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Japan: Land of the Rising Sun. Politics and Culture. Japan’s population is 124 million people. Japan ranks seventh among the world’s most populous nations Japan has a population density of 859 people per square mile. Japanese comprise 99% of the population of Japan. The small

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Japan: Land of the Rising Sun

Politics and Culture


Japan’s population is 124

million people. Japan ranks

seventh among the world’s

most populous nations Japan

has a population density of

859 people per square mile.

Japanese comprise 99% of the

population of Japan. The small

remainder includes Koreans,

Chinese and the Ainu. The

Ainu are believed to be the

aborigines of Japan.


In terms of culture, language, and ethnicity, Japan is one the

world’s most

homogeneous nations. The spoken language

is unique to Japan, but the written

language was borrowed from China.

Japan’s religions are Buddhism and Shinto. After the Meiji

Restoration in the nineteenth century, Shinto became the state

religion. Shinto was taught in the schools, and all Japanese

were required to belong to a state Shinto shrine. State religion

was abolished after Japan’s defeat in World War II, but Shintoism

remains an important part of Japanese culture.

Buddhism is often considered Japan’s most important religion. It

was introduced from China and Korea in the 6th century and

spread rapidly throughout the country.



Founder: Siddhartha Gautama

“The Enlightened One”

Daibutsu (Great Buddha) figure at

Kamakura, Japan, was cast in bronze in

1252. The figure depicts Amida Buddha

in perfect repose and passionless calm.

Buddhist Monks


The Shinto Myth

The Japanese islands are a special creation of the gods. After the

primal chaos had in the course of events separated into heaven and

ocean, various gods appeared in the heavenly drift-mist, only to

disappear without event, until finally there came upon the scene two

deities who produced the Japanese islands and their inhabitants.

Izanagi and Izanami were summoned to “make, consolidate, and

give birth to” the Japanese islands. These two beings descended the

Floating Bridge of Heaven and created the first island of Japan.

Stepping down on the island, they came together, and Izanami bore

from her womb the eight great islandsof Japan. After that they brought

into being a populace of thirty-five deities...

The Shinto religion is uniquely Japanese

and has never sought converts outside

of Japan.

tokyo the capital city of japan

Tokyo- The capital city of Japan

One of the most heavily populated metropolises in the world


The Sumida River

The Meiji Shrine

Japanese Kimonos


Sumo wrestling is a popular

spectator sport in Japan

dating back hundreds of


Size is an advantage in Sumo

wrestling so the athletes

strive to gain weight.

political setting
Political Setting
  • The origins of Modern Japan
  • Opening to the world
  • Japan’s bid for hegemony in Asia
  • The 1947 Constitution
the origins of modern japan
The Origins of Modern Japan
  • Mythology holds that Japan’s emperors descend from the Sun Goddess
  • The present emperor of Japan is a direct descendant of the House of Yamato, which established hegemony over Japan during the first centuries A.D.
  • The Japanese copied most of their culture from the Chinese

The Japanese imitated or adopted the Chinese industrial arts,

script, medical tests, and calendar; they even embraced Buddhism.

Japanese rulers also copied China’s political administration.

During the 12th century,

powerful military clans

arose. In 1192, the first

Shogun assumes power.

Japan’s first Shogun

the japanese shogunate
A feudal form of government based on hereditary land ownership, vassalage, and military prowess.

Prevailed for 700 years.

Rival feudal lords, daimyo, kept the nation in perpetual Civil War.

Samurai- Japanese professional warrior class

1543- Portuguese traders arrived in southern Japan

Civil warfare finally ended in 1590.

Tokugawa Shogunate ruled Japan until 1868.

The Japanese Shogunate
opening to the world
1853- Japan began an Open Door Policy, striking up treaties with the U.S., Russia, Netherlands, and Great Britain

A decade of turmoil followed

Meiji Restoration- Japan’s modernization drive

Japan industrialized rapidly and abolished feudalism

1889, bicameral legislation formed, the Diet

Opening to the World

The reforms created a parliamentary system in theory but not

in practice: the new civilian cabinet, headed by a prime

minister, was made responsible only to the emperor.

Japanese ascended to power through a series of impressive

military victories over China in 1895 and then Russia in 1904-

1905. An empire begins to take shape with the acquisition

of Formosa (Taiwan), part of Sakhalin Island, and railway

and port rights in Manchuria. Also important to Japan was

China’s recognition of Korea’s independence.

Japan was one of the five chief powers at the treaty signing in

Versailles. In 1922, the Washington Naval Conference

recognized as the third-ranked naval power in the world.


In 1925, universal male suffrage introduced democracy,

and political parties arose for the first time. But when

Emperor Hirohito ascended the throne the following year,

the military seized the initiative and swept the political parties

aside. In 1931, the Japanese army invaded Manchuria.

Japan’s course of military adventurism and empire-building

had begun.

Emperor Hirohito

ruled 1926-1989

The last ruler to uphold

(at least for the first

part of his reign) the

Shinto idea of imperial


japan s bid for hegemony in asia
Eve of WWII- Japan joins infamous Axis alliance

Dec. 7, 1941- Japan launched surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

Simultaneously attacked U.S. forces in Philippines

Also attacked British forces in Hong Kong and Malaya

Japan sought to create a Japan-ruled “co-prosperity sphere”

Japan’s bid for Hegemony in Asia
the 1947 constitution
The 1947 Constitution was crafted by the U.S.

Framers sought to construct an elaborate system of representative government for Japan

Provides wide range of civil liberties

Article 9 says that Japan can maintain a defensive military only, offensive military power is forbidden.

Less than 1% of GNP is spend on defense

The 1947 Constitution

The American influence on the Japanese constitution is especially

apparent in its preamble:

We, the Japanese people, acting through our duly elected represent-

atives in the National Diet, determined that we shall secure for our

selves and our posterity the fruits of peaceful cooperation with all

nations and the blessings of liberty throughout this land, and re-

solved that never again shall we be visited with the horrors of war

through the action of government, do proclaim that sovereign power

resides with the people and do firmly establish this Constitution…

Government is a sacred trust of the people, the authority for which

is derived from the people, the powers of which are exercised by

representatives of the people, and the benefits of which are enjoyed

by the people.


Take a Look at

some of Japan’s

historical sites...


Golden Hall of Chusonji

Temple- 12th Century

culture on display

Motsuji Temple Jodo Garden

800 year old aesthetics


Usuki Stone Buddhas

carved during the 12th-

14th centuries


Yamagata Castle

Yamagata is the capital city of the Yamagata Prefecture