding the construction of ocean-going vessels. Second. Chinese merchants were permitted to live in their own quarter in Nagasaki. the daimyo were required to spend half their time in Edo and to keep their wives and children there all the time. repair military fortifications. Finally. such transfers and confiscations were quite common. or military leader. In the 1630s the shogunate issued a series of decrees forbidding imports of Christian books. First.

all daimyo (feudal lords) in Japan were required by the shogunate to spend alternate years in Edo (Tokyo) and in their domains. Several major local rebellions occurred in the 17th century. bolstered by its policy of limited isolation from the outside world. The journeys between the two were carried out with large processions of attendants. but none threatened the existence of the regime.Daimyo Procession During the Edo period. successfully maintained domestic peace until the mid-19th century. F2 Forces of Social Change . Ishikawa Prefectural Museum of History The Tokugawa political system.

who wore two swords as a mark of status. Even though the samurai were now civil bureaucrats rather than battle-scarred warriors. the samurai instead served as officials in the shogunal or daimyo governments. a bow. No longer needed as warriors. swordsmanship. who constituted between 5 and 6 percent of the population. and the commoners—peasant farmers. The samurai. where reading. enjoyed the highest prestige in Tokugawa society and were subject to different laws and punishments than were the commoners. During Japan’s Edo Period (1603-1867). With the endemic warfare of previous centuries at an end. The daimyo. the samurai class underwent a transformation. and their requisite two swords. Getty Images The Tokugawa shoguns also attempted to impose a rigid status system on the country that made a sharp distinction between the samurai warrior elite. writing. town merchants. and arithmetic were more important skills than horsemanship. Young samurai were trained to prize not only the martial values of physical courage and . The samurai were no longer a landed class but an urbanized one. the samurai warrior class developed to defend the interests of local lords known as daimyo. later known as Bushido. seeking to prevent their vassals from plotting against them. Society did not remain rigidly frozen. and archery. On the contrary. bearing lances. Their income came not from rents collected from peasant cultivators but from stipends paid by the daimyo. had already begun to move the samurai off the land into castle towns in the 16th century. and artisans—who made up the rest.Japanese Samurai in Armor Three 19th-century Japanese samurai pose in full armor. they set themselves apart from the commoners by maintaining a different set of values. however. and they completed the process in the 17th. domestic peace set in motion forces of social change.

but they were also influenced heavily by Confucianism. Even in rural villages. piety toward parents. . frugality. and hard work. Under the impact of the sankin kōtai system. as did the production of many consumer goods. many commoners became more affluent through the expanding commercial market. Samurai Armor The samurai warriors who ruled Japan during the Tokugawa shogunate (1603-1867) wore armor for protection and as a symbol of their high status. SuperStock Peace also brought in its wake a spurt of economic development. personal self-control. and a burst in population growth in the 17th century stimulated production and trade. ideal for warfare on horseback. who borrowed heavily from merchants to finance their elegant lifestyles. While the daimyo and samurai class remained dependent on agricultural taxes collected from the peasants. agricultural production grew steadily. To meet growing urban demand. the shogun’s capital and local castle towns grew rapidly. Made primarily of laquered materials and tied at the joints with cords. the major source of elite political and social ideas during the Tokugawa period. The growth of the economy brought with it changing patterns in the distribution of wealth. the armor was light and flexible. many peasant farmers began to buy goods and utensils that they had once made for themselves. The shogunate and the daimyo. By the 18th century a class of wealthy merchants had emerged in Japan’s major cities and castle towns. Many of these values rested on the older warrior tradition. By the end of the 17th century Japan was probably one of the most urbanized societies in the world.loyalty to their lord but also the social values of obedience to superiors. The daimyo and the shogun were able to devote their human and material resources toward reconstruction.

who used their wealth to invest in activities such as money-lending and rural industry. peasant riots became more and more frequent. The landlords. Poets perfected a new form of poetry. particularly the wealthy merchant class. which also found an audience among the samurai elite. The samurai elite. Japanese Ukiyo-e Print This colored woodblock print of the Edo period (1603-1867) was created by a Japanese artist of the Ukiyo-e school. flowing lines and precise detail. Economic growth brought increasing unrest in the countryside. consumed all these new art forms. when everyone knew his or her proper place in society. especially in times of bad harvest. ARS Planning Affluent merchants and commoners in the cities patronized a new urban culture centering on theaters and pleasure quarters (entertainment districts). and in some domains merchants served as financial advisers to the daimyo. actors. Beginning in the 18th century. More and more land became concentrated in landlords’ hands. and short stories about denizens of the pleasure quarters proliferated. who saw the rural wealthy class beginning to copy their own lifestyle. Urban commoners. the kabuki and puppet (bunraku) theaters flourished. F3 Decline of the Shogunate . and other scenes from urban life became extremely popular ( see Ukiyoe). By the early 19th century many conservative samurai scholars and intellectuals called for a return to the good old days. such as the 1780s and the 1830s. woodblock prints portraying courtesans. A gap developed between the mass of the peasantry. In the realm of visual arts. and a well-to-do landlord class.found themselves increasingly burdened with debt. took advantage of their less fortunate neighbors. were deeply disturbed by this social turmoil. who were either small landholders or tenant farmers. and by the early 19th century readers devoured popular novels and stories. The artists of this school represented scenes of daily life in a style characterized by graceful. Each color required a different woodblock. As a result. the boundaries of the official status hierarchy began to blur. Over time Ukiyo-e prints became more colorful and highly patterned. In the late 17th and early 18th centuries. the 17-syllable haiku.

Further breaches of the seclusion policy soon followed. Perry presented the Japanese with a trade and friendship treaty. . The first to do so were Russians.S. They wanted to maintain the policy of seclusion at all costs. with their outdated weapons and organization. largely in order to secure good treatment for U. Now Perry used the implied threat of his warships to pressure the shogunate to sign a treaty of friendship with the United States. Although the shogunate issued orders to rebuff any attempt by the ships to land.S. could offer little resistance to modern warships. however. predatory Western powers presented a real danger to Japan’s sovereignty. The arrival of a United States gunboat expedition led by Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry in 1853 threw Japan’s leadership into turmoil. and other foreign ships began to appear in Japanese harbors with increasing frequency. Failing to achieve consensus after unprecedented consultations with the daimyo. merchants involved in the China trade. but they were overtaken by new pressures from the outside. THE BETTMANN ARCHIVE/Corbis Internal social changes might eventually have brought about the downfall of the Tokugawa shogunate.Perry Arrives in Japan In 1853 United States Commodore Matthew Perry and his entourage met with Japan’s royal commissioner in Yokohama. the central government’s power and authority had been maintained for more than two centuries through the policy of seclusion. as British. The United States had become interested in opening Japan to normal trading and diplomatic relationships in the 1840s. On the other hand. whalers plying the northwest Pacific and U. and to abandon it now would place the shogun’s dominant position at risk. Many daimyo were not sympathetic to the shogunate’s predicament. He returned the next year with an even more impressive fleet to assure the signing of the treaty. French. the shogunate reluctantly agreed to sign the treaty in 1854. Japanese defenders. With a fleet of American gunships docked in the harbor. Japan. In the late 18th century Westerners began to challenge the Tokugawa policy of limiting trade and other contacts. Britain’s victory over China in the first Opium War in the early 1840s and the subsequent forced opening of Chinese trading ports provided an alarming example of what might happen to Japan. who made probes into the northern island of Hokkaidō (then called Ezo) in the 1790s hoping to open up trade. The threat to the shogunate from foreign intrusion was twofold: On one hand.

The emperor abolished the office of shogun. Sporadic fighting followed in isolated pockets of Japan. and Saga.S. During the 1860s many of these domains. which had sent an unsuccessful military expedition against Chōshū to punish its antiforeign activities. backed by the military forces of Satsuma and Chōshū. coming together through the mediation of Tosa. Chōshū and Satsuma. The Tokugawa leaders had shown themselves to be too weak to fend off the ―Western barbarians. began its own military modernization program as well. In late 1867 leaders from Tosa convinced the shogun to resign in order to assume a leading role in a restructured government. G The Meiji Restoration Abolition of Feudalism G1 . expel the barbarians‖ (sonnō jōi).‖ and they had defied the wishes of the emperor at Kyōto. Known as the Boshin Civil War. including Satsuma. and announced the creation of a new imperial government. which came to be called ―unequal treaties‖ because they placed Japan in a subordinate diplomatic position. Tosa. who opposed the 1858 trade treaty. in January 1868 a palace coup in Kyōto. ordered the Tokugawa family to surrender their ancestral lands. who as ―outside lords‖ had always resented Tokugawa rule.S. In the late 1850s and early 1860s. began to build up their own military strength by importing Western weapons and ships. commercial treaty that opened more Japanese ports to trade. this did not prevent the antiforeign movement from further eroding the position of the shogunate. however. Antiforeign activists sought to rally the country around the emperor under the slogan ―Revere the emperor. the conflict ended with the surrender of proTokugawa forces in Hokkaidō in 1869. feared that the shogunate’s main goal was not to protect the country but to preserve its own dynastic interests. Foreign residents in the newly opened ports were attacked. brought to power the young emperor Meiji. represented by Townsend Harris. In 1858 the United States. Before this government could be established. Chōshū. and guaranteed Americans extraterritorial rights (which extended U. however. antiforeign sentiments swept through the samurai class. fixed tariffs (government taxes on trade). laws and jurisdiction to U. The shogunate. hiring Western military instructors. Other Western powers soon followed suit by demanding similar treaties. The antiforeign movement was particularly strong in the large domains of the tozama daimyo of western Japan. and in 1863 the domain of Chōshū fired on foreign vessels sailing through the Straits of Shimonseki. Although it was obvious that the Westerners could not be expelled by military force. the new imperial army rolled back the only serious military challenge made by Tokugawa forces. agreed to put an end to the shogunate and establish a new imperial government in its place. The following month. Leaders of the western domains. successfully negotiated a second. and training Western-style military units. The opening of the country under foreign pressure undermined the authority and legitimacy of the Tokugawa shogunate.Foreign demands for further concessions followed rapidly. in a brief battle outside of Kyōto. citizens in Japan).

However. Asian Art and Archaeology The overthrow of the Tokugawa shogunate was described as a restoration of imperial authority. Tosa. and regulations be placed under unified control. where the emperor took up residence in the shogun’s former castle.Saigō Takamori Saigō Takamori became a national hero in Japan for his role in restoring the Meiji emperor to power in 1868 and rebelling against the newly restored government in 1877. In 1871 all the daimyo domains were abolished by imperial decree and were replaced by a system of centrally administered prefectures governed by imperially appointed officials. and customs of economically and technologically advanced countries of . In late 1868 the imperial capital was moved to Edo (which was renamed Tokyo). advocated more radical reform. These leaders were united in their belief that the shogunate was not up to the task of strengthening the country or renegotiating the unequal treaties imposed by the foreign powers. From 1871 to 1873 the new Meiji leaders felt confident enough to send half of their number on a diplomatic mission around the world. In 1869 the daimyo of Chōshū. Satsuma. and Hizen who had plotted to bring down the Tokugawa. they were to learn about the institutions. The radicals prevailed. the Meiji government’s first task was to unify the country territorially. such as Ōkubo Toshimichi of Satsuma and Kido Takayoshi of Chōshū. promising to base its decisions on wide consultation. Under the leadership of Iwakura Tomomi. with his troops during the unsuccessful rebellion. laws. and to abandon outmoded customs. In April 1868 the new regime proclaimed its reform goals in the Charter Oath. The core government leaders were younger samurai from Chōshū. Some. and Hizen surrendered their lands and census records to the imperial government and asked that their domains’ laws. Other domains soon followed suit. wished to preserve as much of the old social and political order as possible. to seek knowledge from the outside world. This woodblock print shows Saigō. The division of Japan into independent domains made it difficult to deal with foreigners in a concerted way or to fully mobilize national resources. Tosa. left of the smoke column. institutions. The emperor’s main function was to legitimate the new regime and symbolize a united nation. they were divided in their views of what kind of change was needed. like Saigō Takamori of Satsuma. but the new imperial government soon launched a sweeping program to transform Japan into a modern nation state. Satsuma. others. Thus.

Meiji leaders were not opposed to constitutional government. indeed. were quite new themselves. in 1881 the emperor declared his intention to grant the country a constitution. elementary education was made compulsory in 1872. Japanese politician Itō Hirobumi served four times as prime minister of his nation. In preparation. the government leadership created a strong executive branch run by professional bureaucrats dedicated to the national good rather than to sectional or partisan interests. The result was a series of local samurai rebellions. As a diplomat and statesman he negotiated foreign treaties and helped draft the Japanese constitution that was in effect from 1890 to 1945. asserted control of the Ryukyu. The Iwakura mission’s direct observation of the West left them feeling challenged but hopeful. It created a new nobility of five ranks from the former court aristocracy and daimyo. It did not seem impossible that Japan could catch up with the Western nations very quickly. demanding a national legislature. regardless of their social origins. In the 1870s the Meiji government also consolidated and expanded its control over outlying islands. G2 Emergence of the Modern State Itō Hirobumi One of the major architects of Japan’s modernization. It launched a program to colonize Hokkaidō. Much of the progress that Western countries had made in military science. and new national land and tax laws replaced the old domain-based tax system in 1873. Laws enforcing the status system were abolished between 1869 and 1871. industry. their contacts with the West had convinced them that it would unify and strengthen Japan as well as improve its international standing by conforming to Western ideas of ―civilized‖ government. education. The government’s new conscript army successfully crushed all of the uprisings. technology. and society had occurred only within the past two generations. and made an agreement with Russia for control of the Kuril Islands to the north. such as the United States and Britain. Corbis During the 1880s a new emperor-centered state structure took shape. The goal was to create a new population of imperial subjects who all shared the same obligations to the state. established a . and a number of the European nations.the West. such as Germany and Italy. culminating in the Satsuma (or Kagoshima) Rebellion led by Saigō Takamori in 1877. when the government stopped paying stipends to the former samurai class and abolished their privilege of carrying swords. disgruntled former samurai started a popular rights movement. a military conscription system requiring service of young adult males was promulgated in 1873. During the 1870s the imperial government enacted reform after reform to dismantle the Tokugawa system. and Bonin islands to the south. The final blow to the old order came in 1876. Thus. During the 1880s the government made several steps in this direction. After the Satsuma Rebellion.

The upper chamber. was elected by a small percentage of the population—only adult males paying more than 15 yen (Japan’s basic unit of currency) in taxes could vote. The emperor. the Meiji constitution was a remarkable departure from a long tradition of authoritarian politics in Japan.‖ It guaranteed the emperor’s subjects certain basic political and religious freedoms ―within the limits of the law. for many years a small ruling group made up of the Satsuma and Chōshū leaders continued to monopolize executive power. very similar to the constitution of imperial Germany. based largely on the importation of Western technology. It came into effect the following year. In the 1870s the government imported a mechanized silk-reeling mill. cement works. Nevertheless. The lower chamber. It provided a foundation for the eventual development of representative government. However. the House of Representatives. did not participate in administration. who was declared ―sacred and inviolable. watched by onlookers in Western-style clothing. and instituted a civil service examination system for recruiting high officials. This print depicts one of the first Japanese steam trains. drafted by a small bureaucratic committee working under statesman Itō Hirobumi. and other . prime ministers and most cabinet members were drawn from the ranks of the Satsuma-Chōshū clique.cabinet system modeled on that of imperial Germany. Modernization Under the Meiji Government The Meiji Restoration of 1868 ushered in a period of remarkably rapid modernization and industrialization in Japan. and members of the civil and military bureaucracies. Until the late 1910s. political parties gradually grew stronger during this period. called the House of Peers. the Imperial Diet. While a relatively conservative document. their protégés. was composed of members of the newly created nobility and imperial appointees. created a new privy council of imperial advisers. The constitution placed most of the powers of state in the hands of the emperor. glass and brick factories. was promulgated in 1889 as a ―gift of the emperor‖ to the people. although constitutionally the country’s highest political authority. eventually winning positions in the cabinet. cotton-spinning mills. Library of Congress In addition to restructuring the government. the Meiji leaders worked diligently to build up a modern economic sector by acquiring new manufacturing technology. The constitution.‖ It also established a bicameral (two-chamber) national legislature.

The same was true of the well-to-do elements in the countryside. and technicians to build up modern infrastructure. The dramatic changes during the three decades after the Meiji government took power were driven by government initiatives from above. coal mines were producing fuel needed for new steam-driven factories. medicine. the cotton-spinning industry had reduced the country’s dependence on foreign imports.modern factories. Even the sons of poor peasant farmers conscripted into the army returned home with new skills. ideas. See Meiji Restoration. and culture. made a successful transition to the new society. but other classes of society were not simply passive recipients of change. they played an important role in many areas. and habits that they spread to fellow villagers. however. worked to develop local schools. and dispatched hundreds of bright ambitious young men to study science. Highly educated. In the 1880s the government set up a modern banking system. engineers. education. engineering. including government. and other technical specialties in the United States and Europe. when most school-age children were attending elementary school. A railroad network linking the major cities of Honshū had expanded into Kyūshū and Hokkaidō. hard work. who introduced innovations in agriculture. trained for public service. Many former samurai. It had sold off its imported factories to private entrepreneurs and had adopted a policy of encouraging private enterprise. the government no longer played a direct role either in financing or managing these enterprises. science. and a domestic shipbuilding industry was developing. And by the 1890s. such as railroads and telegraph lines. Japan’s educational system became a formidable vehicle to promote enthusiasm for change. and perseverance. By the 1890s the beginnings of industrialization were well underway. business. They also brought in foreign workers and technicians to get the factories started and train Japanese workers. although stripped of their traditional privileges. and imbued with the values of ambition. H Imperial Expansion . and were active in the movement to establish a national legislature. The government hired hundreds of foreign teachers. Except for the railroad system.

Imperial Japan Beginning in the late 19th century. possessed colonial empires. only ―civilized‖ countries. Their motives were mixed: First. so the acquisition of colonies was a marker of international prestige. The Japanese empire reached its height shortly thereafter. they wanted to improve Japan’s national security by building a defensive buffer of colonial territories. In addition. H1 The First Sino-Japanese War . and treaty tariffs. Extraterritoriality ended in 1899. Japan fought a series of wars that expanded its control over the Asian mainland. By the beginning of World War II in 1939. All Rights Reserved. © Microsoft Corporation. in 1942. Allied military forces began to push the Japanese back toward their home islands. The Meiji leaders sought to buttress their new international position by building a colonial empire. Finally. such as Britain and France. Japan had a sizeable empire in East Asia. many Japanese felt that they had a mission to spread modernization among their Asian neighbors. simultaneously launching an attack against the United States. returning full diplomatic equality to Japan. 1941 Japan made a major military push into Southeast Asia and the Pacific. Japan lost all of its colonial territories after its defeat in World War II. On December 7. in the competitive climate of global imperialism. in 1910. After that. having built up their own national wealth and strength. By the mid-1890s the Meiji leaders had succeeded in convincing the Western powers to renegotiate the unequal treaties.

for example. The Meiji leaders feared that a weak and backward Korea. In 1894 both China and Japan sent troops to Korea to deal with a peasant rebellion in the south. signed in April 1895. captured the Chinese naval base of Lüshun (known to the West as Port Arthur and now part of Dalian) during the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895. in 1876 Japan had used gunboat tactics to force Korea to open trade with Japan. H2 The Russo-Japanese War . which had expected China to defeat its much smaller neighbor. The Chinese also ceded to Japan the Liaodong Peninsula in southern Manchuria (as the northeastern region of China was then called). a popular peasant revolt against foreigners in northeastern China. Adachi Ginko created this wood engraving of the capture of Port Arthur. the Japanese decided to resolve the ongoing tension with China by going to war. China ceded Taiwan and the P’enghu Islands to Japan. but the Russians. forced Japan to accept additional indemnity money instead. led by General Iwao Oyama. Russia took advantage of the Boxer Uprising of 1900. under the influence of a weak and backward China. In 1898. to send an occupation force into Manchuria and begin a military build-up on the Chinese-Korean border. The newly modernized Japanese army and navy won a quick victory over the larger but less prepared Chinese forces. Under the terms of the Treaty of Shimonoseki. a move that challenged China’s dominance in Korea. gave Japan a huge monetary indemnity. probably Russia. Once it had been suppressed. backed by Germany and France. Japan’s victory surprised the Western powers. Russia secured a lease of the very territory it had prevented the Japanese from acquiring—the Liaodong Peninsula with its important ice-free naval base of Port Arthur (now part of the municipality of Dalian)—and began building a railroad line in southern Manchuria. would be easy prey for a predatory Western power. The First Sino-Japanese War was over in just nine months. Korea had for centuries been a tributary of China. In the wake of the war. Japanese leaders saw this as a direct threat to Japan’s own national security. popular resentment against Russia ran high. It grew more intense when the Russians tried to expand their own influence in Korea and in Manchuria. thus putting Japan itself at risk. and allowed Japan to trade in China under the same unequal treaty privileges that the Western powers enjoyed in China. Philadelphia Museum of Art/Corbis Initially. However. the Meiji government was most concerned about Korea.Capture of Port Arthur In November 1894 the Japanese army. which is now in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

the Meiji leaders rounded out a defensive perimeter of colonial possessions stretching from Taiwan in the south. The Russo-Japanese War that followed was more daunting to the Japanese leaders than the First Sino-Japanese War had been. the Japanese decided to go to war. the Japanese established a protectorate over Korea. While Japanese armies won a series of early battles. In 1904 the Japanese navy attacked the Russian fleet at Port Arthur. When the Japanese ousted the Korean king from the throne in 1907.S. which marked the first time an Asian power had defeated a European power in modern times. The Korean court and the traditional Korean elite resisted the Japanese political intrusion. and they regarded Japan’s military and naval prowess with admiration as . 1904. They had also established Japan as one of the world’s great powers. With the acquisition of Korea. The Russo-Japanese War. the land war bogged down by early 1905. The Treaty of Portsmouth. anti-Japanese guerrilla activities spread quickly throughout the Korea Peninsula. who also wanted to establish dominance in the region. The Japanese. Mondaduri Press/Archive Photos When diplomatic negotiations failed to dislodge the Russians. president Theodore Roosevelt. Only the complete annihilation of a vast Russian fleet at the May 1905 Battle of Tsushima finally brought the Russians to the negotiating table. the railroad line in southern Manchuria. In the late 1890s the Russians had negotiated with China for the right to extend their Trans-Siberian Railroad across Chinese Manchuria and to secure a strategic base at Port Arthur. mediated with the help of U. side by side with the United States and the major European countries. China. but it also embarked on a program of introducing modern institutions and developing the agricultural economy. In 1910. and the southern half of the island of Sakhalin (later known as Karafuto).Russo-Japanese War The Russo-Japanese War began on February 8. Shortly after the end of the Russo-Japanese War. when the Japanese launched a surprise attack on Russian naval vessels at Port Arthur (now Lüshun). gave Japan control over the Liaodong Peninsula. established Japan as a major force in world affairs. The Japanese colonial government adopted a harshly repressive policy toward the Korean population. to Karafuto in the north. went to war with Russia before the completion of the railroad. through Korea in the west. The Western powers were quick to accept the Japanese colonial sphere in East Asia. after three years of often brutal fighting. The Russians also recognized Japan’s paramount interests in Korea. the Japanese finally annexed Korea to Japan under the name Chosen.

and occupying the Germanheld Marshall. power in Japan passed back and forth between two major political parties. whose reign had begun when the humiliation of Japan’s unequal diplomatic status was still fresh. in 1918 Hara Takashi was the first commoner to become prime minister of Japan. FPG International. the Meiji emperor. Just as it did in Britain. Despite the country’s limited participation. except for the years from 1922 to 1924. and Mariana islands in the western Pacific. The war also brought with it social unrest. became prime minister. and its industrial port city of Qingdao. Nearly every sector of the Japanese economy expanded.well as concern. as Japanese industry sold munitions and other goods to the Western countries fighting the war and advanced into Asian markets left open by the decline of Western trading activity. along with calls for political reform. Many observers concluded that an era of ―normal constitutional government‖ based on parliamentary control had arrived in Japan. located on the Shandong Peninsula in northeastern China. but heavy industry grew especially fast. Hara built political power by catering to local economic interests. Japan maintained troops in Siberia until 1922. By the time of his death in 1912. An astute former official. creating a new and increasingly large male industrial labor force. . as rapid inflation sparked wage disputes between management and workers. forced the sitting cabinet to resign. After the Russian Revolution of 1917 ended the Russian Empire and destabilized Russia. LLC In 1918 an outbreak of nationwide rioting over inflated rice prices. Contrary to Allied agreement. the Seiyūkai (Liberal Party) and the Rikken Minseitō (Constitutional Democratic Party). For the next decade and a half. the war in Europe brought economic boom times to Japan. He led a conservative government that was opposed to Western political ideas. political parties based in the lower house of the Imperial Diet dominated the political scene. Japan’s military actions were limited to taking over the German-leased territory of Jiaozhou. I Industrialization and Democracy World War I I1 Japan joined World War I (1914-1918) on the side of Britain and its allies. I2 Two-Party System Prime Minister of Japan Hara Takashi A former journalist and diplomat. Hara Takashi. stood among the ranks of the world’s leading monarchs. and for the first time a commoner and political party leader. Caroline. Japan also joined an Allied expeditionary force to aid anti-Bolshevik forces in Siberia in 1918.

shared these ultranationalist views. signed the Kellogg-Briand Pact. also in response to trends among the Western powers. Nine countries. also agreed to respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of China. At the Washington Conference of 1922. Public distrust of the parties was heightened by revelations of political scandals involving the bribery of Diet members. which denounced war as a means of solving international disputes. after several years of debate. these radicals sought to preserve traditional Japanese values and culture and eradicate what they saw as Western influences: party government. Extreme nationalists. Tight links between political parties and big business firms. In May 1932 the era of party cabinets ended when a terrorist group assassinated Prime Minister Inukai Tsuyoshi. big business. Japan’s foreign policy became less expansionist after World War I. a new wave of strikes began. laws guaranteeing improved working conditions. and other leading politicians. By the late 1920s representatives from a small group of left-wing parties had been elected to the Diet. The outbreak of democratic revolutions in Germany and Russia signaled a change in world trends. also deepened public suspicions. a universal manhood suffrage law finally passed the Imperial Diet. known as zaibatsu. Japan joined the League of Nations (an international alliance for the preservation of peace) at its founding in 1920 as one of the ―big five‖ most powerful nations. Japan’s manufacturing production fell. Public opinion laid blame for the country’s economic troubles at the door of the political party leaders. . Agricultural prices plunged. ruled since 1911 by a republican government. By the early 1930s radical right-wing groups had formed. workers were laid off. seeking to end party rule through terrorism. Japan agreed with other major naval powers in the Pacific to respect one another’s colonial territories and to limit naval development at a fixed ratio of ships. and the electorate expanded from 3 million to nearly 14 million. From 1932 until 1945. At first the public drive for democratization in Japan centered on expanding the right to vote to include all adult males. I3 Economic Depression and Right-Wing Terrorism In 1920 Japan’s wartime economic boom collapsed. and other social welfare laws. and the rural economy stagnated. Many junior military officers. including an emerging Marxist left. To achieve their aims. These deteriorating economic conditions undercut the fragile growth of Japan’s democracy. In 1925. A major bank panic in 1927 set off alarm bells. including protection for labor unions. and recent cultural imports. but conservative forces blocked passage of such sweeping social reforms. The demand for more social legislation had support from liberal-minded government bureaucrats and from moderate party politicians. demanded more sweeping social reforms. Finally. public health insurance. plotted to assassinate leading business and political figures. But radical political elements in Japan. with their sympathizers in the military. often from conservative rural backgrounds.Public demands for democratic reforms became increasingly vocal at the end of World War I. including Japan. which devastated the Tokyo-Yokohama region. along with 14 other countries. and the rural economy went into a tailspin. and the country suffered a series of recessions. in 1928 Japan. cabinet members. who reacted slowly and conservatively to the economic crisis. but conditions grew much worse with the onset of the Great Depression—the global economic slump that began at the end of 1929. the radicals. Bad economic conditions were aggravated by the great Kantō earthquake of 1923.

Others saw Japan’s expansion into Manchuria as a way of dealing with economic crisis and rural distress at home. Within a few months they controlled the entire region. and political instability. On September 18. and political leaders accepted it as an accomplished fact. many Japanese military leaders feared an alliance between a radicalized China and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR. Claiming the explosion was the work of Chinese saboteurs. led by Chiang Kaishek. the Communist successor to the Russian Empire). such as iron ore and coal.Japan was governed by military and bureaucratic cabinets whose members claimed to stand above partisan politics. and its natural resources could supply raw materials. Mukden became a base for Japanese aggression against China during the Second SinoJapanese War (1937-1945). This movement. Vast tracts of undeveloped land in the region offered opportunities for Japanese rural migrants. China) and established the puppet state of Manchukuo. its decisive action was popular at home. social discontent. J Militarism and War Occupation of Manchuria J1 Japanese Troops Enter Mukden In 1931 Japanese troops invaded the Manchurian city of Mukden (now Shenyang. 1931. officers of Japan’s Kwangtung Army (the military force stationed on the Liaodong Peninsula) blew up a section of track on the South Manchuria Railway outside of Mukden (Shenyang). called for an end to foreign imperialist privileges. Because the Chinese nationalists cooperated for a time with the Chinese Communist Party. for Japanese industry. Hulton Getty Picture Collection Against a background of economic distress. Manchukuo fell in 1945 when Japan was defeated in World War II. Although the Kwantung Army acted without authorization from the Japanese government. Japanese forces occupied key cities in southern Manchuria. Their primary motive was to protect Japan’s existing treaty rights and interests in Manchuria and other parts of China against a militant new Chinese nationalist movement. Rather than create a new colony. the Japanese military launched a new phase of political expansion on the Asian continent in the early 1930s. the Japanese decided to set up the nominally independent state of Manchukuo under Emperor .

during the second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945). and one year later it signed a similar pact with Italy. Japanese Troops in China Japanese troops wait behind a barricade of sandbags in Shanghai. disregarding civilian authority. as well. J2 The Second Sino-Japanese War . ultranationalist army officers staged a military insurrection in Tokyo to end civilian control of the government and put a military regime in its place. Escalating tensions in the Pacific eventually led to World War II. Known at the time in Japan as the ―China Incident. Success in Manchuria emboldened the Japanese military to intervene in domestic politics.‖ the conflict was in fact a war of conquest that expansionist elements in the Japanese military effectively started themselves.Henry Pu Yi. Unable to resist the superior Japanese forces. In February 1936 young. Real control over Manchukuo remained in the hands of Japanese advisers and officials. China. Army leaders put down the coup but in its aftermath acquired greater political influence as the country embarked on a new military buildup. Hulton Getty Picture Collection The United States and Britain condemned Japan for its violation of the Kellogg-Briand Pact but did little to stop the occupation. In 1936 Japan signed an anti-Communist agreement with Germany. who had been the last emperor of China. in May 1933 the Chinese signed a truce that established a demilitarized zone between Manchuria and the rest of China. The Japanese government instead announced its withdrawal from the league. Aggression and expansion now seemed inevitable. and in 1933 the League Assembly requested that Japan cease hostilities in China. Japanese military forces took over the Chinese province of Jehol as a buffer zone and threatened to occupy the cities of Beijing and Tianjin. An inquiry commission dispatched by the League of Nations placed blame for the so-called Manchuria Incident on Japan.

By the end of 1937 the Japanese had overrun northern China. the fighting had reached a stalemate. J3 World War II . However.Hirohito Reviews the Troops A skirmish between Japanese and Chinese troops near Beijing in 1937 soon boiled over into a full-scale war between the two countries. the Japanese responded with a mobilization of their own. the lower valley of the Yangtze River beyond Hankou. Instead it retreated to the interior province of Sichuan (Szechwan). Beijing. including Guangzhou (Canton). and the Chinese capital at Nanjing. and enclaves along the south China coast. By the end of 1938 the Japanese had occupied northern China. capturing Shanghai. Instead of confronting regular Chinese forces. Japanese Emperor Hirohito is seen here reviewing Japanese troops in 1938. when Japan’s expansionist policies were ended with his unconditional surrender to the Allies. launching the Second SinoJapanese War. however. THE BETTMANN ARCHIVE On July 7. 1937 a Chinese patrol and Japanese troops on a training exercise clashed near the Marco Polo Bridge on the outskirts of Beijing. where high mountainous terrain protected it against Japanese land attack. the Japanese army had to fend off constant guerrilla attacks. The Chinese government under Chiang Kai-shek. refused to negotiate an armistice. even in territory they occupied. When the Chinese nationalist government sent reinforcements to the area. Hirohito allowed a militaristic party to dominate his government from 1926 until the end of World War II in 1945.

In 1937 U. Cambodia. the military alliance of Italy and Germany—the so-called Rome-Berlin Axis—was extended to include Japan and became the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis. during World War II. the government of Prime Minister Konoe Fumimaro announced Japan’s intention to build a ―Greater East Asia CoProsperity Sphere.‖ a self-sufficient economic and political bloc under Japanese leadership.S. steel. an alliance with Nazi Germany and fascist Italy. and received permission from the Nazi-backed Vichy government in France to move troops into northern French Indochina (the area that is now Vietnam. president Franklin Roosevelt called for a ―quarantine‖ against the ―disease‖ of international aggression. Negotiations aimed at settling differences between the two countries began in April 1941. Escalating Japanese aggression created friction with the United States. and Laos). such as petroleum. fought against the Allied Powers in the war. Luxembourg. The Japanese also tried to negotiate an economic and political foothold in the Dutch East Indies. so the Roosevelt administration gradually imposed embargoes on such goods. and heavy machinery. the United States responded by placing a complete embargo on oil. and Netherlands) had fallen to the Germans. The United States sympathized with the Chinese nationalists and wished to keep the resources of Southeast Asia available for the embattled British. but when the Japanese moved troops into southern Indochina in July. known collectively as the Axis Powers. whose colonial government had declared itself independent of the fallen home government of Netherlands.Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis In 1940. the only major nation not yet involved in war. In September 1940 the Konoe cabinet concluded the so-called Axis Pact. Britain. including oil and rubber. Japan was heavily dependent on the United States for vital strategic material. In 1940. countries belonging to the Commonwealth of Nations (an association of states that gave allegiance to the British Crown). and the Dutch East Indies followed suit. for its war effort. after France and the Low Countries (Belgium. Corbis The outbreak of war in Europe in September 1939 encouraged the Japanese leadership to consider expanding military and political influence into Southeast Asia. The three countries and their allies. . Here. Japan urgently needed the region’s natural resources. Japanese and Italian emissaries accompany German dictator Adolf Hitler.

Japan’s minister of war. In October Konoe resigned. Wake Island. On December 7.000 to 70. Japan. economic pressure. base at Pearl Harbor. British Malaya. J4 The Tide Turns Aftermath of Atomic Bomb in Hiroshima The first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Japan’s forces were also striking toward Australia and New Zealand through New Guinea. but they gambled that the American public and politicians would not have the stomach to fight to the finish. The following day the United States declared war on Japan. Hulton Deutsch Japanese leaders were aware of America’s immense economic and technological strength. and an estimated 60. Tōjō formed a cabinet in preparation for war. 1941 (December 8 in Japan). as did all the other Allied powers except the USSR. Nevertheless. All attempts to reach a diplomatic accommodation with the United States failed. Hawaii. Midway Island. Borneo. as well as Burma (now known as Myanmar). By the summer of 1942. on August 6.000 people were killed or reported missing. a Japanese naval and air task force launched a devastating surprise attack on the major U. Japanese war plans envisaged a limited war that would lead the United States to a negotiated peace that recognized Japan’s dominant position and territorial gains in East Asia.S.S. Rather than face the humiliation of giving in to U. 1945. became prime minister. New Britain. and General Tōjō Hideki.The U. and that Nazi Germany would complete its . during World War II. The plans assumed that Japan would be able to hold a strategic defensive perimeter of island bases stretching through the central and South Pacific against American counterattack. and Thailand. The blast completely destroyed 68 percent of the city and damaged another 24 percent.S. the Dutch East Indies. and the Solomon Islands. Japanese forces had occupied the targets of their first attack. including a proposal for a summit meeting between President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Konoe. Guam. Hong Kong. in early September the Konoe cabinet decided to continue negotiations while at the same time preparing for war. and several islands in the Aleutians off Alaska. The Japanese also launched simultaneous attacks in the Philippines. according to United States estimates. Japan maintained the offensive in Southeast Asia and the islands of the South Pacific for the next year. oil embargo threatened to bring the whole Japanese military apparatus to a halt when its limited oil reserves were used up.

On August 6 the United States dropped the first atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. K Postwar Reform and Recovery Demilitarization and Democratization Under the Occupation K1 Yoshida Shigeru . speaking for the first time on the radio. The Americans also used submarine warfare to sink Japanese merchant marine vessels and cut the sea lanes linking the Japanese home islands to the resources of the Dutch East Indies and Southeast Asia.military conquest of Europe. ranking bureaucrats. and other necessities. Japan’s military and naval leaders were determined to fight to the end. Beginning in the early fall of 1944. In July 1944 the American capture of Saipan. Ōsaka. the Japanese leadership finally agreed to surrender on August 14 (August 15 in Japan). Two days later the Soviet Union declared war on Japan.‖ Although the U. Pacific Fleet had been heavily damaged by the Pearl Harbor attack. Japanese emperor Hirohito. and a few former generals were aware that the tide of the war had turned against Japan. and on August 9 the United States dropped a second bomb on the city of Nagasaki. However. and other major cities. and the surrender of their German allies. Japanese cities and their civilian populations were subjected to increasingly frequent bombing raids. the United States decided to wage an all-out ―total war‖ that would end only with Japan’s ―unconditional surrender. Faced with such an utterly hopeless situation. Although Tōjō was forced to resign as prime minister after the fall of Saipan. These sobering realities would then force the United States to the negotiating table. broadcast the news to the nation. Furthermore. When in late July 1945 the Japanese cabinet rejected the Potsdam Declaration. a major Japanese base in the Mariana Islands.S. a renewed Allied demand that Japan surrender unconditionally or face utter destruction. military setbacks did not change the basic policies of the Japanese government. Many farm women and housewives were even trained to meet an American invasion force on the beaches with bamboo spears. A number of Japanese civilian politicians. They urged the opening of peace talks with the United States through an intermediary such as the USSR. clothing. and they inflicted heavy damage on the Japanese at the Battle of Midway in June 1942. despite steady military and naval losses. the United States decided to use its new atomic weapons (see Potsdam Conference). American aircraft carriers had escaped unscathed. put the Japanese home islands within range of American long-range B-29 Superfortress bombers. the destruction of Tokyo. The Americans adopted an island hopping strategy of striking behind bases on Japan’s outer perimeter and cutting them off from their logistical support. the civilian population showed few signs of declining morale. In actuality. despite increasing shortages of food.

the occupation adopted a program of economic deconcentration. and transforming Japan into a peaceful democratic nation that would never again threaten its neighbors or world peace. conservative parties. The electorate was expanded to include all adults. Nevertheless. breaking up the large conglomerates known as zaibatsu. sea. and economic conditions that had made Japan an aggressor nation. American occupation policy aspired to more than a simple demilitarization of Japan. Yoshida Shigeru was prime minister from 1946 to 1947 and from 1948 to 1954. who presided over the dissolution of the Japanese colonial empire and the disbanding of all Japanese military and naval forces. promulgated in 1947. the Japanese were subjected to the most sweeping program of reform they had experienced since the Meiji Restoration. On the whole. continuing to serve as prime minister until 1954. from politics to marriage to women’s rights. The new constitution stripped the emperor of the enormous powers granted to him by the Meiji constitution. including a number of rights not included in the U. general Douglas MacArthur. or air forces to that end. At first the Americans also encouraged the emergence of a vital and active left wing. After years of wartime censorship and thought control.A career diplomat in the Japanese civil service. at the center of the political process. including a legal Japanese Communist Party. By the end of 1946 about 40 percent of Japan’s industrial labor force was unionized. In 1946 an 11-nation tribunal convened in Tokyo to try a number of Japanese wartime leaders. most Japanese appreciated their new freedom. was created to assist the Americans. the supreme commander for the Allied powers. constitution. It aimed at destroying the social. The constitution also guaranteed basic civil and political rights. Corbis Beginning with Japan’s formal surrender on September 2. Political democratization centered on a revised constitution. But the most radical article of the new constitution was Article 9. with a cabinet elected by and responsible to the House of Representatives. Divisiveness within the conservative ranks gave an election victory to the Japan Socialist Party in 1947. making him instead the symbol of the Japanese nation and restricting his official functions to largely ceremonial duties. The Americans encouraged an atmosphere of free public debate and discussion on nearly every kind of issue. Under the guidance of U. Although this ―peace constitution‖ was originally drafted in English by American occupation officials. in the hopes that it would play the role of a strong democratic opposition. and pledged not to maintain land.S. but in 1948 Yoshida returned to power. dominated domestic politics in postwar Japan. An international Allied Council for Japan. In cities. held in 1946. After the first postwar elections. Occupation authorities also purged the business community of those leaders thought to have cooperated with wartime militarists. To build a rural base for democracy. The constitution provided for a British-style parliamentary system. for war crimes.S. the Japanese population welcomed these changes. 1945. with agendas aimed at rebuilding Japan’s economy and strengthening its international position. the occupation encouraged the growth of an active labor union movement. formerly the Imperial Diet. army of occupation. under which Japan renounced war and the use of force to settle international disputes. conservative politician Yoshida Shigeru became prime minister. it was debated and ratified by the Japanese Diet. including women. such as the right of labor to bargain collectively. occupation officials promoted a land reform program that allowed tenant farmers to purchase the land they farmed. including Tōjō. It placed the National Diet.S. sitting in Tokyo. the Allies placed the country under the control of a U. . To weaken the power of big business. political.

Japan. The treaty also established U. The San Francisco treaty. the two countries signed a bilateral mutual security treaty that allowed the United States to maintain military bases and forces in Japan. ruled by the Kuomintang (which had retreated to the island after the Communists gained control of the Chinese mainland in 1949). In September 1951. The peace treaty and the collateral agreements had the effect of aligning Japan firmly with the Western bloc of nations. trusteeship of the Ryukyu Islands. as well as all special rights and interests in China and Korea. In light of its fragile economic position. In return. were invited to the peace conference because of international dissent over which government legitimately ruled China. the Kuril Islands. Finally. thus. the United States made Japan’s recognition of the government on Taiwan as China’s legitimate government a condition of its own acceptance of the treaty. and it encouraged the Japanese government to adopt anti-inflation policies and to stabilize business conditions through fiscal austerity. And neither the government in Beijing. the American desire to reform Japan was overtaken by a desire to turn the country into a strong ally. nor the Nationalist government on Taiwan. Japan renounced all claims to Korea. and 47 other countries signed a peace treaty in San Francisco returning Japan to full sovereign independence.K2 The Occupation’s ―Reverse Course‖ With the rise in the late 1940s of the Cold War (the struggle between the United States and its allies and the USSR and its allies). the Japanese government also began to crack down on the domestic Communist movement and curb the activities of radical labor union groups. in a separate agreement Japan promised to deal only with the Nationalists. the United States.S. The resulting change in occupation policy is often called the ―reverse course. and full sovereignty was restored to Japan. The American occupation reversed its policy of breaking up big business concerns. Nevertheless. to ensure Japan’s defense and secure it as an ally of the United States. maintaining that it would lead to a resurgence of Japanese militarism. Sakhalin. it was permitted to make reparation payments to the countries it had invaded and occupied in goods and services rather than in cash. welcomed the change in direction. On April 28. and the country’s former mandates in the Pacific. With assistance from the United States. ruled by the Communists. The USSR refused to sign the peace treaty.‖ In 1947 and 1948 the U. however. Taiwan. Japan was not subjected to punitive economic restrictions.S. which the United States had occupied during the war. government in Washington decided to actively promote the recovery of Japan’s devastated economy. K3 Domestic Debate over Japan’s International Role . who hoped to restore Japan’s position in the world as an economic power. failed to resolve Japan’s relations with the Communist adversaries of the United States—the USSR and China. Conservative political leaders like Yoshida. after more than a year of consultation and negotiation. including the island of Okinawa. 1952 the peace treaty became effective.

With the USSR no longer blocking the way. The conservative political parties. The USSR agreed in principle to return the islands nearest Hokkaidō if a peace treaty was signed between the two countries. The San Francisco peace treaty had not specified which islands were included in the Kurils. but the issue of the other two islands was left open. admitted Japan to its membership. They called for Japan to maintain a position of neutrality in the Cold War. The sitting prime minister. Kishi Nobusuke. Nevertheless. however. and Soviet blocs. But the revised treaty was ratified by the LDPdominated Diet. in 1956 the United Nations (UN). A continuing source of conflict was the question of ownership of the Kuril Islands. which became unified as the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in 1955. and negotiated reparations agreements with the countries it had invaded. was forced to resign. The Japanese public. In the spring of 1960 the debate over ratification of a revised security treaty occasioned massive popular demonstrations and riots in Tokyo and other large cities. Japan’s postwar international role remained a subject of domestic political debate in the 1950s. In 1956 the USSR and Japan agreed to end the technical state of war that had existed between the two countries since 1945. UPI/Corbis During the course of the 1950s Japan reestablished normal diplomatic relations with most of the countries that had not signed the peace treaty.Kishi Nobusuke Kishi Nobusuke served as prime minister of Japan from 1957 to 1960. The mutual security treaty. allied with neither the United States nor the USSR. including the Socialist and Communist parties. favored close ties with the United States. and economic development. They supported limited rearmament but hoped to revise the security treaty to provide for greater equality between the two countries.S. security. and Japan continued to claim three islands and one island group occupied by the USSR. and by the end of summer political calm had been restored. an international organization founded in 1945 to promote peace. For the next three decades the LDP continued to govern the country. opposed the security treaty. and its policies of cooperation with the United States abroad and economic development at home set the course for postwar Japan. also harbored doubts about the treaty. The left wing. L Era of Growth Rapid Economic Growth L1 . they did not formally conclude a peace treaty. fearful that Japan might be pulled into a war between the U. caused bitter disagreement between the right and the left. along with the Yoshida government’s commitment to rearm Japan by creating a new National Self-Defense Force (SDF). To many it seemed that Japan’s postwar democracy was facing a major crisis.

the Japanese work force was well educated. and corporate welfare benefits. By 1968 Japan had become the third largest economy in the world. import and export licenses. To be sure. and disinclined to strike or carry out . ordinary Japanese were more interested in a secure and comfortable future than in grand political issues. driven by a strong work ethic. Prime Minister Ikeda Hayato. wage and salary increases based on seniority. Here. from 1955 to 1973 Japan’s gross national product (a measure of a country’s total economic output) grew at an annual average rate of 9 percent. Procurement of military supplies and repair of damaged military equipment stimulated Japan’s manufacturing sector. After decades of economic depression. much faster than any other industrial economy was growing at that time. who took office in July 1960. and postwar austerity. This dramatic announcement was welcome news to the public. the whole world economy was expanding during this period. but Japan’s success seemed to be an ―economic miracle. automobiles. a long line of Japanese cars awaits export from the port of Yokohama. The Korean War boom was followed by a series of new growth spurts in the late 1950s. Fourth. wartime hardship. The recovery of the economy had already begun during the Korean War (1950-1953). UPI/THE BETTMANN ARCHIVE By the early 1960s the focus of public attention had shifted from international issues to domestic economic ones. the country began exporting high quality steel. announced a plan to double household incomes over the next decade. when UN fighting forces had used Japan as a logistical base. Third.‖ The reasons why the Japanese economy grew so fast are complex. the Ministry of Finance (MOF). and thus they constantly reinvested their gains in updating and improving technology. had considerable administrative power to promote industrial growth through tax breaks. Indeed. based in the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI). and televisions. The economic bureaucracy backed high tech industries that could supply the domestic market and compete in international markets as well. and direct subsidies. First. Large corporations guaranteed their workers lifetime employment. corporate leaders were more interested in company growth and market share than in short-term profits. and the Bank of Japan (BOJ).Japanese Exports As Japan’s economy recovered after the devastation of World War II. Second. a bureaucracy with jurisdiction over economic matters. corporate policy stressed the need to develop and hold on to loyal and highly skilled workers. ships.

This change caused the value of the yen to rise. But difficulties such as crowded urban housing. Japanese consumers. In 1971 the United States abandoned the system of fixed foreign exchange rates that had been in place since World War II. huge accumulations of solid waste and garbage. Kyōto. people were pouring into Japan’s six major cities (Tokyo. in Japan it inspired panic buying by consumers who feared shortages and price increases. Despite the domestic problems accompanying rapid economic growth. Fifth. responding to the new availability of high quality consumer goods such as refrigerators and automobiles. including a drive to expand Japanese exports. soon overcame these difficulties. In 1973 an increase in crude oil prices caused recessions in countries around the world. air pollution and water pollution. Under increasing public pressure. lengthy commutes. and traffic problems were less easy to deal with. Between 1955 and 1970. Rising household incomes and savings produced by the economic miracle transformed Japan into a middle-class society. the other advanced nations recognized that Japan had emerged as an economic superpower. and a disintegrating natural environment. as did attendance at colleges and universities. Nagoya. and Kōbe) at an average rate of 1 million per year. and few pockets of extreme poverty remained. This expansion of the domestic market was the driving force behind rapid growth. By the 1980s less than 10 percent of the workforce was engaged in agriculture. especially along the industrial corridor stretching from Tokyo-Yokohama in the east along the Pacific coast through the Inland Sea to northern Kyūshū. Compared to other industrial countries. in a country whose territory could fit comfortably within the boundaries of Montana. overloaded highway and public transportation systems. double-digit inflation. But rapid economic growth had a downside. That figure had dropped to 5 percent by the early 2000s. high school completion rates rose rapidly. Japanese exports fell. Tokyo became the first city in the world to claim a population of 10 million. At the same time. Japan’s rural population shrank rapidly. Since access to white-collar status depended on education. about half what it had been during the high growth years of the economic miracle. Timely government and corporate policies. During the 1960s and 1970s local citizens’ movements fought against the worst cases of industrial pollution. L2 Social and Environmental Impacts of Growth The social impact of rapid economic growth was enormous. The most obvious effect was rapid urbanization. Yokohama. To most Japanese the ideal social status was that of the ―salary man‖—the white-collar middle-class employee of a large corporation. eagerly bought up industrial output. even in the countryside. When the first economic summit was .work stoppages. The Japanese had built the world’s third-largest economy with a population half that of the United States. when Japan’s economy underwent a sudden slowdown brought on in part by two external events. and consequently. but growth continued only at a much slower and steadier rate of 4 to 5 percent. and a sudden slowdown in the growth rate. The era of rapid economic growth ended in the early 1970s. the LDP governments passed legislation setting tough automobile and noise pollution standards and providing compensation for pollution-related health problems. And finally. Japan had a relatively equal distribution of income. Ōsaka. Just before hosting the 1964 Olympic Games. the Japanese economy was not burdened by heavy military expenditures and the taxes needed to pay for them because Japan depended on the United States for its basic national defense. The results were predictable: overcrowded cities and suburbs.

a U. due largely to factional infighting.S. a conservative who supported rearmament and a more active international role for Japan. Japanese prime minister Tanaka Kakuei visited China in 1972. During the mid-1980s. surprising and exasperating the Japanese government. National voting rates declined steadily. During the 1970s and 1980s books explaining the secrets of Japan’s economic success became bestsellers abroad. After the United States suddenly reestablished relations with the People’s Republic of China in 1971. In 1974 Tanaka had been forced to resign amid accusations of improprieties. revived the fortunes of the LDP. In 1965 Japanese prime minister Sato Eisaku hosted South Korea’s foreign minister at the first meeting of the two governments since World War II. M Japan in Recent Years The Economic Bubble and Its Aftermath M1 . but this success owed much to the continuing influence of the Tanaka faction. and public opinion polls showed a rising indifference to politics. Finally. Nakasone. Tanaka’s trial and judicial appeals lasted for more than a decade. France. Factionalism and the growing expense of elections led politicians to become increasingly involved in dubious financial dealings. although the party’s cabinets changed frequently. although the United States continued to maintain military bases on Okinawa. and in 1976 he was arrested for taking bribes from the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation. Under his leadership the party won its largest electoral victory in 1986. the LDP continued to hold the reins of government throughout the 1970s.convened at Versailles. and Japan severed official diplomatic ties with Taiwan. the LDP lost its absolute majority in the lower house between 1976 and 1980. The meeting produced a far-ranging agreement on mutual relations. Six LDP politicians succeeded one another as prime minister in the ten years that passed between the cabinet of Tanaka Kakuei in 1972 and that of Nakasone Yasuhiro in 1982. With international recognition came a recovery in national self-confidence. firm. in 1975. L3 Political Developments In the 1960s and 1970s Japan’s major diplomatic initiatives were aimed at improving relations with its Asian neighbors. in 1972 Japan regained sovereignty over the Ryukyu Islands. In domestic politics. and during this period the first of a series of influence-peddling scandals involving the LDP came to light. The scandal widened as it became clear that Lockheed had paid at least $10 million in bribes and fees to Japanese politicians and industrialists since the 1950s. In the aftermath of the scandals. Japan was invited to join as one of the ―big five‖ nations. while at home a new cultural nationalism found expression in a proliferation of books explaining the distinctive strength and virtues of Japanese society. The two countries agreed to resume diplomatic relations immediately.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial The Genbaku Dome, eerie wreckage of Hiroshima’s Industrial Promotion Hall, looms behind observers of an annual war memorial service at the Peace Memorial Park. The dome and the park memorialize the victims of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima by the United States on August 6, 1945, during World War II. Junko Kimura/Getty Images

In the latter half of the 1980s Japan experienced a period of financial euphoria that came to be known as the bubble. The bubble was triggered in 1985 by a sudden rise in the value of the yen. As Japanese goods became more expensive overseas, Japan’s exports decreased and its economy slowed. To stimulate economic growth, the LDP government increased public spending and eased interest rates. Real estate and stock prices soared, and even middle-class Japanese began to speculate. In addition, the high value of the yen encouraged Japanese investment overseas. In Southeast Asia, where labor costs were lower, Japanese companies built new production facilities. In the United States they invested not only in electronics factories and automobile assembly plants but also bought highly visible assets such as Rockefeller Center in New York City. In early 1990, however, the economic bubble burst suddenly when the government raised interest rates to dampen speculation. The collapse of the bubble ushered in a period of prolonged economic slowdown. Large corporations attempted to deal with the slowdown through downsizing, but many large banks and financial institutions remained saddled with huge amounts of bad loans left over from the economic boom period. In 1997 an economic downturn in Southeast Asia harmed Japanese trade and investment in the region and further undermined the strength of Japan’s economy. Public confidence in the economy steadily deteriorated as the economic bureaucracy appeared unable to deal with the country’s economic problems. By the early 2000s Japan remained mired in its longest recession since World War II. Blame for the continuing economic slowdown was laid at the door of the MOF, which did little despite strong domestic and foreign demands for economic deregulation and greater market freedom. In May

1997 the MOF announced plans for a ―Big Bang‖ to deregulate banking and finance, but daily newspaper and television news continued to headline stories about bureaucratic inflexibility, incompetence, and corruption. In 1998 the Diet passed a series of bills intended to initiate economic recovery by increasing government spending and authorizing measures to address the banking problem. By late 2002, however, a decade of massive stimulus packages and emergency measures had failed to stimulate Japan’s stagnant economy. Signs of an economic turnaround began to appear late in 2005.


Political Turmoil

Akihito Born in 1933 as the first son of Japanese Emperor Hirohito, Akihito ascended to the throne upon his father’s death in 1989. Akihito designated his reign Heisei (―achieving peace‖). Ari Ojala/Lehtikuva Oy/Woodfin Camp and Associates, Inc.

In January 1989 Emperor Hirohito died after a 62-year reign. His son Akihito succeeded him as emperor, inaugurating what was officially called the reign of Heisei, which means ―achieving peace.‖ However, the years that followed were marked by domestic political turmoil. In the late 1980s and early 1990s a new set of scandals shook the LDP. In 1988 it was revealed that the Recruit Company, a Japanese data services and real estate firm, had bribed many top LDP leaders. Scandal brought down the administrations of prime ministers Takeshita Noboru and Uno Sosuke in rapid succession in 1989. In national elections held that year, the LDP lost its majority in the upper house for the first time in more than three decades. Kaifu Toshiki, elected by LDP Diet members as a ―clean‖ candidate to improve the party’s image, unsuccessfully tried to push through political reform. Unable to cope with economic malaise and lacking the confidence of prominent party members, Kaifu was replaced in late 1991 by a veteran politician, Miyazawa Kiichi.

Hosokawa Morihiro Hosokawa Morihiro, a member of the Japan New Party, became the prime minister of Japan in 1993, the first prime minister in 38 years not to come from the dominant Liberal Democrat Party. He resigned in less than a year, after questions arose concerning a loan he received in 1982. REUTERS/THE BETTMANN ARCHIVE

In 1993 younger LDP leaders, led by Hata Tsutomu and Ozawa Ichiro, became frustrated by the party’s inertia and broke away to form new parties of their own. The loss of these members deprived the LDP of its majority in the lower house, and national elections held that year did not restore it. A coalition of eight opposition parties formed a cabinet under Prime Minister Hosokawa Morihiro, putting an end to the LDP’s long political hegemony. The political situation continued to deteriorate, however, as the new parties maneuvered for position. Amid allegations that he had accepted an illegal loan in 1982, Hosokawa stepped down in 1994, and the coalition chose Hata as prime minister. Soon afterward, the largest of the eight parties withdrew from the coalition, leaving Hata without a majority in the lower house of parliament. He resigned after only two months in office.

Murayama. resigned in January 1996.Obuchi Keizo Japanese prime minister Obuchi Keizo gives his first policy speech to a special session of the Japanese parliament in August 1998. electing Murayama Tomiichi Japan’s first socialist prime minister since 1948. . Obuchi became prime minister in July 1998 following the resignation of Ryutaro Hashimoto. the power of the political left had dwindled substantially during the late 1980s. the SDPJ. In 1994 a coalition cabinet came to power made up of the LDP and its former rival. and the Diet elected LDP leader and former trade minister Hashimoto Ryutaro to the post. Hashimoto formed a coalition government with the SDPJ and Sakigake. whose coalition government was weak. the Social Democratic Party of Japan (SDPJ. formerly the Japan Socialist Party) moved to gain more support among voters by adopting a more pragmatic platform. split. and recombine into new political factions and parties. Susumu Takahashi/REUTERS Meanwhile. The party even abandoned long-standing positions such as opposition to the mutual security treaty with the United States and the maintenance of the SDF. After decades in the opposition. a progressive conservative party. He served until April 2000. But the political parties continued to combine.

Junichiro Koizumi (Western style). SDPJ. . LDP politician Obuchi Keizo replaced him as prime minister. made it difficult for Hashimoto’s cabinet to confront the country’s many economic and political problems. however. Unhappy with the state of the economy. the coalition of the LDP. a reform-minded former health and welfare minister. The following year. He was replaced as prime minister and head of the LDP by longtime LDP politician Mori Yoshiro. this time with the Liberal Party. Issei Kato/REUTERS In late 1997 the LDP regained a majority in the lower house when a key opposition member returned to the party. and the LDP entered a new coalition in 1999. the House of Representatives. Political maneuvering and a stubborn opposition. In late April 2001 the LDP held an early internal election to choose a new party leader to replace Mori as prime minister. was chosen over former prime minister Hashimoto Ryutaro. Japanese voters inflicted a defeat on the LDP in elections for the upper house in July 1998. Accepting responsibility for the defeat. Public approval ratings for Mori plunged to below 10 percent due to his reported political blunders and the LDP’s lack of success in reviving the economy. Obuchi suffered a stroke in April 2000 and lapsed into a coma.Junichiro Koizumi Junichiro Koizumi served as prime minister of Japan from 2001 to 2006. Hashimoto resigned as prime minister. In early parliamentary elections held in June 2000 for Japan’s lower house. a group of former LDP members led by Ozawa. and Sakigake broke up. Koizumi’s victory over the candidate favored by party seniors broke with tradition and was widely interpreted as a sign of growing frustration with Japan’s economic problems. the LDP and its coalition partners suffered losses but retained a majority.

in September 2006 the LDP chose party member Shinzō Abe (Western style) to succeed Koizumi. Yasuo Fukuda (Western style). In the September 2005 election the LDP and its coalition partner. taking 327 out of 480 seats. In the July 2007 elections to the upper house of the Diet. Although Abe initially enjoyed high poll ratings. Despite his popularity. LDP members who had opposed him were officially banished from the party. Akio Suga/Reuters/Corbis Koizumi pursued structural reforms of the Japanese economy. Koizumi announced his intention to step down at the end of his term in 2006. In response. In 2005.Shinzō Abe Shinzō Abe became prime minister of Japan in September 2006 but resigned abruptly after only 12 months in office. some LDP members in the upper house of the Diet blocked his goal to privatize the national postal service. his popularity plummeted following a series of corruption scandals involving several of his cabinet ministers. won a landslide victory. Koizumi called an early parliamentary election for the lower house. . New Komeito. further undermining Abe’s ability to garner support for his policies. Abe abruptly resigned in September 2007. some of them founded the New People’s Party. His tenure was marred by a series of political scandals that weakened the position of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). the LDP-led coalition lost its ruling majority in that house. The two-thirds majority gave Koizumi the power to override any opposition to his reforms in the upper house. the dominant party in Japan since World War II (1939-1945). Support for Abe was also divided on his proposed plans for revising the constitution to allow Japan’s military forces a greater role in international affairs. Accordingly. however. The LDP was able to choose his successor because its coalition continued to hold a majority in the lower house of the Diet.

M3 International Affairs The end of the Cold War in the late 1980s brought new uncertainties in Japan’s relations with the outside world. The summit meeting. South Koreans and other Asians demanded that Japan admit responsibility for forcefully recruiting women to serve as ―comfort women. marked the first diplomatic relations between the two countries since 1948. In the early 1990s. but the law required Diet approval in every case.S. And the Japanese public expressed concern in 1997 when a new U. held in North Korea. Memories of Japan’s wartime activities remained alive in North and South Korea and China. aware that public sentiment strongly supported the peace constitution. In 1992 the Diet passed a law allowing noncombatant SDF personnel to take part in UN peacekeeping operations. the 50th anniversary of the end of the war. investment. and it was further aggravated the same year when Prime Minister Koizumi visited the Yasukuni war shrine in Tokyo.‖ or prostitutes.who had served in the pivotal role of chief cabinet secretary under Koizumi. further straining relations with neighboring countries that regarded the shrine as a symbol of Japan’s wartime militarism. remained reluctant to take a more active role in international military efforts.-Japanese security plan committed Japan to cooperate with U. should take some responsibility for maintaining it. In the joint declaration. The dispute had prevented Japan and the Soviet Union from signing a peace treaty after World War II. Prior to the meeting. In the 1990s the Japanese confronted hostility among their Asian neighbors despite growing trade. Prime Minister Murayama expressed ―deep remorse‖ for war victims. Although the mutual security treaty remained in force. But leading LDP politicians continued to make statements that appeared to defend or justify Japan’s actions as an imperialist and military power. Koizumi continued to make annual visits to the shrine on the anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II. A country with a large stake in international stability. Japanese political leaders. for example. During the Persian Gulf War in 1991. North Korea’s refusal to fully comply with Japan’s demand for the return of its kidnapped citizens remained a point of contention between the two countries. the Americans argued. On August 15. the Japanese government provided $13 billion to help reimburse the expenses of the anti-Iraq coalition. The issue resurfaced in 2001 when a new history textbook appeared to gloss over Japan’s past military aggressions in China and Korea. particularly in Asia. including Japanese convicted of war crimes. forces in conflicts occurring in areas around Japan. Japan formally apologized for Korean suffering under Japanese colonial rule from 1910 to 1945. the United States pressured Japan to assume responsibility in international politics commensurate with its economic power. In September 2002 Koizumi and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il signed a joint declaration to begin normalizing relations between their two countries. where Japanese war dead are honored. leaving them technically in a state of war. for Japanese soldiers during the war. North Korean officials admitted that North Korean agents had abducted a number of Japanese citizens since the 1970s in order to conduct spying operations under stolen identities. became the new leader of the LDP and prime minister of Japan. but sent no troops. 1995. In the 1990s and early 2000s Japan and Russia took steps toward resolving their long-standing territorial dispute over the Kuril Islands. The lingering dispute also posed a significant obstacle to diplomatic and economic relations between Japan and . and other economic ties.S.

announced his intention to revise Japan’s pacifist constitution so that the Self-Defense Forces could play a more active role in international missions. In general terms. which ended with his resignation in September 2007. Japan began withdrawing its noncombat forces from Iraq in June 2006. the agreement also indicated that the two countries would cooperate in exploiting Russia’s vast energy resources. who succeeded Koizumi in September 2006. Contributed By: Roman A. Abe avoided honoring Japan’s war dead at the Yasukuni shrine during his term. The History section of this article was contributed by Peter Duus. © 1993-2008 Microsoft Corporation.S.-led coalition forces in Afghanistan.S.Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. All rights reserved. An initial group of an intended 600-strong noncombat contingent was sent to Iraq in February 2004 to assist in the reconstruction of the country. During his first month in office. . It represented the first Japanese ground forces to be deployed in a combat zone since World War II. Abe also supported the annual renewal of an antiterrorism law allowing Japan to provide naval support to U. Haley Richard Katz Paul Varley Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2009. In another fence-mending gesture. In 2003 Prime Minister Koizumi and Russian president Vladimir Putin signed an agreement calling for an accelerated effort to resolve the dispute and produce a peace treaty. Cybriwsky Peter Duus John O.-Iraq War). especially as it came after the deaths of two Japanese diplomats in a bombing in the city of Tikrīt in northern Iraq in late 2003 (see U. Meetings between Russian president Boris Yeltsin and Japanese prime ministers in the late 1990s produced statements of commitment to resolving the dispute. Japanese prime minister Shinzō Abe. The measure was widely seen as controversial and potentially unconstitutional. Abe visited China and South Korea in a move to ease strained relations.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful