Japan              
Japan - Nippon 日本国 - Nihon-koku - Nippon-koku


A group of islands off the eastern coast of Asia. Japan pursued an isolationist policy until 1854, when a U.S. fleet forced it to admit limited foreign trade. In 1867, internal dissension caused the restoration of imperial power and centralization within the country. Japan embarked on a program of rapid modernization and, by the early 20th century, was a world power. During 1871-1910, Japan expanded its territory through an aggressive imperialistic foreign policy, gaining Formosa, Korea, etc. Its victory over Russia in 1905 established it as a major military power and encouraged the growth of nationalism throughout Asia. 

During World War I, Japan sided with the Allies, acquiring former German Pacific holdings after the war. During 1918-25, Japan occupied portions of Russian Siberia and Sakhalin and, in the 1930s, began to aggressively expand at the expense of China, which was invaded in 1937. In 1940, Japan joined the Axis and invaded French Indochina and, in 1941, attacked British and U.S. territories in the Pacific. After initial successes, the tide turned against Japan in 1943, ending with its defeat in 1945. All territory, except the home islands, was taken from it by the Allies, who occupied Japan until 1952. 

After World War II, Japan has enjoyed an economic boom, making it one of the world's great industrial powers. Since 1947, Japan has integrated many Western ideas into its traditional culture, creating a dynamic society that, in many ways, is a successful blending of European and Asian values.

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