A country of Asia on an archipelago off the northeast coast of the mainland.


Traditionally settled c. 660 B.C., Japan's written history began in the 5th century A.D. During the feudal period (12th-19th century) real power was held by the shoguns, whose dominance was finally ended by the restoration of the emperor Mutsuhito in 1868. Feudalism was abolished, and the country was opened to Western trade and industrial technology.

Expansionist policies led to Japan's participation in World War II, which ended after atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki (August 1945). Today the country is highly industrialized and noted for its advanced.

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