/ dʒəpæn /
Prevedi Japan na: francuski · nemački
1. A constitutional monarchy occupying a string of islands east of Asia; a world leader in electronics and automobile manufacture and ship building; Also called: Nippon, Nihon.
2. A string of islands east of Asia; Also called: Japanese Islands, Japanese Archipelago.
Country in NE Asia, occupying a group of islands of which the four main ones are Hokkaido, Honshu, Kyushu, and Shikoku. Japan is situated between the Sea of Japan (to the W) and the N Pacific (to the E), E of North and South Korea.
Japan’s 1946 constitution, revised 1994, was framed by the occupying Allied forces with the intention of creating a consensual, parliamentary form of government and avoiding an overconcentration of executive authority. The emperor, whose functions are purely ceremonial, is head of state. The Japanese parliament is a two-chamber body composed of a 252-member house of councillors and a 511-member house of representatives. The former chamber comprises 152 representatives elected from 47 prefectural constituencies by the “limited-vote” system and 100 elected nationally by proportional representation. Each member serves a six-year term, the chamber being elected half at a time every three years. Representatives to the lower house are elected by universal suffrage for four-year terms, 300 from single-member constituencies and 200 by proportional representation in 11 regions throughout the country. The house of representatives is the most powerful chamber, able to override (if a two-thirds majority is gained) vetoes
on bills imposed by the house of councillors, and enjoying paramountcy on financial questions. Legislative business is effected through a system of standing committees. Executive administration is entrusted to a prime minister, chosen by parliament, who selects a cabinet that is collectively responsible to parliament.
Evidence of early human occupation on the Japanese islands exists in the form of 30,000-year-old tools, but the Japanese nation probably arose from the fusion of two peoples, one from the Malay Peninsula or Polynesia, the other from Asia, who conquered the original inhabitants, the Ainu, and forced them into the northernmost islands. Japanese history remains legendary until the leadership of the first emperor Jimmu was recorded about 660 BC. From 300 BC, agriculture (rice-growing) was introduced, together with bronze, iron, and textile production. During the 4th century AD, the Yamato dynasty unified warring classes in central Honshu and built huge tombs (the largest being nearly 500 m/1,640 ft). Gradually a feudal society was established. By the 5th century AD, the art of writing had been introduced from Korea. After the introduction of Buddhism, also from Korea, in the 6th century, Chinese culture became generally accepted, but although attempts were made in the 7th century to diminish the power of the nobl
es and set up a strong centralized monarchy on the Chinese model, real power remained in the hands of the great feudal families (such as Fujiwara, Minamoto, and Taira) until recent times.
The feudal lords (daimyo) organized local affairs. The 12th century saw the creation of a military government (shogunate) —a form that persisted until 1868. Twice during the Kamakura shogunate (1192–1333), Mongol invasions from Korea were repulsed. During the Ashikaga shogunate that followed, the country remained riven by factions. Order was restored toward the end of the 16th century, in the Momoyama period, by three great military leaders, Oda Nobunaga (1534–1582), Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537–1598), and Tokugawa Ieyasu; at the battle of Sekigahara 1600 Ieyasu defeated his rivals and established the Tokugawa shogunate (1603–1868).
arrival and expulsion of Europeans
Contact with Europe began 1542 when Portuguese traders arrived; they were followed by Spanish and in 1609 by Dutch sailors. Christianity was introduced by Francis Xavier 1549. The fear that Roman Catholic propaganda was intended as a preparation for Spanish conquest led to the expulsion of the Spanish 1624 and the Portuguese 1639 and to the almost total extermination of Christianity by persecution; only the Dutch were allowed to trade with Japan, under irksome restrictions, while Japanese subjects were forbidden to leave the country. Firearms, which the highly skilled Japanese swordsmiths had begun to make in imitation of guns introduced by the Europeans, fell largely into oblivion during this period. Arts, crafts, and theater flourished, as did the internal economy.
opening to the outside world
This isolation (sakoku) continued until 1853, when the US insisted on opening trade relations; during the next few years this example was followed by various European powers. Consequently the isolationist party compelled the shogun to abdicate 1868. In law, executive power was vested with the emperor, who moved his capital from Kyoto to Tokyo (as Edo was renamed), but real authority was exercised by a small group of senior politicians, termed genro (among them Ito Hirobumi, Yamagata Aritomo, Matsukata Masayoshi, and Katsura Taro). During the next 30 years of the Meiji era, the privileges and duties of the samurai class were abolished, a uniform code of law was introduced, the educational system revised, and a constitution on the imperial German model was established 1889. The army was modernized and a powerful navy founded. Industry developed steadily with state support, and a considerable export trade was built up.
In 1894 a war with China secured Japanese control of Formosa (Taiwan) and S Manchuria, as well as Korea, which was formally annexed 1910. A victory over Russia 1904–05 gave Japan the southern half of Sakhalin and compelled the Russians to evacuate Manchuria. Japan formed an alliance with Britain 1902 and joined the Allies in World War I. At the peace settlement it received the German islands in the N Pacific as mandates. The 1920s saw an advance toward democracy and party government, but after 1932 the government assumed a semi-Fascist form.
World War II
As a result of successful aggression against China 1931–32, a Japanese puppet monarchy under P'u-i, the last emperor of China, was established in Manchuria (see Manchukuo); war with China was renewed 1937 and continued in Asia until Japan entered World War II with its attack on the US territory of Pearl Harbor 7 Dec 1941. Japan at first won a succession of victories in the Philippines, the Malay Peninsula, Burma (now Myanmar), and the Netherlands Indies. US, Australian, and New Zealand troops retook many of the Pacific islands in battles that resulted in heavy casualties; US, French, and UK troops reclaimed much of SE Asia. Japan was compelled to surrender 15 Aug 1945, after the detonation of atomic bombs by the US at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. An Allied control commission took charge, and Japan was placed under military occupation by Allied (chiefly US) troops under General Douglas MacArthur until 1952, when the Japanese Peace Treaty came into force and full sovereignty was regained. After Japan's defeat, Korea
was made independent; Manchuria and Formosa (Taiwan) were returned to China; and the islands mandated to Japan after World War I were placed by the United Nations under US trusteeship. Japan regained the Ryukyu Islands 1972 and the Bonin and Volcano Islands 1968 from the US, and continues to agitate for the return from Russia of the Northern Territories (the islands of the Shikotan and Habomai group) and the southernmost Kuril Islands (Kunashiri and Etorofu).
democratization and reconstruction
During Allied rule, Aug 1945–April 1952, a major “democratization campaign” was launched, involving radical land, social, and educational reform and the framing of a new “Peace Constitution” 1946 in which Emperor Hirohito (era name Showa) renounced his claims to divinity and became a powerless figurehead ruler and the nation committed itself to a pacific foreign policy. Japan concentrated during the early postwar years on economic reconstruction, tending toward neutralism in foreign affairs under the protection provided by the 1951 Security Pact. Postwar politics in Japan were dominated by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), formed 1955 from the merger of existing conservative parties and providing a regular succession of prime ministers. Real decision-making, however, centered around a broader, consensual grouping of politicians, senior civil servants, and directors of the major zaibatsu (finance and industrial houses). Through a paternalist, guided approach to economic development, epitomized by the operati
ons of the Ministry for International Trade and Industry (MITI), the Japanese economy expanded dramatically during the 1950s and 1960s, with gross national product (GNP) increasing by 10% per year. During this period, Japan was rehabilitated within the international community, entering the UN 1958 and establishing diplomatic relations with Western nations and, following the lead taken by the Nixon presidency, with communist China 1972.
Japan's internal politics were rocked 1960 and 1968–69 by violent attacks by the anarchic Red Army guerrilla organization protesting against US domination and in 1974 by the resignation of Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka after a bribery scandal involving the US Lockheed Corporation. This scandal tarnished the image of the LDP and led to the loss of its absolute majority in the house of representatives 1976.
economic impact abroad
Japanese economic growth was maintained during the 1970s, though at a reduced annual rate of 4.5%, and the country made a major impact in the markets of North America and Europe as an exporter of electronics, machinery, and motor vehicles. This created resentment overseas as economic recession began to grip Europe and the US, and led to calls for Japan to open up its internal market to foreign exporters and to assume a greater share of the defense burden for the Asia–Pacific region. Prime ministers Miki, Fukuda, Ohira, and Suzuki resisted these pressures, and in 1976 the Japanese government placed a rigid limit of 1% of GNP on military spending.
A review of policy was instituted by Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, who assumed power 1982. He favored a strengthening of Japan's military capability, a reevaluation of attitudes toward the country's past, and the introduction of a more liberal, open-market economic strategy at home. The yen was revalued 1985. His policy departures were controversial and only partly implemented. However, he gained a landslide victory in the 1986 elections, and became the first prime minister since Sato (1964–72) to be reelected by the LDP for more than one term. Before the defeat 1987 of his plans for tax reform, Nakasone was able to select Noboru Takeshita as his successor.
Takeshita continued Nakasone’s domestic and foreign policies, introducing a 3% sales tax 1988 and lowering income-tax levels to boost domestic consumption. The new sales tax was electorally unpopular, and the government’s standing during 1988–89 was further undermined by revelations of insider share-dealing (the Recruit scandal), in which more than 40 senior LDP and opposition figures, including Takeshita and Nakasone, were implicated. Takeshita was forced to resign June 1989. This marked an inauspicious start to the new Heisei (“achievement of universal peace”) era proclaimed on the death Jan 1989 of Hirohito and the accession of his son Akihito as emperor. The new prime minister, Sosuke Uno, the former foreign minister, was dogged by a sex scandal and resigned after only 53 days in office. He was replaced by Toshiki Kaifu, a member of the LDP’s small scandal-free Komoto faction. Elections in Feb 1990 were won by the LDP, but with large gains for the Japanese Socialist Party (JSP), led by Ms Takako Doi.
support for Gulf Allies
When another insider-trading scandal emerged in the autumn of 1990, it was overshadowed by the crisis in the Persian Gulf, caused by Iraq's annexation of Kuwait. Although Japan is constitutionally debarred from sending troops abroad, the Diet's refusal to pass a bill authorizing the sending of unarmed, noncombatant military personnel damaged Kaifu's standing. However, Japan pledged $13 billion to support the US-led anti-Iraq coalition in the Gulf War. After the war, in 1991, Japan contributed over $2.6 million toward the environmental cleanup, sent teams of experts to help repair desalination plants and remove oil spills, and donated $110 million for the relief of the Kurds and other displaced people.
In April 1991 Kaifu's government was weakened when a visit by President Gorbachev ended in failure to resolve the conflict over the Kuril Islands, the remaining obstacle to a peace agreement between the USSR and Japan. Russian president Yeltsin's last-minute cancellation of a visit Sept 1992 was believed to relate to the same issue.
socialists move toward center
In June 1991 Takako Doi, leader of the renamed opposition Social Democratic Party of Japan (SDJP), resigned to take responsibility for her party's crushing defeat in the April 1991 local elections. She was replaced as chair by Makoto Tanabe, drawn from the party's right wing and its former vice-chair, who sought to continue the process of moving the SDJP toward the center that Takako Doi had instituted.
Miyazawa’s troubled government
In Nov 1991 Kaifu was succeeded as LDP leader, and hence prime minister, by Kiichi Miyazawa, whose government included a surprisingly large number of “rehabilitated” members tainted by the Lockheed and Recruit scandals. In 1992 the Miyazawa government was rocked by a succession of damaging bribery and corruption scandals, the most serious being centered on the Tokyo Sagawa Kyubin company and its enormous political donations and links with organized crime. More than 100 politicians, a seventh of the Diet membership, were implicated, and in Oct it forced the resignation from the Diet of Shin Kanemaru (1914– ), the LDP’s deputy chair and most influential figure.
A precipitous fall in the stock market in the summer of 1992 was stopped short in Sept by an economic rescue package of Y10.7 trillion ($87 billion), mainly in extra public spending. In 1993 Japan endured its worst recession of the postwar era. However, trade surpluses reached record levels during 1992 and in 1993.
Prime Minister Miyazawa dissolved parliament June 1993 after losing a vote of confidence over proposed electoral reforms, and called a general election for July. In the meantime new parties were formed by dissidents from the LDP, among them the Shinseito party (Renewal Party), led by Tsutomu Hata, and the Japan New Party (Nihon Shinto, JNP), led by Morohiro Hosokawa. The LDP failed to win an overall majority in the July elections, ending 38 years in power. Miyazawa resigned as LDP leader and was later succeeded by Yohei Kono. Morohiro Hosokawa of the JNP was chosen as prime minister Aug 1993, at the head of a non-LDP coalition. In Feb 1994, Hosokawa secured parliamentary approval of a compromise political-reform package, aimed at curbing corruption. The reforms included restriction of political donations and restructuring of the system by which members of the chamber of deputies were elected. In April 1994 accusations of corruption forced Hosokawa's resignation. Tsutomu Hata of the Shinseito party was appoint
ed to replace him but, within hours of taking office, the Democrats withdrew their support, leaving him heading a minority coalition government. In June 1994 Tomiichi Murayama, leader of the SDJP, took over as prime minister, heading an LDP-dominated coalition. Passage of the final version of a long-debated political-reform package was achieved Nov 1994. A new reform-orientated opposition grouping, Shinshin (New Frontier Party), became the second-largest party in parliament.In Jan 1995 an earthquake hit the city of Kobe, killing more than 4,000. The government came under fire for its poor handling of the relief program, and later made a public apology. Two months later a nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway, thought to be the work of the Aum Shinrikyo religious sect, killed 10 and injured 5,000.
Japan's trade surpluses once again reached record levels at the start of 1995.