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Japan Listeni/d??'pn/ (Japanese: ?? Nippon or Nihon; formally ???

About this soun d Nippon-koku or Nihon-koku, literally "[the] State of Japan") is an island nati on in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of O khotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south. The character s that make up Japan's name mean "sun-origin", which is why the country is somet imes referred to as the "Land of the Rising Sun". Japan is an archipelago of 6,8 52 islands, the four largest being Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku. Togethe r, these four islands hold about 97 percent of the country's land area. Japan ha s the world's tenth-largest population, with more than 126 million people. Honsh u's Greater Tokyo Area includes the de facto capital city of Tokyo and several s urrounding prefectures. It is the largest metropolitan area in the world, with m ore than 30 million residents. Archaeological research indicates that people lived in Japan as early as the Upp er Paleolithic period. The first written mention of Japan is found in Chinese te xts from the 1st century AD. Influence from other nations followed by long perio ds of isolation has characterized Japan's history. Japan evolved into a cohesive society during the Heian period (8th-11th centuries AD). From the 12th century until 1868, Japan was ruled by successive feudal military dictatorships or shogu nates in the name of the Emperor. In the early 17th century, Japan entered into a long period of isolation, which was only ended in 1853 when a United States fl eet pressured Japan to open to the West. Nearly two decades of internal conflict and insurrection followed before the Meiji Emperor was restored as head of stat e in 1868 and the Empire of Japan was proclaimed, with the Emperor enshrined as a divine symbol of the nation. Periodic insurrections and civil disturbances continued into the 1880s. A modern constitution was promulgated in 1889 and a Western-style parliament established . In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, victories in the First Sino-Japanes e War, the Russo-Japanese War and World War I allowed Japan to expand its empire during a period of increasing militarism. From 1931, military expansion into Ch ina and Manchuria led to the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937. Japan allied itse lf with the Axis powers in 1940, and the war in China became part of World War I I in 1941. While Japan initially enjoyed a period of military dominance, success ive military defeats and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki led to th e end of the war in 1945, Japan's surrender and the loss of its empire. Under Al lied military occupation lasting until 1952, Japan dissolved and restructured it s military, adopted a revised constitution in 1947 and became a unitary constitu tional monarchy with an emperor and a democratically elected legislature.