Japan Fast Facts | CNN



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Here’s a look at Japan, a country of islands located off the east coast of mainland Asia.

(from the CIA World Fact Book)
Area: 377,915 sq. Km

Population: 124,214,766 (estimate 2022)

Middle age: 48.6 years (2020 estimate)

Capital: Tokyo

Ethnic groups: Japanese 97.9%, Chinese 0.6%, Korean 0.4%, other 1.1%

Religion: Shinto 70.5%, Buddhism 67.2%, Christianity 1.5%, other 5.9% (many practice both Shinto and Buddhism)

Unemployment: 2.36% (2019 estimate)

Japan is a parliamentary democracy with a constitutional monarchy.

Four large islands: Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu, account for approximately 98% of the country’s land area.

Japanese society dates back to the Jomon period around 300 BC

After the economic boom after World War II, Japan has been stuck in stagnation and deflation since the 1990s.

1185-mid 1800s – Japan is ruled by the feudal system of shoguns (military commanders); the emperors of Japan were figureheads.

1868 – The Meiji Restoration, when Japan returns to direct imperial rule that began around 660 BC

1868-1890 – The modernization of Japan, the formation of political parties, the national assembly, the cabinet and the constitution.

1894-1895 – China and Japan fought a nine-month war. Japan wins, China gives up Taiwan.

1904 – Russia and Japan enter the war. The war ended in 1905, Japan wins.

1914-1918 – During World War I, Japan joined the allies and gained territory in the Pacific at the end of the war.

July 1937 – Japan invades China. The conflict continued during World War II, ending with the Japanese defeat in 1945.

7 December 1941 – Japan attacks Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, hoping to destroy the US Pacific fleet.

6 August 1945 – The first atomic bomb is dropped on Hiroshima.

9 August 1945 – A second atomic bomb is dropped on Nagasaki.

14 Aug 1945 – VJ day. Japan agrees to end the war.

2 September 1945 – Japan signs formal surrender aboard USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.

[1945-1952-[1945-1952-The occupation of Japan. The country is under the control of the allied nations, the United States, Great Britain, China and the Soviet Union.

1956 – Join the United Nations.

1964 – Tokyo hosts the Summer Olympics.

1972 – The Olympic Winter Games are held in Sapporo, Hokkaido Prefecture, Japan.

January 7, 1989 – Akihito becomes emperor after Hirohito’s death.

1993 – Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono releases a statement accepting Japan’s responsibility to recruit comfort women before and during World War II and extends “his sincere apologies and remorse”.

January 1995 – The 6.9 magnitude Kobe earthquake occurs where 5,502 people were killed and 36,896 people were injured.

March 1995 – A religious cult spreads sarin, a nerve gas, in the Tokyo subway. Twelve people are killed and more than 5,000 fall ill.

1998 – Nagano hosts the Winter Olympics.

2002 – Co-hosts the World Cup with South Korea.

2006 – The first defense ministry since World War II is approved by parliament.

11 March 2011 – A 9.1 magnitude earthquake occurs 231 miles northeast of Tokyo. The earthquake causes a tsunami with 30-foot waves that damage several nuclear reactors in the area. The combined total of confirmed and missing deaths is over 22,000 (nearly 20,000 dead and 2,500 missing). (Source: Japan Fire and Disaster Management Agency)

April 2012 – Shintaro Ishihara, the governor of Tokyo, launches an online appeal fund to purchase a group of islands in the East China Sea claimed by Japan, China and Taiwan. The uninhabited islands, known in Japan as Senkaku and in China as Diaoyu, are at the center of a bitter diplomatic discussion between Japan and China.

7 September 2013 – Tokyo has been chosen by the International Olympic Committee to host the 2020 Summer Games.

1 July 2014 – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announces that his cabinet has approved a defense policy that has a liberal view of the constitution, allowing for Japan’s involvement in the defense of its allies. Previously, the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (SDF) could only act if Japan itself was directly threatened.

14 December 2014 – In Japan’s early parliamentary elections, exit polls show Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party winning overwhelmingly. The victory gives Abe another four years to institute his policies aimed at reviving the Japanese economy by flooding the market with cash, encouraging companies to create more jobs and increasing government spending.

19 September 2015 – The upper house of the Japanese parliament passes controversial bills that allow the country’s military to engage in fighting abroad in limited circumstances, a major change after seven decades of pacifism. The 148-90 vote is the last hurdle for the measures, which will come into effect within the next six months or so.

28 December 2015 – Japan and South Korea announce that an agreement has been reached on the age-old issue of “comfort women”, a term that describes the sex slaves used by the Japanese military during World War II. Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida says his government will give 1 billion yen ($ 8.3 million) to a fund to help those who have suffered.

9 June 2017 – The Japanese parliament approves a historic bill that will allow Emperor Akihito to become the first Japanese monarch to abdicate in 200 years.

1 December 2017 – Abe announces that Emperor Akihito will step down on April 30, 2019. Crown Prince Naruhito, who has already assumed some of his father’s duties, will take over the role on May 1, 2019, becoming the 126th emperor to ascend the chrysanthemum throne of Japan.

July 2018 – At least 220 people are killed when heavy rains cause floods and landslides across southwest Japan (source: Japanese Fire and Disaster Management Agency). It is one of the deadliest natural disasters to hit the country since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

30 April 2019 – Emperor Akihito formally abdicates during a ceremony in Tokyo. He will now be known as Emperor Emeritus Akihito. The next day, Crown Prince Naruhito ascends the Chrysanthemum throne. Naruhito’s ascension marks the beginning of the “Reiwa” era.

18 July 2019 – At least 34 people die after a man set fire to a renowned animation studio in Kyoto. The suspect, Shinji Aoba, is injured in the attack. This is the worst mass killing in the country in nearly 20 years.

22 July 2019 – Abe declares victory in national elections in Japan after polls indicate his party won a majority of seats in the upper house of parliament.

23 November 2019 – Pope Francis begins a four-day tour of Japan. This trip is only the second papal visit to Japan and the first in nearly four decades.

March 24, 2020 – Abe and the IOC agree to postpone the Olympics to 2021, due to the coronavirus outbreak. It is also announced that the event will still be dubbed Tokyo 2020 despite the postponement.

July 29, 2020 – A Japanese court recognizes dozens of victims of the radioactive “black rain” as survivors of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, paving the way for them to receive medical treatment just days before the 75th anniversary of the attack.

August 28, 2020 – Abe resigns as prime minister, citing health reasons.

September 16, 2020 – Yoshihide Suga is elected prime minister after a vote in the country’s parliament.

4 October 2021 – Kishida, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), takes over as the country’s new prime minister.

8 July 2022 – Abe dies after being shot during an election speech in Nara.

22 September 2022 – Marking a major political shift, Kishida announces that Japan is dissolving its travel restrictions linked to Covid-19 and is reopening its doors to mass tourism. “We will raise the ceiling on the number of entries in Japan, we will lift the ban on individual travel and we will lift the ban on visa-free travel.”