Here’s a look at Japan, an island nation off the east coast of mainland Asia.
(from the CIA World Fact Book)
Area: 377,915 km²
Population: 124,214,766 (2022 est.)
Average age: 48.6 years (2020 est.)
Ethnic groups: Japanese 97.9%, Chinese 0.6%, Korean 0.4%, other 1.1%
Religion: Shinto 70.5%, Buddhism 67.2%, Christianity 1.5%, other 5.9% (many practice both Shinto and Buddhism)
Unemployment: 2.36% (2019 est.)
Japan is a parliamentary democracy with a constitutional monarchy. The prime minister is the head of government and the emperor is the head of state.
Four major islands: Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu, account for about 98% of the country’s land area.
Japanese society dates back to the Jomon period around 300 BC. back.
After an economic boom after World War II, Japan has been stuck in stagnation and deflation since the 1990s.
July 1931 – Japan invades Manchuria for its mineral resources. By 1937, Japan controlled much of China.
December 7, 1941 – Japan enters World War II by attacking Pearl Harbor in Hawaii in hopes of destroying the US Pacific Fleet.
August 6, 1945 – The first atomic bomb used in warfare is dropped by the United States on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, killing up to 140,000 people.
August 9, 1945 – After receiving no response from the Japanese government, the United States drops a second atomic bomb on Nagasaki, killing up to 80,000 people.
August 14, 1945 – Japan unconditionally agrees to accept the terms of the Potsdam Declaration and end the war. The Day of Victory over Japan (VJ) is declared.
September 2, 1945 – Japan signs formal surrender aboard USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.
1956 – Joined the United Nations.
1964 – Tokyo hosts the Summer Olympics.
1972 – The Winter Olympics are held in Sapporo, Hokkaido Prefecture, Japan.
January 7, 1989 – Akihito becomes Emperor after the death of Hirohito, who had been Emperor since 1926.
1993 – Chief of Cabinet Yohei Kono issues a statement acknowledging Japan’s responsibility for recruiting comfort women before and during World War II and expressing “his sincere apologies and remorse”.
January 1995 – The magnitude 6.9 Kobe earthquake occurs, killing 5,502 and injuring 36,896.
March 1995 – A religious sect distributes sarin, a nerve agent, on the Tokyo subway. Twelve people are killed and more than 5,000 become ill.
1998 – Nagano hosts the Winter Olympics.
2002 – World Cup co-hosted with South Korea.
2006 – The first Ministry of Defense since World War II is confirmed by Parliament.
March 11, 2011 – A 9.1 magnitude earthquake strikes 231 miles northeast of Tokyo. The earthquake creates a tsunami with 30-foot waves that damage several nuclear reactors in the area. The total number of confirmed deaths and missing is more than 22,000 (nearly 20,000 dead and 2,500 missing). (Source: Japan’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency)
September 7, 2013 – Tokyo is selected by the International Olympic Committee to host the 2020 Summer Games.
July 1, 2014 – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announces that his cabinet has approved a defense policy that takes a liberal view of the constitution and allows Japan’s involvement in the defense of its allies. Previously, Japan’s Self-Defense Forces (SDF) could only act when Japan itself was directly threatened.
December 14, 2014 – Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party won Japan’s snap general election by a landslide, according to polls. The win gives Abe four more years to implement his policies, which aim to revitalize Japan’s economy by flooding the market with cash, encouraging companies to create more jobs and increasing government spending.
September 19, 2015 – Japan’s upper house of parliament approves controversial bills allowing the country’s military to take part in combat overseas under limited circumstances – a big change after seven decades of pacifism. The 148-90 vote is the final hurdle for the measures, which will come into effect within about six months.
December 28, 2015 – Japan and South Korea announce they have reached an agreement on the long-standing issue of “comfort women,” a term used to describe sex slaves used by the Japanese military during World War II. Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said his government will donate 1 billion yen ($8.3 million) to a fund to help those suffering.
June 9, 2017 – The Japanese Parliament passes historic legislation allowing Emperor Akihito to abdicate, becoming the first Japanese monarch in 200 years.
December 1, 2017 – Abe announces that Emperor Akihito will step down on April 30, 2019. Crown Prince Naruhito, who has already assumed some of his father’s responsibilities, will assume the role on May 1, 2019 and ascend to Japan’s Chrysanthemum Throne as the 126th Emperor.
July 2018 – At least 220 people die as heavy rain causes floods and landslides across southwest Japan (Source: Japan’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency). It is one of the deadliest natural disasters to hit the country since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
April 30, 2019 – Emperor Akihito officially abdicates during a ceremony in Tokyo. He will now be known as Emperor Emeritus Akihito. The following day, Crown Prince Naruhito ascends the Chrysanthemum Throne. Naruhito’s rise signals the beginning of the “Reiwa” era.
July 18, 2019 – At least 34 people are killed after a man burned down a prestigious animation studio in Kyoto. Suspect Shinji Aoba is injured in the attack. This is the country’s worst mass killing in almost 20 years.
July 22, 2019 – Abe declares victory in Japan’s national election after polls showed his party won a majority of seats in the upper house of parliament.
November 23, 2019 – Pope Francis begins a four-day tour of Japan. This trip is only the Pope’s second visit to Japan and the first in almost four decades.
March 24, 2020 – Abe and the IOC agree to postpone the Olympics to 2021 due to the coronavirus outbreak. It is also announced that the event will still be called Tokyo 2020 despite the date change.
July 29, 2020 – A Japanese court recognizes dozens of victims of the radioactive “black rain” as survivors of the Hiroshima atomic bombing, paving the way for them to receive medical benefits just days before the attack’s 75th anniversary.
08/28/2020 – Abe resigns as Prime Minister due to health reasons.
September 16, 2020 – Yoshihide Suga is elected prime minister after a vote in the country’s parliament.
October 4, 2021 – Kishida, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), takes office as the country’s new prime minister.
July 8, 2022 – Abe dies after being shot during a campaign speech in Nara.
September 22, 2022 – Kishida marks a major political shift, announcing that Japan is lifting its Covid-19 travel restrictions and reopening the door to mass tourism. “We will raise the cap on the number of people entering Japan, lift the ban on individual travel and the ban on visa-free travel.”