Japan


Japan
Japan (日本) is a country in Asia. It has many islands. Four of them are large, and the biggest is one of the largest islands in the world. The islands are on the east Asian coast in the western part of the Pacific Ocean.
Japanese people call their country "Nihon" or "Nippon", which in Japanese means "the origin of the sun". It is not actually the origin of the sun.
History.
The earliest records on Japan are from Chinese history. One of those records said there were many small countries which had wars between them and later a country, ruled by a queen, became the strongest and peace came.
Japan began to write its own history after the 5th and 6th centuries, when people from Korea and China taught Japan about the Chinese writing system. Japan's neighbours also showed them the ways of Buddhism. The Japanese changed Buddhism in many ways, for example, by building strongly on ideas such as Zen, which came from mainland Asia.
In the ancient and the Middle Ages, China gave Japan lots of new cultural ideas, but their friendship became weaker later. In the late 13th century, Mongolians from China tried to invade Japan twice, but they could not. The samurai and shogun of Medieval Japan are similar to knights and lords in Medieval Europe.
Japan had contact with the Europeans for a little while in the 16th century. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to visit Japan. Later, the Spanish, English and Dutch came to Japan to trade. Also, they brought Christianity. Japan's leaders welcomed them originally, but the Europeans conquered many places in the world, and the Japanese were scared they would conquer Japan too. So the Japanese did not let the Europeans come into Japan anymore, except in a small area in Nagasaki city. Only Chinese, Korean and Dutch people were allowed to visit Japan, in the end, and they were under careful control of the Japanese government. Japan was opened again in 1854 by Matthew Perry, when the Americans wanted to use Japanese ports for American whale boats.
This new contact with Europeans and Americans changed the Japanese culture. The Meiji Restoration of 1868 stopped some old ways and added many new ones. The Empire of Japan was created, and it became a very powerful nation and tried to invade the countries next to it. It invaded and annexed Ryukyu Kingdom, Taiwan, and Korea. It had wars with China and Russia: the First Sino-Japanese War, the Russo-Japanese War, and the Second Sino-Japanese War, which grew to become a part of World War 2). Japanese troops did many bad things in East Asia, for example: the Nanking massacre (killing a lot of people), biological attacks of Unit 731 (killing people with chemicals and other deadly things).
In 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, a naval base of the United States and destroyed or damaged many ships and airplanes. This started the United States' involvement in World War 2. American and Japanese forces fought each other in the Pacific. Once airbases were established within range of the Japanese mainland America began to win, and started dropping bombs on Japanese cities. America had full access to bomb most of the important cities and quickly brought Japan close to defeat. Because the Japanese refused to surrender, the United States dropped two atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing 130,000 Japanese citizens in just a few seconds. Soon after this the Soviet Union began to fight against Japan and the Japanese army in Manchuria lost. Japan surrendered and gave up all the places it took from other countries, accepting the Potsdam Proclamation. The United States occupied Japan and forced it to write a new constitution, in which they promised to never go to war again.
Japan was hurt very much after the widespread bombing campaigns and the atomic bombs, but soon it grew strong again. They did not try to make a strong military, but a strong economy. Because of this, they became very wealthy. The United States put their military bases in Japan, including Okinawa. Although America helps protect Japan, some people living near the bases do not like the soldiers being there because of serious problems the soldiers sometimes make.
Geography.
Japan is a group of islands in the Western Pacific, off the coast of China. The four biggest islands are Honshu, Hokkaido, Shikoku, and Kyushu, and there are about 3,000 smaller islands there. Japan is separated from the Asian continent by the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea. Honshu, which means 'Mainland' in Japanese language is the biggest island. Hokkaido is the island north of Honshu. Kyushu is the island west of Honshu. Shikoku is the island to the south-west of Honshu.
In the middle of Japan there are mountains. Most of mountains are volcanoes. Japan has many earthquakes. The recent big earthquake happened in 1995 near to Kobe. It was really bad.
90% of the people living in Japan only live in 10% of the land, near the coast. The other 10% of the people in Japan live away from the coast.
Over 10 cities have over a million people in them. The biggest city in Japan is Tokyo, which is the capital.
Territorial problem.
Japan has 3 problems about territory.
Transportation.
Important international airports in Japan are Narita, serving as Tokyo's major airport and Kansai International Airport near Osaka, serving as the main airport for the Kansai region.
For moving around in Japan, airplanes, trains and buses are mainly used for the public transportation. The Shinkansen is one of the fastest trains in the world and connects most of the biggest cities in Honshu and Kyushu.
Subdivisons.
Japan is divided into 47 prefectures.


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