Location: Off the east coast of Asia.  Ring of Fire

Archipelago : Chain of over 3,000 Islands. Kyushu, Shikoku, Honshu, Hokkaido.

Mountains: 4/5 of land, most live on plains and river valleys. Terrace farming.

Lack of resources:  Force Japan to look elsewhere - imperialism.

Early Civilizations

Cultural Diffusion:

From China through Korea.  Mixed w/ Japan’s traditions.


Form of Animism stressing link between people & nature.

Feudal Period (1185-1600)

Land Ownership: Shoguns distributed land to Daimyo in return for a promise to support.

Samurai:  Warriors for the Daimyo

Shogun:  Military leader.  Actual ruler of Japan.

Emperor: Figurehead

Bushido: Code of conduct for Samurai

19th Century Japan

Commodore Matthew Perry: 

American, forced Japan to open ports to western trade.

Meiji Restoration:

Forced Shogun to abdicate and restored emperor.  Began program of modernization.  Borrowed western ideas.

Constitution written somewhat based on western ideas however parliament was very limited.


Sino-Japanese War 1894-1895

Russo-Japanese War 1904-1905

World War Two

Japanese aggression:

Invaded Manchuria, China, Left League of Nations

Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis:

Alliance system agreed to fight against Comm.

Pearl Harbor

Surprise attack on US fleet. US declares war.

Victories & Losses

Japan took Much of western pacific and SE Asia early in war.  US countered with Island hopping.

Hiroshima (Aug 6) & Nagasaki (Aug 9): America dropped atomic bombs. Over 120 k killed.  Japan surrendered on Aug 14.  1st time in history - Japan is occupied.

WWII - Present: Political System

US Occupation:  Only occupier of Japan.  Held trials for war crimes and disbanded military

Democracy: A new constitution was written by MacArthur, and women given vote power.  Parliamentary power increased.  Emperor’s power limited.

Military: Disbanded.  Illegal to wage war and maintain.

WWII - Present: Economy

“Economic Miracle: Quick recovery of the economy after WWII due to US aid and access to new technology and communication.  After oil crisis of 70’s switch to “high tech” industries.

Work Ethic: Strong work ethic, work hard, willing to save.

Education: emphasis on educated, creative, flexible work force.

Imbalance of trade: Exports far more than imports. Causes international tension, especially with US.

WWII - Present: Society

Westernization:  Adopted western styles and business techniques.  Western culture became more popular.  Travel abroad.

Traditions:  Tea Ceremony, haiku, Kabuki and Zen traditions.