Japan s history in brief
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Japan’s History (in brief). Earliest Japanese society was organized into clans – groups of families descended from a common ancestor. Position within the clan was inherited (warriors, farmers, weavers, etc.).

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Japan s history in brief
Japan’s History (in brief)

Earliest Japanese society was organized into clans – groups of families descended from a common ancestor.

Position within the clan was inherited (warriors, farmers, weavers, etc.).

By around 400 AD several clans formed a union & united much of Japan under their leadership. Called the “Tenno Clan” this group claimed the right to rule & became Japan’s first & only ruling dynasty.

Japan s royal family
Japan’s Royal Family…

The Japanese Imperial family is the oldest hereditary monarchy in the world. The role of the Emperor (and occasionally the Empress - there have been 8 to date) has varied in importance. Considered a divine being until the end of World War II, the postwar Constitution made him the "Symbol of the state". Today the Emperor plays a largely ceremonial part in the life of the nation.

Japan s history in brief


A political, economic, and social system based on loyalty, the holding of land, and military service.By the 1100’s Japan had adopted a feudal system of govt.


Land - Shoen


Land - Shoen













Japan s history in brief

The emperor reigned, but did not always rule!

Feudal Society

Japan s history in brief

Code of Bushido

  • Fidelity

  • Politeness

  • Virility

  • Simplicity

Japan s history in brief

Seppuku: Ritual Suicide

It is honorable to die in this way.

Japan s history in brief

Tokugawa ShogunatePeriod 1590 - 1868

  • Japan closed off to all trade [except to the Dutch and Chinese]. 

    • Japanese Christians persecuted and Christianity is forbidden.

  • The government is centralized with all power in the hands of the shogun.

  • Domestic trade flourishes.

  • Emerging from isolation
    Emerging from Isolation…

    In 1853 US gunboats sailed into Tokyo Bay and demanded access. China was losing power to foreign influence & Japan feared the same fate so they allowed Westerners in.

    to emulate the success of Western nations the Japanese modernized their economic & military systems. Their motto was “Enrich the country, strengthen the military.”

    In a shift in power called the “Meji Restoration” they made significant changes to how Japan was governed.

    Meji restoration
    Meji Restoration

    Rebels led by reform minded Samurai forced the shogun to step down and restored the emperor to power. Realizing Japan had to modernize before it would be able to hold off foreign influence they sent hundreds of Japan’s best & brightest to Europe & the US to study western government, industry & military organization.)

    Meji reformers favored a strong central gov’t which carefully controlled industrial growth & by 1900 Japan was a modern industrial nation.

    Expansionist japan
    Expansionist Japan…

    Following the example of western nations, Japan set out to gain an overseas empire.

    1885 defeated China & took control of Taiwan;

    1905 defeated Russia & gained influence in N. China;

    1910 annexed Korea;

    Allied with Br. Fr & US in WWI & wins Germany’s Micronesian holdings;

    1931 conquer Manchuria

    1937 occupy N. China plain & coastal cities in S. China (“Rape of Nanking” Nanking Massacre - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ).

    Mounting japanese aggression
    Mounting Japanese Aggression…

    The global depression at the start of the 1930’s badly damaged Japan’s economy. This led to civil unrest & extremist groups attracted large followings& backed military leaders; they assassinated the Prime Minister & gradually Japan became a military dictatorship. Their mission was to free Asian nations from western imperialism;

    In 1940 Japan allied with Germany & Italy (the “Axis”) against the Br, Fr & SU (the “Allies”) & prepared for war.

    12-7-1941 – Japan attacks Pearl Harbor, Hawaii destroying 8 US battleships & killing over 2,500 Americans.

    Japan wwii
    Japan & WWII

    In response the US joins the Allies & from island bases in the Pacific starts fire bombing Japan’s cities & blocking supplies from entering the country. By 1945 the Japanese economy collapsed.

    After the defeat of Germany & Italy the Allies called on Japan to surrender. They refuse & on 8-6-45 the US drops an atomic bomb on Hiroshima killing over 80,000 & leveling 4 sq. miles of the city. Japan’s continued refusal to surrender leads to a 2nd bomb 8-9 (Nagasaki) killing 40,000+. On 8-14-45 Japan surrenders.

    We’ll look at their political & economic revival in sect. 5.

    Atomic bomb
    Atomic Bomb


    “Sixteen hours ago an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima and destroyed its usefulness to the enemy. That bomb had more power than 20,000 tons of TNT. It had more than two thousand times the blast power of the British "Grand Slam" which is the largest bomb ever yet used in the history of warfare. We are now prepared to obliterate more rapidly and completely every productive enterprise the Japanese have above ground in any city. We shall destroy their docks, their factories, and their communications. Let there be no mistake; we shall completely destroy Japan's power to make war.”

    The koreas
    The Koreas…

    End of WWII brought change to Korea. The SU & the US agreed to divide Korea at the 38th parallel; everything North was to occupied by the Soviets; to the South by the US resulting in the establishment of 2 different regimes.

    In 1950 NK invaded SK in an attempt to reunify; war ensued; we assisted SK but after many years the Korean war ended in a stalemate & since then the North & South have existed as separate countries.

    SK: Democratic; modern; wealthy; well connected to global technology & economy; many western allies.

    North korea
    North Korea…

    NK: Communist. Regarded by many as the most closed country in the world. Led by Kim Il Song first; then followed by his son Kim Jung Il; and finally by his son Kim Jung Un. These men have ruled as dictators & impose extreme censorship upon the people of NK who only know the world according to the progoganda their government uses on them.

    NK is poor, supports terrorism & has nuclear weapons. NK continues to threaten the sovereignty of SK. Talks of reunification have not occurred in recent years.