/jeuh pan"/, n.
1. a constitutional monarchy on a chain of islands off the E coast of Asia: main islands, Hokkaido, Honshu, Kyushu, and Shikoku. 125,716,637; 141,529 sq. mi. (366,560 sq. km). Cap.: Tokyo. Japanese, Nihon, Nippon.
2. Sea of, the part of the Pacific Ocean between Japan and mainland Asia.

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Introduction Japan
Background: While retaining its time-honored culture, Japan rapidly absorbed Western technology during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. After its devastating defeat in World War II, Japan recovered to become the second most powerful economy in the world and a staunch ally of the US. While the emperor retains his throne as a symbol of national unity, actual power rests in networks of powerful politicians, bureaucrats, and business executives. The economy experienced a major slowdown in the 1990s following three decades of unprecedented growth. Geography Japan -
Location: Eastern Asia, island chain between the North Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Japan, east of the Korean Peninsula
Geographic coordinates: 36 00 N, 138 00 E
Map references: Asia
Area: total: 377,835 sq km note: includes Bonin Islands (Ogasawara-gunto), Daito-shoto, Minami-jima, Okino-tori-shima, Ryukyu Islands (Nansei-shoto), and Volcano Islands (Kazan-retto) water: 3,091 sq km land: 374,744 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly smaller than California
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 29,751 km
Maritime claims: contiguous zone: 24 NM territorial sea: 12 NM; between 3 NM and 12 NM in the international straits - La Perouse or Soya, Tsugaru, Osumi, and Eastern and Western Channels of the Korea or Tsushima Strait exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
Climate: varies from tropical in south to cool temperate in north
Terrain: mostly rugged and mountainous
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Hachiro-gata -4 m highest point: Fujiyama 3,776 m
Natural resources: negligible mineral resources, fish
Land use: arable land: 12.13% permanent crops: 1.01% other: 86.86% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: 26,790 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards: many dormant and some active volcanoes; about 1,500 seismic occurrences (mostly tremors) every year; tsunamis; typhoons Environment - current issues: air pollution from power plant emissions results in acid rain; acidification of lakes and reservoirs degrading water quality and threatening aquatic life; Japan is one of the largest consumers of fish and tropical timber, contributing to the depletion of these resources in Asia and elsewhere Environment - international party to: Antarctic-Environmental
agreements: Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling signed, but not ratified: Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol
Geography - note: strategic location in northeast Asia People Japan
Population: 126,974,628 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 14.5% (male 9,465,282; female 8,999,888) 15-64 years: 67.5% (male 43,027,320; female 42,586,112) 65 years and over: 18% (male 9,664,112; female 13,231,914) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.15% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 10.03 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 8.53 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.73 male(s)/ female total population: 0.96 male(s)/ female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 3.84 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 80.91 years female: 84.25 years (2002 est.) male: 77.73 years
Total fertility rate: 1.42 children born/woman (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.02% (1999 est.) HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ 10,000 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: 150 (1999 est.)
Nationality: noun: Japanese (singular and plural) adjective: Japanese
Ethnic groups: Japanese 99%, others 1% (Korean 511,262, Chinese 244,241, Brazilian 182,232, Filipino 89,851, other 237,914) (2000)
Religions: observe both Shinto and Buddhist 84%, other 16% (including Christian 0.7%)
Languages: Japanese
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 99% (1970 est.) male: NA% female: NA% Government Japan
Country name: conventional long form: none conventional short form: Japan
Government type: constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary government
Capital: Tokyo Administrative divisions: 47 prefectures; Aichi, Akita, Aomori, Chiba, Ehime, Fukui, Fukuoka, Fukushima, Gifu, Gumma, Hiroshima, Hokkaido, Hyogo, Ibaraki, Ishikawa, Iwate, Kagawa, Kagoshima, Kanagawa, Kochi, Kumamoto, Kyoto, Mie, Miyagi, Miyazaki, Nagano, Nagasaki, Nara, Niigata, Oita, Okayama, Okinawa, Osaka, Saga, Saitama, Shiga, Shimane, Shizuoka, Tochigi, Tokushima, Tokyo, Tottori, Toyama, Wakayama, Yamagata, Yamaguchi, Yamanashi
Independence: 660 BC (traditional founding by Emperor Jimmu)
National holiday: Birthday of Emperor AKIHITO, 23 December (1933)
Constitution: 3 May 1947
Legal system: modeled after European civil law system with English-American influence; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations
Suffrage: 20 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: Emperor AKIHITO (since 7 January 1989) note: following the resignation of Prime Minister Yoshiro MORI, Junichiro KOIZUMI was elected as the new president of the majority Liberal Democratic Party, and soon thereafter designated by the Diet to become the next prime minister elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; the Diet designates the prime minister; the constitution requires that the prime minister must command a parliamentary majority, therefore, following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or leader of a majority coalition in the House of Representatives usually becomes prime minister cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the prime minister head of government: Prime Minister Junichiro KOIZUMI (since 24 April 2001)
Legislative branch: bicameral Diet or Kokkai consists of the House of Councillors or Sangi-in (247 seats - formerly 252; one-half of the members elected every three years - 73 seats of which are elected from the 47 multi-seat prefectural districts and 48 of which are elected from a single nationwide list; members elected by popular vote to serve six-year terms) and the House of Representatives or Shugi-in (480 seats - 180 of which are elected from 11 regional blocks on a proportional representation basis and 300 of which are elected from 300 single-seat districts; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms) election results: House of Councillors - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - LDP 110, DPJ 59, Komeito 23, JCP 20, SDP 8, Liberal Party 8, Conservative Party 5, independents 14; note - the distribution of seats as of January 2002 is: LDP 115, DPJ 60, Komeito 24, JCP 20, SDP 8, Liberal Party 8, independents 6, others 6; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - LDP 233, DPJ 127, Komeito 31, Liberal Party 22, JCP 20, SDP 19, other 28; note - the distribution of seats as of January 2002 is: LDP 242, DPJ 126, Komeito 31, Liberal Party 22, JCP 20, SDP 19, NCP 7, other 13 elections: House of Councillors - last held 29 July 2001 (next to be held NA July 2004); House of Representatives - last held 25 June 2000 (next must be held by June 2004, but may occur sooner)
Judicial branch: Supreme Court (chief justice is appointed by the monarch after designation by the cabinet; all other justices are appointed by the cabinet) Political parties and leaders: Democratic Party of Japan or DPJ [Yukio HATOYAMA, leader, Naoto KAN, secretary general]; Japan Communist Party or JCP [Tetsuzo FUWA, chairman, Tadayeshi ICHIDA, secretary general]; Komeito [Takenori KANZAKI, president, Tetsuzo FUYUSHIBA, secretary general]; Liberal Democratic Party or LDP [Junichiro KOIZUMI, president, Taku YAMASAKI, secretary general]; Liberal Party [Ichiro OZAWA, president, Hirohisa FUJII, secretary general]; New Conservative Party or NCP [Takeshi NODA, president, Toshihiro NIKAI, secretary general]; Social Democratic Party or SDP [Takako DOI, chairperson, Mizuho FUKUSHIMA, secretary general] Political pressure groups and NA
leaders: International organization AfDB, APEC, ARF (dialogue partner),
participation: AsDB, ASEAN (dialogue partner), Australia Group, BIS, CCC, CE (observer), CERN (observer), CP, EBRD, ESCAP, FAO, G- 5, G- 7, G- 8, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, NAM (guest), NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE (partner), PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNDOF, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNITAR, UNMOVIC, UNRWA, UNU, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO, ZC Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Ryozo KATO FAX: [1] (202) 328-2187 consulate(s): Saipan (Northern Mariana Islands) consulate(s) general: Anchorage, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Hagatna (Guam), Honolulu, Houston, Kansas City (Missouri), Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Portland (Oregon), San Francisco, and Seattle chancery: 2520 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008 telephone: [1] (202) 238-6700 Diplomatic representation from the chief of mission: Ambassador Howard
US: H. BAKER, Jr. embassy: 1-10-5 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-8420 mailing address: Unit 45004, Box 205, APO AP 96337-5004 telephone: [81] (03) 3224-5000 FAX: [81] (03) 3505-1862 consulate(s) general: Naha (Okinawa), Osaka-Kobe, Sapporo consulate(s): Fukuoka, Nagoya
Flag description: white with a large red disk (representing the sun without rays) in the center Economy Japan -
Economy - overview: Government-industry cooperation, a strong work ethic, mastery of high technology, and a comparatively small defense allocation (1% of GDP) have helped Japan advance with extraordinary rapidity to the rank of second most technologically powerful economy in the world after the US and third largest economy in the world after the US and China. One notable characteristic of the economy is the working together of manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors in closely-knit groups called keiretsu. A second basic feature has been the guarantee of lifetime employment for a substantial portion of the urban labor force. Both features are now eroding. Industry, the most important sector of the economy, is heavily dependent on imported raw materials and fuels. The much smaller agricultural sector is highly subsidized and protected, with crop yields among the highest in the world. Usually self- sufficient in rice, Japan must import about 50% of its requirements of other grain and fodder crops. Japan maintains one of the world's largest fishing fleets and accounts for nearly 15% of the global catch. For three decades overall real economic growth had been spectacular: a 10% average in the 1960s, a 5% average in the 1970s, and a 4% average in the 1980s. Growth slowed markedly in the 1990s largely because of the aftereffects of overinvestment during the late 1980s and contractionary domestic policies intended to wring speculative excesses from the stock and real estate markets. Government efforts to revive economic growth have met with little success and were further hampered in 2000-01 by the slowing of the US and Asian economies. The crowding of habitable land area and the aging of the population are two major long-run problems. Robotics constitutes a key long-term economic strength, with Japan possessing 410,000 of the world's 720,000 "working robots".
GDP: purchasing power parity - $3.45 trillion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: -0.3% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $27,200 (2001 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 2% industry: 36% services: 62% (2000 est.) Population below poverty line: NA% Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: 4.8%
percentage share: highest 10%: 21.7% (1993) Distribution of family income - Gini 24.9 (1993)
index: Inflation rate (consumer prices): -0.6% (2001 est.)
Labor force: 67.7 million (December 2000) Labor force - by occupation: services 65%, industry 30%, agriculture 5%
Unemployment rate: 4.9% (2001)
Budget: revenues: $441 billion expenditures: $718 billion, including capital expenditures (public works only) of about $84 billion (FY01/02 est.)
Industries: among world's largest and technologically advanced producers of motor vehicles, electronic equipment, machine tools, steel and nonferrous metals, ships, chemicals; textiles, processed foods Industrial production growth rate: -8.3% (2001 est.) Electricity - production: 1.015 trillion kWh (2000) Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 60.69% hydro: 8.54% other: 1.82% (2000) nuclear: 28.95% Electricity - consumption: 943.71 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products: rice, sugar beets, vegetables, fruit; pork, poultry, dairy products, eggs; fish
Exports: $404.6 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)
Exports - commodities: motor vehicles, semiconductors, office machinery, chemicals
Exports - partners: US 29.7%, Taiwan 7.5%, South Korea 6.4%, China 6.3%, Hong Kong 5.7% (2000 est.)
Imports: $331.6 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)
Imports - commodities: fuels, foodstuffs, chemicals, textiles, office machinery
Imports - partners: US 19%, China 14.5%, South Korea 5.4%, Taiwan 4.7%, Indonesia 4.3%, Australia 3.9% (2000 est.)
Debt - external: $NA
Economic aid - donor: ODA, $9.1 billion (1999)
Currency: yen (JPY)
Currency code: JPY
Exchange rates: yen per US dollar - 132.66 (January 2002), 121.53 (2001), 107.77 (2000), 113.91 (1999), 130.91 (1998), 120.99 (1997)
Fiscal year: 1 April - 31 March Communications Japan Telephones - main lines in use: 60.381 million (1997) Telephones - mobile cellular: 63.88 million (2000)
Telephone system: general assessment: excellent domestic and international service domestic: high level of modern technology and excellent service of every kind international: satellite earth stations - 5 Intelsat (4 Pacific Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean), 1 Intersputnik (Indian Ocean region), and 1 Inmarsat (Pacific and Indian Ocean regions); submarine cables to China, Philippines, Russia, and US (via Guam) (1999) Radio broadcast stations: AM 215 plus 370 repeaters, FM 89 plus 485 repeaters, shortwave 21 (2001)
Radios: 120.5 million (1997) Television broadcast stations: 211 plus 7,341 repeaters note: in addition, US Forces are served by 3 TV stations and 2 TV cable services (1999)
Televisions: 86.5 million (1997)
Internet country code: .jp Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 73 (2000)
Internet users: 47.08 million (2001) Transportation Japan
Railways: total: 23,654 km (15,895 km electrified) standard gauge: 3,059 km 1.435- m gauge (entirely electrified) narrow gauge: 77 km 1.372-m gauge (entirely electrified); 20,491 km 1.067-m gauge (12,732 km electrified); 27 km 0.762-m gauge (entirely electrified) (2000)
Highways: total: 1,152,207 km paved: 863,003 km (including 6,114 km of expressways) unpaved: 289,204 km (1997 est.)
Waterways: 1,770 km approximately note: seagoing craft ply all coastal inland seas
Pipelines: crude oil 84 km; petroleum products 322 km; natural gas 1,800 km
Ports and harbors: Akita, Amagasaki, Chiba, Hachinohe, Hakodate, Higashi-Harima, Himeji, Hiroshima, Kawasaki, Kinuura, Kobe, Kushiro, Mizushima, Moji, Nagoya, Osaka, Sakai, Sakaide, Shimizu, Tokyo, Tomakomai
Merchant marine: total: 615 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 10,995,839 GRT/14,405,159 DWT note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: China 1, Panama 1, Singapore 1 (2002 est.) ships by type: bulk 133, cargo 48, chemical tanker 17, combination bulk 24, combination ore/oil 3, container 19, liquefied gas 50, passenger 9, passenger/cargo 2, petroleum tanker 189, refrigerated cargo 13, roll on/ roll off 48, short-sea passenger 6, vehicle carrier 54
Airports: 173 (2001) Airports - with paved runways: total: 142 over 3,047 m: 7 2,438 to 3,047 m: 37 914 to 1,523 m: 30 under 914 m: 31 (2001) 1,524 to 2,437 m: 37 Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 31 1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 914 to 1,523 m: 3 under 914 m: 27 (2001)
Heliports: 16 (2001) Military Japan
Military branches: Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (Army), Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (Navy), Japan Air Self-Defense Force (Air Force), Japanese Coast Guard Military manpower - military age: 18 years of age (2002 est.) Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 29,644,498 (2002 est.) Military manpower - fit for military males age 15-49: 25,637,387 (2002
service: est.) Military manpower - reaching males: 765,817 (2002 est.)
military age annually: Military expenditures - dollar $40,774.3 million (FY01)
figure: Military expenditures - percent of 1% (FY01)
GDP: Transnational Issues Japan Disputes - international: islands of Etorofu, Kunashiri, and Shikotan, and the Habomai group occupied by the Soviet Union in 1945, now administered by Russia, claimed by Japan; Liancourt Rocks (Takeshima/Tokdo) disputed with South Korea; Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu Tai) claimed by China and Taiwan

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Island country, lying off the eastern coast of Asia in the western Pacific Ocean.

Its four main islands are Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu. It is separated from China by the China Sea and from South Korea, North Korea, and Russia by the Sea of Japan (East Sea). Area: 145,883 sq mi (377,835 sq km). Population (2002 est.): 127,347,000. Capital: Tokyo. The Japanese overwhelmingly are a single Asian ethnic group. Language: Japanese (official). Religions: Shintō, Buddhism, and Christianity. Currency: yen. Situated in one of Earth's most geologically active zones, Japan experiences volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. Mountain ranges cover more than four-fifths of its land surface; its highest mountain is Mount Fuji. The nation's economy, one of the world's biggest, is based largely on manufacturing and services; exports include electronic and electrical equipment, motor vehicles, chemicals, and iron and steel products. The government's involvement in banking results in unique cooperation between the public and private sectors. Japan is one of the world's principal seagoing nations, with an important marine fishing industry. It is a constitutional monarchy with two legislative houses; its chief of state is the emperor, and the head of government is the prime minister. Japan's history began with the accession of the legendary first emperor, Jimmu, in 660 BC. The Yamato court established the first unified Japanese state in the 4th–5th centuries AD; during this period, Buddhism arrived in Japan by way of Korea. For centuries Japan borrowed heavily from Chinese culture, but it began to sever its links with the mainland by the 9th century. The Fujiwara family held sway through the 11th century. In 1192 Minamoto Yoritomo established Japan's first bakufu, or shogunate (see Kamakura period). The Muromachi period (1338–1573) was marked by warfare among powerful families. Unification was achieved in the late 1500s under the leadership of Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu. During the Tokugawa period, beginning in 1603, the government imposed a policy of isolation. Under the leadership of the emperor Meiji (1868–1912), it adopted a constitution (1889) and began a program of modernization and Westernization. Japanese imperialism led to war with China (1894–95) and Russia (1904–05) as well as to the annexation of Korea (1910) and Manchuria (1931). During World War II Japan attacked U.S. forces in Hawaii and the Philippines (December 1941) and occupied European colonial possessions in Southeast Asia. In 1945 the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and Japan surrendered to Allied powers. U.S. postwar occupation of Japan led to a new democratic constitution in 1947. In rebuilding Japan's ruined industrial plant, new technology was used in every major industry. A tremendous economic recovery followed, and Japan became one of the world's wealthiest countries. It was able to maintain a favourable balance of trade despite an economic recession that began in the early 1990s.

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▪ 2009

377,915 sq km (145,914 sq mi)
(2008 est.): 127,674,000
Symbol of state:
Emperor Akihito
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Yasuo Fukuda and, from September 24, Taro Aso

Domestic Affairs.
      In 2008, just one year after having assumed the post of prime minister and well before the end of his term as party leader or the end of the legislative term of the Diet (parliament), Yasuo Fukuda surprised Japan's political establishment and others around the world by announcing that he was stepping down. He made the announcement on September 1, almost exactly a year after his predecessor, Shinzo Abe, had made a similarly unexpected announcement. Though Abe had explained his decision as resulting from his gastrointestinal problems, Fukuda was not able to point to any health problems as a reason for stepping down. He simply chose to move aside, he explained, in order to help accelerate a policy-making process that had been moving at a snail's pace for the entire period of his prime ministership. Fukuda was succeeded on September 24 by Taro Aso (Aso, Taro ), a fellow member of the long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Aso assumed the post of prime minister after having been selected by the LDP as party leader in a special LDP election scheduled to choose Fukuda's successor.

      Fukuda's frustration was driven by the difficulties he had working with a “twisted Diet,” the Japanese term for divided control of the legislature. The opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) held a majority of the seats in the upper house, while the LDP, together with its coalition partner, the New Komeito party, held a two-thirds majority in the more powerful lower house of the Diet. The DPJ had won control of the upper house in July 2007—the first time that a party other than the LDP had won majority control of either house of the Diet in the post-World War II period. Abe's resignation, his reports of stomach problems notwithstanding, was largely a result of that election loss.

      It thus fell to Fukuda to deal with an awkward legislative situation that was new to Japan. Under the leadership of DPJ head Ichiro Ozawa, the party's upper-house delegation remained united in refusing to compromise with the prime minister. In his first four months in office, Fukuda was able to usher through the Diet only a single significant piece of legislation: the renewal in January of antiterrorism legislation authorizing the Japanese navy to resume its mission in the Indian Ocean that involved refueling U.S. ships engaged in the war in Afghanistan.

      In the spring term of the Diet, Fukuda was able to pass the budget on schedule by using the ruling coalition's control of the lower house. In March, however, the opposition took advantage of the fact that the appointment of governors and deputy governors of the Bank of Japan (BOJ) required the approval of both chambers of the Diet. The DPJ blocked Fukuda's efforts to appoint Toshiro Muto the new central bank governor, delaying the selection of a new chief until after the term of the outgoing governor, Toshihiko Fukui, had expired on March 19. The post thus stood vacant for several weeks—with Masaaki Shirakawa (Shirakawa, Masaaki ) serving as acting chief—as an important meeting of the Group of Seven economic officials approached. Only the potential embarrassment of having Shirakawa attend this meeting as a mere “acting” governor compelled the DPJ to stand aside and allow him to assume the post of governor with Diet approval. Nevertheless, the drama continued when the DPJ announced that it would oppose Fukuda's nominee for the open deputy governor's slot. Over the remaining months of his tenure as prime minister, Fukuda was forced to abandon a series of proposed candidates. The standoff over this issue appeared to have been one of the headaches that pushed Fukuda to step down. A new deputy was approved on October 24.

      Fukuda was involved in one final legislative showdown with the DPJ over the renewal of the “temporary” gasoline- tax surcharge. The surcharge, which had been in place since the oil-crisis years of the mid-1970s, had been repeatedly renewed because it produced an annual stream of tax revenue totaling an estimated ¥2.6 trillion (about $27.2 billion) that was used to fund road projects. The DPJ, citing the public's concern over rising gas prices, refused to approve renewal ahead of the March 31 expiration date. Fukuda countered by proposing to redirect the gas-tax revenue from road projects to a fund used for general purposes. This plan was eventually approved on April 30, though Fukuda's proposal was modified to reflect the demands of rank-and-file LDP members that the gas tax support road projects for one more year, after which such revenue would be directed to general-purpose use starting in 2009. This represented a major change in policy that former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi had pushed for unsuccessfully earlier in the decade.

      The DPJ orchestrated one final effort to embarrass the prime minister. In June, just prior to a meeting of the Group of Eight (G-8) hosted by Japan, the upper house passed a motion of censure against the prime minister. While ostensibly designed to press Fukuda to call early elections for the lower house, the motion was (as expected) overridden by a vote of the LDP-dominated lower house, which under Japan's constitution had the power to select the prime minister. Nevertheless, the vote was yet another reminder that Fukuda had only partial control of the legislature.

      More worrisome for the LDP, however, was the prospect that the party would have to face the voters in lower-house elections by September 2009. Given the standing of the party and the prime minister in public-opinion polls, the LDP and its New Komeito allies looked certain to lose their two-thirds majority in that chamber in the next elections. Anything short of the two-thirds control that the party had wielded since the 2005 elections threatened to make the job of managing the Diet even more complicated, since that supermajority had been critical to Fukuda's ability to push through legislation on several occasions during his tenure in office. A bare majority would leave the LDP completely dependent on opposition cooperation until at least the 2010 upper-house elections—and probably beyond that to 2013.

      Having found the existing situation difficult enough, Fukuda decided to leave the task of leading the LDP into a general election to a successor. The party promptly focused on Aso as the man best situated to take on this challenge. After he assumed the party presidency on September 22, Aso was quickly approved by the lower house as the new prime minister. His approval rating immediately after taking office stood at 49% in most polls—higher than Fukuda's at the end of his tenure but below where Fukuda's had stood when he assumed office a year earlier. By November, Aso's support had fallen to just 40% as it became clear that the economy was slowing sharply and that the financial crisis was driving the stock market to record lows. Asked which party they preferred, respondents in the November poll taken by the national newspaper Yomiuri preferred the LDP to the DPJ by just a single percentage point, 32% to 31%. Elections were likely to be held in the spring of 2009 if political conditions improved for the ruling coalition but possibly as late as the summer if Aso decided to wait until close to the September 2009 deadline.

The Economy.
      In late July the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that the Japanese economy was showing “resilience to recent external shocks” and that “activity remained robust through the first quarter of 2008.” By October, though, it was apparent that the worldwide economic slowdown that began in the U.S. after the collapse of the housing bubble was hitting Japan hard. During the second quarter, Japan's economy contracted by 0.7%, or at an annual rate of 3%. Further contraction in the third quarter pushed the Japanese economy into recession in the fall.

      Growth was affected by the rise in Japan's import bill as the country paid record-high prices for imported oil, combined with a slump in exports, which were hit by declining growth in the U.S. and Europe. The slowdown was also a product of developments at home, where both private residential investment and public investment declined sharply. As a result of the recession, projections for Japan's growth during 2008 and 2009 were downgraded. Whereas the IMF's midyear projections suggested that Japan would grow at a rate of about 1.5% during 2008–09, the projections it issued in September called for growth to slow to 1% in 2008 and 1.1% in 2009. Just two months later, after taking into account the effects of the spreading global financial crisis, the IMF lowered its projections for Japanese growth again.

      The contraction of credit and the associated unwinding of the yen-carry trade, which led the yen to strengthen to 94 yen to the U.S. dollar on October 27 and to strengthen even more sharply against the euro and many other currencies, dealt a severe blow to Japanese automakers and other exporters. Automakers slashed projected sales in the U.S. and other markets and predicted much lower levels of profits. These developments fed a sharp decline in the Japanese stock markets; the Nikkei 225 Stock Average fell to a 26-year low in late October before recovering slightly at year's end. The unemployment rate moved up to 4.2% in August after starting the year at 3.8% but fell back to the 3.7–3.9% range in the autumn.

      In response to the slowdown, the government passed a fiscal stimulus package valued at ¥1.8 trillion (about $18.8 billion) in October and immediately began working on a second package. The latter became the top priority of the new cabinet inaugurated under Prime Minister Aso, who announced on October 30 that the package would be valued at ¥5 trillion (about $52.3 billion). The next day, the BOJ announced that it was lowering interest rates from 0.5% to 0.3%, the first time the central bank had cut rates in seven years. Additional measures designed to inject public funds into banks, along with a major stimulus package, worked their way through the Diet in late 2008 as the DPJ got out of the way of measures that were designed to deal with the urgent economic situation.

      The fiscal and monetary policies adopted late in the year caused the Japanese government to backtrack from efforts to “normalize” interest rates, which had been at 0.5% or lower for the entire decade, and from efforts to reduce the country's fiscal deficit to a level where it achieved a “primary balance” by fiscal year 2011. Private-sector forecasters predicted that Japan could reach this goal only if it raised the consumption tax, but such a tax hike was not even on the agenda as Japan faced both a recession and elections in 2009.

Foreign Affairs.
      The foreign policy issue that preoccupied senior Japanese officials in 2008 was the effort to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program and take responsibility for past violations of international law—especially the kidnapping of Japanese citizens in the 1970s and '80s. The good news was that the U.S. and North Korea agreed during the year on several steps that were aimed at resolving these issues. North Korea disabled its nuclear reactors in June after it reached a tentative agreement with the U.S. on a verification regime. This step was to be followed by the U.S. removal of North Korea from the list of countries that it considered state sponsors of terrorism and by the provision of one million tons of fuel to North Korea by South Korea, China, Russia, the U.S., and Japan—all participants in six-party talks on North Korean denuclearization. Because the tentative agreement on verification did not resolve all concerns on the U.S. side or address Japan's kidnapping concerns, these moves were delayed into the fall, which caused North Korea to resort once again to brinkmanship by barring inspectors from its nuclear facilities at Yongbyon, threatening to resume production of plutonium, and moving toward another nuclear test. Hoping to avoid this, the U.S. announced on October 11 that it was indeed removing North Korea from its list of state sponsors of terrorism in exchange for verbal compromises by Pyongyang on the terms of the verification regime.

      The bad news was that these compromises were not enough to reassure Japan, which announced that it was not willing to approve the deal. Japan insisted that it would agree to provide fuel oil only when details of the verification regime were put into writing and accepted by all participants in the six-party talks. Japan further demanded that the North Koreans carry out another investigation into the fate of the kidnap victims. Japanese officials blamed the U.S. for failing to adequately consider their concerns, and Aso went so far as to question the U.S. decision to make a deal with ailing North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, who, Aso claimed, was “incapable of making important judgments.”

      This deterioration in relations with the U.S. amid continuing concerns about North Korea came during a time when Japan was able to improve its relations with China and Europe. Chinese Pres. Hu Jintao traveled to Japan in May—the first visit by a Chinese head of state since 1998. His trip—which came after several years in which visits by Japanese heads of state to the Yasukuni Shrine (where both Japanese war dead and 14 Class A war criminals were enshrined) and anti-Japanese demonstrations in China had aggravated relations between the two neighbours—marked a milestone in improving ties. Nevertheless, the two countries continued to face difficulties dealing with issues such as the Chinese tainted-food scandal, which caused problems throughout Asia and elsewhere during the year.

      In July, Japan hosted the G-8 summit, which was held in Toyako on the island of Hokkaido. Much effort was devoted prior to the summit in working with the Europeans to nudge the U.S. toward taking a more productive role on climate-change negotiations. The summit's crowning achievement was a commitment by the group—including the U.S.—to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The group also pledged to work to bring China and India and other large emitters of greenhouse gases into a new post-Kyoto Protocol climate-change-mitigation regime.

Leonard Schoppa

▪ 2008

377,915 sq km (145,914 sq mi)
(2007 est.): 127,770,000
Symbol of state:
Emperor Akihito
Head of government:
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and, from September 26, Yasuo Fukuda

Domestic Affairs.
      In a historic defeat, Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lost control of the upper house of the Diet (parliament) in elections held in July 2007. Half of the upper house's 242 seats were contested in the elections, with the LDP managing to win just 37 and its coalition partner, the New Komeito party, claiming another 9. That left the ruling coalition with a total of 106 seats in the upper house, a sharp reduction from the 132 that it had held before the elections. The main opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), led by 65-year-old Ichiro Ozawa, claimed 60 seats in the balloting to boost its total seat count to 120. Support from splinter parties ensured Ozawa's party of control of the upper house, which had to approve all bills except the main budget and treaties. The outcome of the elections represented one of the worst political defeats for the LDP in its history. For the first time since the ruling party's establishment in 1955, the LDP was replaced as the largest party in the upper chamber.

      The LDP's stunning loss was attributed to a variety of factors, including revelations that government bureaucrats had managed 50 million pension records so poorly that many retirees were at risk of losing out on pension payments. Voters also were angered over politicians' abuses in the use of political funds financed by taxpayers and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's emphasis on revising the country's postwar constitution while ignoring growing discrepancies in workers' wages and a gap in prosperity between urban and rural areas. A number of government ministers resigned before and after the elections. Amid calls for his resignation over his alleged involvement in a financial scandal, Agriculture Minister Toshikatsu Matsuoka committed suicide in May. Fumio Kyuma, Abe's defense minister, was forced to resign in July after he said in a speech that the American use of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was unavoidable because it hastened the end of World War II—a view that ran counter to the widespread belief in Japan that the bombing could not be justified.

      Abe initially rejected calls to step down in the wake of the election debacle. Instead he reshuffled his cabinet in August and visited a series of foreign countries, but he saw his popularity continue to plummet. On September 12 he called a snap press conference to announce that he was indeed stepping down. Immediately after his announcement, Abe checked into a Tokyo hospital for treatment of what was described as a gastrointestinal ailment.

 Following Abe's resignation, the LDP selected 71-year-old Yasuo Fukuda (Fukuda, Yasuo ), a moderate conservative, to lead the party. Fukuda was chosen over Taro Aso, a former foreign minister and a right-leaning ally of Abe. The LDP-controlled lower house of the Diet then voted to install Fukuda as prime minister, and he formally took office on September 26. After Fukuda named a new cabinet, polls conducted by four national newspapers put his support among the public at 53–58%. This represented a huge jump from the meagre 27% rating that Abe had received in one poll on the eve of the July vote.

      The elections produced a legislative quagmire, with the DPJ in control of the upper house and the LDP and the New Komeito party holding 70% of the seats in the lower house. A rarely used clause of the constitution, however, gave the ruling coalition power to override any bills rejected in the upper house by utilizing its two-thirds majority in the lower chamber. Nevertheless, Fukuda declared that he would try to avoid using that “veto power.”

      As leader of the DPJ, Ozawa had previously insisted that he would hold discussions with the new prime minister only in public settings, such as in debates in the Diet, but in late October he agreed to meet privately with Fukuda. Bunmei Ibuki, secretary-general of the LDP, warned Fukuda not to enter into a “grand coalition” with Ozawa's party. After the meeting Japanese media reported that the two leaders had discussed precisely that possibility. Ozawa denied that he had initiated the proposal for the DPJ to join the ruling coalition, while Fukuda refused to say who had come up with the idea. In any event, the DPJ executive committee unanimously rejected the proposal and criticized Ozawa for even thinking of a coalition. Ozawa announced his resignation as DPJ president on November 4, stating that he viewed the committee's rejection “as a vote of non-confidence.” DPJ officials refused to accept his resignation, however, and a few days later he agreed to remain in his post. Ozawa also reiterated the opposition's goal of winning the next lower house elections, but with the DPJ holding only 24% of the seats in the lower chamber, most analysts saw the party's chance for victory as a longshot.

      For many Japanese, sports offered a welcome diversion during the year from the turbulent world of politics. Baseball fans were particularly excited to see several Japanese athletes play major roles in the World Series in October. Ace pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka (Matsuzaka, Daisuke ) and reliever Hideki Okajima helped the Boston Red Sox win the series in a 4–0 sweep of the Colorado Rockies, whose starting lineup featured another well-known Japanese player, second baseman Kazuo Matsui.

The Economy.
      Although the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimated in July that Japan's economy would grow by 2.6% in 2007 and by 2% in 2008, by October the IMF had revised those forecasts downward, to 2% and 1.7%, respectively. The IMF cited a contraction in Japan's economic output during the second quarter, when growth appeared hampered by declining investment and weakness in domestic spending. The government viewed the second-quarter performance as a temporary drop in Japan's sixth year of continuing growth, the longest expansion since 1945. Many Japanese analysts also worried over a possible economic slowdown in the U.S., one of Japan's largest export markets. In a speech given in early November, Economy Minister Hiroko Ota vowed to “carefully monitor” the fallout from the subprime mortgage crisis in the U.S., conceding that any resulting drop in U.S. consumer spending would “inevitably affect the Japanese economy.” Ota also expressed concern over negative impacts from high oil prices.

      In February the Bank of Japan raised its leading interest rate to 0.5% from 0.25%, a move that had been widely anticipated following the news of strong growth during the fourth quarter of 2006. The move was an indicator that the central bank viewed the Japanese economy as likely to continue a moderate expansion. The central bank elected to leave interest rates unchanged during the remainder of the year but noted that it would “adjust the level of interest rates gradually, in accordance with improvements in the economic and price situation.”

      Japan's unemployment rate stood at 3.6% in July, its lowest point in years, though by October the jobless rate had seen an uptick to 4%. In spite of a softening in export sales to the U.S., Japan's trade surplus expanded nearly 63% in September from the levels of a year earlier. Weaker American demand for Japanese goods was offset by growth in shipments to Europe and to other Asian countries, particularly China. It was reported in April that China (excluding Hong Kong) had replaced the U.S. as Japan's largest trading partner.

      In what represented the largest foreign acquisition of a Japanese brokerage house, Citigroup agreed to pay the equivalent of $8 billion in cash and a yet-to-be-determined amount in a stock swap to bring Nikko Cordial under its control after the securities company was caught inflating its books by $160 million. Citigroup utilized a new law allowing it to exchange its own shares for Nikko shares in a deal that would make the troubled brokerage a wholly owned subsidiary in January 2008, when the stock swap would be carried out.

      Corporate scandals also made headlines during the year. In March the Tokyo District Court found billionaire entrepreneur Takafumi Horie, who had attempted to take over Nippon Broadcasting System (NBS), guilty of padding profits in the balance sheet of his company, Livedoor, an Internet services provider. In a separate case in July, the court convicted fund manager Yoshiaki Murakami on insider-trading charges related to Horie's takeover bid. Prosecutors charged that Murakami had been told by Horie and other Livedoor executives in late 2004 about their plans to buy NBS shares. Murakami then bought 1.93 million NBS shares before Livedoor triggered a rise in the share price by announcing in February 2005 that it had acquired 35% of NBS. Murakami subsequently sold his holdings for a profit of ¥3 billion ($26.1 million). Horie was sentenced to two and a half years in jail, while Murakami was sentenced to two years' imprisonment and fined ¥1.2 billion ($10 million). His fund, which had become defunct, was fined another ¥300 million ($2.6 million). The fines were by far the largest ever for insider trading in Japan. Both Horie and Murakami appealed the rulings.

Foreign Affairs.
      Before his resignation in September, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attempted to ease strains with China and other Asian countries by forgoing visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, where both Japanese war dead and 14 Class A war criminals were enshrined. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's three-day visit to Japan in April—the first by a Chinese premier in seven years—was intended to help nurture relations between the two Asian giants. Wen's visit followed Abe's fence-mending trip to Beijing in October 2006. Abe's replacement by Fukuda promised to further closer Sino-Japanese relations. Fukuda, who was known for his moderate views toward China, also indicated that he had no plans to visit the Yasukuni Shrine.

      No progress, however, occurred between Japan and North Korea in their attempts to establish diplomatic relations. Japan's effort to seek full information about Pyongyang's kidnappings of Japanese citizens in the 1970s and '80s remained stymied. Tensions over North Korea also crept into U.S.-Japanese relations as the Japanese began to fear that the U.S. would remove North Korea from its list of countries that sponsored terrorism, even if North Korea refused to settle the kidnapping issue with Japan. Regarding the abductions, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill indicated that he had “stressed to the North Koreans we want to see progress on this issue.”

      Japanese alarm about North Korea's explosion of a nuclear device in October 2006 faded from public view as the Six-Nation Talks, in which Japan was a participant, produced an agreement by which North Korea would “de-nuclearize” itself. Japanese officials, however, remained privately concerned that North Korea would wind up retaining weapons it had developed before dismantling its nuclear facilities.

      After leading the opposition to victory in the July upper house elections, DPJ president Ozawa condemned Japan's naval refueling mission in the Indian Ocean; the mission involved the use of Japanese vessels to supply U.S. ships engaged in the war in Afghanistan with petroleum. Although Abe had promised U.S. Pres. George W. Bush that Japan would extend the refueling operation, Ozawa declared that the DPJ would oppose it as a violation of Japan's pacifist constitution. He also accused the government of allowing the U.S. to divert Japanese-supplied oil for use in the war in Iraq. The U.S. ambassador to Japan, Thomas Schieffer, criticized Ozawa for playing “political football” with the U.S.-Japan security treaty that bound the two countries as allies. In a speech to the Japan National Press Club on October 24, Schieffer said that Japan's failure to extend the refueling mission, which had begun in 2001, “would be sending a very bad message to the international community…that Japan is opting out of the war on terror.” At the insistence of its coalition partner, the New Komeito party, Fukuda's government submitted a new bill to the lower house in October to continue the refueling but only for one year. The LDP had originally planned to extend the mission for two years.

      In a meeting with President Bush in Washington on November 16, Fukuda pledged that Japan would renew the refueling operation, which was suspended on November 1. Both leaders described the operation as vital to the war against terrorism, and Fukuda's aides called it the most important issue for the survival of his cabinet. On December 14 Fukuda had the lower house extend the parliamentary session by 31 days—a period that would enable the ruling coalition to use its two-thirds majority in the lower house to override Ozawa's attempt to squelch the refueling bill.

      Earlier in the year, tensions had flared between the U.S. and Japan over the passage by the U.S. House of Representatives of a nonbinding resolution urging Japan to formally apologize for its military's coercion of Asian women into sexual slavery during World War II. In taking the action in July, House leaders ignored a June 22 letter from Ryozo Kato, Japan's ambassador to Washington, warning that passage of the resolution would damage U.S.-Japanese relations.

      Japan made headway on other diplomatic fronts during the year. In August Prime Minister Abe visited India, where he met with his counterpart, Manmohan Singh, and addressed the Indian Parliament. A series of bilateral trade agreements between the two countries was signed. Also in August, Japan reached a preliminary free-trade agreement with ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) intended to boost economic integration in East Asia. Japan announced that it was canceling aid to Myanmar (Burma) in response to Yangon's (Rangoon's) violent suppression of monk-led pro-democracy demonstrations in September. During those demonstrations a Japanese video journalist covering them was shot and killed as government troops opened fire on the participants.

Sam Jameson

▪ 2007

377,899 sq km (145,908 sq mi)
(2006 est.): 127,716,000
Symbol of state:
Emperor Akihito
Head of government:
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and, from September 26, Shinzo Abe.

Foreign Affairs.
 The greatest direct military threat Japan had faced since the end of the Cold War emerged in 2006 as, on October 9, after four decades of secretive development, neighbouring North Korea set off its first nuclear explosion. Three months earlier it had demonstrated a new accuracy in six test launchings of its short- and medium-range Scud and Nodong missiles capable of reaching targets, including U.S. bases, on all of Japan's four main islands and Okinawa. (See Map—>.) The nuclear test made North Korea the world's ninth nation to possess nuclear weapons. The blast was small—estimated at only one-seventh of the magnitude of the atomic bomb that the U.S. dropped on Nagasaki in 1945—and military analysts agreed that North Korea had not yet developed a nuclear device small enough to fit as a warhead on its missiles, though it intended to do so.

      Japanese leaders reacted with unusual anger. After the missile firings, Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe (Abe, Shinzo ), who was to become prime minister two months later (see Biographies), said that he was “enraged” by “abductions, nuclear weapons, missiles—all by North Korea!” He joined Foreign Minister Taro Aso and Defense Director Fukushiro Nukaga in declaring that Japan should study developing the capability to carry out preemptive strikes against launching sites whenever it discovered North Korea starting to fuel missiles that could be targeted at Japan. “We are not prepared to sit around doing nothing until we suffer damage,” Aso said on July 9.

       South Korea, which had been carrying out a “sunshine policy” toward North Korea since 2000, wound up condemning Japan. A spokesman for South Korean Pres. Roh Moo Hyun blasted “the arrogance and senseless remarks of Japanese political leaders (that) expose Japan's tendency to invade” other nations—an obvious reference to Japan's invasion of Korea in 1592–93 and its annexation of the Korean peninsula from 1910 to 1945. Fearful that North Korea's nuclear explosion might induce Japan to build its own nuclear arsenal, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Tokyo and declared that the U.S. retained “the will and capability to meet the full range—and I underscore, the full range—of its deterrent and security commitments to Japan.” Despite the promise of nuclear protection, Aso and Shoichi Nakagawa, policy chief of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), both urged Japanese citizens to carry out a debate over nuclear weapons. Former prime minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, who headed a policy research institute, sided with Abe's aides and announced that his institute would study the nuclear issue to be prepared “for the possibility of a major international change.” He cited American renunciation of its nuclear umbrella or a collapse of the U.S.-Japan alliance as examples of major change but stressed that neither of those theoretical possibilities was likely in the near future.

      In 1999, when the deputy director of the Defense Agency urged the parliament to conduct a nuclear debate, he was fired summarily. This time Abe defended his two aides' calls for debate as “the right of free speech” but ruled out any study of the issue by official organs of the government or the LDP. In addition, Abe declared, Japan would continue to uphold its political ban on manufacture, possession, or entry onto its territory of nuclear weapons. As an immediate measure, Japan and the United States agreed to speed up implementation of a joint missile-defense structure, beginning with installation of batteries of Patriot Advanced Capability-3 surface-to-air missiles that engage targets in their terminal stages. The upshot was an end to a six-decade taboo in Japan on debating nuclear weapons. Although opponents vastly outnumbered those supporters who dared to speak out in favour of nuclear weapons in the only country to suffer nuclear attacks in a war, the debate continued to spread as yet another round of six-nation talks ended in failure in Beijing in late December.

      North Korea refused even to discuss with the U.S. the question of dismantling its nuclear programs—a promise it had made but quickly rescinded in September 2005. It also ignored Japan's demand for a full explanation of what had happened to 13 Japanese citizens whom in 2002 North Korean leader Kim Jong Il had admitted abducting from Japan beginning in the 1970s. The only bright spot appeared when both China and Russia voted against their erstwhile ally and sided with the U.S. and Japan in support of softened versions of UN Security Council resolutions that would impose sanctions—in July for the missile launchings and in October for the nuclear test.

      On May 1, before the nuclear flare-up, U.S. and Japanese foreign-policy and defense leaders met in Washington, D.C., to conclude five years of often-acerbic negotiations. They announced a major realignment of U.S. bases in Japan and what Secretary of State Rice called a transformation of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty from a regional to a “global alliance.” For years, Japan's standard for cooperation with the U.S. had been to avoid “becoming a single entity” with the U.S. in any military operation, but that was precisely what the May agreement spelled out. With headquarters of the two countries' armies at Zama, their air forces at Yokota, and their navies at Yokosuka, U.S. and Japanese troops would “operate together, train together, and work together and share—to a much greater degree—missions, roles, and responsibilities,” a Pentagon official told a Japanese television interviewer. On May 29, Kyodo News Agency reported that the Japanese government estimated its costs for the realignment of U.S. bases at ¥1.1 trillion (about $9.3 billion) in addition to the officially announced $6 billion it would give the U.S. to finance its portion of the costs of removing from Okinawa to Guam 8,000 American Marines and 9,000 dependants. Forty thousand U.S. troops were stationed throughout Japan in 2006.

      Two months before he left office, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi brought home the 600 ground troops he had sent to Iraq in January 2004, at the request of U.S. Pres. George W. Bush, to build and repair schoolhouses and roads and purify water in the city of Samawah. Koizumi issued the order as soon as Iraqi troops took charge of security in Al-Muthanna province. Dutch, British, and then Australian troops had provided protection for the Japanese soldiers, who were banned from combat by a Japanese law. Japan, however, agreed to expand its air force transportation and cargo services to U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq and extend fueling services that its ships in the Indian Ocean had been providing to the navies of allied forces engaged in Afghanistan.

Domestic Affairs.
 On September 6, five days before her 40th birthday, Princess Kiko, the wife of Emperor Akihito's second son, Prince Akishino, gave birth to a 2.5-kg (5-lb 10-oz) baby boy, who was named Hisahito, the first male successor to the Japanese throne in 41 years. The baby was third in line to succeed to the throne after Crown Prince Naruhito, 46, and Prince Akishino, 40. (The crown prince and Princess Masako, 43, had only one child, a daughter.) Visible public joy, TV specials, and extra newspaper editions welcomed the infant. In February, when it was announced that Princess Kiko had become pregnant, Prime Minister Koizumi shelved a bill to allow females and their children of either sex, in order of their birth, to ascend the throne. Overall, Japan's closely watched population statistics showed a slight upturn in 2006. January–July births rose for the first time in six years, and marriages increased for the first time in five years, the Health, Welfare, and Labour Ministry reported on December 31. The previous year, in what was expected to become a continuing trend into the future, Japan's overall population had declined for the first time.

      A spirit of continuity rather than change accompanied the seating of Shinzo Abe in place of Koizumi as prime minister on September 26. Although Abe initially emphasized growth far more strongly than his predecessor had, he promised to continue Koizumi's economic reforms. Abe's biggest potential threats came from worries about North Korea's missile and nuclear tests and the possibility that Abe and Koizumi's LDP and its coalition partner, the New Komei Party, might lose control of the House of Councillors (the upper chamber of the parliament) in the election scheduled for July 2007. Although the coalition commanded a two-thirds majority in the lower house, Japanese had voted erratically in upper-house elections ever since they first deprived the LDP of its unilateral control of that chamber in 1989. In addition, Abe welcomed back into his party 11 of the legislators whom Koizumi had expelled in 2005 for opposing privatization of the postal system. He also watered down a pledge to end the use of automobile and gasoline tax revenue only to finance road building. Both of these moves gave the impression that Abe was moving away from Koizumi-style reforms. Scandals forced two Abe appointees—-a cabinet minister and the chairman of a powerful commission in charge of tax reform—to resign in late December.

      Abe's support from voters fell from 63% in October to 47% in December, the Asahi newspaper reported. The more conservative Yomiuri reported a plunge from 70% to 55.9%. The setback came in spite of Abe's success in winning approval of all 14 bills he submitted to the parliament during its fall session. Among them was the first revision of a 1947 Fundamental Law on Education enacted under tutelage of post-World War II U.S. Occupation authorities. Instead of promoting “individuality” as the goal of education, the new law mandated that schools nurture respect for “tradition and culture” and “love for the nation and the homeland.” Another law eliminated the second-class status of the nation's military establishment by transforming the Defense Agency into a full-fledged Defense Ministry and elevating overseas assignments from an ancillary to a primary duty of the armed forces.

      In 2006 the Yomiuri, the world's largest newspaper, with a 14-million-copy morning and evening circulation, reversed a long-standing conservative editorial policy on issues involving Japan's military aggression and colonial rule. The paper's president and CEO, Tsuneo Watanabe, launched a yearlong investigation to determine who among Japan's World War II leaders bore “responsibility for steering the country toward war, responsibility for being unable to prevent the war from starting and responsibility for not ending the war sooner.” The results of the study, published in six full pages on August 13 and 15, identified 45 actions for which Japanese leaders deserved blame—a harsher verdict even than that of the U.S.-led Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal, which many Japanese criticized as “victor's justice.” The Yomiuri also switched another policy; it now opposed visits by the prime minister to the Yasukuni Shrine, where both Japanese war dead and 14 Class A war criminals were interred.

The Economy.
      A historic record for longevity in Japan's economic growth—58 months of expansion—was reached in November despite a slowdown in investment and a weakening in consumption. In an earlier era this would have been cause for major celebration. This time, however, all these months of growth had yielded only a 10% increase in gross domestic product, whereas the earlier record-setting period, in 1965–70, saw a 68% GDP increase. In addition, the Tokyo Stock Exchange Nikkei 225 index gained a paltry 14% during the nearly simultaneous five-year five-month administration of Prime Minister Koizumi. By comparison, stocks had increased a record 222% under Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone in his five-year term that began in 1982. In 2005 the Nikkei 225 soared 40.2% to 16,1l1.43 but gained only 6.9% in 2006 amid a series of financial scandals. A record 2,764 mergers and acquisitions helped raise the index from a low of 14,218.60 on June 13 to 17,225.83 on the last trading day of the year.

      In July the Bank of Japan (BOJ) finally ended its “zero interest rate” policy, although it was clear that full recovery from the bubble that burst in 1990 still lay in the future. BOJ officials said that restoring normal interest rates would be a slow process, and the bank's target for short-term rates remained at a tiny 0.25% as the year ended. Abe pledged only to raise enough tax revenue to cover all general budget expenditures except debt redemption and interest payments by March 2012. With national and local government debts amounting to 181.4% of GDP (estimated by Fitch Ratings), the largest percentage of any industrialized country, some high bank officials doubted that even this program could work in five years. On September 13 the International Monetary Fund warned Japan to go slow in raising interest rates and advised it to continue structural reforms to prevent the economy from falling back into full-fledged deflation. On December 19, Abe's cabinet lowered its real growth estimate for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2007, from 2.1% to 1.9% but predicted 2% real growth in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2008.

      Profits of large corporations set new records, and hiring of college graduates by big companies neared the levels of the bubble years of the late 1980s. Toyota Motor Co. announced in September that it expected annual operating profits to reach ¥2.2 trillion (about $18.6 billion) to become the first Japanese corporation to surpass the ¥2 trillion level. In the fiscal year ended March 31, 2006, for the first time, Japanese automakers produced more vehicles overseas than at home, according to the Japan Auto Manufacturers Association, and slightly more than 48% of the vehicles produced at home were exported. The World Economic Forum ranked Japan number seven in the world in competitiveness, right behind the U.S. (Among large economies, the U.S. and Japan were first and second.)

      In a rare departure from its customary hands-off policy toward corporate accounting practices, the Financial Services Agency (FSA) in May ordered Chuo Aoyama, one of the nation's leading accounting firms, to cease business operations for two months after three of its accountants were arrested—they were later convicted—for having doctored the books of Kanebo, Ltd., a debt-ridden cosmetics company, to make it appear that the firm was in good financial standing. In all, Chuo Aoyama audited about 5,500 firms, including 860 that were listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. The Asahi reported on August 17 that about 20% of the listed firms—Toyota Motor Co. and Sony among them—signed up with new accountants after the FSA order was issued.

      In the most expensive international deal in baseball history, American Major League Baseball's Boston Red Sox in December agreed to pay more than $103 million to acquire Japan's number one power pitcher, Daisuke Matsuzaka, from the Seibu Lions of Japan's Pacific League.

Sam Jameson

▪ 2006

377,899 sq km (145,908 sq mi)
(2005 est.): 128,085,000
Symbol of state:
Emperor Akihito
Head of government:
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi

Domestic Affairs.
      An election that nobody wanted produced a hallmark in Japanese politics in 2005 that nobody expected. For the first time since the end of World War II, Japanese voters handed a government more than two-thirds of the seats in the powerful lower house of the Diet (parliament). The surprise early election, which was held on September 11, came about as a result of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's refusal to accept defeat on postal reform—a goal he had been seeking throughout much of his political career. In early August some 30 members of Koizumi's own Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) joined the opposition in the upper house of the Diet to vote down Koizumi's plan to privatize Japan's postal service, the country's largest savings and insurance institution. The plan had earlier passed the lower house by a mere five votes. Rejecting the advice of advisers who warned him against staging an election when his party was split, Koizumi carried through on his threats to dissolve the lower house should his privatization bills end in defeat. He then purged antireform members of his party and handpicked high-profile, pro-reform candidates (described by the media as “assassins”) to run against them. The prime minister also made a direct appeal to voters for postal reform and declared that he would resign if his coalition government lost its majority “even by one seat.”

      Koizumi's gamble paid off. Predictions that Japanese voters would for the first time carry out a change of government evaporated as the LDP won the largest percentage of seats in any election since 1969 and scored the biggest-ever single-election gain. With the LDP claiming 296 of the 480 contested seats (a pickup of 84 seats) and its coalition partner, the Buddhist-backed New Komeito Party, taking another 31 seats, the ruling coalition increased its presence in the lower house to a commanding 327 seats. The main opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) saw its share dwindle from 175 to 113 seats. So overwhelming was the coalition victory that leaders of both the LDP and the New Komeito Party called for Koizumi to continue serving as prime minister after his term as party president ended in September 2006. Koizumi, however, said that he had promised many times to step down on schedule and would not change his mind now.

      DPJ leader Katsuya Okada resigned even before the vote counting ended. He was replaced by Seiji Maehara, who at the age of 43 became the youngest Japanese politician ever selected to head a major party. In a vote by party members, Maehara, an expert on security issues who favoured strong ties with the U.S., won by two votes over former DPJ leader Naoto Kan. Maehara promised to “revitalize” the DPJ, eliminate waste in government spending, and push for a revision of Japan's no-war constitution to include the right of “collective self-defense.”

      Several factors that had an impact on the election underscored the current strength of the LDP. One was that an unprecedented number of highly qualified women agreed to run for the LDP instead of for the opposition. A record 26 female LDP candidates won seats. A second factor was the resumption of political contributions to the LDP from the powerful Japan Keidanren, a pro-business lobby group. In 1994 the group had halted contributions when the LDP appeared to be losing power. Another factor was the continuing success of politicians who took over seats in the Diet formerly occupied by their fathers, grandfathers, or other relatives. Of all winning candidates this time, 125 won “inherited seats.” Of those, 107 were Liberal Democrats.

      The only negative for the LDP was its continuing reliance upon the New Komeito Party. Drawing upon members of a Buddhist laymen's group, the Soka Gakkai, who were expected to support the party as part of their religious practices, the New Komeito had been a coalition partner of the LDP since 1999. It had backed Liberal Democratic candidates running in single-seat districts in exchange for the LDP's support for the New Komeito's proportional representation lists from which the bulk of its politicians was elected. Many Japanese observers believed that the LDP could not win a majority without the New Komeito's support.

      In the aftermath of the election, Koizumi returned his postal reform bills to the Diet, where the legislation sailed through the lower house and won approval in the upper house by a 134–100 vote in October. Privatization of the postal service was to be completed in stages by the year 2017, with shares going on sale to the public beginning in 2007. Whether the postal service's estimated ¥330 trillion (about $2.9 trillion) in assets would actually be put under the control of the private sector and how many jobs the privatized postal company would maintain remained unclear.

      By year's end, speculation had begun to mount over possible successors to the prime minister. Shinzo Abe, the 51-year-old chief cabinet secretary, was viewed by many as the front-runner, but he, like Koizumi and Yasuo Fukuda, 69, a former chief cabinet secretary who also was touted as a potential leader, belonged to the faction of LDP politicians headed by former prime minister Yoshiro Mori. Choosing a third consecutive prime minister from the same faction would violate the ruling party's tradition of balancing power. Other possibilities were Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki, 60, and Taro Aso, 65, who was appointed foreign minister in a new cabinet Koizumi formed on October 31.

The Economy.
      The Japanese economy took an upturn in 2005. Stock prices rose 40.2%, the biggest spurt since 1986, while corporate profits expanded and unemployment dropped. The government announced that the economy grew at an annualized rate of 5.3% during the first quarter of the year and at an annualized 3.3% during the second quarter. The Economist magazine predicted that Japan's economy would grow by 2.2% in 2005 and by 2% in 2006—better than the average 1% real annual growth since 1992. Toshihiko Fukui, governor of the Bank of Japan, indicated that by the third quarter of 2005, rising oil prices had begun to “subdue” growth but would not send it back into decline.

      Fukui also pointed to the likelihood that by the summer of 2006, the central bank would move away from its decade-long policy of suppressing interest rates to virtually zero. Koizumi opposed such a move, however. “It's too early. Deflation still exists,” he declared in mid-November. Fukui admitted that the zero-interest policy had deprived Japanese households of interest income totaling ¥154 trillion (about $1.34 trillion) between 1993 and 2002. Nonetheless, Fitch Ratings, in a special report issued on May 6, predicted that Japan could grow 2% a year in real terms over the next five years, with corporate investment providing the main domestic driving force. Externally, Japan's burgeoning trade with China and the U.S. provided a huge prop.

      According to figures announced in September by the National Tax Agency, average wages for full-time employees in 2004 fell to ¥4.39 million (about $38,000), down 1.2% from the previous year. Much of the decline occurred as companies hired more part-time workers to trim personnel costs. The percentage of workers who were not in full-time jobs rose to 35% in 2004. Japan's unemployment rate, however, dropped to 4.2% in June—the lowest it had been since mid-1998.

      In central Tokyo a construction boom helped drive up land prices for the first time after 15 years of decline. In Nagoya, Japan's fourth largest city, the new Chubu International Airport opened—astonishingly ¥130 billion (about $1.13 billion) under budget. The 2005 World Expo, held over the course of six months in central Aichi prefecture, was an overwhelming success. The event attracted an estimated 22 million visitors—7 million more than originally anticipated—and infused some ¥1.3 trillion (about $11.3 billion) into the regional economy.

      Major corporations in Japan announced new plans during the year that were aimed at trimming losses. Sony Corp. unveiled a plan to slash 10,000 jobs and close 11 factories as the once high-flying electronics and entertainment giant faced its first annual loss in more than a decade. In March Sony appointed Howard Stringer (Stringer, Howard ) (see Biographies) its chairman and CEO. Sanyo Electric said that it would eliminate 15,000 jobs by 2008, but as it later announced an outlook for a 72% drop in operating profits, the company decided to move up 10,000 of the cuts to January 2006. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., announced that it would spend ¥68 billion (about $600 million) to take over control of Seiyu as the Japanese supermarket chain projected its fourth consecutive loss since the American giant first purchased a stake in the company in 2002.

      Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc., came into existence on October 1 as the world's largest banking group in terms of assets. The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi and UFJ Bank were scheduled to join the group on Jan. 1, 2006, and become its core units. The new group would hold an estimated ¥190 trillion (about $1.64 trillion) in assets—a sum that was roughly 40% of Japan's GDP. It would assume responsibility for repaying the ¥1.5 trillion (about $12.9 billion) that the government had injected into UFJ Bank to help it clean up its bad loans. Repayment was to be completed by March 2008.

      Deaths exceeded births by about 10,000 persons, which indicated that Japan's looming decline in population had started two years earlier than expected.

Foreign Affairs.
      Although Prime Minister Koizumi's cozy relations with U.S. Pres. George W. Bush continued throughout the year, Japan's overall diplomacy suffered a series of setbacks in 2005.

      Frictions with China reached a new high. The trouble began when Japan's Ministry of Education approved a textbook for use in junior high schools that mentioned only that “many” Chinese were victimized during the 1937–38 Nanking Massacre without describing details of the mass atrocities of murder and rape committed by the Japanese military while destroying the Chinese city. Although fewer than 1% of the schools in Japan actually selected the textbook, demonstrations ensued in Beijing, Shanghai, and other Chinese cities that turned into near riots. Chinese police stood by as more than 10,000 protesters hurled bottles, stones and other objects at the Japanese embassy in Beijing and consulate general in Shanghai. Vandals also trashed private shops that served Japanese food or sold Japanese goods.

      The Japanese government issued an official protest on April 16 against China's failure to halt the vandalism. When Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura demanded an apology and payment for damages, his Chinese counterpart, Li Zhaoxing, responded that “the Chinese government has never done anything for which it has to apologize to the Japanese people.” Later, when Vice Premier Wu Yi became the most senior Chinese official to have visited Japan in two years, Japanese exploded with anger after Wu flew home on May 23 without a word of apology, snubbing a scheduled meeting with Koizumi. Beijing officials explained that her abrupt departure was meant to protest remarks that Koizumi had made justifying his visits to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, where Japan's war dead—including 14 World War II leaders executed for “war crimes”—were enshrined. On June 7 Machimura called China's criticism of the Yasukuni visits “absurd” and defended the controversial textbook.

      The uproar attracted major international attention, inducing Koizumi to make two blanket apologies on top of some 20 previous statements of remorse for Japan's wartime aggression and colonialism. He made one of the apologies at a meeting of Asian and African nations in Jakarta and the other in Tokyo on the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II. Nonetheless, as an autumn religious festival began at Yasukuni on October 17, Koizumi paid his fifth visit to the shrine since he became prime minister in 2001. China and South Korea immediately protested, and China canceled a scheduled visit to Beijing by Foreign Minister Machimura. Koizumi declared that he visited the shrine to pay respects to Japan's war dead and to pledge that Japan would remain “a country of peace that will never launch a war again.” Foreign governments, he added, “should not intervene in a matter of the heart” for Japanese people.

      Also exacerbating relations between Japan and China were disputes over an island chain held by Japan in the South China Sea, Chinese drilling for natural gas in waters near Japan's exclusive economic zone, and Japan's worries about burgeoning increases in China's military budget. In addition, China launched a campaign against Japan's bid to win a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. (See China: Sidebar (China's Relations with Its Neighbours ).) Although President Bush and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, during separate visits to Japan, declared that Washington supported Japan's becoming a permanent member of the UN Security Council, both refrained from offering to Japan veto power that was now held by all of the current permanent Security Council members, including China. American officials explained that the U.S. did not want to weaken the decision-making power of the council. The snub, however, dealt a major blow to Japan's prestige. In September Machimura announced that Japan would seek to reduce its 19.4% share of contributions to the UN budget—an amount that exceeded the combined 15.3% that permanent members Britain, France, China, and Russia paid together. Japan's payments ranked second only to those of the U.S., which contributed 22% of the UN budget.

      Lesser issues with the U.S. added irritations to the Tokyo-Washington relationship throughout the year. By September, U.S. congressmen demanded that the White House impose sanctions against Japan for failing to lift a ban on imports of American beef imposed in 2003 when a single cow in Washington state had tested positive for mad cow disease. Only in December did Japan finally lift the ban after asserting that the U.S. had to limit its exports to cattle not older than 20 months (an age group in which no cases of mad cow disease had been found). Japan and the U.S. finally agreed—after nine years of negotiations—on a plan to relocate a U.S. Marine air station on the island of Okinawa. Ambassador Thomas Schieffer, meanwhile, announced that the U.S. Navy would base a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier for the first time at the Yokosuka naval base after the conventionally powered USS Kitty Hawk was decommissioned in 2008. Local residents in both Okinawa and Yokosuka immediately opposed the moves despite a revelation that 7,000 Marines would be relocated to Guam “to reduce the footprint” of American troops in Japan. In December, Koizumi authorized an extension for up to one year of Japan's deployment of 550 noncombat troops in Iraq.

      New tensions arose in Japan's relations with the two Koreas. South Korean Pres. Roh Moo Hyun retracted a promise to stop making a political issue of Japan's colonial rule of Korea and condemned Japan for continuing to claim sovereignty over two tiny islands off the coast of South Korea. North Korea, which Koizumi had visited twice in an attempt to establish diplomatic relations, told Japan that negotiations were “finished” over Tokyo's demands for detailed explanations of what had happened to the more than 100 Japanese citizens believed to have been abducted by North Korean agents between the 1970s and the late '90s.

      Relations with Russia, meanwhile, remained in a stalemate. Even before he visited Tokyo in November, Pres. Vladimir Putin declared in a televised “town hall” meeting with Russian citizens in September that four northern islands claimed by Japan were “under Russian sovereignty”—a status he said was “fixed in international law.” He and Koizumi agreed to enlarge business cooperation but were unable to issue any statement on the territorial dispute. Although Soviet troops had entered World War II against Japan only six days before Japan's surrender, they seized the four islands off the coast of Hokkaido after the war ended. The two countries restored diplomatic relations in 1956, but they had yet to sign a peace treaty.

Sam Jameson

▪ 2005

377,887 sq km (145,903 sq mi)
(2004 est.): 127,757,000
Symbol of state:
Emperor Akihito
Head of government:
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi

Domestic Affairs.
      The second term of Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi continued to be stable in 2004 following the general election of November 2003, which saw the ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the New Komeito party lose seats but maintain its majority in the lower house of the Diet (parliament). The coalition looked so stable that in November 2004 Koizumi even allowed himself to play logic games with opposition leader Katsuya Okada of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ); when asked in the Diet the definition of a “noncombat zone,” as prescribed in the Humanitarian Relief and Iraqi Reconstruction Special Measures Law, he retorted, “Wherever the [Japanese] Self Defense Force [SDF] troops are deployed, these are the noncombat zones.” The law prohibited the deployment of Japanese troops in combat zones. The newly appointed foreign minister, Nobutaka Machimura, suggested that even the insurgent city of Fallujah was a noncombat zone, but he quickly withdrew his remarks.

      Inside the LDP the so-called resistance group that opposed Prime Minister Koizumi gradually lost its clout, thanks to Koizumi's divide-and-rule tactics. The influential Hashimoto faction had breached discipline in the 2003 presidential election when many of its members voted for Koizumi over its own leader, former prime minister Ryutaro Hashimoto. For his part, Hashimoto was busy in 2004 trying to evade allegations of involvement in bribery and an illegal campaign donation of ¥100 million (about $1 million). In a cabinet reshuffle in September, shortly after the House of Councillors (upper house) election, Koizumi demonstratively gave several ministerial positions to politicians who had supported his postal-service-reform plans. Meanwhile, the hawkish LDP seemed to be gaining support for its proposals to revise Japan's arms-export regulations and pacifist constitution, traditionally one of the most delicate issues in Japanese politics.

      Koizumi's major reform targets—pensions, the postal service, local government organization, municipal budgets, and the national security/emergency law system—were gradually but steadily being enacted; either compromises were found with those who had resisted or opposed them, or at times the opposition itself was eliminated. In 2004 the pension-reform issue was the most controversial. With the ever-increasing numbers of the elderly and an ever-diminishing birth rate, the Japanese people—young people in particular—were nervous, even doubtful, about the future of public pension plans. The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare reportedly postponed the announcement of the latest total fertility rate (TFR; the average number of births per childbearing woman), a record-low 1.29, until after the reform bill was passed by the Diet. Aggravating the issue, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications reported in October that Japan's population (as of May 1) had decreased for the first year since it started recording the statistics in 1950.

      In the House of Councillors election in July, the DPJ again increased its number of seats—this time by 12—while the share of the ruling LDP–New Komeito coalition stayed the same. Although the coalition maintained its majority, the results suggested that Koizumi's popularity was fading and that hopes for the emergence of a true two-party system might yet be realized. On the basis of the polling in this election, Kyodo News, a leading news agency, projected that had elections been held for the lower house at the same time, the DPJ would have won 308 seats and gained a majority sufficient to overthrow the coalition.

      The growth of Japan's gross domestic product in the first quarter of 2004, in real terms, maintained the momentum of the last quarter of 2003, and a 3.2% growth rate was achieved. In the second and third quarters, however, the vigour disappeared, and the growth rates fell to a less-than-modest level—0.4% and 0.1%, respectively. The methodology for calculating GDP was to be slightly changed in the last quarter, and a further slowdown was expected for the year as a whole.

      Corporate performances were generally satisfactory. Of 813 top companies on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, 80% recorded ordinary profit increases in their midterm earnings announcements. The stock market did not reflect this favourable environment, however. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average, the most widely followed index, drifted through the year at around 11,161, the previous calendar year's high.

      In contrast to the good health of business corporations in general, Mitsubishi Motors suffered a huge loss of sales, in part because of revealed product-deficiency cover-ups. Yoshinoya D&C Co., Ltd., the worldwide “beef bowl” fast-food chain, experienced a substantial loss because of the ban on beef imports from the U.S. since December 2003, when a cow in the U.S. was found to be infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (“mad-cow” disease). Seibu Railways, a major transportation company, was delisted from the stock market for questionable business practices.

      In October Daiei, Japan's supermarket giant, asked the Industrial Revitalization Corp. of Japan (IRCJ) to help support its reconstruction. The IRCJ was an official entity that had been established in 2003 to help revitalize financially troubled but salvageable companies. Daiei's finances had long been considered to be emblematic of the dangers of nonperforming loans, and the company still owed about ¥1 trillion (about $9.8 billion) in interest-bearing debts. Daiei had opted for self-reconstruction, but its banks declined financial support without IRCJ cooperation. Three major banking groups—Mizuho, Sumitomo-Mitsui, and Mitsubishi-Tokyo—finally reached their target of halving their bad-loan ratio, from a peak of 8% in March 2002.

      Deflation, Japan's most serious economic concern, showed some signs of abating. In April the corporate goods price index, calculated by the Bank of Japan (BOJ), turned positive after having hovered on the negative side for 44 months. In October the BOJ forecast that the consumer price index in 2005 would turn positive for the first time in eight years. The halting in 2003 of the downward trend in real-estate prices in the metropolitan Tokyo area looked to be expanding to neighbouring cities. Announcements by the National Tax Agency in August 2004 as well as by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport in September, however, both showed a fall in overall land prices for the 12th and 13th consecutive years, respectively.

      Although the unemployment rate fell from 5% in January to 4.5% in November, private consumption remained sluggish throughout the year. The BOJ continued to maintain its “quantitative easing” and low-interest policy, the short-term rate remaining effectively at zero.

      In January the Ministry of Finance reported that in 2003, Japan's exports to greater China (China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan) totaled ¥13.7 trillion (about $134 billion) and for the first time exceeded exports to the United States. Imports from greater China had surpassed U.S. imports in 2000. In September Prime Minister Koizumi and Mexican Pres. Vicente Fox Quesada signed a free-trade agreement. It was Japan's second such agreement, following one with Singapore, but the first that covered some agricultural products. The agreement was expected to accelerate similar negotiations with Southeast Asian countries.

Foreign Affairs.
      Japan's triad principles of pacifism, cooperation with the United Nations, and collective security with the United States had tilted in the direction of the third since the government of Prime Minister Koizumi responded quickly and offered every possible support—although under strict constitutional limitations—to the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq that began in 2003. In June 2004 the Diet passed seven additional contingency-related laws and ratified three conventions with the U.S. to facilitate security cooperation. In November, at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in Santiago, Chile, Koizumi suggested to U.S. Pres. George W. Bush that he would seek an extension of the mandated term of deployment of the Japanese SDF troops, which was due to expire on December 14.

      In April an Iraqi armed antigovernment terrorist group kidnapped three Japanese civilians and demanded the withdrawal of the SDF troops deployed in Samawah, south of Baghdad. In October a Japanese traveler was kidnapped, and the same demands by the kidnappers were aired on local television. In neither case did Koizumi succumb to the kidnappers' demands. The three abductees were released, but the kidnapped youth was later found dead. In another case two Japanese reporters were killed in May. These violent incidents stimulated calls by the political opposition in Tokyo to withdraw SDF troops from Iraq.

      In January Koizumi once again made a visit to the Yasukuni Shrine—and once again aroused China's displeasure. Along with some 2.5 million Japanese war victims, 14 convicted Class A World War II war criminals were interred at the shrine, and Koizumi's visits had been seen as marking official sanction of wartime atrocities that were committed in China and Korea, as calling into question the division of church and state, and, for some, as demonstrating the reactionary nature of his regime. Although the visit stopped short of creating an incident with Japan's neighbours, the issue remained as Koizumi's major diplomatic task to be resolved in the long run. In August, at the association football (soccer) Asian Cup final held in China, Chinese spectators booed during the Japanese national anthem, and after the game some of them mobbed a car carrying a Japanese embassy minister. Japan protested, and China maintained a low profile and apologized, although no mention was made of the alleged underlying cause of such anti-Japanese sentiment among Chinese youth. In November a Chinese nuclear submarine violated Japan's territorial waters. The director general of Japan's Defense Agency ordered a maritime alert and tracked the craft with an antisubmarine reconnaissance airplane. The submarine left Japan's territorial sea after about three hours, and China apologized.

      A new type of friction emerged in the continental shelf area of the East China Sea, where the Japanese-Chinese border lies (the exact demarcation in this area had not yet been agreed upon, however). For almost a decade China had been carrying out its own research in the seabed gas field in the South China Sea, and Chinese research ships were sighted frequently in the area. In 1968 the UN had reported that the area northeast of Taiwan could turn out to be one of the world's richest oil- and gas-producing sites. Although Japan too was keenly interested in the area, research was not a top priority because of the remoteness of the area from the major consumption centres. In July, belatedly, Japan sent a research vessel to begin the exploration of seabed resources inside what it claimed to be the centre line of its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and repeatedly requested that China share its research findings, but China declined to do so.

      With a stalemate in the six-party talks—involving the U.S., China, Russia, Japan, South Korea, and North Korea—on the question of North Korea's nuclear facilities, Japan's relations with that country focused on the abduction issue. Between the 1950s and the late '90s, more than 100 Japanese citizens had allegedly been kidnapped by North Korean agents who planned to train them as spies to be reintroduced into Japan. In May Prime Minister Koizumi, apparently with the upcoming July elections for the upper house in mind, visited North Korea and met with its leader, Kim Jong Il. The meeting itself was perfunctory, but Koizumi succeeded in bringing out with him five persons, the sons and daughters of abductees who had been released and repatriated in 2002 following Kim's acknowledgement that such kidnappings had taken place and at the time of Koizumi's first visit to North Korea. In a related incident, Charles Robert Jenkins, an American who had deserted to the North from the U.S. Army in 1965 and who had subsequently married a Japanese abductee (one of the five who returned to Japan in 2002), also left North Korea during 2004 and returned via Indonesia to Japan, where he gave himself up to U.S. military authorities. No information was forthcoming about the remaining 10 Japanese abductees who had been reported dead by the North Korean government, and no substantial progress was made at working-level talks in November.

      In November, Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin indicated at a cabinet meeting that he was hoping to solve his country's outstanding territorial issue with Japan, the status of four small islands of the southwestern Kurils (Chishima) claimed by Japan but occupied by the U.S.S.R./Russia since the end of World War II.

      Following the December 26 Indian Ocean tsunami, Japan pledged $500 million in grant aid to the nations affected in southern Asia.

Social Life.
      The year 2004 would be remembered in Japan as a year of typhoons, earthquakes, and unusually hot temperatures. Among the numerous typhoons that hit the Japanese archipelago, Typhoon Songda in early September set a record for wind speed of 60.2 m per second (134.7 mph) in Hiroshima and damaged part of the Itsukushima Shrine, a World Heritage site. In October an earthquake of magnitude 6.8 shook central Niigata prefecture; 39 persons were killed, and nearly 100,000 were evacuated. The Shinkansen bullet train was derailed near the epicentre, the first such mishap since it started operation between Tokyo and Osaka in 1964. The intensity of this earthquake was equivalent to the one that had hit the Kobe-Osaka region in 1995, but, fortunately, the affected region in 2004 was relatively underpopulated. In July the temperature in Tokyo registered a record high 39.5 °C (103 °F). In July and August Tokyo experienced 40 “midsummer days” (days when the high temperature exceeded 30 °C [86 °F]) in a row.

      High crime and suicide rates were causing concern. In June an 11-year-old girl killed her classmate with a knife; one night in August, seven family members were beaten and stabbed to death by a relative who lived nearby; in September two children were thrown from a bridge by an acquaintance of their father and drowned. Details of eerie suicides were reported frequently near the end of the year and revived unpleasant memories of several years earlier, when many similar suicide cases had been reported. Many of those who killed themselves had apparently studied Internet suicide sites and taken their lives in groups of three or four by generating carbon monoxide from charcoal stoves in tightly sealed automobiles.

      Japanese athletes delivered handsomely at the Olympic Games in Athens, where they won a record 37 medals, 16 of them gold. Japanese spirits were also buoyed when Ichiro Suzuki of Major League Baseball's Seattle Mariners had a league-leading .372 batting average and a record 262 hits, breaking George Sisler's 84-year-old record for number of hits in a single season (257). On a sad note, Princess Takamatsu (known as Kikuko), the 92-year-old aunt of Emperor Akihito and the first royal to campaign for changes to laws that allowed only male heirs to assume the throne, died in December.

Rinzo Sakauchi

▪ 2004

377,873 sq km (145,898 sq mi)
(2003 est.): 127,546,000
Symbol of state:
Emperor Akihito
Head of government:
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi

Domestic Affairs.
      On Sept. 20, 2003, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who had begun his third year in office in April, was reelected president of the majority Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which had, often with small parties in coalition, governed Japan for almost 50 years. On November 9 an LDP-led conservative coalition took 275 of 480 lower-house seats in the parliamentary elections. This victory assured Koizumi a second term as prime minister. The opposition coalition, led by the new Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), made a strong showing, however, by winning 202 seats (a gain from 193). The DPJ strongly appealed for reform and inspired widespread talk of the appearance of a true two-party system.

      In January Koizumi made his third official visit to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo “to meditate on peace,” but the action caused strong controversy between the dwindling number of relatives of the more than two million Japanese enshrined at Yasukuni and the increasing number of younger citizens who simply did not identify with the shrine or who, embracing “progressive” politics, were opposed to Koizumi and his “reactionary” ruling party. The opposition denounced the shrine for recalling memories of Japanese imperialism. Perhaps more important, the shrine and official visits triggered diplomatic protests from Japan's neighbours—China and the two Koreas, past victims of Japanese aggression. Their governments pointed out that buried with the veterans were 14 convicted Class A war criminals who were linked to atrocities committed during World War II.

      Already the most heavily indebted nation in the developed world, Japan increasingly felt the effects of a decade of recession. Traditionally famous for their high household savings rate—14% in 1990 and 11% in 1999—the Japanese saw their rate of savings fall to a postwar low of 6.9% in 2001 before declining further in 2002. The number of individual bankruptcies had increased by more than 30% over the previous year.

      These trends, however, were related to the fact that the Japanese had become the fastest-aging population in the world. It was expected that by 2010 more than 22% of Japanese would be 65 years of age or older (up from 17% in 2000). With interest rates near zero and pensions falling, elders were feeling the financial pinch.

      Twin problems—an aging population and declining fertility—were compounded by two others. Like most advanced nations, Japan needed to allow more immigration, but, owing to outdated concepts of racial purity, most of its citizens refused to make non-Japanese feel welcome. According to a United Nations estimate, the country would need 17 million additional immigrants by 2050. This would bring the proportion of immigrants to 18% of the population (in 2003 it was 1%). Entrenched attitudes also put a ceiling on the hopes of existing immigrants (a majority of them from the Koreas and China) to rise to better positions in the business world.

      Another example of the ineffective use of human resources was the underutilization of Japanese women in managerial positions. About 40% of the country's women worked, usually while they remained single and before they bore children, but only about 9% of Japanese females held managerial positions (compared with 45% of American women).

      Despite having called for the appointment of a dedicated reformer to become governor of the Bank of Japan (BOJ), in February Prime Minister Koizumi instead selected Toshihiko Fukui, a career bureaucrat and veteran of the conservative establishment. When Fukui took office, the government's assessment of Japan's economic status remained unchanged; gains were listed in some business sectors, but they were offset by concerns pertaining to Iraq, SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), and economic weakness in the U.S.

      For more than four years, the BOJ had maintained short-term interest rates effectively at zero in order to stem deflation but without success. Negative interest—whereby one bank paid another to borrow its money—subsequently appeared in Japan. Most often the procedure involved financial institutions' swapping yen for dollars in forward contracts written in a third nation. On March 6 the BOJ again left monetary policy unchanged, announcing that ¥20 trillion (about $165 billion) would remain in the market, matching maintenance of the zero-interest policy. The BOJ noted that during the fiscal year ended March 31, 2003, assets had risen 1.9%.

      In May the BOJ lowered its assessment of the economy, partly because of the yen's rising value, which increased the costs of Japan's exports. Governor Fukui warned that the economy was weak and called for moves to head off a crisis. The nation's GDP had risen only 0.1% in the first quarter. On May 21 the BOJ once again set the interest rate near zero. In its report for July, the BOJ raised its annual assessment of the economy for the first time in a year. The BOJ's October report was also positive. Deflation, however, continued to deepen and provided banking problems in the form of nonperforming loans. On July 24 Fukui defended zero-interest policy and its continuation until the consumer price index started to rise.

      Prices continued to fall, however, and the consumer price index set a record low for some 40 months. In July the deflation rate paused at 0.2%, the lowest figure in more than two years. In the third quarter, however, exceptionally cool weather and an extended rainy season cramped sales and reduced travel. Increased social security premiums were taking a larger share of standard summer bonuses.

      Meanwhile, in February industrial production, an indicator of economic status, had also fallen an unexpected 1.7% in one month. In March it dropped an additional 0.2% as the war in Iraq reduced Japanese exports. Production fell further in June and pushed stock prices down a little more than 2%.

      Earlier, in May, Fukui had begun to face a related problem. Resona Holdings, one of Japan's five largest bank groups, asked for a grant of more than ¥2 trillion (more than $17 billion) in public funds to cover nonperforming loans. The situation echoed that of almost two dozen banks the government bailed out in 1998–99. A transfer was made, but the government delayed in taking control of two-thirds of the company's voting stock in order to make certain funds were used properly. By delaying action, the government sought to avoid widening the recession. Critics complained that inaction simply spread losses across the entire population, and within a week's time four other large conglomerates—Mizuho, Sumitomo-Mitsui, Mitsubishi-Tokyo, and UFJ Holdings—revealed combined losses of ¥3.6 trillion ($31 billion).

      Despite such problems, it was clear that a competitive export business represented about 10% of the Japanese economy. As a result, it was possible for the country to enjoy some growth while experiencing deflation at home. In the second quarter the economy grew at an annual rate of 3.9%. Exports of digital cameras, cellular phones, and television equipment attracted foreign investors, and the Nikkei stock index, after dropping to a 20-year low in April, rose more than 36% by August and to a 14-month high (10,922) in September.

      Many of these economic trends were reflected in a statistic regularly cited by the government, the current-account surplus (since the 1980s, an excess in the value of exports over imports). In January the surplus stood at ¥105 billion (about $890 million), 42.8% lower than in January 2002. In February it began to expand again, aided by an increase in exports to China. In April total exports rose almost 5%, despite a decline in the surplus with the U.S., and in May the total current account (exports and imports) reached ¥1.35 trillion (about $11.2 billion). The surplus swelled 4.8% in September compared with the same period in 2002.

Foreign Affairs.
      During the year the Japanese had occasion to recall that they had been engaged with Americans for 150 years. In early August they mounted a parade in Yokosuka to recognize the 150th anniversary of the first formal contact with Americans. On July 8, 1853, Commodore Matthew C. Perry had arrived in the port with his “black ships.” A year later he returned with overwhelming force to open Japan to international trade, after the country had experienced 200 years of isolation under the feudal Tokugawa regime.

      At times the Japanese were proud of their close relationship with Americans, but sometimes they reacted with despair. On August 1 in Washington, delegates of the two nations completed over 40 days of exhausting negotiations on the status of U.S. military personnel stationed in Japan, without complete success. Decades after the 1952 peace treaty, the U.S. still kept about 50,000 troops in the country; of these some 24,000 were based on relatively poor Okinawa. There “base pollution” had resulted in local protests. The two delegations were able to agree only on an American pledge to give “favourable consideration” to any Tokyo request for transfer of U.S. service personnel charged with a serious crime to Japan's custody before indictment.

      On May 25 in Okinawa a U.S. marine was accused of having raped a village woman. The local police issued an arrest warrant, but the suspect remained in U.S. military custody. On June 18 he was turned over to the Japanese police and pleaded guilty, and the local uproar quieted. On September 12 he was sentenced to three and a half years in prison.

      Meanwhile, Iraq provided yet another challenge to the uneasy alliance. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell was in Tokyo on February 23, urging Japan's support for a U.S. resolution on Iraq in the UN Security Council. On March 8 Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi announced that Tokyo would back the U.S. position. Ten days later Prime Minister Koizumi strongly supported a U.S. ultimatum to Pres. Saddam Hussein to resign and leave Iraq. Late in March, however, a crowd of Japanese demonstrated near the U.S. Navy base at Yokosuka to protest against Washington's Iraq campaign.

      Nevertheless, on July 26 the Diet (parliament) passed a law providing for the dispatch of Japanese troops to Iraq to aid the American occupation (their exact role was to be defined later). This was the first deployment of Japan's military units into a war zone since the end of World War II. According to a newspaper poll, only 33% of respondents supported the legislation, while 55% opposed the measure. It was a supreme historical irony that the step doubtless violated Japan's postwar constitution, which the U.S. had helped Japan to draft. The organic law indicated why the present-day Japanese military had been called the Self Defense Forces.

      Tokyo was less reluctant to help on another front. In late March the Japanese launched a low-orbit spy satellite from Tanegashima (south of Kyushu), ignoring immediate threats by North Korea. The long-run danger was, however, taken seriously; in 1998 a missile had been fired from North Korea over Japan into the sea. On April 16 Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba urged an expansion of defenses and later asked the Diet to appropriate funds to support a missile shield designed by Americans.

      On May 23, speaking during a visit to U.S. Pres. George W. Bush's ranch in Texas, Prime Minister Koizumi cautioned North Korea that any development of nuclear weapons would be opposed by Japan and the U.S. He stressed that the issue should be settled through diplomacy. In Beijing in over three days of intensive talks that ended on August 29, Tokyo's diplomats had an opportunity to size up Pyongyang's representatives and to hear their arguments. Then Japan joined four other nations—South Korea, the U.S., Russia, and China—to warn North Korea that it had no alternative but to abandon further nuclear activity. In the month that followed, the North Koreans vacillated between agreeing to talks and offering threats.

      During the year Japan enjoyed quieter relations with China, its largest neighbour. In 2002 China had surpassed the U.S. as the leading exporter to Japan; imports from China totaled more than $60 billion, accounting for about 18% of all Japanese imports.

      Moreover, Tokyo moved promptly when on August 4 three dozen Chinese workers became ill in Qiqihar, northeastern China, where they had dug up five drums that apparently contained mustard gas and had been left there by Japanese troops at the end of World War II. Japan's Foreign Ministry quickly investigated and issued an apology, stating that the sickness “was caused by abandoned chemical weapons of the former Japanese Army.” That same week the Japanese were mounting ceremonies to mark the 25th anniversary of the normalization of relations with China.

      Japan also welcomed improved relations with Russia. On January 10, when Prime Minister Koizumi conferred with Pres. Vladimir Putin in Moscow, the two agreed to speed up settlement of a territorial dispute over a chain of tiny islands (the Japanese called them the Northern Territories; the Russians referred to them as the southern Kurils). The islands were occupied by Russia in 1945. As a result, the two nations legally remained in a state of war. In typical fashion the agreement was called an “action plan” and did not establish how or when the dispute should be settled.

      The Russians were motivated, however, by the possibility of Japanese support for two construction and trade projects. Two days after the meeting in Moscow, Koizumi was in Khabarovsk. It was the first visit by a Japanese leader to Russia's Far East. He was lobbying for the building of a 4,000-km (2,500-mi) oil pipeline from Angarsk (near Lake Baikal) to Nakhodka (a port on the Sea of Japan just east of Vladivostok). The line would cost $5 billion, but it would carry one million barrels a day and thus aid Japan, the second largest consumer of oil in the world.

      The second plan involved a Russian-Japanese partnership on the construction of a $10 billion liquefied-natural-gas facility, the first in Russia. The drilling of a series of wells tapping an offshore area off Sakhalin Island would begin in June. An official of the Sakhalin Energy Investment Co. predicted that in 10 years liquefied gas would supply 15% of Tokyo's electricity needs.

      On February 14, 22 of the world's largest economies sent ministers to Tokyo for a three-day World Trade Organization (WTO) conference on agricultural tariffs and subsidies. The U.S., Japan, and other developed nations were pressed by less-developed nations to reduce barriers on agricultural products. Eventually the developed group proposed a reduction in its tariffs, but only to 25% of the value of, for example, grain, fruit, and meat products. South Korea and nations in the European Union also advocated only limited reductions. At work in Japan and in the U.S. was the relatively powerful political clout of agricultural sectors of the economies seeking to continue protection. Japanese rice farmers, for example, had been a vital source of support for the LDP. At the WTO meeting in Tokyo, the only agreement was to continue talks at an interim conference in Cancún, Mex., in September. The gathering there, however, also fell into deadlock and adjourned, and a final session in 2005 was quite uncertain.

      Meanwhile, late in January Tokyo announced that it planned a 25% reduction in Japan's support of the UN. Spokesmen pointed out that although the country's GDP had accounted for slightly more than 14% of the world economy, Japan had covered nearly 20% of the UN budget.

Ardath W. Burks

▪ 2003

377,873 sq km (145,898 sq mi)
(2002 est.): 127,347,000
Symbol of state:
Emperor Akihito
Head of government:
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi

Domestic Affairs.
      By April 2002 Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi had spent one year in office. Already, however, he had encountered opposition by conservative factions within his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). They were led by party bosses entrenched in the postal service, construction and retail trade, and rice farming. As Koizumi wryly admitted, his popular victory may have been a product of the nation's penchant for mass political fads. His campaign had stressed the need for economic reform, including deregulation and privatization. Over the year, reality had set in.

      Japan's economy, the second largest in the world, remained enmeshed in its fourth recession in a decade. A government report noted that property values had declined 5.9% in 2001, the sharpest fall in nine years. In October 2002 the Nikkei 225 stock index fell to 8,439, its lowest level since June 1983. Two days before the anniversary of Koizumi's election, an Asahi shimbun poll revealed that 72% of its respondents believed that there had been “little or no improvement” in the economy.

      Meanwhile, the prime minister had felt the force of opposition within his cabinet. On January 29 he dismissed Makiko Tanaka, the first woman to have served as Japan's foreign minister. He felt that she had been too vigorous in attacking conservative leaders in the Foreign Ministry. Koizumi was unable to recruit Sadako Ogata, another woman, who had become well known as UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and on February 1 appointed Yoriko Kawaguchi to be foreign minister. She had previously served as environment minister.

      On April 16 the cabinet adopted measures designed to assign a role for the military in domestic defense. The step was a reaction to the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, in the U.S. Tokyo would instruct local governments to control airports and harbours the moment a threat was detected. Under Japan's constitution the Self Defense Forces continued to be barred from taking offensive military actions abroad.

      One remarkable domestic development was the spread of Web-capable phones. In late April the number of cell phones equipped for e-mail totaled 50 million (in the hands of about 40% of the population). Nippon Telegraph & Telephone, formerly a state monopoly, operated NTT DoCoMo, which controlled 60% of the cellular market. Nonetheless, by May sales of Web phones had plunged because of sheer saturation, falling 28% lower than the level of sales in the same month of 2001.

      On August 5 the government unveiled a plan for a national computer registry of all citizens. It would record basic data—name, address, sex, and birthdate—but would not place this information on the Internet. Yokohama, the nation's second largest municipality, and six other cities opted out of the registry, leaving four million residents outside the system. A bill protecting personal information died in the Diet (parliament) as legislators went on summer vacation.

The Economy.
      In March the government reported that in the fourth quarter of 2001, the economy had contracted sharply (by 1.2%), the third consecutive losing quarter. For the year it was down 0.5%, and unemployment was near a postwar high. Public debt reached a level of 130% of gross domestic product, the highest among the seven major industrial nations. In an interview the prime minister admitted he did not know why the economy had shown no sign of recovery.

      Heretofore almost 90% of Japanese considered themselves members of the middle class. This class had not yet disappeared, but there were signs it was dwindling. In half a decade (1995–2000), income disparities grew by almost 50%. With the fastest-aging population in the world, Japan faced the dilemma of a shrinking workforce to support the growing sector of retired persons. Most obvious, in 10 years the unemployment rate had climbed to a record 5.5%. At the other extreme were a relatively small number of wealthy Japanese, who had spawned a building boom for luxury apartments in the big cities. Gerald Curtis of Columbia University, New York City, noted the “strong trend of emerging class differences” in Japan.

      The nation's central bank had long provided a useful instrument for surveying the economy—a quarterly report (tankan) on the state of business. On February 8 the Bank of Japan stated that the economy was “broadly worsening” and left monetary policy unchanged. It kept ¥15 trillion ($114 billion) available for money markets. By the end of the month, the bank had promised to buy ¥1 trillion ($7.6 billion) in government bonds every month.

      On March 30 two of the largest banks (UFJ Holdings and Bank of Tokyo–Mitsubishi) stated that they would slash interest rates to 0.001%. Many Japanese began to hoard gold rather than use savings accounts; the first quarter saw sales of gold nearly quadruple from the same period the previous year. The tankan released on July 16 claimed that the economy was “bottoming out” and moving to firmer ground. Exports and corporate profits continued to expand, but capital and consumer spending (representing 70% of the economy) remained weak. By September the Nikkei index had fallen for seven consecutive sessions, giving up more than 8% of its value. Banks were especially vulnerable to the slide, since they held large portfolios and depended on stocks for much of their capital. The bank's tankan of September indicated that the economy could soon slip back into recession.

      In 2001 the merchandise trade surplus had reached an 18-year low (38% below the 2000 level), with the U.S. recession cutting imports of electronic and high-tech equipment from Japan. The surplus expanded slightly in January 2002 but again fell off about 11% in February. For the first time, Japan would be earning more from investments overseas than from trade. The population was shifting from producers to coupon clippers. Meanwhile, China was on the verge of displacing Japan as the biggest exporter to the U.S. In April Japan's trade surplus grew by over 26.6% to ¥837 billion ($6.7 billion). The surplus with the U.S., however, slipped 3.5% because of Washington's trade action on imports of steel. In June the current account surplus nearly doubled (from June 2001). Exports increased (over 8%), but imports tailed off (-4.6%) because of the weak domestic economy. For a fifth straight month, the surplus grew (8.9%) in July. In September, however, export growth slowed and the surplus grew by only 1.1%.

      In many different ways Japan's production of automobiles had become an essential element in the economy. Honda, for example, recorded robust sales and profits in the last quarter of 2001 and the first quarter of 2002. The company enjoyed wide circulation of low-priced models at home and in the U.S. It passed Nissan in volume of sales to become the nation's second leading automaker, behind Toyota.

      In record sales, operations profit, and net income, Toyota strengthened its position as leader by commanding a 43% market share in Japan. The company, the world's third largest producer of autos, earned about $2.9 billion in the April–June quarter. Meanwhile, in April Toyota's production overseas increased by 37%.

      Aside from the Bank of Japan, the nation's private banks and investment firms had also played a vital role in the economy. In March, however, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley Dean Witter moved to abandon all retail finance in Japan. In August deflation led the government to consider savings interest rates below zero. These would be, however, guaranteed settlement accounts. On September 30 the prime minister, declaring an “emergency,” appointed a 51-year-old academic, Heizo Takenaka, to be an “economic czar.” Takenaka moved swiftly to try to solve the banks' bad-loan problems but encountered stiff resistance from bankers, cabinet members, and even conservative critics in the LDP. Eventually he backed down, allowing an 11-member task force to design modest reforms.

Foreign Affairs.
      Early in the year Japan was prominently represented in two important conferences. After a tour of five Southeast Asian nations, on January 14 Prime Minister Koizumi made a major address at a meeting in Singapore, held to promote the expansion of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to countries such as Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand. He proposed a broad East Asian economic bloc. At the time, however, he was hampered by a falling yen, which meant a loss of competitiveness for Japan's neighbours. Earlier he had assured Asian leaders, “Japan will never again walk the path of a military power.”

      A week later Tokyo hosted a gathering of delegates from more than 50 nations to discuss the rebuilding of Afghanistan. The prime minister pledged $250 million for the first year and a like amount to be paid later.

      On February 17 U.S. Pres. George W. Bush began a delayed trip to Japan and South Korea. In Tokyo he faced the dilemma of discussing the gravity of Japan's deflationary crisis without appearing to exert unwelcome pressure on Japan. On the eve of the visit, to show that he was indeed in charge, Koizumi ordered increased inspections of the troubled banks.

      Bush addressed the (upper) House of Councillors on February 19, turning to shared problems of foreign relations. He praised Japan for its indirect support of American actions in Afghanistan. He denounced North Korea as a member of an “axis of evil” and pledged support to South Korea (ignoring Tokyo's support of Seoul's effort to normalize relations with the North). After the speech, with wife Laura Bush, the president had lunch with Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko.

      During the year Tokyo and Washington faced policy problems with regard to whaling. On February 22 Japan notified the International Whaling Commission (IWC) that it planned to double its catch for the purpose of “scientific research.” American officials charged that Japan was actually engaging in commercial whaling, as the whale meat it used for “research” ultimately was sold for human consumption. In May the commission met in Shimonoseki, Japan's whaling port, and forbad Japan's return to commercial whaling. Tokyo tried several maneuvers, but in November, in a meeting in Chile, delegates to a convention on endangered species limited trade in products from minke and Bryde's whales, favoured by the Japanese.

      In January 2001 an American air force sergeant stationed in Okinawa had been charged with the rape of a local woman. He claimed the encounter was consensual, and the U.S. military hesitated for days before handing him over to the local court. An immediate Japanese reaction included demands for the reduction of American forces on the island. (Some 47,000 military personnel were based on Okinawa.) In March 2002 a district court in Naha sentenced the airman to 32 months in jail. The protest continued, however, and some officials called for a renegotiation of the status of forces agreement governing the U.S. military presence in Japan.

      Another issue inherited from the previous year was resolved in Japan's favour. In February 2001 an American nuclear submarine in a surface drill off Hawaii had collided with a Japanese fishing trawler, the Ehime-maru. In March 2002 the U.S. Navy pledged $10 million to the vessel's home port.

      Relations between Japan and the two regimes on the peninsula of Korea remained strained because of history. Indeed, attempts to normalize relations with North Korea were stalled over Pyongyang's insistence that Tokyo publicly apologize and compensate for Japan's wartime record. Equally disruptive was Tokyo's demand that the North account for, and return, 11 Japanese citizens abducted in the 1970s. In December 2001 a vessel disguised as a fishing boat (and later determined to have come from North Korea) exchanged fire with the Japanese Coast Guard. The vessel fled and sank in waters in the Chinese economic zone. In April 2002 the New China News Agency announced that after some delay Beijing had given Japan permission to recover the ship. Japanese crews salvaged the vessel in September. The incident marked a low point in the relations between Pyongyang and Tokyo. The possibility of a breakthrough, however, came on September 17 when Koizumi became the first Japanese prime minister to visit Pyongyang. He won an accounting for the kidnapped Japanese (eight had died) and an agreement to continue dialogue toward normal relations. For their part the North Koreans received a public apology for Japan's colonial record and assurance that they would receive monetary aid. At first praised for the visit to Pyongyang, Koizumi encountered increasing criticism as more details about the abductees emerged. Moreover when, in October, the North Koreans confessed to an American official that they were, in violation of agreements, involved in work on nuclear weapons, the Japanese announced that normalization was on hold. Indeed, on October 23 at a meeting in Mexico, Japan joined the U.S. and South Korea in a warning to Pyongyang.

      The year 2002 witnessed an unusual cooperation between Japan and South Korea; the two countries served as the first cohosts of the World Cup association football (soccer) tournament—the world's biggest sporting event. On March 22 Koizumi visited Seoul to promote goodwill before the competition. It was the first time that the World Cup had been held in Asia. (See Sports and Games: Football: Sidebar (World Cup 2002 ).)

      As to its largest neighbour to the west, Japan had expressed support for the American statement of policy: there was but one China, but Taiwan must not be integrated by force. With Beijing, however, a different and sensitive issue emerged. In 2001 Koizumi had become the first prime minister in five years to go to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, the site dedicated to more than two million military personnel lost since the 1850s. On April 21, 2002 (carefully avoiding the August anniversary of Japan's surrender in 1945), he made a surprise, “private” visit to the sanctuary. Known for his nationalist leanings, Japan's leader sparked regional outrage over the visit. Beijing immediately summoned Japan's ambassador to China to denounce “the erroneous action that damages ties” between the two nations. China's Foreign Ministry in a statement expressed vehement disapproval of the visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, “which honors Class A war criminals” and “is a symbol of militarism.” In South Korea members of the governing and opposition parties jointly condemned the Japanese prime minister. The issue was further expanded by Tokyo's refusal to revise strongly nationalistic school textbooks.

      On May 8 a slightly less-inflammatory incident further disturbed relations between Tokyo and Beijing. In Japan, Koizumi met with China's Ambassador Wu Dawei to inform him that he believed China had violated the Vienna Convention governing diplomatic relations. Videotape aired on television clearly showed how Chinese police had seized five North Korean refugees from Japan's consulate in Shenyang. After lengthy ministerial negotiations, the refugees were released via South Korea.

      Contacts between Tokyo and Moscow were struck on what appeared to be a minor territorial issue. Since 1945 the Russians had occupied several tiny islands between Japan's Hokkaido and Russia's Kuril Islands. Failure to recover the islets—Tokyo referred to them as the “Northern Territories,” historically Japanese—blocked negotiations toward a final peace treaty to end World War II. Ministers representing the two nations met informally at international conferences and had often promised to settle the dispute, but it dragged on through 2002.

Ardath W. Burks

▪ 2002

377,837 sq km (145,884 sq mi)
(2001 est.): 127,100,000
Symbol of state:
Emperor Akihito
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Yoshiro Mori and, from April 26, Junichiro Koizumi

Domestic Affairs.
      For nearly five decades the Liberal-Democratic Party (LDP)—either alone or in coalition—had formed the government in Tokyo. Early in 2001, however, the party looked forward to the next national poll with unease. An election for 121 contested seats in the 247-seat (upper) House of Councillors was scheduled for the end of July. LDP leaders considered the real possibility of a loss in the vote.

      In April 2000 Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori had been, as usual, selected in secret by LDP faction bosses. In 10 months of service, he had averaged one major blunder per month. On one occasion he referred to Japan as a “divine country,” a phrase that called up memories of militarist rhetoric during the Pacific wars. In February 2001, after an American submarine collided with a Japanese trawler off the coast of Hawaii, with nine persons aboard the trawler missing, Mori continued to play golf for two hours after hearing about the accident. The incident was widely reported on television and in the press.

      A month later Mori bore a public approval rating of 6.5%, the lowest ever for a Japanese prime minister. On March 5 he survived a no-confidence vote in the (lower) House of Representatives, but rumours spread that he would soon step down. On April 6 Mori notified his cabinet that he would resign. In four days no fewer than five LDP leaders announced their candidacies for party president. At the head of popularity polls was Makiko Tanaka (see Biographies (Tanaka, Makiko )), the daughter of former prime minister Kakuei Tanaka. Her outspoken, often acerbic, comments on politics and politicians struck a responsive chord with the Japanese public. Tanaka once referred to her closest rival, Junichiro Koizumi, as a “crank.” She eventually withdrew her candidacy and supported Koizumi, however.

      A two-hour television debate on April 18 featured the four remaining candidates. Three veteran politicians faced off with Koizumi, the rising star. He seized the opportunity to air his platform. Instead of fiscal expenditures, which would result in additions to Japan's towering deficits, he urged economic reform and restraint. Koizumi was especially critical of Japan's debt-laden banking community; he also proposed privatization of the sacrosanct postal savings system.

      In the LDP primaries, held on April 22–23, Koizumi took the first step toward power. He won a majority of votes (298 of 487) representing the 2.3 million party members and 346 LDP legislators. On April 24 he was elected president of the LDP. Two days later the Diet (parliament) confirmed him as prime minister. (See Biographies (Koizumi, Junichiro ).)

      Koizumi's victory, which was remarkable, considering he had denounced party factions, put him on a collision course with vested interests within the LDP itself. Faction bosses represented branches of the postal service, local construction firms, small retailers, and rice farmers all over Japan. In forming his administration, the new leader kept in mind the nature of his support. He led a three-party coalition that included the New Komeito (backed by the nation's largest Buddhist group) and the New Conservative Party. Only 6 of the 17 members of his cabinet came from the LDP's three main factions. An unprecedented number of women—five, including Tanaka, Japan's first female foreign minister—were given portfolios. For his minister of economic policy, Koizumi chose Heizo Takenaka, an economist from Keio University, Tokyo. In a surprise he named Masajuro Shiokawa finance minister. The 79-year-old Shiokawa had served in several governments but never as an adviser on finance matters.

      The new regime enjoyed popular support, with surveys showing approval over the 80% level. At first Koizumi avoided controversial economic issues, concentrating instead on proposals attractive to the centre and the right. He called for a review of the so-called MacArthur constitution, imposed on Japan by the Allied powers in 1946. He advocated a more democratic system, including the direct election of the prime minister. Most important, Koizumi joined nationalists in urging that Japan allow its military forces to exercise a full-fledged (rather than only defensive) security policy. This last goal guaranteed opposition from a coalition ally, the pacifist New Komeito. Moreover, many Japanese, especially elders with grim wartime memories, were uneasy with the idea of increased military forces.

      A preliminary but important endorsement of the new regime was received on June 24 in the Tokyo municipal poll. The coalition won a majority in an urban area where the LDP had always been weak. The next challenge was the scheduled upper house election set for July 29. Normally, Japanese political campaigns were mercifully short and discreet. In this case, however, there was an explosion of posters heralding Koizumi, as well as vigorous debates between local candidates. The LDP enjoyed its best victory since 1992; its coalition won 78 of the 121 contested seats.

      On December 1 the royal family celebrated the birth of the first child—a daughter—to Crown Princess Masako and Crown Prince Naruhito. Although the emperor traditionally would have decided the name, the couple themselves chose it—Princess Aiko.

The Economy.
      Japan's recession lingered during the year, with few signs that the country would emerge from it soon. The Finance Ministry announced that in December 2000 Japan's trade surplus had shrunk to $7 billion, the lowest monthly level since March 1997. Officials later identified the first two quarters of 2001 as marking the sharpest trade decline on record, with the surplus down 44% from the same two quarters of the previous year.

      In similar fashion the current account surplus (the difference between income from foreign sources and payments on foreign obligations) for fiscal year 2000 fell 4.5%, the second consecutive annual decline. The month of July 2001 was the eighth straight in which this surplus fell, down 28% from a year earlier. Slowing global growth had reduced demand for Japan's exports.

      Trade was by no means the only problem. On September 3 Tokyo stocks dove to a 17-year low, with the benchmark 225-issue Nikkei index down to 10,409.68—its worst showing since August 1984. On September 17, in the wake of the terrorists attacks in the U.S., the index sank to an 18-year low of 9,504.41. The market, of course, also reflected a downward trend in industrial production. In the first quarter of the year, Japan's gross domestic product showed a rate of−0.8%. Year-on-year by October, industrial output had fallen by 11.9% to a 13-year low. Consumer spending, usually an engine of Japanese growth, was sluggish despite a deflation in retail prices.

      Among the world's industrial powers, Japan traditionally expected low levels of unemployment. Corporations often provided lifetime employment to their workers. Therefore, one of the biggest shocks in the country's economic downturn had been the spread of unemployment. In October the unemployment rate reached 5.4%, a postwar high. Japan's demography, marked by an aging population and a sharply declining birthrate, exacerbated the problem.

      The national census, released in October 2000, set Japan's population at 126,920,000 and cited only a 0.2% per annum rise in population from the prior count (1995). This was the smallest increase since World War II. Just as significant, the proportion of elderly Japanese (17.5% at age 65 and older) surpassed youngsters (14.5% at 15 or younger). The dilemma was that a shrinking number of working-age Japanese would be expected to support an exploding number of people at retirement age. Indeed, Japan had become the fastest-aging society among advanced industrial powers.

Foreign Affairs.
      With new executive leaders, Japan and the U.S. continued their discussions of familiar issues. U.S. Pres. George W. Bush (see Biographies (Bush, George W. )), during his election campaign of 2000, had urged reinforcement of security ties with Japan. He recognized the problems generated by the presence of some 47,000 American troops based in Okinawa and promised adjustments. Before his election Bush had referred only indirectly to the economic downturns in both countries.

      In fact, shortly after his inauguration Bush met with Koizumi's predecessor, Yoshiro Mori, already a lame duck. On March 18 the embattled Mori arrived in Washington, D.C., carrying a portfolio of problems. In January an American marine corporal stationed in Okinawa had harassed a local girl. The local assembly immediately issued a resolution calling for a reduction of American forces in the area. On January 23 the senior U.S. commander there, Lieut. Gen. Earl Hailston, fired off an e-mail to fellow officers, referring to the local officials as “nuts” and “wimps.” When this was leaked to the press, Hailston apologized. The assembly nevertheless issued a demand for his dismissal on February 7. Local leaders insisted on a revised U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement, and on February 22—for the first time—Okinawa Gov. Keiichi Inamine, who had hitherto supported the American military, joined the requests for an adjustment to the agreement.

      Meanwhile, Washington and Tokyo faced another, more bizarre challenge. On February 9 the USS Greeneville, an American submarine, collided with the Ehime-maru, a Japanese fishing trawler, near Hawaii. The submarine, which had been executing a quick surface drill, sliced the Japanese vessel in half and helplessly watched as it sank. Teachers and students from a fisheries-vocation school in Japan were aboard the ship, and after the accident nine persons remained missing.

      The next day the commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific fleet, Adm. Thomas Fargo, apologized to Tokyo, as did Secretary of State Colin Powell (see Biographies (Powell, Colin Luther )), who passed along President Bush's condolences. In presenting his formal farewell to Emperor Akihito, retiring Ambassador Thomas Foley also expressed regret. On February 28 the captain of the submarine, Comdr. Scott D. Waddle, sent a letter of regret to the victims' families through Japan's consulate in Hawaii.

      On March 26 Bush named a former senator, Howard H. Baker, Jr., to be ambassador to Japan. This step continued a trend of dispatching prominent politicians to Tokyo. Before Baker arrived, however, a range of new issues arose that promised to keep the envoy busy.

      The April 1 incident involving a collision between an American reconnaissance plane and a Chinese fighter jet over the South China Sea seemed to some observers to have only marginal interest to the Japanese. The American plane had, however, taken off from the U.S. Air Force base at Kadena, Okinawa. After the collision—which caused the crash of the Chinese jet and the death of its pilot—the American plane made an emergency landing on Hainan Island. The plane's crew members, detained for a time by Chinese authorities, were eventually released. Japanese opinion was divided over the incident. For some the event represented a warning about growing threats—posed not only by China but also by North Korea, which supported Beijing. Fears also tended to augment the arguments by those who wished to revise the constitution to provide a more active Japanese military.

      On May 8 U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage publicly urged Japan to form a strategic partnership like that between the U.S. and Great Britain. Some Japanese worried about the “overwhelming presence” of U.S. military forces already on Okinawa, and many were concerned about Tokyo's tacit support of a deliberately vague Washington policy toward Taiwan.

      On June 30 Koizumi made his first visit as prime minister to the U.S., meeting President Bush at Camp David, Maryland. On the very eve of Koizumi's arrival, yet another incident involving U.S. military personnel based on Okinawa emerged to overshadow the summit. Japanese police picked up an American air force sergeant in a small village near Kadena. He was questioned about an encounter with a local woman but was released. After she claimed she was raped, local officials demanded that the man be returned to them. For only the second time, the U.S. released a serviceman on active duty for trial in a local court. The sergeant pleaded not guilty, and the trial dragged on.

      Meanwhile, the Koizumi-Bush summit turned out to be somewhat of an anticlimax. A communique listed the topics informally discussed by the two leaders. These included continued security cooperation, economic partnership for growth, and cooperation on global change. In an interview the Japanese leader expressed hope that the U.S. might reconsider the Kyoto Protocol. The prime minister visited Washington again on September 25, when he promised the president help in logistics and intelligence in the U.S. campaign against terrorism.

      The subject of textbooks came to dominate diplomatic relations between Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and China. In Seoul on February 28—the day before the 82nd anniversary of a Korean uprising against Japanese rule—South Korean Foreign Minister Lee Joung Binn gave a warning to Ambassador Terusuke Terada of Japan, stating that Tokyo's approval of a textbook praising Imperial Japan's record as a colonial ruler of Korea and much of China would undermine relations. Some 19 groups demonstrated in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul, and demonstrators in Pusan burned a Japanese flag and destroyed an effigy of a right-wing Japanese politician.

      In Japan Foreign Minister Tanaka admitted that the textbook controversy was having a negative impact. Indeed, on May 8 Seoul canceled a scheduled joint military exercise with Japan. Koreans were particularly upset over the fact that Japan had never confessed to the mobilization of thousands of Koreans to be “comfort women” for Japanese troops. Koizumi nevertheless replied that Tokyo could not “revise again” textbooks approved by the Education Ministry. On June 11 hundreds of protesters—including Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, and Filipinos—surrounded the ministry and sang “We Shall Overcome.”

      To make matters worse, Koizumi remarked that he was considering a visit, as prime minister, to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo on August 15, the anniversary of Japan's surrender at the end of World War II. The shrine memorialized the sacrifices of Japan's dead veterans, including several well-known convicted war criminals. This plan met the opposition of Tanaka, who had received warnings from Taiwan, China, and the Philippines. As it turned out, Koizumi retreated a bit but on August 13 did officially, though briefly, pay homage at the shrine. China and South Korea filed protests. There were demonstrations in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Manila.

      On December 24 Japanese coast guard ships exchanged fire with and sank a vessel suspected of being a North Korean spy boat. Tokyo later announced that it planned to seek Beijing's permission to salvage the boat from waters claimed to be in China's economic zone.

      In a telephone conversation on June 6, Tanaka and her Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Igor S. Ivanov, agreed to resume talks toward signing a formal peace treaty. No such accord had been reached since 1945, when Russian forces occupied small islands—long claimed by Japan—between Hokkaido and the Russian-held Kuril Islands. Japan referred to these islets as the Northern Territories. In June, Voice of Russia radio announced that South Korean fishing vessels would be welcome to work in the area. Japan's Fisheries Ministry had threatened to bar Korean fishing in Japanese waters if the Korean vessels did fish there. By September tempers had cooled, and senior officials in Tokyo and Moscow predicted that they could settle the dispute.

Ardath W. Burks

▪ 2001

377,819 sq km (145,877 sq mi)
(2000 est.): 126,920,000
Chief of state:
Emperor Akihito
Head of government:
Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi and, from April 5, Yoshiro Mori

Domestic Affairs.
      When Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi formally opened the 147th session of the Diet (parliament) on Jan. 28, 2000, he delivered his address to a half-empty chamber. The day before, the long-ruling Liberal-Democratic Party (LDP) had rammed through legislation that reduced by 20 the number of seats in the lower house. In protest, opposition parties boycotted Obuchi's speech, and the Liberal Party later decided to leave the governing coalition.

      Among other problems for the government were the activities of a former LDP member. In April 1999 Shintaro Ishihara, running as an independent, won the election for governor of Tokyo. In 2000 he urged several controversial actions, including altering the constitution in order to vastly expand the Japanese military and acquire nuclear arms. Moreover, facing a formidable debt problem in Tokyo, he proposed a heavy tax on banks with headquarters in the capital. Although his tax would have been legal under the constitution, national ministries moved to block the plan.

      To make matters worse, Ishihara was widely quoted as doubting the occurrence of the Nanking Massacre—the mass killing and ravaging of Chinese citizens by soldiers of the Japanese Imperial Army after its seizure of Nanjing (Nanking), China, in December 1937. Ishihara caused further outrage with his bizarre remark that Korean and Chinese immigrants (he used the derogatory wartime term sangokujin to describe them) were apt to cause disturbances after an earthquake. He offered an apology but added that “illegal residents” were “very troublesome.”

      On April 2 Obuchi suffered a stroke that left him comatose; he died six weeks later. (See Obituaries (Obuchi, Keizo ).) Three days after Obuchi's stroke, the Diet approved as his successor Yoshiro Mori, secretary-general of the LDP. (See Biographies (Mori, Yoshiro ).) Faced with sagging public support, Mori dissolved the lower house of the Diet and called for new elections. In the elections held on June 25, the LDP managed to win only 233 of the 480 seats in the lower house—down from the 271 it had held in the previous session—and was thus forced into an awkward alliance with two smaller parties, the New Komeito and the New Conservative Party, in order to gain a legislative majority.

      On a happier note, Fusae Ota became the first Japanese woman to win a gubernatorial election. On February 6 Ota, a former official in the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, was elected governor of Osaka. Two months later Yoshiko Shiotani, who had the support of the LDP, became the second Japanese woman to become a governor when she won the post in the city of Kumamoto.

      Japan mourned the loss of Dowager Empress Nagako, who died on June 16 at the age of 97. She was the longest-living dowager empress in Japanese history. (See Obituaries (Nagako, Dowager Empress ).)

      Much of the nation's attention was focused on disasters during the year. On March 31 and April 1, Mt. Usu, a volcano on Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost island, erupted to spew ash over a wide area. Fortunately, some 11,000 residents of nearby villages had been evacuated days before. On August 30, after some 60 days of seismic activity, Mt. Oyama on Miyake Island—only 193 km (120 mi) south of Tokyo—erupted. The eruption was accompanied by a minor earthquake that struck the island's Ako and Tsubota districts; several jolts were felt in the capital as well. Nearly 4,000 inhabitants of Miyake Island were evacuated.

The Economy.
      On February 29 the LDP-led coalition chalked up one victory. Its budget for fiscal year 2000 (through March 2001) passed the lower house against stiff opposition. The budget increased spending to about $800 billion to combat the lingering recession. The budget cleared the upper house on March 17 in record time. Before that, however, the government announced that it planned to borrow about $76 billion directly from banks to meet its obligations to local governments. Normally such loans were funded by bonds, a less-expensive method. In any case, some observers predicted that the gross public debt could reach 130% of gross domestic product (GDP) by March 31, 2001.

      A stubborn recession meant that the economy was in urgent need of additional priming. The Nomura Research Institute estimated that in the last quarter of 1999, Japan's economy had contracted 1.4% since the previous quarter. The decline translated into an annualized reduction of 5.6% in GDP. Average monthly spending by households had fallen by 1.2% in 1999, down for the seventh consecutive year.

      In February 2000, however, industrial production rose 3%. In March a further glimmer of hope was provided by the Economic Planning Agency chief, Taichi Sakaiya, who predicted that the economy would grow by about 2% from April 1, 2001. Masaru Hayami, governor of the Bank of Japan, was more cautious, noting that there had been no self-sustained recovery in consumer or corporate capital spending.

      In July three major banks reached an agreement to consolidate their firms into one holding company. When merged in April 2001, Toyo Trust and Banking, the Sanwa Bank, and the Tokai Bank would become the third wealthiest private banking institution in the world, with about $1 trillion in assets.

      Employment data continued to cause concern. Among advanced industrial nations, Japan had often been able to boast of low unemployment rates. By the end of 1999, however, unemployment had climbed to 4.7%—the highest since such data were first compiled in 1953. The rate remained at 4.7% in January 2000 (4.8% for men and 4.5% for women). Inflation was less of a problem. The consumer price index fell by a record 0.3% in 1999.

      The impact of the electronic revolution was felt in various quarters. On April 3 the Bank of Japan's quarterly business survey, Tankan, reported that big corporations had begun to invest heavily in information technology. According to the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications and a Japanese research company, InfoCom, by 2001 Japan would become the world's largest user of the Internet. On June 7 the Tokyo Stock Exchange announced plans to enable electronic transactions to be made 24 hours a day.

      On August 11 the Bank of Japan raised interest rates for the first time in a decade. The rate was increased to 0.25%. The bank thus defied most government officials, who pressed to keep the rate near zero. The step revealed the independence of the central bank and its belief that the recession was ending.

Foreign Affairs.
      The Group of Eight (G-8) summit on July 21–23 on Okinawa dominated Japanese foreign policy during the year. On July 8 finance ministers issued reports from meetings that were a prelude to the summit. The reports noted the explosion of information technology and called for reform of the international financial system. A second set of reports emerged from meetings of foreign ministers, and they stressed the need to prevent regional conflicts in part by reforming UN peacekeeping procedures. One report emphasized the importance of reducing tensions between North and South Korea.

      While taking a recess from the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations at Camp David, Maryland, U.S. Pres. Bill Clinton arrived on Okinawa on July 21. He was the first president to visit the island since its reversion to Japan in 1972. He stopped first in the city of Itoman for a memorial service dedicated to the more than 200,000 Americans, Japanese, and others who died in 1945 in the Battle of Okinawa. During his stay Clinton promised “to reduce our footprint on this island.”

      The climax of the summit came with the issue of a communiqué entitled “Okinawa 2000” by the heads of state. This document called for reorganization of the UN, especially the Security Council (Japan was still not a permanent member). It also proposed the establishment of a digital opportunity task force to address what the Japanese called “the digital divide” between developed and less-developed areas.

      By the close of the G-8 summit, the main criticism of the Japanese was that their government had spent $750 million in hosting the conference. Moreover, many Okinawa residents were restive over the American involvement in mounting the meetings. In December 1999 Washington had offered Tokyo $1 billion for the reconstruction of the city of Nago, where much of the summit took place. American military officers hoped eventually to construct a new heliport there. A U.S. air base at Futenma (farther south) had been closed as a result of protests from Japanese living nearby. Okinawa, which makes up less than 1% of Japan's geographic area, had 75% of the U.S. military bases in the country and hosted two-thirds of the American troops based in Japan.

      In other foreign policy issues, Prime Minister Mori met with Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg on April 29. Their otherwise cordial exchange was shadowed by an incident in an area under lingering dispute. On April 21 a Russian coast guard vessel had fired on a Japanese fishing vessel near small islands between Hokkaido and the Russian-held Kuril Islands. The islets, long claimed by Japan, had been occupied by Russian forces since World War II. Tokyo continued to press for the return of what the Japanese called the Northern Territories and to make way for a formal peace treaty, delayed since 1945. During their meeting Mori briefed Putin on the upcoming Okinawa summit, which Putin later attended, and both expressed the desire to resolve the territorial claim by the end of the year. On September 5, however, while Putin was in Tokyo for additional talks with Mori, he rejected the claim of Japanese sovereignty over the islands and thus demolished hopes for signing a peace treaty in 2000.

      During the year Japan and the U.S. continued their difficult negotiations on trade. In January the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled that steel-plate imports from Japan were being priced below cost of production. This cleared the way for imposition of punitive dumping duties. On March 23 in Tokyo, Japanese and American negotiators suspended talks on deregulation of Japan's telecommunications market. Washington had demanded a reduction in fees to connect to the Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) system. It was pointed out that NTT, a former state monopoly, still controlled 99% of local phone traffic. After nine days of intense negotiations, on July 19 the U.S. and Japan reached an agreement to cut linking costs by about 40% over three years.

      In May Mori made the obligatory trip to Washington. He offered President Clinton opinions on information technology; the president, in turn, repeated his demand for deregulation in communications. In July Japan sent six ships to the northwestern Pacific on whale-hunting expeditions. Their targets were minke, Bryde's, and sperm whales. The Japanese argued that international conventions allowed such hunts, provided that the mission was to conduct scientific research. Critics pointed out that once the Japanese catches were examined, the whale meat was resold in Japan at high prices to distributors and expensive restaurants. U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright stated that the U.S. was “deeply troubled” by the expansion of whaling. On September 13 President Clinton announced that Japanese fishermen might be expelled from American waters and additional sanctions could be imposed in coming months.

      Japan's relations with China were shaped by American policy. Like Washington, Tokyo had formal relations with Beijing and agreed that there was but one China. The Japanese insisted that a solution to the status of Taiwan had to be peaceful. To the consternation of Chinese officials, Japan agreed with the U.S. on joint guidelines to defend undefined “areas surrounding Japan.” The Chinese believed those areas included Taiwan.

      Japanese retained commercial interests in Taiwan. Indeed, lively trade made its way through the island and Hong Kong to China. Big corporations were fascinated by the size of the potential market on the mainland. On May 29 Japan's largest carmaker, the Toyota Motor Corp., announced that the Chinese government had authorized the formation of a joint venture with China's Tianjin Automobile Xiali Corp. Toyota planned to open a plant in Tianjin by 2002. Total investment in the company would be about $100 million. Toyota was the third Japanese auto company to link with Chinese firms, following the Suzuki Motor Corp. and the Honda Motor Co. Tianjin Xiali was already producing a compact car, known as the Charade, in Japan.

      An equally difficult situation marked Japan's ties with the Korean peninsula. Tokyo had established formal ties with Seoul. Only informal contact was sporadically maintained with Pyongyang. On April 5, after eight years of silence, talks regarding the possible normalization of Japan's relations with North Korea opened in Pyongyang, albeit on shaky ground. North Korean negotiators insisted that Japan first apologize for the occupation of the peninsula from 1910 to 1945 and, further, discuss compensation for the occupation. Japan's chief representative repeated Japan's 1995 apology to its neighbours for wartime aggression but refused to offer compensation, then went on to counter by citing other issues: the North's missile buildup and suspected nuclear weapons program as well as its reported abduction of Japanese nationals. The two sides suspended negotiations. After the slight thaw in contacts between Seoul and Pyongyang, talks in Tokyo in late August between Japan and North Korea resulted once again in the entrenchment of positions and another suspension of negotiations.

      During the year Japan took the lead in expanding an unusual regional bloc. On April 22 delegates from 16 countries and territories in the South Pacific gathered in Miyazaki. The Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) represented an array of islands ranging from Palau and Micronesia to Samoa and Kiribati and included such nations as Australia and New Zealand. PIF chairman Kuniwo Nakamura of Palau and Prime Minister Mori welcomed the group, which urged the responsible management of natural resources and attention to environmental problems in the South Pacific.

Ardath W. Burks

▪ 2000

377,819 sq km (145,877 sq mi)
(1999 est.): 126,680,000
Chief of state:
Emperor Akihito
Head of government:
Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi

      During 1999 the political fortunes of Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi markedly improved. When he was selected to head a coalition government in 1998, opinion polls revealed support by only 40% of voters. By July 1999, the first anniversary of the regime's formation, support had risen above 50%. A lingering recession had apparently bottomed out, with gross domestic product (GDP) expanding to break a string of five consecutive quarters of contraction. On September 21 the Liberal-Democratic Party (LDP) reelected Obuchi its party president and thus assured his tenure as head of government until the next general election, to be held before October 2000. In foreign affairs, relations with the U.S. included a strengthening of bilateral security arrangements. Although relations with Russia had been normalized, Tokyo and Moscow continued interminable negotiations toward a peace treaty. Japan and South Korea watched North Korea with caution. In December hopes that Crown Prince Naruhito and his wife, Princess Masako, were expecting their first child after more than six years of marriage were dashed when it was announced that the princess had suffered a miscarriage.

Domestic Affairs.
      On January 19 Obuchi opened the 145th session of the Diet (parliament) with a pledge to do his utmost to revive the economy. Meanwhile, he had bolstered his ad hoc coalition by announcing a new Cabinet. He reduced the number of portfolios from 20 to 18 and, in agreement with Ichiro Ozawa, leader of the Liberal Party (LP), appointed a Liberal to the Cabinet. In the 500-seat House of Representatives (lower house), the coalition held a majority with 304 seats (LDP 265, LP 39). In the 252-seat House of Councillors (upper house), however, the coalition (LDP 104, LP 12) was 11 seats short of a majority.

      The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), with 149 legislators in the Diet, led the opposition. On September 25 the DPJ elected Yukio Hatoyama its new party president. Minor parties that were expected to form an alliance with the DPJ included the Japan Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party, both strong in regional areas.

      Challenges to the ruling coalition did not arise solely from the opposition, however, but also came from within the coalition itself. On March 10 Shintaro Ishihara (see Biographies (Ishihara, Shintaro )) announced that he would run as an independent in Tokyo's gubernatorial election. A former LDP lawmaker and transport minister, Ishihara was better known as a prizewinning novelist and the coauthor, with the late Akio Morita (see Obituaries (Morita, Akio )), of an influential nationalist essay, “The Japan That Can Say No.” On April 11 he garnered 1.7 million votes to defeat all other candidates, including former UN undersecretary general Yasushi Akashi, who was backed by the LDP.

      Upon assuming office as governor, Ishihara backed down on his controversial campaign proposal to request the return of Yokota Air Base property to Tokyo. To the U.S. the base was crucial in Japan-U.S. security policy. Instead, the governor turned to Tokyo's formidable fiscal crisis. Outstanding bonds had reached a total of $60 billion, with revenue shortfall at $633 million. In his first address to Tokyo public employees on April 23, he promised a “decisive shake-up” that would include cutting the number of personnel and downsizing welfare programs.

      Although the coalition was buoyed by Obuchi's reelection as LDP president in September, his victory produced peripheral problems. The election involved votes cast by 389 LDP Diet members plus 143 votes representing almost three million party members in local districts. Obuchi had aimed to capture 70% of the ballots, but he fell short of the target. His campaign had centred on an expansion of the LDP-led coalition. Obuchi proposed that the New Komeito (KMT), a party backed by Japan's largest lay Buddhist organization, Soka-gakkai, enter the alliance. Two LDP leaders who opposed Obuchi on the issue became candidates against him in the party election. Opinion polls, moreover, showed a lack of public support for an expanded coalition. The media speculated that in the formation of a new Cabinet, potential coalition allies from other parties would have to be approached in sensitive negotiations. On October 5, just after the election, the prime minister shuffled his Cabinet. His appointees reflected competing factions within the LDP as well as the new parties to the coalition, most notably the KMT.

The Economy.
      On February 19 a plenary session of the House of Representatives adopted Obuchi's proposed $680.5 billion budget for the 1999 fiscal year. On March 17 the upper house rejected the budget, but according to the Japanese constitution, without a compromise the decision of the lower house prevailed. It was the swiftest budget passage in the post-World War II era. On July 21 the Diet passed a $4.3 billion supplementary budget designed to create 700,000 jobs.

      The stimulus came none too soon. The economic planning chief, Taichi Sakaiya, spoke of a “recession of unprecedented length.” During the October–December 1998 period, the Japanese economy had shrunk at an annualized rate of 3.2% in real terms, the fifth consecutive quarter that negative figures had been posted. It was the first time since computing began in 1955 that negative figures had been posted for five straight quarters.

      There were a number of factors in the recession. For example, for companies listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange (not including banks or financial firms), earnings for the fiscal year ended March 31 plunged 20%. The Bank for International Settlements noted that in the late 1990s Japan's market was the only loser among 15 advanced industrial nations.

      Weakness in banking was well recorded. On May 14 the Bank of Japan revealed that about $583.3 billion had been spent to clean up bad loans in the seven years since the collapse of the “bubble economy.” Bank of Japan governor Masaru Hayami announced that the bank would continue to guide the key short-term money-market rate to near 0%. Amalgamation and elimination of weaker financial firms helped ease the banking crisis. On August 20 three giant banks—Dai-Ichi Kangyo, Fuji, and the Industrial Bank of Japan—announced their intention to create the world's largest commercial banking group. Combining $1,270,000,000,000 in equity assets in 2000, they planned to regroup into separate legal entities in 2002.

      In May the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) projected a seasonably adjusted 0.9% contraction in Japan's GDP for the calendar year 1999. The OECD noted that Japanese production was decreasing, private demand shrinking, and unemployment rising to an all-time high. Indeed, the jobless rate, which reached a 5.4% monthly average in 1998, remained at record level in January, with three million workers unemployed. This was the highest unemployment level since estimates began in 1953.

      A modest turnabout came in the January–March quarter, when Japan's GDP grew at an unexpected 1.9%. In the next quarter (April–June), GDP rose at a rate of 0.2%. It was estimated that monthly industrial output shot up 3% in June, the largest gain in 30 months.

      On April 1 the government revealed that the number of children aged 15 and under had declined for the 18th consecutive year to reach a new low of 14.9% of Japan's total population. This ratio was the second lowest among advanced industrial nations, just ahead of Italy. At the same time, Japan had one of the fastest-growing elderly populations. The decline in persons of working age in Japan and the increase in retired persons constituted a problem.

      Many older Japanese, affected by a so-called nuclear allergy, or aversion to nuclear power due to Japan's bitter past experience with nuclear weapons, were uncomfortably aware that about one-third of the nation's electricity was generated by 51 nuclear power plants. Their fears were only intensified on September 30 when an explosion occurred at Tokaimura, the site of more than a dozen nuclear research and production facilities located about 130 km (80 mi) northeast of Tokyo. The accident happened in a fuel-reprocessing plant that supplied nearby nuclear reactors generating electricity. (See The Environment (Environment ).)

      The effects of the accident were quite serious, though apparently less so than those at Chernobyl, Ukraine, or at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania. Among workers, at least 49 were exposed to radiation, at least two critically. Some 310,000 residents living within a 10-km (6-mi) radius of the plant were confined to their homes. The Mainichi shimbun daily newspaper noted that there were no “legal regulations” to prevent nuclear production in residential areas. One government official expressed concern over the “psychological damage” to the nuclear program. The public was indeed disturbed. Obuchi postponed the reorganization of his Cabinet and, in characteristically indirect style, apologized to the nation by stating that “slow decisions” by the government that allowed safety violations at the plant to continue must never again be allowed.

Foreign Affairs.
      In his January policy speech to the Diet, Obuchi placed the core of the nation's foreign policy in security arrangements. He set as a priority the updating of the guidelines for Japan-U.S. defense cooperation, last revised in 1998. They remained, he said, within the framework of the bilateral security pact. In March the Cabinet submitted bills designed to strengthen the guidelines, with the hope that changes would clear at least the lower house before the prime minister visited the U.S. in May. As usual, the security measures proved to be controversial among opposition legislators, even in some coalition circles, and with the public at large. A critical provision would expand cooperation with U.S. forces into unspecified “areas surrounding Japan.” Plans for a joint operation were to be submitted to the Diet without delay, but legislative approval was not required. Many Japanese believed the terms to be unconstitutional under Japan's organic law, which forbade all but defensive operations. A poll conducted on March 14–15 showed that only 37% of respondents supported revisions and 43% opposed them.

      On April 29 Obuchi began a six-day trip, the first official visit to the U.S. by a Japanese prime minister in a dozen years. He made stops in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. Obuchi met U.S. Pres. Bill Clinton on May 3. The two leaders reaffirmed the bilateral security alliance, Obuchi noting that the lower house in Tokyo had passed the revised guidelines. The president observed that the election of a new governor in Okinawa was welcome and should help solve a different security problem. Okinawa, a small southern island-prefecture, had been used by American forces based in Japan since World War II. Sensitive to objections by the residents of Okinawa to “base pollution,” the U.S. agreed in 1996 to eliminate Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. Tokyo was to arrange for another location “in five to seven years,” but local opposition remained strong. In November 1998 a new governor of Okinawa, Keiichi Inamine, was elected and indicated a willingness to negotiate the base issue. In April 1999 Obuchi declared that Japan would host the 2000 Group of Eight (G-8) conference in Nago. This would mark the first time an important summit had been held outside Tokyo. The decision was obviously made to boost the morale of Okinawans and to lend development assistance to their island. In a press interview Thomas Foley, the U.S. ambassador to Japan, remarked that the U.S. hoped to see progress in negotiating a new base by the end of the year.

      Aside from security concerns, the major issues between Tokyo and Washington involved trade. The Finance Ministry announced that during the period from January to June, Japan's merchandise trade surplus shrank almost 8% from the year before. The sensitive balance with the U.S., however, rose for the sixth consecutive six-month term, up 4.2% on a year-to-year basis to $26.6 billion. On June 11 in Washington, the International Trade Commission accused Japan of dumping steel strips and sheets. For selling at prices below the cost of production, five major companies had tariffs ranging from 38% to 60% imposed on their products. Japan's exports of steel promptly fell off sharply.

      When Obuchi and Clinton met in May, the prime minister gave public assurances that the revised bilateral guidelines were not aimed at China. Both the signators had agreed, he added, that there was but one China, and both favoured a peaceful solution of Taiwan's status. When Obuchi was in Beijing in July for talks with Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji and Pres. Jiang Zemin, however, he received pointed lectures on the need for Japan to reflect on its wartime record in Asia. Zhu urged Japan to exclude Taiwan explicitly from any defense agreement, to no avail.

      On the other hand, the prime minister relayed his government's decision to support China's bid to join the World Trade Organization (WTO). Japan thus became the first of the Group of Seven (the G-8 minus Russia) industrialized nations to sponsor China for membership in the WTO.

      Having no formal contact with Pyongyang, Tokyo had relied on Beijing for cooperation in dealing with North Korea. In August 1998 even indirect contact had been suspended when the North Koreans fired a two-stage missile over Japan into the Pacific Ocean. By July 1999 Japan was reassured at the Beijing summit that China was doing all it could to achieve peace and stability in the Korean peninsula. Meanwhile, Japan had promised to provide $4 billion to North Korea for light-water reactors, on the condition that Pyongyang freeze its missile and nuclear programs. Funding was to go through the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization, which was established in 1995 by Japan, South Korea, and the U.S.

      As though to back up the proviso, on August 5 Japan and South Korea conducted their first joint defense exercise in the seas between Kyushu and Korea. Nominally the exercise was a search-and-rescue drill involving three Japanese Maritime Self-Defense destroyers, two South Korean ships, and antisubmarine aircraft.

      Although Tokyo had established normal relations with Moscow, endless discussions toward a peace treaty continued. As usual, the moot issue involved a chain of tiny islands off the southern tip of the Kurils. These islands were recognized to be Japanese but had been occupied by Russia since 1945. In 1997–98 Obuchi's predecessor, Ryutaro Hashimoto, had twice met informally with Russian Pres. Boris Yeltsin. The two had agreed on a demarcation line and transfer of the islets but only after a peace treaty was signed. In May 1999 in Moscow, Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura and his Russian counterpart, Igor Ivanov, confirmed that the Russian president would visit Japan later in the year to continue the dialogue.

Ardath W. Burks

▪ 1999

      Area: 377,819 sq km (145,877 sq mi)

      Population (1998 est.): 126,398,000

      Capital: Tokyo

      Chief of state: Emperor Akihito

      Head of government: Prime Ministers Ryutaro Hashimoto and, from July 30, Keizo Obuchi

      Throughout 1998 a stubborn recession dominated domestic politics in Japan, prompting a change in the prime ministership and stunning legislative losses for the ruling Liberal-Democratic Party (LDP). The nation's expected role as an engine of growth for Asia and the rest of the world remained in doubt. By June gross domestic product (GDP) had dropped for three consecutive quarters. Economists for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) noted that the financial problems faced by Japan's neighbours would in turn have an increasing effect on the world's second largest economy. In foreign affairs Japan's relations with the U.S. and China were generally positive, whereas its relations with Russia remained strained and those with North Korea deteriorated.

Domestic Affairs.
      On January 12 Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto opened the new session of the Diet (parliament) with an address devoted entirely to the economy. He called for emergency measures to shore up the nation's ailing banking system. Shortly afterward, polls showed that his Cabinet's approval rate had fallen to about 31% and that the disapproval rate had risen to around 50%.

      Hashimoto's difficulties increased on January 28 when Finance Minister Hiroshi Mitsuzuka resigned after Tokyo prosecutors raided the Finance Ministry and arrested two of its bank inspectors on charges of accepting bribes from Japanese banks. In a speech to the lower house of the Diet on February 16, Hashimoto attempted to turn attention away from the scandal by declaring that the nation's primary task was to find ways to solve problems inherited from Japan's speculative "bubble" economy of the 1980s.

      Meanwhile, opposition parties began to reorganize in preparation for the upper house elections on July 12. A true opposition force to the LDP emerged when the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) absorbed a number of smaller parties. On March 31 the DPJ chose Naoto Kan, a popular former Cabinet member, to be its president. A poll in February had revealed that the public favoured Kan as Japan's next prime minister. Leaders of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation promised to back the new DPJ.

      On June 12 the lower house rejected a no-confidence motion against the Hashimoto Cabinet by a narrow margin, 273-207. Those who favoured dismissal of the administration blamed it for Japan's economic woes. After the Diet session ended on June 25, some 475 hopefuls filed to run in the upper house elections. Half of the 252 seats in the upper house were open. A vigorous campaign ensued, in which the economy was the focus of every agenda.

      To gain a majority in the upper house, Japan's ruling LDP had to win 69 seats. The LDP suffered a staggering defeat, however, winning only 45 seats to bring its total to 103. The defeat amounted to a public no-confidence vote. The DPJ, led by Kan, won 27 to bring its total to 47 seats. The Japan Communist Party scored a minor victory, winning 15 seats to boost its total in the upper house to 23.

      Although newspapers noted that Hashimoto was not solely to blame for the setback, he resigned as prime minister on July 13, taking full responsibility for the defeat. On July 21 three LDP leaders registered their candidacies to replace Hashimoto as LDP president. The favourite among the LDP's veteran power brokers was Foreign Minister Keizo Obuchi (see BIOGRAPHIES (Obuchi, Keizo )), who headed the largest of the five LDP factions. Opinion polls, however, revealed that Obuchi had less public support than did his two rivals, former chief Cabinet secretary Seiroku Kajiyama and Health and Welfare Minister Junichiro Koizumi. Nevertheless, Obuchi was elected LDP president on July 24. The Diet convened in a special session on July 30. The lower house, which was dominated by the LDP, voted to appoint Obuchi prime minister. The upper house selected Kan, but the Japanese constitution provided that in such a split the vote of the lower house would prevail.

      Upon being named prime minister, Obuchi immediately appointed a new Cabinet, which he said would be dedicated to economic reform. To the public's dismay, he distributed 16 of the 20 portfolios to LDP members. Obuchi's own faction took five posts. Without significant experience in handling financial issues, Obuchi recruited former prime minister Kiichi Miyazawa to be finance minister. Most observers agreed that Miyazawa was a recognized expert on international economics.

      In November the LDP sought to increase its power in the parliament by forming a coalition with the Liberal Party. The new grouping, however, remained 11 seats short of a majority in the upper house.

The Economy.
      On March 30 the Diet approved a $60.5 billion stopgap budget for the first 18 days of fiscal 1998. Arguments over fiscal policy delayed adoption of the regular budget, set at $599.5 billion, until April 8. The government also launched "Big Bang" policies (named after a British deregulation plan) that included easing restrictions on foreign exchange, granting more autonomy to the Bank of Japan, and allowing banks to sell over-the-counter investment trusts. These steps were intended to implement Hashimoto's 1986 pledge to make Japan's fiscal markets "more free, fair, and global."

      On April 24 the government unveiled a comprehensive stimulus package worth $128 billion, the largest ever compiled. The plan offered no tax cuts and provided increased public expenditures for social infrastructure. The package also promised aid to ailing Asian economies through export-import funding. The Japan Research Institute, a private think tank, predicted that public-works spending would not lead to sustainable growth, however. The Bank of Japan noted that the expected boost might be weakened if the downturn in employment and income continued.

      On July 2 the government formally announced a plan to establish "bridge banks" to take over failed banks and to extend loans to sound borrowers. The scheme called for new inspection procedures and the appointment of financial conservators and was to be organized through the Deposit Insurance Corporation with stabilization funds. On October 16, after months of political wrangling, the Diet finally appropriated some $500 billion to rescue the nation's top 19 banks. In November the banks began to dip into the fund.

      In 1998 Japan was feeling the effects of becoming directly involved in the global economy. Chief Cabinet Secretary Nonaka expressed "strong concern" over the sharp decline in value of the yen against the dollar. The decline, he said, emphasized Japan's urgent need for monetary reform.

      Other economic indicators gave the Japanese little more comfort. Returns filed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange for fiscal year 1997 showed that the pretax profits of corporations other than financial houses had declined 2.3% from a year earlier. This was the worst performance since the "oil shock" recession in the 1970s. Grim corporate sentiment, shrinkage of investment by small and medium firms, a decline in housing starts, and sluggish consumer demand all were factors in the stagnant economy. By midyear GDP was shrinking at an annualized rate of 3.3%, its weakest performance on record. Some experts were predicting it to decline another 1% by the end of fiscal year 1998.

      In November the government approved a $195 billion economic stimulus package. It included $67.5 billion for public works projects and $50 billion for tax cuts.

Foreign Affairs.
      Despite the recession at home and fiscal problems in other parts of Asia, Japan as an economic power continued to attract attention. The Ministry of Finance announced that May was the 14th consecutive month in which the current account surplus rose. The surplus ballooned to $10 billion, up 62.2% from the previous year, owing to sluggish domestic demand and a sharp decline in imports. In 1997 the custom-cleared trade surplus had climbed for the first time in five years, up 48.5% to $77.7 billion, and it reached $88 billion in April 1998. This trend marked a return to early 1990s levels, which caused much friction abroad, especially with the U.S.

      Japan remained the world's largest creditor nation for the seventh straight year. In 1997 net external assets—held by the government and business, less liabilities—totaled $9.9 billion, up 20.5%. For the seventh year Japan remained the top aid donor, at $9.4 billion, despite budget cuts and a depreciating yen. In May, while still foreign minister, Obuchi promised the Association of Southeast Asian Nations $20 million in assistance. In July Japan offered $300,000 in emergency aid to Papua New Guinea, which had been devastated by a tsunami.

      The international community nevertheless remained critical of Japan's domestic policies. On August 13 the IMF made specific proposals, including that the nation reduce its consumption tax, adopt permanent income tax cuts, and reform its postal savings system. Soon afterward, the Ministry of Finance rejected the IMF's assessment and any cut in the consumption tax. Japan's foreign minister in the Obuchi administration, Masahiko Komura, had earlier assured U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright that Japan would revive its economy and help end the Asian financial crisis.

      Otherwise, relations with the U.S. revolved as usual around security concerns. On July 4 Albright arrived in Tokyo to brief the Japanese on U.S. Pres. Bill Clinton's recently completed nine-day visit to China. In a joint press conference with the foreign minister, she insisted that the president's failure to stop off in Japan did not constitute neglect. Bilateral relations with Japan remained the American "cornerstone" for security in Asia.

      On April 27 Japan authorized two bills to implement noncombat support of U.S. forces in "areas surrounding Japan." Opposition blocs were critical of the vague wording, which, they claimed, violated Japan's no-war constitution. Nevertheless, Albright and Obuchi drafted the Japan-U.S. Acquisitions and Cross-Servicing Agreement. This was the most expansive interpretation of Japan's defense responsibilities since the adoption of the constitution in 1947. On August 11 the naval warship USS Kitty Hawk arrived at the Yokosuka naval base to join Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Forces in maneuvers.

      During the year Japan's relations with Russia remained strained by an argument over what the Japanese called the "Northern Territories." These were four small islands at the southern tip of the Kurils, historically Japanese-ruled but occupied by the Russians since 1945. The dispute had blocked a formal pact between the two nations to end World War II. In two informal summit meetings—one in November 1997 at Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, and one in April 1998 at Kawana, Shizuoka prefecture, Japan—Hashimoto and Russian Pres. Boris Yeltsin seemed to be looking for a break in the impasse. Hashimoto proposed a demarcation line to include the two islets in Japan's domain. Yeltsin advocated Russian administration of the islands until a formal pact was signed. On May 8 Obuchi met Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov in London. They agreed to accelerate peace treaty negotiations toward a target date of 2000. After he became prime minister, Obuchi was the first Japanese leader to visit Russia since 1973. On November 13 he met with Yeltsin, and the two leaders agreed on the treaty target date.

      During the year relations between Japan and China occurred on several levels. On an official level, Japan's defense agency chief, Fumio Kyuma, and Chinese Defense Minister Chi Haotian signed an agreement on February 4 in Tokyo to increase bilateral cooperation. The agreement arranged for exchange of information and goodwill visits by military officers. On May 3 Chi warned that U.S.-Japan defense cooperation guidelines would violate China's sovereignty if they included the Taiwan Strait. On August 9 Foreign Minister Komura became the first Obuchi Cabinet minister to visit China. He was given a short lecture by Chinese Pres. Jiang Zemin, who urged that Japan assume "a correct understanding" of its aggression against China in World War II. Jiang had planned in September to become the first Chinese president to visit Tokyo, but massive flooding in China postponed his trip until late November.

      The South Korean government announced on April 21 that it would abandon its efforts to elicit compensation from Japan for the South Korean women who were forced to serve as prostitutes ("comfort women") for Japanese troops during World War II, though it said it would continue to demand an official apology from Japan. The South Korean government decided to pay each of the 152 women who had claimed compensation some $23,000 from its own funds. On April 27 Japan's Yamaguchi district court ruled that the Japanese government owed compensation to three South Korean comfort women and awarded each of the women $2,300. It was the first such court ruling in a lawsuit by victims of Japan's military-run brothels.

      During most of 1998, the Japanese government continued conversations with representatives of North Korea. On June 8 Tokyo promised Pyongyang $1 billion in aid to help build two light-water nuclear reactors. Japan, the U.S., South Korea, and the European Union had been scheduled to sign a resolution on funding the reactors on August 31, but that day North Korea fired a two-stage ballistic missile over Japan. The missile's first stage fell in the Sea of Japan; its second stage flew over the nation, falling into the Pacific Ocean some 580 km (360 mi) northeast of Misawa. On September 1 Japan lodged a strong protest against North Korea by cutting food aid and the promised funds for the reactors.

      More ominous clouds appeared on Japan's horizon in the direction of South Asia. On May 11-13 India set off five nuclear tests. Obuchi protested to India's ambassador to Japan, Siddharth Singh, and threatened sanctions. On May 14 Japan froze new loans to India. To Japan's dismay, Pakistan answered India by detonating five nuclear devices on May 28. Japan, Pakistan's biggest aid donor and trade partner, again protested by suspending loans. On June 2 Obuchi expressed a wish to hold a conference in Tokyo to help resolve the territorial dispute between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. In a speech to the UN General Assembly in New York City on September 21, he criticized India and Pakistan for threatening the campaign against nuclear proliferation and North Korea for disturbing security in Asia.


▪ 1998

      Area: 377,819 sq km (145,877 sq mi)

      Population (1997 est.): 126,110,000

      Capital: Tokyo

      Chief of state: Emperor Akihito

      Head of government: Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto

      On Jan. 20, 1997, Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto opened the 140th ordinary session of the Diet (parliament) by pledging reforms in six sectors: administration, finance, social security, the economy, the monetary system, and education. They were designed to make Japan's markets "free, fair, and global" by 2001. The media named the plan the "Big Bang" after a deregulation program undertaken in London in 1986. Reform dominated domestic politics in 1997 and offered some promise of cutting costs to internationally competitive levels by the 21st century.

      Domestic Affairs. In October 1996 Hashimoto's Liberal-Democratic Party (LDP), which had dominated politics from 1955 to 1993, won a plurality but not a majority in the election for the House of Representatives. The new Cabinet was made up entirely of LDP members. Passage of bills, however, depended on ad hoc coalitions, since the LDP also did not control the House of Councillors. Informal alliances were made with the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the New Harbinger Party (Sakigake). The opposition was spearheaded by the New Frontier Party (Shinshinto). The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) was the second largest opposing group but, like the Shinshinto, cooperated with the LDP-led government on a case-by-case basis and seemed to hold a balance of power.

      The distribution of seats in the 1997 Diet was as follows: (House of Representatives) LDP 244, Shinshinto 141, DPJ 52, Japanese Communist Party (JCP) 26, SDP 15, Sakigake 2, independents, minor parties 20 (total 500); (House of Councillors) LDP 112, SDP 22, DPJ 22, JCP 14, Sakigake 3, independents, minor parties 79 (total 252).

      All of these parties were subject to the turmoil of factions, splinters, and shifting alliances. In February, after a threatened members' revolt, the Shinshinto united under the leadership of Ichiro Ozawa, a former rival of Hashimoto within the LDP. In March a DPJ convention decided to remain in opposition, to support the government on some issues, and to resolve a leadership problem. In December Shinshinto officially disbanded because of internal disputes.

      On April 17 a controversial bill designed to revise leases of land occupied by U.S. forces on Okinawa passed the Diet. Surprisingly, opposition forces in Shinshinto and in the DPJ supported the legislation. The SDP, which remained in the informal coalition with the LDP, and the communists opposed it. On April 19 the SDP chairwoman, Takako Doi, appealed to members in the SDP's annual convention to rebuild the party, "which represents ordinary and weak citizens."

      On June 18 the Diet ended its regular session. In 150 days the LDP-led alliance had passed 100 laws and approved 16 treaties. Legislation included a revision of the 1952 Okinawa bases law, creation of a body to supervise financial institutions, and deregulation of the Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp. The Okinawa legislation allowed the U.S. forces stationed there to remain as legal occupants of their bases after May 14, when the U.S. leases expired.

      An election of the 127-member Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly on July 6 proved to be a political indicator in several ways. First, the turnout (40.8%, the lowest on record) revealed public apathy. Second, the LDP did well, winning 54 seats, but the JCP made a spectacular gain by doubling its seats to 26. Allies of the LDP and other opposition parties did poorly.

      On September 11 Prime Minister Hashimoto was named president of the LDP, an office for which he was unopposed. His selection coincided with the LDP's achieving a majority (251 seats) in the House of Representatives, its first in four years, after recruiting seven independents.

      Hashimoto then reshuffled his Cabinet, carefully selecting party members who represented factions of the LDP. Thus, Hiroshi Mitsuzuka was retained as finance minister and Fumio Kyuma as defense minister. An old ally, Keizo Obuchi, became foreign minister. At the request of the 62-man faction led by a former prime minister, Yasuhiro Nakasone, Hashimoto selected Koko Sato to lead the effort to reform domestic politics as minister of management and coordination. Immediately, the Cabinet's reputation suffered. In the 1970s in the Lockheed procurement scandal, Sato had been convicted of having accepted a bribe. A Kyodo News opinion survey conducted September 14-15 showed that 59% of those polled did not support the new Cabinet. On September 22 Sato resigned from the Cabinet to save the prime minister further embarrassment. One week later Hashimoto apologized to the Diet for the appointment.

      On August 29 the Supreme Court reached a decision on a prolonged case. It ruled in favour of an 83-year-old historian, Saburo Ienaga. The professor had referred in a textbook to experiments on live captives by the Japanese army in China during World War II. The Education Ministry had ordered the passage deleted, but the court ordered the government to pay the author $3,500 in damages and to reinstate the passage. The court did not, however, hold that such screening violated the constitution.

      During the year Japan suffered more than its share of man-made disasters. On January 2 the Russian tanker Nakhodka broke up off the Oki Islands in the Sea of Japan, spilling at least 3.7 million litres (one million gallons) of fuel oil onto the shores of Shimane prefecture. A few days later the prime minister admitted that the government had "misjudged" the scope of the environmental impact. Six months later a Japanese-owned tanker struck a shoal in Tokyo Bay, 6 km (3.7 mi) southeast of the port of Yokohama. In this case maritime safety forces moved promptly to confine the 1.5 million-litre (390,000-gal) spill.

      The public was understandably sensitive to delayed reports of a nuclear accident, the worst ever in peacetime Japan. On March 11 leaks of radioactive substances—including plutonium—increased eightfold after an explosion at a plant operated by the stateowned Power Reactor and Nuclear Fuel Development Corp. in Tokai, north of Tokyo. Although the accident occurred at about 8 PM, people in Tokai did not find out about it until the next morning. Officials claimed that there was no threat to the environment.

      The Economy. Demographic trends affected Japan's economy during the year. The Management and Coordination Agency announced that at the end of 1996, the number of children (through the age of 14) totaled 19.5 million, the lowest figure since the first census (1920). Meanwhile, the number of those aged 65 and over passed the 19 million mark, and this group was expected to make up 20% of the total population by 2006. The number of children plus those over 65 was equal to 44.4% of those in the productive ages (15-64), and this percentage was expected to rise. To help serve the aging population, the Diet on March 28 passed a $640 billion budget for fiscal year 1997, a $75 billion increase over the previous year.

      The year had begun with projections of a 2.3% growth in gross domestic product (GDP) for 1997. In the second quarter, however, the economy suffered its biggest drop in 23 years. According to the Economic Planning Agency, GDP shrank at an annualized rate of 11.2%, which was largely attributed to an increase in the consumption tax. In May the unemployment rate matched the record-high rate of 3.5% (2,440,000 jobless). Fortunately, inflation remained low. In 1996 the consumer price index rose only 0.1%, and by June 1997 it had shown no further increase.

      On May 15 the government unveiled the "Big Bang," more formally the Action Plan for Economic Structural Reform and Creation. The next day the Diet abolished the monopoly held by Japanese banks in transactions involving foreign exchange. By June 13 three plans for reform had been released by the Securities and Exchange, the Financial System Research, and the Insurance councils. The plans called for the introduction of comprehensive securities accounts in brokerage houses and a review of the tax system by 2000, including abolition of the securities transaction tax. Eventually banks would be allowed to sell insurance.

      Reforms could not come too soon. Throughout the year Japan was buffeted by a storm of investigations, indictments, arrests, and resignations, many of which involved the nation's most prestigious financial houses. The trouble began on March 14 when Hideo Sakamaki stepped down as head of the biggest firm, Nomura Securities Co., Ltd. He also resigned as chairman of the Securities Dealers Association, admitting illicit dealing with a corporate racketeer (sokaiya). On May 20 prosecutors raided headquarters of the Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank Ltd. and some 10 local offices of Nomura. That same week the bank's president, Katsuhiko Kondo, and chairman, Tadashi Okuda, resigned after having assumed "moral responsibility" for ties with sokaiya. The prime minister commented, however, that "resignations were not enough," and on July 30 Finance Minister Mitsuzuka imposed harsh penalties. Many of the two firms' major credit transactions were suspended, some until December. On November 3 Sanyo Securities filed for bankruptcy protection, and on November 24 Yamaichi Securities decided to close down business after 100 years of operation. .) (Economic Affairs )

      Foreign Affairs. Despite the turmoil in Tokyo and a nagging recession, Japan for the sixth consecutive year retained its status as the world's leading nation in net external assets. Public and private holdings abroad minus liabilities totaled $850 billion.

      Measured by high-level exchanges of visitors, relations with the U.S. continued to be Japan's most important international contact. In February, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright went to Tokyo, where she agreed with Prime Minister Hashimoto that the two nations would strengthen their security alliance. In March, Vice Pres. Al Gore, in Tokyo during an Asian trip, was more specific: the U.S. wanted to maintain its Marine garrison on Okinawa. In an April 25 speech in Washington, D.C., after a meeting with Pres. Bill Clinton, Hashimoto urged Americans to be "sensitive" to the issue of Okinawa, where most of the U.S. troops in Japan were on an island that was only 0.6% of the nation's area; in a referendum later in the year, Okinawans voted against the establishment of a new military base on the island. In August Tokyo welcomed Clinton's nomination of Thomas Foley, former speaker of the House of Representatives, to be ambassador to Japan. Ambassador Foley was scheduled to arrive in Tokyo the week of November 17.

      The Japanese public was particularly concerned with a joint draft security plan unveiled by Tokyo and Washington on June 8. Projecting the highest Japanese military profile in the Asia-Pacific region since World War II, it provided for peacetime coordination of defense planning, a joint response to any aggression against Japan, and Japan's cooperation in conflicts occurring in undefined "areas around Japan." Critics denounced the scheme as violating Japan's no-war constitution.

      Late in the year, talks between Japan and the U.S. returned to trade issues, which had perennially dominated relations between the two countries. At a conference in Denver, Colo., in June, Hashimoto noted Clinton's concern over the U.S. trade deficit with Japan, which reached a total of $35.9 billion in 1996. Earlier in Washington, D.C., a small independent agency had taken a policy step that echoed the problem and reverberated through the shipping sectors of each nation. The Federal Maritime Commission announced that it planned to levy fines on Japanese vessels in retaliation for restrictions imposed on American ships by the politically powerful Japan Harbor Transportation Association. Indeed, on September 4 sanctions of $100,000 per ship were applied to three Japanese firms, the first such trade penalty in a decade. In October diplomats from both nations arranged a temporary suspension of sanctions, but the imposed fines remained intact.

      Looking toward its neighbours, Japan continued in somewhat tentative fashion to atone for its past. On August 15, the 52nd anniversary of the nation's surrender that ended World War II, the prime minister expressed "deep remorse" for war victims, particularly in Asia. He spoke at an annual Tokyo ceremony designed to mourn Japanese casualties and attended by the emperor.

      On February 20 at the Chinese embassy in Tokyo, Hashimoto offered Japan's respects on the death of China's longtime leader, Deng Xiaoping. On March 30 Foreign Minister Yukihiko Ikeda became the highest-ranking official to visit Beijing after Deng's death. Ikeda announced the resumption of a $14 million loan program, which had been suspended in 1996 to protest Chinese nuclear tests.

      Islands located between the two nations continued to be sources of debate. On May 6 a conservative member of Shinshinto, accompanied by a reporter, landed on one of the Senkaku Islands and planted a Japanese flag. Located between Okinawa and Taiwan, these rocky, uninhabited islets had been under Japanese control for a century but were claimed by China and Taiwan. Authorities in Tokyo insisted that quiet diplomacy should resolve the issue.

      On January 25 the prime minister found it necessary to apologize for a loose remark by Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiroku Kajiyama. Serving as host to Pres. Kim Young Sam of South Korea, Hashimoto received a vigorous denunciation from Kim of Kajiyama's statement that the Japanese army's use of "comfort women" (a euphemism for involuntary prostitutes) in Korea during World War II emerged from a "social background." Even Japan had licensed prostitution, Kajiyama added. President Kim represented Koreans and many other Asians by noting that Japan had not in all ways come to grips with its past.

      The two leaders had met to improve bilateral relations as well as to nudge along, with the aid of the U.S. and China, peaceful reunification of the Korean peninsula. Japan had recognized South Korea but also maintained informal relations with North Korea. On August 22 at the Japanese embassy in Beijing, Japanese and North Korean negotiators agreed to reopen normalization talks at high diplomatic levels. On September 5 Tokyo announced a loan to North Korea, through UN channels, of $20 million for the purchase of Japanese rice.

      Prime Minister Hashimoto had visited Moscow in 1996, hoping to move talks along toward a peace treaty with Russia. Tokyo had normalized relations with Moscow in 1956, but a formal pact ending World War II continued to stall over a minor territorial dispute. It involved four small islands in the southern Kurils, historically Japanese but occupied by the Russians since 1945. On May 17 Igor Rodionov, the first Russian defense minister to visit Japan, informed Japan's Defense Minister Kyuma that Russian garrisons on the disputed Kurils were soon to be reduced. Later the Russians indicated that they would no longer deploy missiles aimed at Japan. On June 20 at the conference in Denver, Hashimoto and Russian Pres. Boris Yeltsin agreed to plan reciprocal visits to resolve disputes and to improve bilateral relations. Yeltsin also expressed support of Japan's effort to obtain a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.

      Outsiders were often surprised to learn that the Japanese had long had ties with Latin America. In late 1996 its considerable trade and investment interests were dramatically revealed by a hostage crisis at Japan's embassy in Lima, Peru. Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement guerrillas seized some 600 guests, who were celebrating the emperor's birthday. Through a four-month hostage crisis, Japan urged patience, but on April 22 it welcomed a forceful rescue of victims. Ambassador Morihisa Aoki and 23 other Japanese citizens had been among the hostages. On May 10 Hashimoto traveled to Lima to convey Japan's gratitude to Pres. Alberto Fujimori, a Peruvian of Japanese ancestry.


▪ 1997

      A constitutional monarchy in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, Japan comprises an archipelago with four main islands (Hokkaido, Honshu, Kyushu, and Shikoku), the Ryukyus (including Okinawa), and lesser adjacent islands. Area: 377,819 sq km (145,877 sq mi). Pop. (1996 est.): 125,612,000. Cap.: Tokyo. Monetary unit: yen, with (Oct. 11, 1996) a free rate of 111.64 yen to U.S. $1 (175.86 yen = £1 sterling). Emperor, Akihito; prime ministers in 1996, Tomiichi Murayama and, from January 11, Ryutaro Hashimoto.

      During 1996 Japan's nagging recession continued for the fifth year. Fiscal stimulation simply added to the nation's outstanding debt, predicted to reach $2.4 trillion by April 1997. A rapidly aging population created problems for individuals and the government alike. All citizens bore the burden of liquidating the bad bank loans inherited from the "bubble economy" of the 1980s. The government also had to recompense victims of a food-poisoning epidemic and those affected by HIV-contaminated blood.

Domestic Affairs.
      On January 5 Tomiichi Murayama, Japan's first Socialist prime minister in five decades, resigned. Six days later both houses of the Diet (parliament) designated Ryutaro Hashimoto (see BIOGRAPHIES (Hashimoto, Ryutaro )), president of the Liberal-Democratic Party (LDP), prime minister. Although his party had dominated Japanese politics from 1955 to 1993, it no longer commanded a majority in the Diet. Hashimoto, therefore, sought and obtained support from the same parties that had supported Murayama. His Cabinet reflected the fluid nature of the coalition. LDP members received 11 portfolios, including that of foreign minister and chief Cabinet secretary. Social Democratic Party (SDP) members were given six Cabinet positions, including the important position of finance minister. The smallest coalition partner, the New Harbinger Party (Sakigake), took two posts.

      The political opposition was represented by the New Frontier Party (Shinshinto). It was led by Ichiro Ozawa, Hashimoto's rival when both were in the LDP.

      When the new Diet convened, the LDP occupied 206 seats in the House of Representatives, the SDP 63, and Sakigake, 23, which gave the coalition a total of 292 of the 511 seats. In the House of Councillors the coalition commanded 140 of the 252 seats.

      In his policy speech to the Diet on January 22, Hashimoto called 1996 "the first year of structural reform." He emphasized the need for a "high-transparency financial system," the importance of building a society founded on "advanced information and telecommunications," and the need to provide health and comfort to Japan's aging population. Looking abroad, the prime minister called the Japan-U.S. security pact "our most important bilateral relationship" while urging a "realignment, consolidation, and reduction" of U.S. military bases on Okinawa.

      The coalition government faced a five-month deadlock in the Diet, wrangling with the opposition over bills to liquidate housing loan firms (jusen) that had failed since the 1980s. When the government announced on March 5 that taxpayers would bear the burden of $6.8 billion in losses (plus half the "secondary" debts), the Shinshinto boycotted the budget committee for three weeks. On May 10 the Diet passed a $750 billion budget for fiscal year 1996. Finally, on June 18, one day before the session's close, the House of Councillors approved six jusen liquidation bills.

      Maneuvers within factions and across party lines pointed to an election showdown. As early as February, junior LDP members had formed what they called the "New Century" group. Coalition representatives from Sakigake and the SDP acted as observers.

      On August 27 Yukio Hatoyama resigned as secretary-general of Sakigake and made plans for a "neoconservative party," which was expected to support deregulation, decentralization, and small government. Two days later Hatoyama unveiled a revolutionary proposal calling for the direct election of the prime minister. On September 28 the new Democratic Party (Minshuto) was formally organized, with 37 incumbent Diet members on its rolls. The opposition also experienced the impact of change. On August 8 Shinshinto leader Ozawa reshuffled the party's leadership by appointing Takeo Nishioka secretary-general. The goal was to "do well" in the next election and "to assume power." This move, and the changes that had been made in other parties, reflected a generational shift in politics.

      On September 27 Hashimoto dissolved the House of Representatives. The general election that followed on October 20 was the first under a new law, which allotted 300 seats to single constituencies and reserved 200 seats for proportional representation. In a record low turnout (below 60%), the LDP improved its position by taking 239 seats. Hashimoto marshaled 262 votes to win reelection, but no party agreed to join the LDP in a coalition. Shinshinto (156 seats) remained a formidable opponent, while the Democratic Party (52) seemed to hold the balance of power. The Social Democrats (15) and Sakigake (2) were almost eliminated from the political scene. In November Hashimoto appointed a new 21-member Cabinet, all from the LDP.

      Two developments on the home front originated in the realm of public health, but they profoundly affected the world of politics. In March, after a seven-year legal battle, five pharmaceutical firms apologized for having distributed HIV-contaminated drug products to hemophiliacs. They agreed to a district court settlement that awarded $430,000 to each of some 400 plaintiffs, as well as $1,500 per month to those who contracted AIDS. Health and Welfare Minister Naoto Kan frankly admitted public responsibility for what happened and agreed that the government would bear 44% of the financial burden, while the pharmaceutical firms would pay the remaining 56%.

      On August 16 in Sakai, near Osaka, a 12-year-old girl died after being infected by the O157-H7 strain of E. coli bacteria. White radish sprouts continued to be the target of investigation. Later, domestic beef also became suspect. The health and welfare ministry called the outbreak an epidemic, the first such official declaration in two decades. Eventually, the illness affected some 9,800 patients and caused 11 deaths.

      A third problem was inherited from 1995. On April 24 Shoko Asahara, founder of the Aum Shinrikyo religious cult, went on trial in the Tokyo District Court. After 17 criminal charges were read, he refused to enter a plea. Asahara and the sect had been implicated in several crimes in 1994 and 1995, including the spread of the nerve gas sarin in Tokyo subways.

The Economy.
      A gradual recovery continued as corporate performance in fiscal 1995 (ended March 1996) showed a double-digit growth in profits. As a result of the yen's rise, however, Japan's cost of living index was among the world's highest. (Late in 1995 the ratio of Tokyo prices to those in New York City was 1.59 to 1.) In their end-of-May reports, banks reported combined losses of 1,750,000,000,000 yen, mainly the result of failed jusen loans.

      Japan's official discount rate was kept at a historic low of 0.5% in the hope that it could stimulate domestic demand. For senior Japanese it was a disaster. Characteristically they had saved money, but interest on their accounts, which was needed to supplement limited pensions, proved to be inadequate.

      After dropping for two months, the unemployment rate reached 3.4% in April and a record high of 3.5% in May. The number of jobless had risen to over 3 million (with 63 million employed). This trend prevailed despite an increase of 3% in gross domestic product (GDP) for the last quarter (January-March) of fiscal 1995, ending a three-year period of no growth. The annualized real-term value of GDP was $4,750.000,000,000, which included a strong growth in domestic demand. On June 25 the Cabinet authorized an increase in the national consumption tax from 3% to 5% (effective April 1, 1997).

      The world's largest bank began operations April 1 after a merger of the Bank of Tokyo and Mitsubishi Bank. Their combined assets totaled $738 billion and included 756 service bases in Japan and 438 overseas.

Foreign Affairs.
      In 1995, for the fifth year in a row, Japan led the world in net overseas assets (ODA: government and business holdings abroad, minus debts). An increase of 13% over 1994 brought the total to $770 billion, fueled by a 10% rise in private direct investments. The Foreign Ministry announced that the ODA totaled $14.7 billion (up 9.3% over 1994).

      These figures, however, were not matched in the area of Japan's merchandise trade surplus, which had produced worldwide friction in recent years. In April the surplus plunged 65% from the year before. Although exports were up (17%), the increase was half that of imports (36%), which were led by purchases of autos and parts, office equipment, electronic devices, and meat. In July the customs-cleared surplus fell 38% from the year before, the 20th straight month of decline.

      In the critical realm of trade with the U.S., the April surplus dropped 56% from a year earlier to $1.6 billion, the 14th consecutive monthly decline. As a result, for the first time in years, trade friction did not dominate relations between Washington and Tokyo. Indeed, the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association announced that in fiscal 1995, 11 firms had purchased a total of more than $21 billion in U.S. auto parts. In August trade negotiators hailed an agreement that committed Japanese companies to continuing "voluntary" imports.

      In late 1995 foreign semiconductors in Japan's market exceeded 30% for the first time. The Ministry of International Trade and Industry declared that an earlier U.S.-Japan chip accord "had fully achieved its objectives" and should expire. On August 2 in Vancouver, B.C., negotiators reached an agreement regarded by the Japanese as a "symbolic event." They abandoned numerical targets as "managed trade" and embraced a global model for settling disputes.

      One remaining issue involved air rights between the two nations. On May 30 U.S. Transportation Secretary Frederico Pena urged approval of six new routes for Federal Express Corp. Tokyo responded that the U.S. should reopen talks on passenger routes, specifically regarding "beyond rights"—permission to continue flights to destinations outside Japan and the U.S.

      During the year negotiations also centred on security issues, specifically the status of U.S. military bases on Okinawa. The smallest of the main islands, Okinawa (with only 1% of Japan's land area), under the U.S.-Japan security treaty, was the home base of 75% of some 47,000 U.S. troops stationed on Japanese soil.

      In a brief meeting with U.S. Pres. Bill Clinton on February 23 in California, Hashimoto agreed to put off discussion of vital issues until their formal summit was held in Tokyo in April. He did, however, request cooperation on the problem of Okinawa.

      In September 1995 three off-duty U.S. servicemen had been charged with the rape of a 12-year-old schoolgirl in Okinawa. On March 7 a district court judge in the prefectural capital of Naha sentenced two of the men to seven years in prison and the other to six and a half years for the "brutal, arrogant act."

      On the eve of the April summit, a most significant change in the U.S.-Japan security arrangement was approved during Cabinet-level negotiations. The Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement provided for an exchange of matériel (including weapons), a reversal of a decade-old Japanese policy banning such exports. Japan's promise to cooperate if a military threat arose in the "Far East" made the security pact "more symmetrical."

      The alteration followed an April joint statement promising that the U.S. would relinquish 20% of the land occupied by U.S. forces on Okinawa. Two days later Clinton and Hashimoto hailed the security treaty as "an alliance for the 21st century."

      The campaign to reduce U.S. bases continued under Okinawa Gov. Masahide Ota. His local SDP, with Japan Communist Party support, commanded 25 of the 48 seats in the prefectural assembly. Despite suits filed by the central government and rejection of Ota's appeal by the Supreme Court on August 28, he initiated a nonbinding referendum in the prefecture. The poll, held on September 8, supported Ota by a 10-1 ratio. The turnout, however, was low (below 60%), and on September 13 the governor gave up the legal fight and agreed to the renewal of the base leases.

      Other islands also influenced Japan's relations with its neighbours. Hashimoto, the first Japanese prime minister to visit Moscow since 1985, met with Russian Pres. Boris Yeltsin on April 19 in an effort to revitalize talks leading to a peace treaty. A pact had been stalled by what Japanese called the "Northern Territories" issue, involving Russian occupation since 1945 of four tiny islands in the southern Kurils. Yeltsin agreed to honour the 1993 Tokyo Declaration, which formally recognized the territorial dispute. Hashimoto, however, later declined to attend Yeltsin's inaugural on August 9.

      On February 20 the Hashimoto Cabinet approved a 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone, under a UN sea convention. The decision promptly produced friction between Japan, South Korea, and China. At issue were rocky islets in the Sea of Japan known to Koreans as Tok-do and to Japanese as Takeshima, which were under Seoul's control. Hashimoto urged calm negotiations, particularly on fishing rights, until the dispute could be settled. Indeed, on June 23 the prime minister met with South Korean Pres. Kim Young Sam on Cheju Island. They agreed to explore four-power talks between the two Koreas, China, and the U.S. to promote stability on the peninsula. The two leaders also pledged coordination in the joint staging of the World Cup soccer finals in 2002.

      Japan's proposed sea zone also embraced the uninhabited Senkaku Islands (known to China as the Diaoyu chain and claimed by Beijing), now under Tokyo's control. Chinese on Taiwan also laid claim to these islets. There were numerous reports of offshore oil reserves.

      During the year the largest and most important island to figure in Japanese diplomacy was Taiwan. Seat of the Republic of China, it was regarded by the People's Republic on the mainland as a renegade province. In March, during the campaign preceding the first direct presidential election on Taiwan—easily won by incumbent Lee Teng-hui—China mounted military maneuvers in the Taiwan Strait. The moves were designed to intimidate the islanders, who, Beijing charged, were in the process of moving to separation and independence.

      Japan and the U.S. had both normalized relations with Beijing, but both continued a lively trade with Taiwan. On March 31 in Tokyo, Foreign Minister Ikeda informed his Chinese counterpart that Japan could not tolerate the use of force to settle the Taiwan issue. Foreign Minister Qian Qichen firmly responded that Taiwan was a domestic Chinese issue.

      Hashimoto was even less patient with a nuclear test carried out by China in July. It came on the eve of negotiations in Geneva to conclude the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which Japan strongly supported. Because of China's military operations near Taiwan and its successive nuclear experiments, Tokyo continued to hold up pledged grants-in-aid, which it had suspended after China's nuclear test in May 1995.

      In December members of the Peruvian guerrilla group Túpac Amaru stormed the Japanese embassy in Lima during a party. They took hostages and demanded the release of Túpac Amaru in Peruvian prisons as a condition for releasing the hostages. (See Peru .)

      Meanwhile, Japan continued to make personnel contributions to global peacekeeping operations. In August a Foreign Ministry official traveled to Kabul, Afg., to support UN efforts to end fighting between warring Islamic factions. With such actions, Japan hoped to enhance its bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. (ARDATH W. BURKS)

▪ 1996

      A constitutional monarchy in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, Japan comprises an archipelago with four main islands (Hokkaido, Honshu, Kyushu, and Shikoku), the Ryukyus (including Okinawa), and lesser adjacent islands. Area: 377,800 sq km (145,869 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.): 125,362,000. Cap.: Tokyo. Monetary unit: yen, with (Oct. 12, 1995) a free rate of 100 yen to U.S. $1 (160 yen = £1 sterling). Emperor, Akihito; prime minister in 1995, Tomiichi Murayama.

      In 1995 Japanese confidence was shaken by two disasters, one natural and the other of human origin. The Great Hanshin Earthquake (named after the Kobe-Osaka region) claimed about 6,000 lives and caused extensive damage to buildings and infrastructure. Later the nation was frightened by a series of gas attacks, mounted by a fringe religious sect, on subway and rail lines.

Domestic Affairs.
      Early on the morning of January 17, an earthquake centred on Awaji Island, 20 km (12.4 mi) southwest of Kobe, devastated the Hanshin region. Highways and rail lines were severely damaged, at least 100,000 buildings were destroyed, and 900,000 homes were without electricity. Early estimates of damage in Hyogo prefecture ranged from $95 billion to $150 billion (about 13-21% of the national budget for fiscal year 1994). The government's slow response to the crisis was widely criticized. On January 23 Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama acknowledged "shortcomings" in the government's emergency management system.

      Within six months after the quake, about 40,000 temporary houses had been built for more than 300,000 homeless people. Reconstruction, expected to take up to four years, continued to dominate budget discussions. Some economists, however, noted that construction work might provide a stimulus to the lagging economy.

      Two months after the earthquake, Japanese morale suffered another blow. On March 15 three briefcases containing a strange liquid and small fans were discovered in a Tokyo subway station before the devices could be activated. Five days later, at the height of the morning rush hour, fumes were detected at Tsukiji Station in the centre of Tokyo and in 15 stations on the busy Hibiya, Marunouchi, and Chiyoda subway lines. Twelve passengers were killed and 5,500 sickened, many of whom had to be hospitalized. In June 1994 a similar attack had killed 7 and injured 200 in Matsumoto. Investigation centred on a "new religion," whose members denied involvement. The group called itself Aum Shinrikyo (Supreme Truth) and was officially recognized in 1989. It was founded by Chizuo Matsumoto, who had assumed the name Shoko Asahara (see BIOGRAPHIES (Asahara, Shoko )), a legally blind former yoga instructor and pharmacist. Aum Shinrikyo had an estimated 10,000 followers in Japan and branch chapters abroad.

      Within days of the Tokyo gas incidents, more than 2,000 police officers raided Aum offices in Tokyo and its laboratory headquarters at Kamikuishiki, Yamanashi prefecture. They seized numerous canisters of toxic chemicals used to manufacture sarin, the nerve gas that had been identified as the substance used in the subway attacks. Lethal chemical devices were also found in Yokohama rail stations and at Shinjuku, the busiest rail and subway transfer point in Tokyo.

      On May 16 Asahara and 16 other cult leaders were arrested in nationwide raids. Although Asahara denied that his sect had been involved in the gas attacks, five followers later confessed to participation in the Matsumoto incident and implicated the sect in the prior abduction and killing of a lawyer who had represented families attempting to recover their children from the cult. Ashara's trial began on October 26, and on December 14, on the basis of an antisubversion law, the government outlawed Aum Shinrikyo.

      Public dissatisfaction with established parties became clear on April 9, when local elections were held to choose prefectural governors and assemblies. In assembly elections Murayama's Social Democratic Party of Japan (SDPJ) suffered the most stinging defeat in its history. Yukio Aoshima, an author tied to no party, became governor of Tokyo by defeating the candidate backed by most of the major parties. Fulfilling a campaign promise, he promptly announced cancellation of the World City Expo Tokyo '96, even though the city had already spent $250 million on the project. After comedian "Knock" Yokoyama rode a tidal wave of dissent to score an upset in Osaka, he announced that as governor he would generally use his real name, Isamu Yamada. On May 27 the SDPJ approved plans to disband and reorganize as a "democratic-liberal" group, pledged to support a "mature society."

      In an election held in July for half (126) the seats in the (upper) House of Councillors, the socialists absorbed additional losses. They won only 16 seats, giving them, with carryovers, a total of 38. The coalition, however, retained a majority because the LDP held 110 seats and New Party Sakigake controlled 3. The opposition Shinshinto increased its total to 56 seats.

      On August 8 Murayama reshuffled the Cabinet to reflect the new balance of power within his coalition. The LDP was given 13 portfolios, the SDPJ 5, and Sakigake 2. No woman was appointed to the Cabinet. A newspaper poll in September indicated that the Cabinet's public approval rating had fallen to a record low of 22%. On September 25 Ryutaro Hashimoto, well known to U.S. trade negotiators, was formally elected president of the LDP. Many expected him to become Japan's next prime minister. At year's end Shinshinto chose Ichiro Ozawa as party leader, a move that seemed likely to be welcomed by Japanese businessmen as well as Japan's foreign partners.

      Throughout 1995 the country's leaders agonized over how to mark the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II in the Pacific. They seemed not to know how to respond when victim nations revived memories of the sufferings they endured as a result of Japanese aggression. On April 7 the Cabinet announced the establishment of a private-sector Asian Peace and Friendship Fund for Women. With a government subsidy of $23.5 million, it was designed to express "remorse" to non-Japanese "comfort women," who had been forced to serve as prostitutes for Japan's military during the war.

      In May Sakigake threatened to withdraw from the coalition if the LDP continued to oppose a clear apology and a no-war resolution in the Diet. Former prime minister Yasuhiro Nakasone declared that such a statement would be "inappropriate." On June 9 the lower house, with 70 members absent, passed a resolution expressing "deep remorse" for "acts of aggression," particularly in Asia, and pledging adherence to Japan's no-war constitution. The upper house took no action. On August 15 Murayama became the first prime minister to use the word owabi (unambiguously, "apology") in a statement made before, and separated from, Emperor Akihito's presiding over the annual memorial to the war dead.

The Economy.
      In December 1994 the Cabinet had proposed an austere budget of $709.9 billion for fiscal 1995, a reflection of sluggish tax revenues. The sum was 2.9% lower than that of 1994, the first decline in 40 years. Only official development assistance (ODA, up 4% to $11 billion) and defense (up 1% to $47.2 billion) showed increases. On February 27 the House of Representatives approved the budget in record time and added a supplementary $10.2 billion package to expedite restoration in the Hanshin area. The House of Councillors concurred on March 22.

      In April the value of the U.S. dollar had fallen to 80.75 yen in Tokyo, the lowest level since modern exchange rates were established. The yen's sharp rise foreshadowed a deepening recession in Japan because its exports would become more costly. On April 14 the government announced that it was taking the "maximum measures possible" to stem the yen's rise. These included an early supplemental budget for fiscal 1995 and increased expenditures on public works. The Diet approved the extra $32 billion budget on May 19, including funds for reconstruction in the quake areas ($16.8 billion) and for additional security ($400 million) in the wake of the rail and subway gas attacks. Meanwhile, the Bank of Japan had cut the official discount rate to a historic low of 1%, but the impact was minimal.

      The government announced a further stimulus on June 27, front-loading public works expenditures. Yet another followed on September 20 and provided $142 billion, the largest stimulus package ever. On September 8 the Bank of Japan again lowered the discount rate, to a record low of 0.5%, to prevent further deflationary conditions.

      Mindful of the fraud and scandal surrounding the New York branch of Daiwa Bank Ltd. earlier in the year (see Banking (Economic Affairs )), on December 26 Finance Minister Masayoshi Takemura announced tighter controls on banks. Three days later Kyosuke Shinozawa, Takemura's top deputy and Japan's chief financial officer, resigned in order to draw fire away from his boss and to improve morale in the ministry.

Foreign Affairs.
      Despite the domestic recession, which had begun in 1991, Japan retained its position as the world's eminent creditor nation. The Ministry of Finance announced that at the end of 1994, net overseas assets (government and business holdings abroad, minus debts) totaled a record $689 billion. A swelling current account surplus, which reached $125 billion in the fiscal year ended March 31, added to the credits. Ryutaro Hashimoto, head of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), outlined a plan to reduce the surplus to 1% of GDP by 1998.

      During 1994 Japan had disbursed $13.3 billion in ODA (up 7.2% from 1993 in yen terms). It remained the largest foreign aid provider for the fourth year in a row. China received $1,480,000,000, and in September MITI announced that for fiscal 1996 it would seek $33 million for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. APEC, a new grouping of 18 Pacific Basin nations, met in November in Osaka. Although ties with the U.S. remained the core of Japan's foreign policy, Asia had top priority in the realm of aid.

      Japan and the U.S. continued to experience friction in trade relations. On January 11 Murayama attended a summit meeting in Washington. His call for a "creative partnership" was countered by Pres. Bill Clinton's emphasis on the need to reduce Japan's trade surplus. He singled out the automobile industry, which, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, made up 59% of the $62.7 billion American trade deficit with Japan. On May 8 Hashimoto informed Murayama that talks with U.S. trade representative Mickey Kantor had failed. On May 16, when Kantor announced a plan to impose tariffs totaling $5.9 billion on 13 Japanese luxury-car imports, Hashimoto promptly threatened to file complaints with the new World Trade Organization (WTO).

      The trade dispute dominated discussion among lobbyists at the Group of Seven summit meeting held in mid-June in Halifax, Nova Scotia, even though the formal meetings took no account of details. Japanese officials appeared satisfied with the outcome. Although they failed to win condemnation of "unilateralism" (their code word for sanctions), the communiqué supported the WTO and opposed "protectionism." Japan and the U.S. reached an 11th-hour agreement on June 28, thereby avoiding the imposition of U.S. tariffs. Clinton immediately claimed victory, predicting that Japan's purchase of auto parts would reach $9 billion in three years. Hashimoto also declared victory because the Japanese government had no responsibility to meet specific numerical targets.

      Trade friction with the U.S. also affected aviation. On June 19 the U.S. Department of Transportation threatened sanctions after Tokyo denied requests by Federal Express to carry its cargoes to other Asian airports via Japan. The dispute involved "beyond rights" of both nations. On July 20, after Japan broke off the talks, a last-minute accord was reached.

      A different kind of tension arose from the stationing of some 29,000 U.S. military personnel on the island of Okinawa. Local residents were critical of both the U.S. and their own government in Tokyo for agreeing to base 75% of the U.S. forces in Japan on their island, which accounted for only 1% of Japan's land area.

      On September 29 three U.S. servicemen were indicted in the prefectural capital of Naha for the abduction and rape of a young Okinawan girl. Gen. Charles C. Krulak, commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, flew out from Washington to lead a "day of reflection" with troops, and U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry formally apologized for the incident on November 1. The governor of Okinawa continued to press for revisions to the Status of Forces Agreement governing U.S. servicemen, particularly those off duty, but in late November Murayama pledged to seek renewal of the leases on property for the U.S. bases.

      In May Murayama became the first Japanese leader to visit the Marco Polo Bridge (outside Beijing), the site of the 1937 clash that triggered the Sino-Japanese War. On May 3, in a meeting with Chinese Premier Li Peng, Murayama reiterated his remorse over "aggression and colonial rule," which caused "unbearable suffering" in Asia. He urged a more active Chinese role in the U.S.-North Korea talks on nuclear weapons but received no clear answer to a request for Beijing's suspension of its own weapons experiments. Shortly after the visit, China carried out another nuclear test, the 42nd in a series. Japan's foreign minister summoned China's ambassador to protest another test in August. A few days later he called on the U.S., Russia, and Great Britain to continue their moratorium on nuclear trials, even though the Chinese and French were determined to test nuclear devices. On August 29 Tokyo cut grants to China from $80.4 million in fiscal 1994 to $5.2 million in 1995. Loans and humanitarian aid, however, would be continued. The Chinese Foreign Ministry promptly responded by reviving demands for war reparations, which they had renounced in the normalization declaration of 1972.

      During the year, remarks by officials in Tokyo damaged Japan's image in both Koreas. On June 3 former foreign minister Michio Watanabe declared that Korea had "harmoniously" become a Japanese colony by accepting the 1910 treaty. South Korean Prime Minister Lee Hong Koo promptly protested. Koreans were of one mind that their country was subjugated by superior military force. Japan had relinquished control over Korea at the end of World War II, and the Tokyo-Seoul normalization agreement of 1965 had invalidated the 1910 treaty. Watanabe retracted his statement a few months before his death on September 15. (See OBITUARIES (Watanabe, Michio ).) On October 5, however, Murayama elaborated on the theme. When he stated in the Diet that the 1910 treaty had been signed in a "legally valid" way, he was bitterly criticized in both North and South Korea. Cabinet minister Takami Eto resigned on November 13 for a similarly ill-considered remark he had made.

      Meanwhile, North Korea continued to be the only Asian country without formal ties to Japan. On March 30 in Pyongyang, a delegation representing Japan's governing coalition parties and leaders of the Korean Workers' Party signed a document calling for resumption of normalization talks. On May 29 Japan pledged aid in the form of rice shipments, so long as the dialogue between the two sides continued. On April 17 Do Muoi, general secretary of Vietnam's Communist Party, arrived in Tokyo, where he received pledges of a $700 million loan and a $36 million grant.

      A peace treaty with Russia still awaited settlement of the persistent Kuril Islands territorial dispute. In a two-day meeting in Tokyo in March, the foreign ministers of the two countries discussed but did not resolve the issue. Significantly, Japan's relations with the new state of Ukraine were more fruitful. On March 23 in Tokyo, Murayama greeted Pres. Leonid Kuchma and pledged $200 million to help Ukraine develop a market-oriented economy.


▪ 1995

      A constitutional monarchy in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, Japan comprises an archipelago with four main islands (Hokkaido, Honshu, Kyushu, and Shikoku), the Ryukyus (including Okinawa), and lesser adjacent islands. Area: 377,750 sq km (145,850 sq mi). Pop. (1994 est.): 124,960,000. Cap.: Tokyo. Monetary unit: yen, with (Oct. 7, 1994) a free rate of 100.22 yen to U.S. $1 (159.40 yen = £1 sterling). Emperor, Akihito; prime ministers in 1994, Morihiro Hosokawa, Tsutomu Hata from April 25, and, from June 29, Tomiichi Murayama.

      During 1994 Japan continued to experience turmoil in domestic politics as Tomiichi Murayama (see BIOGRAPHIES (Murayama, Tomiichi )) became the third prime minister selected in one year. With electoral reform finally on the way to passage, it was doubtful that the three-party coalition led by Murayama's Social Democratic Party of Japan (SDPJ) could retain control of the government. Along with this uncertainty was a disturbing estimate that Japan's growth for 1994 would be 0.8%, the lowest rate among the Group of Seven advanced industrial democracies (G-7). Despite the ailing economy at home, Japan remained alone among the G-7 to display a towering current account surplus ($130 billion). In June the Finance Ministry reported that in 1993 Japan was the world's top creditor for the third straight year, net overseas assets having risen to a record $610.8 billion. The ever growing trade surplus was increasingly generating pressure on Tokyo, especially from the U.S.

Internal Affairs.
      In 1992 Morihiro Hosokawa had launched the Japan New Party (JNP), and in 1993 he headed a seven-party coalition dedicated to reform and corruption-free politics. In August 1993 he was elected prime minister. Early in 1994 his coalition, with the support of the president of the Liberal-Democratic Party (LDP), revived and amended electoral reform bills. The package, which cleared both houses of the Diet (parliament) on January 29, would take effect in the autumn after a council had drawn new electoral districts.

      The Public Office Election Law (with a parallel political funds control regulation) represented the biggest change in the electoral system since woman suffrage was enacted in 1945. Reduction in the number of seats in the (lower) House of Representatives to 500 was expected to free candidates from "money politics." Single-seat constituencies were increased to 300, and proportional representation in 11 regional blocs was to produce 200. Adoption of the laws proved to be the only major accomplishment of the Hosokawa regime. On April 8, eight months after he assumed office on a reform platform, Hosokawa announced his resignation to solve the Diet deadlock over charges that he had improperly profited from ties to a trucking company in the early 1980s.

      Only hours after Tsutomu Hata, cofounder with Ichiro Ozawa of Shinseito (Japan Renewal Party) in 1993, was elected prime minister on April 25, the SDPJ withdrew from the new coalition. Angered by the formation of a parliamentary group that excluded the socialists, Murayama promised to cooperate in passing the long-stalled budget. On April 28 Hata formed the first administration in 39 years to lack majority support in both houses of the Diet. His coalition occupied only 14 of 20 posts in the new Cabinet. Aware of his low approval rating and facing a no-confidence motion, Hata consulted Ozawa and then decided on June 25 to step down. Before relinquishing power, the Hata Cabinet announced a program for promoting deregulation. Some 280 measures covered four main areas: reduction of land and housing costs; technological progress in communications; market access to increase imports and enhance consumer benefits; and support of innovations in finance, securities, and insurance. The package was designed to help reduce Japan's trade surplus and to relieve foreign pressure on Tokyo.

      On June 29 Tomiichi Murayama became the first Socialist in 47 years to be elected prime minister. His SDPJ, the second largest party in the lower house, formed an astonishing alliance with its traditional rival, the LDP, and with New Party Sakigake. Murayama's Cabinet included 13 ministers from the LDP, the largest party in the lower house, and 5 from the SDPJ.

      In his inaugural speech on July 18, Murayama pledged tax reform. He also promised that the next general election would be held under the new polling system. Until then the distribution of lower house seats (total 512) would be: LDP 200; the former coalition consisting of JNP, Shinseito, and the Democratic Socialist Party (DSP) 126; SDPJ 74; Komeito (Clean Government Party) 52; Sakigake 21; Japan Communist Party (JCP) 15; and independents and vacancies 24. In the upper house (total 252) the apportionment was: LDP 95, SDPJ 68, Komeito 24, JCP 11, and independents 54.

      On August 11 a panel delivered to Murayama a new election map, which could produce further realignment of parties. The winner-take-all feature in the 300 single-seat constituencies favoured large parties and could enhance the role of LDP candidates, who had won the most seats in many districts. Moreover, on August 18 nine opposition groups, ousted by Murayama's three-party alliance, agreed on principles to establish a new party. Included were Shinseito, the JNP, Komeito, five smaller groups, and LDP dissidents. Hata predicted that 190-200 lower house members would join the New Frontier Party (Shinshinto), which was officially inaugurated in December.

      Monju, Japan's first prototype fast-breeder reactor, located in Tsuruga, Fukui prefecture, achieved criticality on April 5. The facility was expected to supply commercial energy in 1995. Since such a reactor produced plutonium, which could be used for nuclear weapons, there were strong domestic and international protests. To offset criticism, Japan proposed an international agency to control disposition of the plutonium.

      On August 29 a ceremony opening the new Kansai International Airport was held on a man-made island in Osaka Bay. The project, which took nearly eight years to build, cost about $14.4 billion. The 105-ha (260-ac) facility would eventually handle 390 round-trip international flights per week.

      On October 4 a major earthquake with a magnitude of 7.9 shook Japan. The quake was centred on the ocean floor east of Hokkaido, where damage was reported, and south of the Kurils, where 16 people were reported killed. Another quake of similar magnitude (about 7.5) occurred off the northeast coast of Honshu on December 28, but damage was minimal.

The Economy.
      On February 15 the Hosokawa Cabinet added a $144 billion pump-priming package to fiscal 1993 expenditures and introduced an austere 1994 budget, showing only 1% growth. Finance Minister Hirohisa Fujii, however, expressed concern over an exchange rate that did not reflect fundamentals. The currency's steep rise to 103.2 yen to the U.S. dollar threatened to offset efforts to jump-start the economy. The 1994 budget provided $731 billion in expenditures, including $409 billion in general account, $55 billion in income and residential tax reductions, and $89 billion in public works to revive the economy. Defense received somewhat more than $44 billion, just 0.95% of gross national product (GNP), the smallest increase in 34 years. Official development assistance rose 4.8% to $10 billion, but that was the lowest annual increase ever.

      The March report of the Economic Planning Agency (EPA) described the economy as sluggish. Industrial output was lacklustre, and gross domestic product, which totaled $4 trillion, indicated an annual growth of less than 1%. The unemployment rate reached 2.9% in June, the third highest level on record.

      In his inaugural speech as chairman of the Japan Federation of Economic Organizations (Keidanren), Shoichiro Toyoda called for drastic deregulation to revitalize the economy. He believed that a domestic-led recovery would increase imports and improve foreign trade relations. He favoured public subsidies of, and individual contributions to, political parties. Toyoda, head of the Toyota Motor Corp., was the first chairman of Keidanren to represent consumer interests, with automobiles accounting for 30% of GNP and 11% of total employment.

      In July the chairman of the Japan Federation of Employers' Association denounced the government's freeze of rice prices as a "pretense" if subsidies to farmers were to rise 70% as planned. He believed that the purchase price of $1.24 per pound should come down to match the world level. This was especially important after the arrival of the first imported rice early in the year.

      Also in July, Akira Yamagishi, head of Japan's largest union confederation, decried the SDPJ-LDP alliance, which had served to split organized labour. In a general election, he contended, the new constituency system would favour the LDP and serve to isolate both the SDPJ and the DSP, backed by different union groups.

Foreign Affairs.
      The Foreign Ministry's "blue book," covering diplomacy in 1993 and early 1994, indicated that trade with the U.S. was crucial to Japan and that it was "politically intolerable to leave the trade balance at current levels." In fiscal 1993 the total trade surplus reached a record $122 billion. The balance with the U.S. was $51 billion (up 12%), the third straight annual growth.

      On January 23 U.S. Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen warned Tokyo that Washington might reexamine the stalled "framework" negotiations if no agreement had been reached before scheduled talks in February. Japan continued to characterize U.S. efforts to set market shares as standards for progress as "managed trade."

      In his meeting with Hosokawa on February 11, U.S. Pres. Bill Clinton demanded numerical targets as "objective criteria" for measuring the openness of Japanese markets. Hosokawa refused and expressed hope that the U.S. would not resort to unilateral action contravening the rules of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. The meeting adjourned without a joint statement. Japanese editorials supported Hosokawa for saying "no" to the U.S. for the first time. Later, Hosokawa reacted calmly to Clinton's executive order reinstating Super 301 (a retaliatory trade law), saying that the measure did not mean immediate sanctions. In a phone call to Clinton on March 29, Hosokawa outlined steps to expand Japan's domestic demand and improve market access in the hope of resuming negotiations. On April 1, however, U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor put Japan at the top of a list of nations with trade barriers, one step away from applying sanctions.

      On June 1 Japan and the U.S. resumed "framework" talks in Tokyo. Foreign Minister Koji Kakizawa stated that the "Japan-U.S. gap has shrunk considerably," but he admitted that no sectorial targets had been reached. He was referring to Kantor's specific demands for gains in the areas of insurance, automobiles and auto parts, and government procurement of telecommunications and medical equipment. U.S. Ambassador Walter F. Mondale expressed hope that a cellular phone agreement involving Motorola, Inc., concluded in March, would become a model for negotiations. On June 19 he told Keidanren chairman Toyoda that deregulation should become Japan's tool for reducing the trade surplus.

      Once again on the eve of a summit—the G-7 July meeting in Naples—Tokyo announced plans for a package of market-opening measures outlined in March. When the U.S. was informed that Murayama could not attend the talks because of illness, its skepticism over Tokyo's capacity to fulfill promises increased. On August 1 Murayama denied that negotiations had collapsed. Without agreement, however, the two parties moved steadily toward a U.S. deadline set for September 30. On October 1, after all-night negotiations in Washington, the two sides reached an agreement that was trumpeted on both sides as a "breakthrough." It gave the U.S. a victory with the opening up of Japanese markets for medical and telecommunications equipment, insurance, and plate glass. No guarantees of market shares or numerical targets were made, however, and the most important sector—autos and auto parts—was not resolved. Limited Super 301 sanctions could still be applied after a 12-18-month period of further consultation.

      There was no public evidence of tension during the 16-day whirlwind tour of the U.S. by Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko. When they arrived in Washington on June 13, they were welcomed with a 21-gun salute. The emperor expressed Japan's gratitude for the "generosity of the support" offered by Americans after the Pacific war. Clinton responded: "Our commitment to common ideals is firm. Our determination to work with you is strong." Later the emperor and empress honoured the U.S. war dead by placing a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington, Va. In the evening the Clintons served as host to a white-tie state dinner. On the return trip the royal couple visited the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.

      In 1991 Japan and North Korea met in China to begin discussing diplomatic relations, but the talks broke down in late 1992 over allegations that Korean terrorists had kidnapped a Japanese. North Korea thus remained the only Asian country that had no diplomatic ties with Japan. In 1993 both Tokyo and Washington became alarmed over Pyongyang's threat to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and refusal to allow UN inspection of nuclear sites. Japan's Foreign Ministry stated that creation of nuclear weapons on the peninsula would be a "direct threat to Japan." In February 1994 North Korea, responding through the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), accused Japan of pursuing a policy of "isolating and stifling" Pyongyang. Any consideration of UN sanctions, it said, would preclude a solution of the nuclear issue. In fact, the KCNA added, Japan's Monju reactor was evidence that Japan hoped to become a nuclear power.

      In March Tokyo supported a U.S.-drafted statement by the UN Security Council urging North Korea to comply with international nuclear safeguards. The Japanese, however, hesitated to favour sanctions. For one thing, the constitution did not sanction the use of any force to back sanctions. Moreover, more than one-third of the roughly 680,000 Korean residents in Japan identified with Chongryun (a pro-Pyongyang association). Funds remitted annually by Koreans in Japan to the North were estimated at $575 million-$770 million, even though banks had begun to staunch the flow. Finally, Tokyo took Pyongyang's threats seriously; on April 5 the KCNA reported that the government had earmarked 11.6% of its 1994 budget for defense against Japan's "provocation." North Korea's Rodong 1 missile, which had been sent to a target in the Sea of Japan, was said to have a 960-km (600-mi) range, sufficient to hit U.S. bases at Sasebo and Iwakuni in Japan. At the Naples G-7 summit, Murayama expressed regrets over the death of Pres. Kim Il Sung (see OBITUARIES (Kim Il Sung )) and hoped that his passing would not have a negative impact on the peninsula.

      Hosokawa had expressed remorse to Chinese leaders for past Japanese actions, including "aggression and colonial rule" on the continent, the first time a prime minister had used the terms abroad. He then noted that in 1993 Japan-China trade had grown to $38 billion, making China Japan's second largest trading partner (after the U.S., at $161 billion).

      When Murayama visited Seoul in July, he made an explicit "apology" for Japanese actions in Korea. Until the visit his SDPJ had not recognized South Korea as a sovereign state. In late August Murayama made a tour of four nations in Southeast Asia. In the Philippines he pledged support for Manila's program of domestic reform. The visit was marred by demonstrations denouncing the Japanese military's use of Filipina "comfort women" during the Pacific war. In Vietnam Murayama offered grants-in-aid totaling $77 million. After a stop in Malaysia, he visited Singapore and offered aid through the Japan-Singapore Partnership program.

      Although Japan had normalized relations with the U.S.S.R. in 1956, a formal peace treaty with its successor, Russia, continued to be blocked by a nagging territorial dispute over four small islands in the southern Kurils, occupied by Russia but claimed by Japan. No progress was made because Russian Pres. Boris Yeltsin was in a weak position to negotiate owing to pressure from extreme nationalists at home.

      In March Hisashi Owada, Japan's senior career foreign service official and the father of Crown Princess Masako, was appointed ambassador to the UN. Political observers saw this as a quiet bid by Japan to win a permanent seat on the Security Council. (ARDATH W. BURKS)

▪ 1994

      A constitutional monarchy in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, Japan comprises an archipelago with four main islands (Hokkaido, Honshu, Kyushu, and Shikoku), the Ryukyus (including Okinawa), and lesser adjacent islands. Area: 377,750 sq km (145,850 sq mi). Pop. (1993 est.): 124,612,000. Cap.: Tokyo. Monetary unit: yen, with (Oct. 4, 1993) a free rate of 105.78 yen to U.S. $1 (160.25 yen = £1 sterling). Emperor, Akihito; prime ministers in 1993, Kiichi Miyazawa and, from August 9, Morihiro Hosokawa.

      During 1993 Japan experienced political turmoil but not quite a revolution when the Liberal-Democratic Party (LDP) was ousted after 38 years in power. A coalition of seven dissident LDP factions and opposition parties elected Morihiro Hosokawa prime minister. (See BIOGRAPHIES (Hosokawa, Morihiro ).) Despite record-high approval ratings, Hosokawa faced formidable obstacles: a shaky coalition riven by policy differences, a stubborn recession aggravated by appreciation of the yen and deepened by unseasonable weather, and an eventual challenge in another general election. Japan's current account surplus, which in 1992 had soared to over $117 billion, or about 3% of gross national product (GNP), was increasingly criticized abroad, particularly by the U.S. By year's end, however, Japan's trade surplus appeared to be on the decline.

Domestic Affairs.
      Late in 1992 Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa appointed his second LDP Cabinet, reshuffling positions to defuse criticism of a "money-politics" scandal involving a major trucking company and Shin Kanemaru, the LDP's chief power broker. Kanemaru had been forced to resign as head of the faction that had ties to former prime minister Noboru Takeshita. Miyazawa named Masaharu Gotoda justice minister and point man in the Sagawa Kyubin affair. Yohei Kono became chief Cabinet secretary and the ailing Michio Watanabe deputy prime minister and foreign minister. Watanabe resigned in April and was replaced by Kabun Muto.

      On January 22 the 150-day regular session of the Diet opened with the LDP focusing attention on the economy and the need for political reform. Opposition parties and dissident LDP members went on the offensive, blaming the government for the latest scandal and criticizing Miyazawa's management of the economy.

      On June 18, hours after the (lower) House of Representatives passed a motion of no confidence in the prime minister, Miyazawa called a snap general election. He had lost the vote (255-220) because 39 members of the LDP had deserted him. On June 19, 10 LDP members defected and founded Sakigake (Harbinger, or Pioneer, Party) with Masayoshi Takemura as leader. On June 23 Tsutomu Hata, a former finance minister and founding member of the Takeshita faction, quit the LDP and formed the Japan Renewal Party (JRP), with the support of Ichiro Ozawa, a former LDP secretary-general. Hata announced, "Our party was formed to expedite a new wind, a new voice, a new system." He became the "public face" of the reformers because Ozawa had been closely linked to Kanemaru. The LDP had counted 274 members in the lower house before 56 defected in a single week.

      During a two-week period in late June, public support for the Miyazawa Cabinet had dropped from 43.6 to 28.6%—the lowest level since 1989. Voters appeared to have lost confidence in all political parties. In the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election on June 27, the LDP barely held its own, winning 44 seats; Komeito (Clean Government Party), a major opposition group, took 25; and the Social Democratic Party of Japan (SDPJ), hitherto leaders of the opposition, won only 14. The surprising results were due to another rash of LDP defections.

      Morihiro Hosokawa, the descendant of a samurai family and the grandson of Prince Fumimaro Konoe (prime minister in 1937-39 and 1940-41), had launched the Japan New Party (JNP) in May 1992. By July Hosokawa and three other members of the JNP had been elected to the (upper) House of Councillors. In the 1993 Tokyo election, the JNP won 20 seats. With one in 10 voters favouring the new party, the media began to refer to the "JNP boom." It was not the JNP, however, that laid the foundation stones for a new regime. On June 27 Hata met with the leaders of four opposition parties: the SDPJ, Komeito, the Democratic Socialist Party (DSP), and the United Social Democratic Party (USDP). The goal was to work toward electoral reform and corruption-free politics in the Diet. LDP hard-liner and Ozawa archrival Seiroku Kajiyama asked voters whether they preferred continued stability under LDP rule or an unstable coalition government.

      The July national election produced quite mixed results. The LDP remained the largest party in the lower house, but it failed to retain its absolute majority. Miyazawa's resignation as president of the LDP on July 22 coincided with Kanemaru's first court appearance on tax-evasion charges. Cabinet secretary Yohei Kono was then chosen to lead the party. On July 29 seven parties agreed to form an anti-LDP, noncommunist coalition and to field Hosokawa as their candidate for prime minister. At the time, lower house seats (total 512) were apportioned as follows (with prior strength): LDP 225 (227); SDPJ 70 (134); JRP 55 (36); Komeito 52 (45); JNP 35 (0); DSP 15 (13); Sakigake 13 (10); USDP 4 (4); Japan Communist Party (JCP) 15 (16); independents 27 (12); vacancies 0 (15). In the upper house (total 252), the representation was: LDP 99; SDPJ 73; JRP 8; Komeito 24; JNP 4; DSP 11; JCP 11; minor party backed by Rengo (Japan Trade Union Confederation) 10; vacancies 12.

      On August 6 Hosokawa was elected prime minister when he received 262 of 503 votes cast. Kono, president of the LDP, garnered 224; Tetsuzo Fuwa, chairman of the JCP, received 15. In the upper house, Hosokawa was confirmed when he received 132 votes, with 93 votes being cast for Kono. Just before the critical vote, Takako Doi, who had been the first woman to head a major party (the SDPJ), became the first female to be elected speaker of the House. Doi's acceptance of the post tended to stabilize the coalition. That same day Hosokawa named six heads of the other coalition parties to his Cabinet: Hata (JRP) foreign minister and deputy prime minister); Takemura (Sakigake) chief Cabinet secretary; Sadao Yamahana (SDPJ) minister without portfolio in charge of political reform; Koshiro Ishida (Komeito) director of the Management and Coordination Agency; Keigo Ouchi (DSP) Health and Welfare Ministry; and Satsuki Eda (USDP) director of the Science and Technology Agency. Three women also received portfolios: Ryoko Akamatsu as minister of education, Manae Kubota as director of the Economic Planning Agency, and Wakako Hironaka as director of the Environment Agency. Although Yamahana accepted a Cabinet post, he resigned as chairman of the SDPJ. The task of rebuilding the SDPJ was turned over to Tomiichi Murayama, head of the party's Diet Administration Committee.

      In his first policy address to the Diet on August 23, Hosokawa pledged to overhaul the economy in order to boost domestic demand and cut Japan's huge current account surplus. In addition, he urged a new plan to balance direct and indirect taxes and noted that electoral reform would include a ban on corporate donations. Turning to foreign relations, Hosokawa expressed "remorse and apologies" for the Pacific conflict, a statement of great importance to Japan's Asian neighbours. Ties with the U.S. would remain the hub of Japanese foreign policy. The new prime minister revealed an easy public style, particularly before TV cameras, which was unusual for Japanese leaders. He also appeared without the maroon lapel badge that signified Diet status. On August 15, the 48th anniversary of Japan's surrender ending World War II, he did not visit Yasukuni Shrine, which memorializes the nation's war dead. The decision of a prime minister to visit or not visit the shrine had strong nationalistic and political overtones. One month after its establishment, the Hosokawa Cabinet received a record-high 71% public-approval rating.

      The coalition Cabinet passed its first test on August 28 when it approved a plan for electoral reform. The current lower house, based on multiseat constituencies, would be reduced from 512 to 500 members (250 from single-seat constituencies, 250 national seats based on proportional representation). Each voter would cast two votes—one for a district candidate, one for a national party. The LDP planned to introduce a rival plan of its own.

The Imperial Family.
      On June 9 in Tokyo, Crown Prince Naruhito married Masako Owada (see BIOGRAPHIES (Naruhito, Crown Prince, and Princess Masako )), a career woman from the Foreign Ministry. Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko began an unprecedented four-day visit to Okinawa on April 23 to pay respect to nearly 200,000 soldiers and civilians killed in the Pacific war. After the empress collapsed on October 20, her 59th birthday, the only medical information made public was the fact that she could not speak.

The Economy.
      In the face of intense pressure from the opposition, the Miyazawa Cabinet pushed a $603 billion budget (fiscal year 1993) through the lower house on March 7. About 5% of expenditures was earmarked for public works to stimulate the economy. On the eve of the new fiscal year (March 31), the upper house likewise approved the budget.

      Despite stimulation, the gross national product (GNP) in fiscal 1992 had grown an anemic 0.8% in real terms, the lowest rate since 1974. The GNP further shrank (-0.5%, or -2% in annual terms) during the April-June quarter. Growth was affected by a decline in exports (-5.4%), a result of the yen's appreciation. Japan's 11 major commercial banks all posted declines in pretax profits as they struggled with problem loans. On April 13 the government unveiled a $115 billion stimulus package, the largest in history, to offset one of the nation's worst economic slumps since World War II. The Hosokawa Cabinet added a set of measures on September 16 to reduce economic regulations and to pass along the benefits of the yen's appreciation to Japanese consumers. The prime minister thus ignored Ozawa's demand to slash income taxes in half.

Foreign Affairs.
      In Tokyo's first contact with the new administration in Washington on February 11, Pres. Bill Clinton urged Foreign Minister Watanabe to try to cut Japan's $46 billion trade surplus with the U.S. Watanabe responded that the Super 301 trade clause being considered by Congress (allowing unilateral retaliation against unfair trade practices) "is not a good approach." In any case, the Finance Ministry announced that Japan's total current account surplus (fiscal 1992) had surged almost 40% to a record $126 billion (trade surplus, $136 billion). Three factors were driving up the yen's value against the dollar: Japan's trade surplus; the dollar's weakness, reflecting cuts in U.S. interest rates; and international coordination in raising the yen's value to cut the surplus.

      Emerging from his first meeting with Miyazawa in Washington on April 16, Clinton told reporters that he wanted "specific results" in the trade arena. Miyazawa replied that good relations could not be realized with "managed trade" or under threat of "unilateralism." On July 10, after the meeting of the Group of Seven major industrial nations (G-7) in Tokyo, Japan and the U.S. agreed on a "framework" for trade relations. Tokyo would accept "objective criteria" to gauge market access. Miyazawa and Clinton referred to "tangible, measurable progress" in the negotiations and reaffirmed the agreement in a meeting at the UN in New York on September 28. On December 14 Hosokawa announced that he had made the "regrettable" decision to allow the importation of a modest amount of rice. Despite vigorous opposition at home, Hosokawa felt it was a concession Japan had to make to foster freer international trade.

      During the year Japan made a significant effort to assuage the feelings of victims of the Pacific war. On March 11 Miyazawa offered an apology to Philippine Pres. Fidel Ramos for the forced prostitution of Filipinas during the conflict. Tokyo also welcomed the unusual concession of Kim Young Sam, South Korea's newly elected president, not to seek compensation for some 150,000 "comfort women" who had been forced into frontline brothels by the Imperial Japanese Army. Kim said this decision made Seoul "morally superior" in its relations with Tokyo. On August 4, after much delay, Japan's chief Cabinet secretary publicly admitted that his nation's military had been in control of such women during the war. On August 15, the anniversary of Japan's defeat, an Asahi shimbun editorial commented on Hosokawa's public admission that Japan had engaged in a "war of aggression." It said, "It took the Japanese government 48 years to admit what people abroad have been saying all along."

      Meanwhile, South Korea's foreign minister and Miyazawa agreed to continue efforts to resolve the issue of North Korea's suspected development of nuclear arms. Miyazawa called Pyongyang's decision to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and to block inspections of its nuclear facilities "a great security threat." On June 12 Pyongyang announced a delay in abandoning the treaty. North Korea was the only Asian country that had no diplomatic relations with Japan.

      Japan had established normal relations with the U.S.S.R. in 1956, but a formal peace treaty with its successor, Russia, remained hung up over a territorial dispute. It involved four small islands in the southern Kurils, occupied by Russia but claimed by Japan. Tokyo threatened to limit aid to Moscow until the issue was resolved. In April, before the Tokyo summit, the G-7 ministers, whose number included the Japanese minister, hammered out a $40 billion aid package for Russia. Miyazawa informally met Pres. Boris Yeltsin on July 8 at the "G-7 plus 1" summit, but it was apparent that the president's precarious position at home precluded any territorial concession. After two postponed official visits, a cautious Yeltsin arrived in Tokyo on October 11. To save face, minor agreements were announced, but Tokyo offered no increase in aid to Russia, and Moscow no plan to solve the territorial problem.

      On February 19 UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali completed a five-day visit to Tokyo. At a banquet in his honour, the secretary-general hinted that such nations as Japan, Germany, and Brazil needed to assume greater roles in the world organization. The emerging new world order, he added, required a "democratized" UN. Japan concluded this to mean that it should have a permanent seat on the Security Council. Speaking to the UN General Assembly in New York on September 27, Hosokawa advocated an expanded Council. He promised to "participate constructively," but he stopped short of openly proposing that Japan be given a permanent seat.

      On April 27 the Cabinet approved the second deployment of Self-Defense Forces (SDF) on UN-organized peacekeeping operations. In mid-May contingents departed for Maputo, Mozambique, where they were to remain until general elections were held. On September 12, after a year in Cambodia, a 600-man engineering battalion from the Ground SDF completed its UN assignment and closed its base at Takeo. Altogether over 1,200 SDF personnel had served in Japan's first UN peacekeeping operation.


* * *

Japanese  Nihon  or  Nippon 
Japan, flag of   country lying off the east coast of Asia. It consists of a great string of islands in a northeast-southwest arc that stretches for approximately 1,500 miles (2,400 km) through the western Pacific Ocean. Nearly the entire land area is taken up by the country's four main islands; from north to south these are Hokkaido (Hokkaidō), Honshu (Honshū), Shikoku, and Kyushu (Kyūshū). Honshu is the largest of the four, followed in size by Hokkaido, Kyushu, and Shikoku. In addition, there are numerous smaller islands, the major groups of which are the Ryukyu (Nansei) Islands (including the island of Okinawa) to the south and west of Kyushu and the Izu, Bonin (Ogsawara), and Volcano (Kazan) islands to the south and east of central Honshu. The national capital, Tokyo (Tōkyō), in east-central Honshu, is one of the world's most populous cities.

 Japan is bounded to the west by the Sea of Japan (East Sea), which separates it from the eastern shores of South and North Korea and southeastern Siberia (Russia); to the north by La Perouse (Sōya) Strait, separating it from Russian-held Sakhalin Island, and by the Sea of Okhotsk; to the northeast by the southern Kuril Islands (since World War II under Soviet and then Russian administration); to the east and south by the Pacific; and to the southwest by the East China Sea, which separates it from China. The island of Tsushima lies between northwestern Kyushu and southeastern South Korea and defines the Korea Strait on the Korean side and the Tsushima Strait on the Japanese side.

 The Japanese landscape is rugged, with more than four-fifths of the land surface consisting of mountains. There are many active and dormant volcanoes, including Mount Fuji, which, at an elevation of 12,388 feet (3,776 metres), is Japan's highest mountain. Abundant rainfall and the generally mild temperatures throughout most of the country have produced a lush vegetation cover and, despite the mountainous terrain and generally poor soils, have made it possible to raise a variety of crops. Japan has a large and, to a great extent, ethnically homogeneous population, which is heavily concentrated in the low-lying areas along the Pacific coast of Honshu.

 Complexity and contrast are the keynotes of life in Japan—a nation possessing an intricate and ancient cultural tradition yet one that, since World War II, has emerged as one of the world's most economically and technologically advanced societies. Heavy emphasis is placed on education, and Japan is one of the world's most literate countries. Tension between old and new is apparent in all phases of Japanese life. A characteristic sensitivity to natural beauty and a concern with form and balance are evident in such cities as Kyōto and Nara, as well as in Japan's ubiquitous gardens. Even in the countryside, however, the impact of rapid Westernization is evident in many aspects of Japanese life. The agricultural regions are characterized by low population densities and well-ordered rice fields and fruit orchards, whereas the industrial and urbanized belt along the Pacific coast of Honshu is noted for its highly concentrated population, heavy industrialization, and environmental pollution.

      Humans have occupied Japan for tens of thousands of years, but Japan's recorded history begins only in the 1st century BC, with mention in Chinese sources. Contact with China and Korea in the early centuries AD brought profound changes to Japan, including the Chinese writing system, Buddhism, and many artistic forms from the continent. The first steps at political unification of the country occurred in the late 4th to early 5th century AD under the Yamato court. A great civilization then developed in Japan, first at Nara in the 8th century and then at Heian (now Kyōto) from the late 8th to the late 12th century. The seven centuries thereafter were a period of domination by military rulers culminating in near isolation from the outside world from the 17th to the mid-19th century.

      The reopening of the country ushered in contact with the West and a time of unprecedented change. Japan sought to become a modern industrialized nation and pursued the acquisition of a large overseas empire. This latter policy led to confrontation with the United States and its allies and to defeat in World War II. Since the war, however, Japan's spectacular economic growth—one of the greatest of any nation in that period—has brought the country to the forefront of the world economy. It now is one of the world's foremost manufacturing countries and traders of goods and is a global financial leader.

Akira Watanabe Gil Latz

The land

Relief (Japan)
  The mountainous character of the country is the outcome of orogenic (mountain-building) forces largely during the Quaternary Period (the past 1.8 million years), as evidenced by the frequent occurrence of violent earthquakes, volcanic activity, and signs of change in sea levels along the coast. There are no sizable structural plains and peneplains (large land areas leveled by erosion), features that usually occur in more stable regions of the Earth. The mountains are for the most part in a youthful stage of dissection in which steep slopes are incised by dense river-valley networks. Rivers are mostly torrential, and their valleys are accompanied by series of river terraces that are the result of movements in the Earth's crust, as well as climatic and sea-level changes in Holocene times (i.e., the past 10,000 years). Recent volcanoes are juxtaposed with old and highly dissected ones. The shores are characterized by elevated and depressed features such as headlands and bays, which display an incipient stage of development.

      The mountains are divided into many small land blocks that are separated by lowlands or deep saddles; there is no long or continuous mountain range. These land blocks are the result of intense faulting (movement of adjacent rock masses along a fracture) and warping (bending of the Earth's crust), the former process being regarded as dominant. One consequence is that mountain blocks are often bounded by fault scarps and flexure slopes that descend in step formation to the adjacent lowlands.

      Coalescing alluvial fans—cone-shaped deposits of alluvium that run together—are formed where rivers emerge from the mountains. When the rivers are large enough to extend their courses to the sea, low deltaic plains develop in front of the fans; this occurs most frequently where the rivers empty into shallow and sheltered bays, as in the deltas of Kantō (Kwanto), Nōbi, and Ōsaka. In most places, however, fan surfaces plunge directly into the sea and are separated by low, sandy beach ridges.

      Dissected plains are common. Intense disturbances have caused many former alluvial fans, deltas, and sea bottoms to be substantially uplifted to form flat-topped uplands such as those found in the Kantō Plain. Frequently the uplands have been overlain with volcanic ash, as in the Kantō and Tokachi plains.

Geologic framework
      Japan is one of the world's most geologically unstable areas. The country experiences some 1,000 tremors (earthquake) annually, most of them minor, though major quakes—such as in Tokyo-Yokohama (1923) and Kōbe (1995)—cause considerable loss of life and widespread destruction. Violent volcanic eruptions occur frequently, and at least 60 volcanoes (volcano) have been active within historical time. Volcanoes born since 1900 include Shōwa Volcano on Hokkaido and Myōjin Rock off the Beyoneisu (or Bayonnaise) Rocks in the Pacific. Among the major eruptions since 1980 are those of Mounts O (1983) and Mihara (1986) in the Izu Islands and Mount Unzen (1991) in Kyushu. The country's abundant hot springs are mostly of volcanic origin. Many of the gigantic volcanoes are conical in shape (e.g., Mount Fuji), while others form steep lava domes (e.g., Mounts Dai and Unzen). Conspicuous shield volcanoes (broad, gently sloping volcanic cones) are rare, and extensive lava plateaus are lacking. One of the characteristics of the volcanic areas is the prevalence of calderas (caldera) (large, circular, basin-shaped volcanic depressions), especially in the northeast and southwest, many of which are filled with water, such as Lakes Kutcharo, Towada, and Ashi.

      The cause of this instability—indeed, the reason for Japan's existence—is the tectonic movement of several of the Earth's major crustal plates (plate tectonics) in the vicinity of the archipelago. Most important is the subduction (sinking) of the Pacific Plate (in the north) and the Philippine Plate (in the south) beneath the Eurasian Plate upon which Japan lies. The movements of these plates have formed six mountain arcs off the northeastern coast of Asia: from northeast to southwest, the Chishima Range of the Kuril Islands; the Karafuto (Sakhalin) Mountain system of Hokkaido; the Northeast, Southwest, and Shichito-Mariana ranges of Japan; and the Ryukyu Island formations.

The major physiographic regions
 These mountain arcs, in turn, generally correspond to Japan's major physiographic regions: the four regions of Japan proper (Hondo)—Hokkaido, Northeastern, Central, and Southwestern—and the Ryukyu and Bonin archipelagoes.

      The Hokkaido region was formed by the coalescence of the Chishima and Karafuto arcs. The backbone of the region is aligned north to south. The Chishima arc enters Hokkaido as three volcanic chains with elevations above 6,000 feet (1,800 metres); these are arranged in ladder formation and terminate in the heart of the region. Chief components of the mountain system are the Kitami Mountains (Kitami-sammyaku) in the north and the Hidaka Range in the south.

      The Northeastern Region nearly coincides with the northeastern mountain arc and stretches from southwest Hokkaido to central Honshu. Several rows of mountains, lowlands, and volcanic zones are closely oriented to the general trend of the insular arc of this region, which is convex toward the Pacific Ocean. The Kitakami (Kitakami-sammyaku) and Abukuma ranges (Abukuma-sammyaku) on the east coast are somewhat oblique to the general trend; they are chiefly composed of older rocks, and plateaulike landforms survive in the centre. In the western zone, the formations conform to the general trend and are composed of a basement complex overlain by thick accumulations of young rocks that have been subjected to mild folding. The Ōu Range (Ōu Mountains), capped with towering volcanoes that form the main part of the East Japan Volcanic Belt, is separated from the coastal ranges by the Kitakami-Abukuma lowlands to the east and by a row of basins in the west.

      The Central Region of Honshu is dominated by the coalescence of the Northeast, Southwest, and Shichito-Mariana mountain arcs near Mount Fuji. The trend of the mountains, lowlands, and volcanic zones intersects the island almost at right angles. The most notable physical feature is the Fossa Magna, a great rift lowland that traverses the widest portion of Honshu from the Sea of Japan to the Pacific. It is partially occupied by mountains and volcanoes of the southern part of the East Japan Volcanic Belt. Intermontane basins are sandwiched between the lofty, partially glaciated central mountain knots of the Akaishi, Kiso, and Hida ranges (Hida Range) (which together form the Japanese Alps) to the west and the Kantō Range to the east. The shallow structural basin of the Kantō Plain, which stretches to the east of the Kantō Range, is the most extensive lowland of Japan; the immense metropolis of Tokyo spreads out from its centre, covering a vast area of the plain.

      The Southwestern Region of southern Honshu, Shikoku, and northern Kyushu generally coincides with the southwestern mountain arc, and the general trend of highlands and lowlands is roughly convex toward the Sea of Japan. The region is divided into the Inner Zone, formed by complex faulting, and the Outer Zone, formed by warping. The Inner Zone is chiefly composed of granite, Paleozoic (248 to 543 million years old), and volcanic rocks, which are arranged in complicated juxtaposition. The Outer Zone, consisting of the Akaishi, Kii, Shikoku, and Kyushu mountain groups, in contrast, is characterized by a regular zonal arrangement from north to south of crystalline schists and Paleozoic, Mesozoic (65 to 248 million years old), and Tertiary (1.8 to 65 million years old) formations. The outstanding surface features of the Inner Zone present a highly complex mosaic of numerous fault blocks, while those of the Outer Zone are continuous except where the sea straits separate them into the four independent groups. The Inland Sea (Seto-naikai) is the region where the greater amount of depression has resulted in the invasion of sea waters. The northern edge of the Inner Zone is studded with gigantic lava domes formed by Mount Dai, which, together with volcanic Mount Aso (Aso, Mount), bury a considerable part of the western extension of the Inland Sea in central Kyushu.

      The Ryukyu Islands Region constitutes the main portion of the Ryukyu arc, which penetrates into Kyushu as the West Japan Volcanic Belt and terminates at Mount Aso. The influence of the arc is also seen in the trend of the many elongated islands off western Kyushu, including the Koshiki, Gotō, and Tsushima islands. The islands of the Izu-Ogasawara Region, to the east of the Ryukyu arc, consist of a number of volcanoes on the submarine ridge of the Izu-Marina arc and the Bonin Islands, which include Peel Island and Iwo Jima (Iō-jima).

Drainage and soils
 The increasing demand for fresh water for use in wet-rice cultivation and industry and for domestic consumption is a serious problem. Difficulties of supply lie in the paucity of natural water reservoirs, the swift runoff of the rivers, and the engineering difficulties of constructing large-scale dams in the rugged mountains.

      Japan's rivers are generally short and swift-running and are supplied by small drainage basins. The most significant rivers are the Teshio and Ishikari rivers of Hokkaido; the Kitakami, Tone, Shinano, Kiso, and Tenryū rivers of Honshu; and the Chikugo of Kyushu. Some of the rivers from the volcanic areas of northeastern Honshu are acidic and are useless for irrigation and other purposes.

      Lake Biwa (Biwa, Lake), the largest in Japan, covers 260 square miles of central Honshu. All other major lakes are in the northeast. Most of the coastal lakes, such as Lakes Kasumi and Hamana of Honshu, are drowned former valleys, the bay mouths of which have been dammed by sandbars. Inland lakes such as Biwa, Suwa, and Inawashiro of Honshu occupy tectonic depressions of geologically recent fault origin. Lakes of volcanic origin (e.g., Kutcharo of Hokkaido and Towada and Ashi of Honshu) outnumber all other types.

      The soils of Japan are customarily divided from northeast to southwest into a weak podzolic (soils with a thin organic mineral layer over a gray leached layer) zone, a brown-earth zone, and a red-earth zone. There are some local variations. The northern half of the Tōhoku area of northern Honshu is included in the area of brown forest soils. The northern tip of Hokkaido is classed as a subzone of the podzolic soils; the remainder of the island is included in the subzone of the acidic brown forest soils. Most of western Honshu is a transitional zone. Yellow-brown forest soils extend along the Pacific coast from southern Tōhoku to southern Kyushu, while red and yellow soils are confined to the Ryukyu Islands. The widespread reddish soils are generally regarded as the products of a former warmer, more humid climate. Immature volcanic ash soils occur on the uplands.

      Kuroboku soils (black soils rich in humus content) are found on terraces, hills, and gentle slopes throughout Japan, while gley (sticky, blue-gray compact) soils are found in the poorly drained lowlands. Peat soils occupy the moors in Hokkaido and Tōhoku. Muck (dark soil, containing a high percentage of organic matter) and gley paddy soils are the products of years of rice culture. Polder soils (those reclaimed from the sea) are widely distributed. Soil fertility increases in the lowlands where agriculture is practiced, the result of a combination of natural alluvium washed down from the uplands and centuries of intense reworking of the soil medium by rice farmers.

 In general, Japan's climate is characterized as monsoonal (i.e., governed by seasonal winds). The main influences are the country's latitudinal extent, the surrounding oceans, and its proximity to the neighbouring Asian landmass. There are numerous local climatic variations, the result of relief features. In winter, the high pressure zone over eastern Siberia and the low pressure zone over the western Pacific result in an eastward flow of cold air (the winter monsoon) from late September to late March that picks up moisture over the Sea of Japan. The winter monsoon deposits its moisture as rain or snow on the side of Japan facing the Sea of Japan and brings dry, windy weather to the Pacific side. The pressure systems are reversed during the summer, and air movements from the east and south (the summer monsoon) from mid-April to early September bring warmer temperatures and rain. Cyclonic storms and frequent and destructive typhoons occur during late summer and early fall, especially in the southwest.

      The warm waters of the Kuroshio (Japan Current), which corresponds to the Gulf Stream of the Atlantic, flow northward along Japan's Pacific coast as far as latitude 35° N. The Tsushima Current branches westward from the Kuroshio off southern Kyushu and washes the coasts of Honshu and Hokkaido along the Sea of Japan; it is this current that lends moisture to the winter monsoon. The counterpart of the Labrador Current, the cold Oya (Oya Current) (Kuril) Current, flows southeastward from the Bering Sea along the east coast of Hokkaido and northeastern Honshu. Its waters meet those of the Kuroshio, causing dense sea fogs in summer, especially off Hokkaido.

      The physical feature that most affects climate is the mountainous backbone of the islands. The ranges interrupt the monsoonal winds and cause the gloomy weather and heavy snows of winter along the Sea of Japan coast and the bright and windy winter weather along the Pacific. Temperatures and annual precipitation are about the same on both coasts, but they drop noticeably in the mountainous interior.

      Temperatures are generally warmer in the south than in the north, and the transitional seasons of spring and fall are shorter in the north. At Asahikawa, in central Hokkaido, the mean temperature in January, the coldest month, is 16 °F (−9 °C), and the mean temperature in August, the hottest month, is 70 °F (21 °C), with an annual average temperature of 43 °F (6 °C). At Tokyo, the mean temperature for January is 39 °F (4 °C), the mean for August 81 °F (27 °C), and the annual average 59 °F (15 °C). Inland from Tokyo, Matsumoto is cooler, with an annual average temperature of 52 °F (11 °C), whereas an annual average of 57 °F (14 °C) occurs on the Sea of Japan coast at Kanazawa. The warmest temperatures occur on Kyushu and the southern islands; at Kagoshima, the mean temperature for January is 45 °F (7 °C), the mean for August is 81 °F (27 °C), and the average is 63 °F (17 °C).

      Precipitation in the form of rain and snow is plentiful throughout the islands. Maximum precipitation falls in the early summer, and the minimum occurs in winter—except on the Sea of Japan coast, which receives the country's highest snowfall. The summer rainy season occurs through June and July; it is known as the baiu (“plum rain”) because it begins when the plums ripen. Torrential rains accompany the typhoons.

      Precipitation patterns vary with topography, but most of the country receives more than 40 inches (1,020 mm) annually, mainly as rain during the summer. The smallest amount of precipitation occurs on eastern Hokkaido, where only 37 inches (940 mm) fall annually at Obihiro, whereas the mountainous interior of the Kii Peninsula of central Honshu receives more than 160 inches (4,060 mm) annually. Varying amounts of snow fall on Japan. From November to April snow blankets Hokkaido, northern and interior Honshu, and the northwest coast.

Plant and animal life
 Much of the original vegetation has been replaced by agriculture or by the introduction of foreign species to the islands. Semitropical rainforest prevails in the Ryukyu and Bonin archipelagoes and contains various kinds of mulberries, camphor, oaks, and ferns (including tree ferns); madder and lianas are found as undergrowth. In the Amami Islands this type of plant life occurs only on lowlands, but it grows at higher altitudes to the south. There are a few mangrove swamps along the southern coast of Kyushu.

      The laurel forest zone of evergreen, broad-leaved trees extends from the southwestern islands northward to the lowlands of northern Honshu. Camphor, pasania, Japanese evergreen oak, camellia, and holly are typical trees, and various kinds of ferns grow as undergrowth. In Kyushu, the evergreen zone reaches elevations above 3,300 feet (1,000 metres), but its vertical limit decreases northeastward across Honshu. In general, camphor dominates in the littoral lowlands, pasania in sunny and well-drained sites, and Japanese evergreen oak in the foggy and cloudy inlands. In the southwestern Hondo region (western Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu) are ficus and fan palm. The coastal dunes are dominated by pine trees. Natural stands of Japanese cedar, some containing trees that are more than 2,000 years old, occur above 2,300 feet (700 metres) on Yaku Island, south of Kyushu.

      Deciduous broad-leaved forests develop in the higher and more northerly portions of the laurel forest zone. In Kyushu, this type of forest occurs above 3,300 feet, but it gradually descends northward to sea level in northern Honshu. Its upper limit reaches 6,000 feet (1,800 metres) in Shikoku and 5,000 feet (1,500 metres) in central Honshu. Representative trees are beech, katsura tree, maple, oak, and birch, while various kinds of bamboo grasses grow as undergrowth. All these trees, but especially the maples, are admired for their beautiful fall colours. The trees have been occasionally replaced by larch, false cypress, false arborvitae, Japanese cedar, Japanese red pine, Japanese black pine, and other coniferous species. The deciduous zone extends into western Hokkaido, where beeches terminate at the southwestern peninsula and further northeastward are replaced by basswood and maple. Some stands of conifers are mixed with the representative forests of this zone.

      Coniferous trees are numerous in the north and eastern periphery of Hokkaido up to elevations of 2,300 feet. Sakhalin spruce, Sakhalin fir, blue fir, and Yezo spruce are mixed with such deciduous trees as birch, oak, and maple and dense undergrowth of mosses and lichens. Coniferous trees are mixed with deciduous vegetation in southwestern Hokkaido and occur in the higher portion of central Honshu and Shikoku. High-altitude small shrubs, the creeping pine, and alpine plants grow in the high mountain knots of central Honshu above 8,000 feet (2,400 metres). This zone gradually descends northward to the Hakkōda Mountains, in northern Honshu, at 4,600 feet (1,400 metres) and to the Daisetsu Mountains, in central Hokkaido, at about 3,600 feet (1,100 metres).

      The cherry tree, celebrated for its spring blossoms and long one of the symbols of Japan, is planted throughout the country. Many varieties have been cultivated, and natural stands are also found in the mountains.

 Despite the country's large human population, the land mammals of Japan are relatively numerous in the remote, heavily forested mountain regions. These animals include bears, wild boars, raccoon dogs (tanuki), foxes, deer, antelope, hares, and weasels; some species are distinct from those of the neighbouring Asian continent. Wild monkeys (the Japanese macaque) inhabit many places; those found at the northern tip of Honshu represent the northern limit of monkey habitation in the world.

      Reptiles include sea turtles, freshwater tortoises, sea snakes, and lizards. There are two species of poisonous snakes, but most of the snakes, including the five-foot-long Japanese rat snake, are harmless. Toads, frogs, and newts are common, and the endemic Japanese giant salamander of Kyushu and western Honshu can attain a length of four feet or more. Insect life is typical of a temperate-humid climate; several species have seasonal associations in literature and popular culture, such as the cicada and dragonfly (summer) and the cricket (autumn).

      The Japanese archipelago constitutes a major East Asian flyway, and some 600 bird species are either resident or transitory. Water birds are abundant and include gulls, auks, grebes, albatrosses, shearwaters, herons, ducks, geese, swans, and cranes. The cormorant is sometimes trained to catch fish. There are about 150 species of songbirds, as well as eagles, hawks, falcons, pheasant, ptarmigan, quail, owls, and woodpeckers.

      The confluence of cold and warm ocean currents near Japan has produced a rich sea life. Japanese waters are inhabited by whales, dolphins, porpoises, and fish such as salmon, sardines, sea bream, mackerel, tuna, trout, herring, gray mullet, smelts, and cod. Crustaceans and mollusks include crabs, shrimp, prawns, clams, and oysters. The rivers and lakes abound in trout, salmon, and crayfish.

The environment
      The tremendous growth in population from the late 19th to the mid-20th century and the rapid industrialization after 1945 put increased pressure on Japan's natural plant and animal communities, primarily through loss of habitat and environmental pollution. Once-abundant creatures, such as the eastern white stork (kōnotori) and the Japanese crested ibis (toki), have become extinct. Awareness of pollution grew from the 1960s, and after 1970 a number of strict measures were taken. Although domestic air and water quality improved, air pollution from the East Asian mainland increased the incidence of acid rain in Japan.

Settlement patterns
Traditional regions
      The concept of regions in Japan is inseparable from the historic development of administrative units. Care was always taken to include various physical features in the larger administrative units so as to create a well-balanced geographic whole. Many of the ancient terms for administrative units have survived in the form of place-names.

      The Taika reforms (Taika era reforms) of the 7th century established the ri (roughly corresponding to the later village community) as the basic social and economic unit and the gun (district) as the smallest political unit to be governed by the central government. The gun were grouped to form more than 60 kuni (provinces), the largest political units, which were ruled by governors appointed by the central government. Each kuni was composed of maritime plains, interior basins, and mountains to constitute a more or less independent geographic entity. Several adjacent kuni that were linked by a trunk road or a convenient sea route were grouped into a , the term signifying both the route and the region. The core region of the country was called the Kinai, or the land adjacent to the shifting imperial capitals.

      During the Nara (710–784) and Heian (794–1185) periods, the region of Honshu to the east of the three great mountain barriers of Arachi, Fuwa, and Suzuka north, east, and southeast of Lake Biwa was called Kantō (Kantō Plain) and that to the west Kansai (kan, “barrier”; , “east”; sai, “west”). As the empire's frontier shifted to the northeast, Kantō came to signify the region to the east of Hakone barrier, and Kansai gradually came to include limited areas near the capital of Kyōto as far as Ōsaka and present-day Kōbe. Northern areas that had not come under direct control of the central government were called Ezochi (or Yezochi), “Land of the Ezo (Ainu).”

      A third regional system was applied after the 10th century, in which kuni were amalgamated according to their distance from Kyōto. The larger units were kingoku, or proximate kuni; chūgoku, or intermediate kuni; and engoku, or remote kuni. Mutsu and Dewa in northeastern Honshu and islands such as Sado, Oki, Tsushima, and Iki were termed henkyō, or peripheral, lands.

      In 1871 the feudal system was dissolved and the ken, or prefectural, system was established. At first the more than 300 prefectures were mostly the former fiefs of feudal lords, who were appointed as governors. Through amalgamation and partition there were frequent changes in the ken pattern, until by 1888 the present configuration of 43 ken (including Okinawa), three fu (urban prefectures) of Tokyo, Ōsaka, and Kōbe, and one (Hokkaido) was established; in 1943 Tokyo was given the status of to, or metropolis.

      Early in the 20th century it was recognized that larger geographic divisions were needed. By 1905 a system of eight chihō (regions) had been set up that divided the country from northeast to southwest. The chihō are Hokkaido, Tōhoku (northern Honshu), Kantō (eastern Honshu), Chūbu (central Honshu), Kinki (west-central Honshu), Chūgoku (western Honshu), Shikoku, and Kyushu (including the Ryukyus). Another system used by some governmental agencies is a modification of the chihō system. The Chūbu region, for example, is subdivided into Hokuriku, Tōsan, and Tōkai. This system is devised so as to group prefectures of similar geographic character into one chihō and is more effective for illustrating regional contrasts and comparing statistics. In addition, planners have come to refer to the string of industrialized and urbanized areas along the Pacific seaboard between Kantō and northern Kyushu as the Pacific Belt Zone (Taihei-yō Beruto Chitai). This zone includes most of the Japanese cities with populations of more than one million, as well as more than half of the country's total population.

Rural settlement
 From the late 19th century, economic and social changes affected even the most remote rural villages, but many traditional aspects have survived. In the villages, many features that are in common with those of other Asian villages are well preserved. Autonomous and cooperative systems of agricultural practices and rituals, as well as mutual assistance among the villagers, have been handed down to the present. These traditions are mixed with modernized farming practices and employment diversification. An autonomous rural unit, generally known as a mura, consists of some 30 to 50 or more households. Now called an aza, this unit should not be confused with the administrative terms mura or son in use after 1888.

      The origins and histories of most rural settlements are lost in time. Historically traceable settlements largely originated through land reclamation after the 16th century. They are commonly called shinden, or “new paddy fields,” but in terms of social structure they do not radically differ from the older settlements.

      Considerable local difference is evident in the settlement pattern. Some villages are agglomerated, as are those of the Kinki region; some are dispersed, as in northeastern Shikoku; some are elongated, such as those on the rows of sand dunes in the Niigata Plain and on the natural levees of deltas; while others are scattered on the steeper mountain slopes. These differences are only superficial, although the traditional ties that bound the inhabitants together to form a firm village community are changing as industry moves into the countryside and offers farmers attractive employment options.

      No village is regarded as purely rural. Those that are near industrialized urban centres include large numbers of commuters and industrial workers. The more remote settlements send out seasonal labourers during the winter months, though outright migration to urban centres is now more common. The villages of Hokkaido are based on commercial agriculture, and each household has direct contact with a nearby town.

      Fishing villages were absent in Tōhoku until the beginning of the 17th century, when northward movement began. They originally were dependent upon nearby rice-producing villages, although some dried, salted, or smoked fish found more distant markets. The fishing villages are most numerous in the southwest, where an exchange economy has long been in practice. Mountain villages that depend solely on local products other than rice are exceedingly rare. Many of them were founded after the 17th century, when lumber, charcoal, and other such commodities found markets in the growing towns on the plains. There were also some villages in the mountainous interior of western Tōhoku that relied purely upon hunting, but these have all but disappeared.

Urban settlement
 Urbanization is generally of recent origin. Except for the former capital cities of Nara, Kyōto, and Kamakura, no sizable town of any significance appeared before the 16th century. Most of the provincial capitals, or koku-fu, of ancient Japan were only administrative centres that contained official residences and were not developed towns. After the latter part of the 16th century, influential temples and feudal lords began to build towns by gathering merchants and craftsmen close to their headquarters. The power of the feudal lords stabilized when they built jōka-machi (castle towns), which were located so as to command and control the main transportation routes and surrounding areas; the majority of Japan's important cities, including Tokyo, developed from them.

      Next in importance were the port towns, such as Hakata and Sakai, which have experienced more vicissitudes than the castle towns. In addition, some of the religious towns eventually grew to a considerable size, as in the case of Ise and Izumo. Under the regime of the Tokugawa shogunate (1603–1867), peaceful conditions fostered nationwide pilgrimages on a scale unknown in the preceding periods, and temple and shrine towns such as Kyōto and Nara flourished.

      Widespread urban growth began in the late 19th century with the development of the international ports of Kōbe, Yokohama, Niigata, Hakodate, and Nagasaki and the naval bases of Yokosuka, Kure, and Sasebo. With industrialization came the rapid growth of Japanese cities, and some of the industrial towns (e.g., Yawata, Niihama, Kawasaki, and Amagasaki) were founded in response to economic development. Most of the former castle towns, and especially those along the Pacific belt, have been expanded directly or indirectly by industrialization. In Hokkaido and in southern Kyushu raw materials and power resources have attracted a limited number of industrial plants, which alone are responsible for the existence of cities such as Tomakomai, Muroran, Nobeoka, and Minamata.

      Japanese cities are bewildering mixtures of old and new, East and West. Mixed land use, including agricultural activity, can be found side by side with the most modernized business centres and industrial establishments; and the fragmented, patchwork pattern of landownership is a formidable obstacle in ever-expanding cities of skyscrapers, subways, and underground plazas. Other serious problems are the shortage of better housing, the increasing use of the automobile, overcrowded public transportation systems, the shortage of open space for recreation, environmental pollution, and the constant menace of earthquakes and floods.

The people

Ethnic and linguistic composition
Japanese (Japan) ethnicity
 The Japanese people are members of the Asiatic geographic race and are closely akin to the other peoples of eastern Asia; they constitute the overwhelming majority of the population. During the Tokugawa period, there was a social (social class) division of the populace into four classes (warrior, farmer, craftsman, and merchant), with a peer class above and an outcast class below. With the exception of the burakumin (literally, “people of the hamlet”), the descendants of the former outcast class, this social-class system has almost disappeared. The burakumin, however, are still subject to varying degrees of discrimination.

 Insofar as a social-class system does persist it does not have the ethnic basis that can exist in multiracial societies, since the Japanese regard themselves as belonging to a single ethnic group. The few exceptions include those classified as resident aliens (particularly Koreans) and Japanese citizens of Ainu and, to a lesser degree, Okinawan origin. Japan also has a small population of Chinese descent.

      Hundreds of thousands of Koreans migrated to Japan (a great many against their will) before and during World War II, when Korea was a Japanese colony, and worked mainly as labourers; those remaining after the war and their descendants, the latter born and raised in Japan, do not have Japanese citizenship and face considerable discrimination. Both Ainu and Okinawans are often relegated to a second-class status. The indigenous Ainu largely were assimilated into the general population centuries ago; a few small, scattered groups, however, have maintained their identity in Hokkaido. Before the war there was a tendency to distinguish the people of Okinawa from other Japanese because of perceived physical and cultural differences; this tendency has diminished but not disappeared. Okinawan culture, including its dialect and religion, is now recognized as sharing many traits with Japanese culture.

 Japanese is the national language, and Ainu is almost extinct. The Japanese language is generally included in the Altaic linguistic group and is especially akin to Korean, although the vocabularies differ. Some linguists also contend that Japanese contains elements of Southeast Asian languages. The introduction of the Chinese (Chinese languages) writing system and of Chinese literature about the 4th century AD enriched the Japanese vocabulary. Until that time Japanese had no written form, and at first Chinese characters (called kanji in Japanese) were used to write Japanese; by the 9th century two syllabaries, known collectively as kana (katakana and hiragana), were developed from them. Since then, a combination of kanji and kana has been used for written Japanese. Although some 3,000 to 5,000 kanji are in general use, after World War II the number of characters necessary for a basic vocabulary was reduced to about 2,000, and the writing of these characters was simplified. Tens of thousands of Western loanwords, principally from English, also have been adopted.

      The distribution of Japanese nearly coincides with the territory of Japan. Standard Japanese, based on the dialect spoken in Tokyo, was established in the late 19th century through the creation of a national educational system and through more widespread communication. There are many local dialects, which are often mutually unintelligible, but standard Japanese, widely used in broadcasting, is understood nationwide.

      Japanese is broadly divided linguistically into the two major dialects of Hondo and Nantō. The Hondo dialect is used throughout Japan and may be divided into three major subdialects: Eastern, Western, and Kyushu. The Eastern subdialects were established in the 7th and 8th centuries and became known as the Azuma (“Eastern”) language. After the 17th century there was a vigorous influx of the Kamigata (Kinai) dialect, which was the foundation of standard Japanese. Among the Western dialects, the Kinki dialect was long the standard language of Japan, although the present Kamigata dialect of the Kyōto-Ōsaka region is of recent origin.

      The Kyushu dialects have been placed outside the mainstream of linguistic change of the Western dialects and retain some of the 16th-century forms of the latter. They extend as far south as Tanega and Yaku islands. The Nantō dialects are used by Okinawa islanders from the Amami Islands in Kagoshima prefecture to Yonaguni Island at the western end of the archipelago. Long placed outside the mainstream of linguistic change, they strongly retain their ancient forms.

 In Japan, the indigenous religion, Shintō, various sects of Buddhism, and Christianity exist together with some ancient shamanistic practices and a number of “new religions” (shinkō shukyō) that have emerged since the 19th century. Not one of the religions is dominant, and each is affected by the others. Thus, it is typical for one person or family to believe in several Shintō gods and at the same time belong to a Buddhist sect. Intense religious feelings are generally lacking except among the adherents of some of the new religions. Japanese children usually do not receive formal religious training. On the other hand, many Japanese homes contain a Buddhist altar ( butsudan), at which various rituals—some on a daily basis—commemorate deceased family members.

  Shintō is a polytheistic religion. People, commonly major historical figures, as well as natural objects have been enshrined as gods. Some of the Hindu gods and Chinese spirits were also introduced and Japanized. Each rural settlement has at least one shrine of its own, and there are several shrines of national significance, the most important of which is the Grand Shrine of Ise in Mie prefecture. Many of the ceremonies associated with the birth of a child and the rites of passage to adulthood are associated with Shintō. After the Meiji Restoration (1868), Shintō was restructured as a state-supported religion, but this institution was abolished after World War II.

 Buddhism, which claims the largest number of adherents after Shintō, was officially introduced into the imperial court from Korea in the mid-6th century AD. Direct contact with central China was maintained, and several sects were introduced. In the 8th century Buddhism was adopted as the national religion, and national and provincial temples, nunneries, and monasteries were built throughout the country.

      The Tendai (Tiantai) and Shingon sects were founded in the early 9th century, and they have continued to exert profound influence in some parts of Japan. Zen Buddhism, the development of which dates to the late 12th century, has maintained a large following. Most of the major Buddhist sects of modern Japan, however, have descended from those that were modified in the 13th century by monks such as Shinran, who established an offshoot of Pure Land (Jōdo) Buddhism called the True Pure Land (Shin) sect (Jōdo Shinshū), and Nichiren, who founded Nichiren Buddhism.

       Christianity was introduced into Japan first by Jesuit and then by Franciscan missionaries in the mid- to late 16th century. It initially was well received both as a religion and as a symbol of European culture. After the establishment of the Tokugawa shogunate (1603), Christians were persecuted, and Christianity was totally banned in the 1630s. Inaccessible and isolated islands and the peninsula of western Kyushu continued to harbour “hiding Christian” villages until the ban was lifted by the Meiji government in 1873. Christianity was reintroduced by Western missionaries, who established a number of Russian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant congregations. Practicing Christians account for only a tiny fraction of the total population.

      The great majority of what are now called the “new religions” were founded after the mid-19th century. Most have their roots in Shintō and shamanism, but they also were influenced by Buddhism, Neo-Confucianism, and Christianity. One of the largest, the Sōka Gakkai (“Value Creation Society”), is based on a sect of Nichiren Buddhism. Another new Nichiren sect to attract a large following is the Risshō Kōsei-kai. New Shintō cults include Tenrikyō and Konkōkyō.

Demographic trends
      Japan's population distribution is highly variable. The mountainous character of the country has caused the population to concentrate within the limited plains and lowlands—notably along the Pacific littoral. The increased population, however, has been absorbed into the ever-expanding urban areas, while the population of rural districts has declined considerably; this has had the effect of further concentrating population in a limited area.

      Japan experienced spectacular population growth after 1868, the population increasing nearly fourfold since then. This increase is directly related to slow but steady urban growth; the development of Hokkaido, Tōhoku, and southern Kyushu; and the introduction of commercial agriculture. In 1897, when industrialization first began, the population numbered more than 42 million. From 1898 to 1918 growing industrial cities and mining towns absorbed a large population, as did Hokkaido and the sericultural (silkworm-raising) rural districts.

      In 1920, when the first precise census was conducted, the population was nearly 57 million. Between 1919 and 1945 Tokyo-Yokohama (Tokyo-Yokohama Metropolitan Area), Ōsaka-Kōbe (Ōsaka), Nagoya, and northern Kyushu developed as the nation's four major industrial districts. At the same time, some of the smaller cities lost their ability to sustain a growing population, and some of them declined. By 1940 the population had grown to more than double that of 1868. During World War II there was a marked migration to the rural areas to avoid aerial bombing, and some cities such as Ōsaka were reduced to one-third their previous size. After 1945 the repatriated population of nearly 9 million and the temporarily explosive increase in the birth rate caused abnormally high growth.

      The rapid rehabilitation of industry after 1950 resulted in the continued concentration of population in the Pacific coastal areas. The expansion of the Keihin (Keihin Industrial Zone) area was not confined to Tokyo, Yokohama, and their adjacent suburbs but extended to a much wider circle. The same was true of the Keihanshin (Keihanshin Industrial Zone) (Kyōto-Ōsaka-Kōbe) and Chūkyō (Chūkyō Industrial Zone) (Nagoya) areas. Rural areas outside the direct influence of urbanization were subjected to a marked decline. Adult males migrated (human migration) to the Pacific coast, and many of those who remained at home periodically left as temporary labourers, creating a constant outflow of population from the mountainous areas and isolated islands. In many places, emigration was so marked that the remaining population could not maintain a balanced community, and whole settlements were abandoned. These trends have continued in the 1990s, although rural-to-urban migration has slowed somewhat, and people have been leaving city centres for outlying districts and suburbs.

      The striking demographic feature in post-World War II Japan is the decline of birth and death rates, the result of families having fewer children and of health conditions improving markedly. Japan's rate of population increase is now one of the world's lowest and its life expectancy among the highest. Consequently, the country has a rapidly aging population, a circumstance that is creating severe labour shortages for its vast economy. Low-skilled job needs, at least, are being met by a growing number of temporary foreign workers.

Akira Watanabe Yasuo Masai Gil Latz

The economy

General considerations
 Japan is remarkable for its extraordinarily rapid rate of economic growth in the 20th century, especially after World War II. This growth has been based on unprecedented expansion of industrial production and on an aggressive export trade policy. The emphasis on trade stems from Japan's lack of the natural resources needed to support its industrial economy, notably fossil fuels and most minerals; in addition the limited amount of arable land in the country forces it to import much of its food needs.

 Japan is now the world's second largest economic power, ranking only behind the United States. It has developed a highly diversified manufacturing and service economy and is one of the world's largest producers of motor vehicles, steel, and high-technology manufactured goods. Japan's standard of living did not increase as rapidly as did the overall economy in the early postwar decades—in large part because of the high percentage of capital reinvestment in those years—but by the mid-1980s it had caught up and was comparable with that found in other developed countries.

      Although Japan now has one of the world's highest per capita gross national products, a marked disparity remains between personal income levels and the development of its housing and transportation infrastructure. This disparity is being addressed somewhat by increased public-sector infrastructure investments.

The role of government
      Japan's system of economic management is probably without parallel in the world. The extent of direct state participation in economic activities is limited, and the trend is for even less direct involvement. Nonetheless, the government's control and influence over business is stronger and more pervasive than in most other free-enterprise countries. This control is not exercised through legislation or administrative action but through constant—and to an outsider almost obsessive—consultation with business and through the authorities' deep indirect involvement in banking. Consultation is mainly by means of joint committees and groups that keep under review, monitor the performance of, and set targets for nearly every branch and sector of the economy. In addition there are several agencies and government departments that concern themselves with such aspects of the economy as exports, imports, investment, and prices, as well as with overall economic growth. These are staffed by experts, who are not only in constant touch with business but are also close to the minister concerned with that particular area of the economy. They form an integral part of a system that is quick to collate and interpret the latest economic indicators and to respond to changes in the situation. The most important of these agencies is the Economic Planning Agency, which forms part of the Prime Minister's Office and, apart from monitoring the daily running of the economy, also is responsible for long-term planning.

      The system works well, avoiding major crises in government-business relations, because of the unusual self-discipline of Japanese businessmen in their dealings with the authorities and the government's deep understanding of the role, needs, and problems of business. The practice of long-term economic planning is a major force in the functioning of the Japanese economy. The need for large-scale government participation in economic activities is thereby obviated, and, unlike many governments in countries practicing free enterprise, the state appears to be reluctant to extend its direct role. In the 1980s the government relinquished to the private sector its monopolies over the tobacco and salt industries and domestic telephone and telegraph services, and the publicly owned Japanese National Railways was privatized. The government retains an interest in international telecommunications services and radio and television broadcasting. It also remains active in matters deemed to be of strategic interest, notably nuclear-power generation, which is subsidized through a major program to increase generating capacity.

      The government's economic influence is supplemented by its substantial role in banking. The state owns a number of financial institutions, such as the Japan Development Bank, the Export-Import Bank, the Small Business Finance Corporation, and the Housing Loan Corporation, whose principal objectives are to finance private enterprise in areas that are considered particularly desirable. The Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Japan have considerable influence over business investment decisions because of the close interdependence of business, the commercial banks, and the central bank.

      Tax revenues account for a great majority of the government's total income. Taxes on individuals and on business constitute most of the tax revenues. The largest source from individuals is the progressive income tax. The tax burden on corporations is high, exceeding 30 percent for larger firms. In the late 1980s the tax structure was augmented with a consumption (value-added) tax on most goods and services; although the initial rate of 3 percent was low in comparison to other countries with such a levy, the tax was highly unpopular.

Trade unions (organized labour) and employers' associations
      Japanese trade unions have had a relatively short history. Although there were several labour organizations before World War II, trade unions became important only after the U.S. occupation forces introduced legislation that gave workers the right to organize, to bargain with employers, and to strike. Because Japanese trade unions were generally organized on a plant or enterprise basis, their number was relatively large, and in many cases there were different organizations for different plants of the same company.

      The great majority of the enterprise unions became affiliated to federations that were loosely organized on craft lines, such as the National Federation of Steel Workers' Unions (Tekkō Rōren) and the Confederation of Japan Automobile Workers' Unions (Jidōsha Soren). Most of these, in turn, became affiliated with one of the four major national labour organizations established after the war: the left-wing and highly political General Council of Trade Unions of Japan ( Sōhyō), the more moderate and less political Japan Confederation of Labour ( Dōmei), the National Federation of Industrial Organizations (Shinsambetsu), and the Federation of Independent Unions (Chūritsurōren) (Chūritsu Rōren). Sōhyō was the largest of the four, and Dōmei was its principal rival; Chūritsu Rōren often associated itself with Sōhyō, especially during the annual “spring offensive” (shuntō) wage drive.

      Interest in uniting the rival national organizations deepened during the 1980s mainly because of the trend toward ever greater concentration in industry and greater cooperation among the various employers' organizations. There also was a growing feeling that Sōhyō's emphasis on ideology was no longer adequate. In the late 1980s the major national organizations and other private- and public-sector unions were reorganized into the Japanese Trade Union Confederation ( Rengō); those unions politically more to the left of Rengō formed the much smaller National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenrōren).

      The national labour organizations are concerned mainly with such questions as wages, prices, and working conditions. Individual enterprise unions, however, retain much of their independence in dealing with employers. While the craft and national federations formulate general policy, discuss and advise on strategy, and coordinate wage offensives, serious negotiations are usually conducted by individual unions and the employees. One result of Japan's industrial, as opposed to craft, unionism is that demarcation disputes and interunion rivalry for members are relatively rare. Furthermore, if judged in terms of working days lost, Japanese labour relations have been noticeably more amicable than those in other developed countries, such as the United Kingdom, Italy, and the United States.

      Japan has a well-developed system of chambers of commerce and trade and industry associations. Among the best-known are the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) and the Japan Federation of Economic Organizations (Keidanren).

 With few exceptions, Japan's mineral reserves are small, especially in fossil fuels; and although its mineral deposits are fairly diverse, the quality of those mined is often poor. Coal, iron ore, zinc, lead, copper, sulfur, gold and silver are among the most important minerals, with lesser quantities of tungsten, chromite, and manganese. Japan also has large deposits of limestone. There is an almost complete lack of nickel, cobalt, bauxite (the ore of aluminum), nitrates, rock salt, potash, phosphates, and crude petroleum and natural gas.

      Coal is the country's most important mineral, although it is of relatively poor quality and is difficult to mine. Reserves are concentrated in Hokkaido and Kyushu. Oil deposits are meagre, domestic oil production accounting for a negligible fraction of Japan's oil consumption. The main oil- and gas-bearing belt extends from northern Honshu on the Sea of Japan to the Ishikari-Yūfutsu lowlands in Hokkaido. Natural-gas reserves also have been found in eastern Chiba prefecture and offshore east of Tōhoku.

      Although Japan ranks as one of the world's major steelmakers, domestic resources and production of iron ore are small; Japan imports almost all of its iron ore. Japanese ore is of poor quality and is obtained mostly from small mines in northern and western Honshu. Reserves of copper, once Japan's most important metallic ore, are nearly depleted, with remaining production centred in northern Tōhoku. Domestic production is far from enough to meet demand, and the bulk of copper ore is imported. Lead and zinc are often found in conjunction with copper.

Biological resources
      Because of the country's mountainous terrain, the supply of agricultural land is limited. Japan's largely infertile and immature soils require careful husbandry and fertilization. Timber resources are extensive, consisting of broad-leaved and coniferous forests, but much of the forestland is located in inaccessible mountain areas. Most of the forest area is privately owned, and much of it is distributed among a large number of relatively small holders. The rest is publicly owned; large-scale reforestation has taken place in these areas.

Water resources
      Japan's relatively wet climate provides the country with considerable freshwater supplies. The general reliability of the precipitation pattern, coupled with Japan's extensive network of rivers that can be used for irrigation, make possible extensive wet-rice cultivation; flooding, however, is a serious problem in many parts of the country. As a result of the mountainous terrain the country's ample hydroelectric potential is distributed in an uneven fashion. In addition, most hydroelectric power plants cannot operate at full capacity for more than a few months of the year because of seasonal variations of rainfall and the difficulty of constructing adequate storage facilities.

Agriculture, forestry, and fishing
  Agricultural production is stable or actually declining and accounts for a small and decreasing proportion of the national income. Despite rapid increases in yields after World War II, agricultural productivity per person now is considerably less than per capita output in other sectors of the economy. The agricultural sector employs a relatively large proportion of the working population in comparison to its contribution to national income, but the percentage of the workforce in agriculture is dropping. Many farmers are leaving agriculture for manufacturing and service-industry employment, and most others have to rely on outside occupations for a substantial part of their income.

 Japanese agriculture is characterized by a large number of small and often inefficient farms. Larger farms generally are found in Hokkaido, where units of 25 to 50 acres (10 to 20 hectares) are not uncommon. The country's principal crop is rice. Other important farm products include wheat, barley, potatoes, fruits, vegetables, and tea.

 The government's agricultural policy has encouraged self-sufficiency in the more important commodities (although this has been achieved only for rice), enlarging the size of the average holding, and closing the gap between rural and urban incomes. The central feature of this policy has been an artificially high producer price for rice. This has succeeded in raising farm incomes and has led to increases in rice production. A surplus of rice, eventual domestic consumer resistance to high prices for rice and other supported commodities, and pressure from foreign governments to reduce barriers to agricultural trade with Japan threaten to undermine this policy.

      Livestock-raising, an important farming activity, is generally practiced on a small scale; the largest dairy and beef-cattle herds are in Hokkaido. Most feeds must be imported, and production costs are high.

Forestry and fishing
 Despite Japan's considerable forest cover, forestry is a marginal activity. In part this is because many of the best stands are inaccessible. In addition, the reforestation in areas that were excessively logged during World War II is not yet available, and Japan's huge demand for timber, high labour costs and other inefficiencies, and concerns about erosion in Japan's steeply sloped mountains plague the domestic logging industry.

  Japan relies heavily on the sea as a source of food, and it has one of the largest fish catches of any nation in the world. Much of the catch is derived from long-distance deep-sea fisheries. In spite of its dominant international position, the Japanese fishing industry faces some serious problems. Local fisheries are depleted by overfishing and water pollution, especially in the Inland Sea, while deep-sea fishing must contend with restrictions placed upon it by nations that have claimed a 200-mile economic zone in their coastal waters. Imports of fishery products exceed exports, the result of the growing Japanese demand for seafood and the high value of the Japanese currency. Aquaculture of fish, shellfish (notably clams and oysters), and seaweed is of increasing importance.

Mining and quarrying
 Mining is an unimportant and declining branch of the economy. The extractive industry is characterized by a large number of small and relatively inefficient mines that do not lend themselves to the application of modern, large-scale mining methods. Coal, the most important mineral mined throughout most of Japan's industrial period, is now extracted as a marginal operation. The coal industry suffers from uneconomic production, competition from cheaper foreign coal, and the general use of oil since World War II. Most of the remaining production is in Hokkaido. Virtually the whole of the country's output of oil and natural gas comes from Niigata prefecture. Natural gas also is produced in Chiba and Fukushima prefectures. Zinc and lead production is concentrated in southwestern Hokkaido, northern Tōhoku, and Hokuriku, with the first two areas also associated with sulfur mining. Other metallic ores of economic significance include gold, silver, and tungsten. Limestone quarrying is widespread throughout the Japanese archipelago.

      Despite Japan's rapidly increasing consumption of energy, per capita consumption remains considerably lower than that in other industrialized countries. The largest single source of energy is oil; almost the entire demand is satisfied through imports, an important share of which comes from fields developed by Japanese companies. Coal, largely imported, is steadily decreasing in importance. The growth in gas production is greatest for natural gas and liquefied natural gas, which account for the largest share of total production.

 Most of Japan's total electric power is generated by thermal plants. Oil is most important, but generation by coal-fired plants also is significant. Nuclear-power generation has been heavily developed since the 1970s, with a number of nuclear plants now in operation. Hydroelectric development is largely concentrated in central Honshu (along the Shinano, Tenryū, Tone, and Kiso rivers), in Tōhoku, and in some parts of Kyushu. This pattern of distribution ensures that Japan's hydroelectric capabilities are well located in relation to the important industrial areas. Although there is significant undeveloped potential, the best sites are already utilized, and further additions to capacity are increasingly expensive.

 The most notable feature of Japan's economic growth since World War II is the rapid development of manufacturing, with progress in quantitative growth, quality, variety, and efficiency. Japan is a sometimes feared competitor whose products are in great demand worldwide. It is one of the world's principal shipbuilders and automakers and is a major producer of such basic products as crude steel, synthetic rubber, aluminum, sulfuric acid, plastics, cement, pulp and paper, refined copper, and cotton yarn. It has some of the world's largest and most advanced industrial plants. The most spectacular growth has been in the production of motor vehicles, iron and steel, machinery (including robots), petrochemicals, precision equipment (notably cameras), and advanced electronic products (including computers and microelectronics, telecommunications equipment, and consumer goods).

 Some of the older industries, however, have advanced relatively slowly. The lumber and wood industry, textiles, and foodstuffs have failed to match the expansion in manufacturing as a whole.

 A principal reason for Japan's postwar industrial performance was the high level and rapid growth of capital investment, especially in the 1960s and '70s. A boom in equipment investment provided the iron-and-steel and machine-building industries with a rapidly growing home market, allowed for a spectacular increase in productive capacity and in the scale of operations, and led to a rapid replacement of old machinery. This, in turn, resulted in a considerable improvement in productivity throughout the economy and enabled industry to grow, despite an acute shortage of skilled labour and rising wages. Thus, a high rate of labour productivity relative to other major industrial countries, high-quality products, and the extensive use of technological innovations gave many sectors of Japanese manufacturing a formidable advantage over their rivals, with the result that the country's exports soared. A subsequent strategy, carried out with particular success by manufacturers of automobiles and advanced electronic products, was to set up overseas facilities in parts of Asia, North America, and Europe.

      Japanese industry is increasingly characterized by a tendency toward tie-ups, mergers, and takeovers among the larger manufacturing and industrial concerns. The much-studied and controversial keiretsu system illustrates this feature of the modern Japanese economy. These groups of companies provide a competitive edge to Japanese firms by managing the risks of manufacturing, distribution, and sales through extensive crossholding of company stocks, long-range strategies aimed at garnering market share without regard to short-term profit, and control over retail prices. These actions are made possible by the gradual relaxation and the increasingly flexible interpretation of the country's antimonopoly laws enacted after World War II. The authorities accept the argument that greater concentration at the top is essential in order to improve efficiency, to make better use of the existing resources, and to increase or maintain international competitiveness. The growing competitiveness of foreign products and increases in direct foreign investment both reinforce and challenge this economic perspective.

  Japan's complex financial system is different from that of other developed countries in a number of important respects, the two most important being the major role played by banking and the relatively minor position of securities. The Japanese financial establishment became a major international force in the 1980s: Japan's banks came to dominate international banking, while the Tokyo Stock Exchange emerged as one of the largest securities markets in the world. Much of this growth was based on speculation in a “bubble” economy of highly inflated real estate values. The bursting of the bubble in the early 1990s seriously affected both banking and the securities market.

      The Bank of Japan, established in 1882, is the sole bank of issue; it also plays an important role in determining and enforcing the government's economic and financial policies. The bulk of domestic banking business is transacted through commercial banks, of which the city banks (such as Sumitomo, Dai-Ichi Kangyo, Fuji, and Mitsubishi) are the most important. There are also a number of long-term credit banks, some government financial institutions—including the Japan Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank—and many mutual savings and loan banks and credit associations.

      One of the more unusual features of the Japanese financial system is the high degree of interdependence between the central bank, the commercial banks, and industry. Traditionally, industry has relied on banks for a large part of its borrowing requirements, and, although the importance of its own capital has increased, private and government financial institutions still account for a substantial part of the total. Since the commercial banks are responsible for most credit extended to industry, their influence on their client companies is considerable. Their active lending policy also means that their liquidity ratios tend to be low by Western standards and that they are forced to rely on call money (money that is readily available to banks as loans) and on large-scale borrowing from the Bank of Japan. The central bank is thereby in a strong position to influence bank operations and to bring about a quick adjustment in the volume of credit through credit ceilings, moral pressure, and other methods. Other sources of finance that are less susceptible to central bank influence include mutual savings and loan banks, credit associations, life insurance companies, and other nonbank financial institutions. Negotiations between Japan and other countries led in 1993 to the adoption of standards that specify the relationship between lending and equity in the estimation of banking assets.

      The bond market is relatively undeveloped because the government's low, long-term interest rate policy has made bonds unattractive as against the comparatively high level of short-term rates. Individuals and institutional investors tend to buy discount debentures only. Bond buying, therefore, is confined chiefly to banks and other financial institutions, which are expected to purchase government and government-guaranteed bonds according to an unofficial allocation quota. The secondary bond market has been in operation since the mid-1960s, and, although over-the-counter transactions have risen rapidly, a significant proportion of the business consists of trading in financial debentures. A step toward improving the efficiency of the bond market was made in 1993, when the market was partially deregulated; this allowed banks to participate in the corporate market through subsidiaries.

      There are several stock exchanges in Japan; the two most important, Tokyo (Tokyo Stock Exchange) and Ōsaka, account for almost all the business. The Tokyo exchange, along with the exchanges in New York and London, has become one of the pillars of a global, 24-hour securities market.

External trade

      Another outstanding feature of Japan's postwar economic development is the rapid advance in overseas sales, even though the share of exports in the country's gross national product generally remains constant. From the point of view of individual industries and as a generator of growth, however, exports are much more important than their contribution to the national income suggests.

      Reasons for this spectacular export performance are the wide variety of Japan's industrial output, the shift to products with a relatively high value added, more advanced sales-promotion techniques, and the country's export competitiveness. For many years the rise in labour productivity offset the rapid rise in wage costs; Japan's export prices thus tended to be lower than those of its principal competitors. Japanese exports face a number of challenges, however, including increasingly strong competition from such developing industrial nations as South Korea and Taiwan, growing protectionist sentiments among Japan's chief trading partners, and the effects of a sharply devalued U.S. dollar relative to the Japanese yen.

 A significant change in the composition of exports occurred in the late 20th century. The share of total exports of textiles and food products decreased considerably, while exports of machinery (including electronic equipment) and transport equipment grew dramatically, accounting for the largest component of exports. Other important exports include scientific and optical equipment, metal and metal manufactures, and chemicals. The United States is Japan's largest single customer; East and Southeast Asia, western Europe, and the Middle East are other important export destinations.

      After World War II, Japan established relatively high tariffs and instituted restrictive nontariff barriers for many products in order to protect domestic markets. Consistently high trade surpluses led to mounting pressure by Japan's trading partners—notably the United States—for Japan to open its domestic market to foreign goods. Imports have grown steadily, as Japan's trade structure has become more open. The high value of the yen, however, has not resulted in a dramatic increase in imports.

      Because of Japan's meagre natural resources, the bulk of its imports are raw materials, foodstuffs, and fuels. The major components of imported manufactured goods are machinery and allied products and chemicals. Japan's largest suppliers include East and Southeast Asia, the United States, the Middle East, western Europe, and Australia.

Internal trade
 Japan has a long-established and complex system of wholesale distribution and retail marketing, characterized by numerous intermediary levels in the distribution of goods and small, often family-run retail outlets. This system, for years threatened by Japan's large department stores, is now being challenged by the growth of supermarket and discount-store chains and by mail-order sales. Sales traditionally are transacted in cash, but charge accounts and credit cards are becoming increasingly popular.

Transportation and communications
      Until the latter part of the 19th century, the majority of Japanese people traveled on foot. Vehicular traffic was limited to small wagons, carts, or palanquins (kago) carried by men or animals. The first railway was built between Tokyo and Yokohama in 1872, and others soon followed, though the rugged terrain required the construction of many tunnels and bridges. Iron ships were built at about the same time, and modern ports were constructed. Road construction, however, tended to lag behind the development of other means of transport, resulting in the present congestion of most urban areas.

      Japan now has one of the world's most developed transport and communications networks. Tokyo, especially, is an incomparably large focus for transportation; also important are the Ōsaka metropolitan area—which includes the three cities of Ōsaka, Kōbe, and Kyōto—and Nagoya. Other cities—notably Kita-Kyūshū, Fukuoka, Sapporo, Sendai, and Hiroshima—function as regional hubs. The largest volume of intercity or interregional transport, in both passengers and goods, moves between the two largest metropolitan regions. Kyushu is connected with Honshu by the world's first undersea railway tunnel (built in 1941), by an undersea double-decked road tunnel (built in 1958), and by a huge suspension bridge (opened in 1973). With the opening in 1988 of a railway tunnel between Hokkaido and Honshu and of a multiple-span railway-road bridge between Honshu and Shikoku, all four of Japan's main islands are now linked by surface transport.

      The development of Japan's road network lags behind the country's general economic progress and is especially inadequate for the large number of cars. Road construction is hampered, however, by the limited area of land in proportion to population. Limited-access highways have been built between major cities and to some scenic areas, and these are being expanded into a nationwide network. The metropolitan regions of Tokyo and Ōsaka have fairly extensive expressway networks within their respective built-up areas. Surface-street patterns in Japanese cities are manifold, however, and often hamper the flow of traffic. Cities such as Kyōto and Nara still preserve the gridiron street pattern of the ancient Chinese city plan, though with modifications in built-up inner parts of the cities. In many rural areas as well, the ancient pattern of land division and the resultant road pattern take the rectangular gridiron form. Feudal towns, especially fortified (castle) towns, may have somewhat similar street patterns, though in many cases these are modified (generally in the form of concentric rings) to follow former defensive lines.

 Japan has an extremely high density of motor vehicles per unit area in the plains and in other inhabited areas. Trucks represent a much higher proportion of vehicular traffic than in other major motorized countries. The great bulk of domestic freight transport is by truck. Many families now have two or more automobiles and are more likely to drive to a destination than in the past, resulting in road congestion in the big cities and in industrial areas. Although railways still play the major role in carrying commuters, there appears to be no practical solution to the problem of how to reduce the number of cars on the roads. The increases in noxious exhaust gases and in the noise of the traffic are serious problems. Steps taken to alleviate them include stringent pollution-control standards for automobiles and the installation of noise barriers on highways in densely populated areas.

      Railways play an extremely important role in passenger travel, though they continue to give way to competition from road and air transport. The first Japanese rail line was financed by the British and built by British engineers. Although there was strong opposition to its construction, because many opposed the expansion of foreign economic and political influence, the development of a modern rail network was an early and farsighted goal of the government after the Meiji Restoration (1868). The first streetcar line was constructed in Kyōto in 1891 and used the electricity from the nation's first power station. In subsequent years Japan, unlike most other Asian countries, developed extensive intraurban and suburban railroad systems; the period between the two world wars, in particular, saw the construction of many railroad lines to the suburbs to serve the needs of growing numbers of middle-income people. In 1927 the first subway was built in Tokyo's downtown district, and over time it was expanded into one of the most extensive systems in the world. Subways subsequently were built in most of Japan's largest cities.

      The jewel of Japan's extensive passenger-rail system is the high-speed Shinkansen. Originally a part of the government-owned Japanese National Railways and now one of the companies of the Japan Railways (Japan Railways Group) (JR) Group, it began operations in 1964 on the New Tōkaidō (New Tōkaidō Line) əĭnḥ. Named for the Tōkaidō, the ancient highway between Kyōto and Tokyo, the line provides frequent service on an electrified, double-track route between Tokyo and Ōsaka. It is part of what eventually will be a nationwide network of high-speed trains linking all major cities. Following completion of the New Tōkaidō Line, Shinkansen service was extended westward to Okayama in 1972 and then to Fukuoka on Kyushu in 1975. Two lines radiating outward from Tokyo—north to Niigata and northeast to Morioka—were opened in 1982.

      The most serious traffic problem is caused by congestion on commuter-rail transport within the large cities. Most commuter trains are very crowded during rush hours, with some trains carrying many more than the number of passengers for which they were designed. Services are being expanded to cope with the growing demand.

Port facilities
 Japan is one of the world's principal seagoing nations and has one of the world's largest merchant fleets. It has engaged in seafaring since early times; but large modern trading ports were not developed until the second half of the 19th century, after the country had reopened to foreign trade following a period of near isolation from the rest of the world. The first of these, Yokohama and Kōbe, remain Japan's leading trade entrepôts, the former being the outport of Tokyo and the latter the outport for Ōsaka and Kyōto. Other important modern ports include Chiba, Nagoya, Kawasaki, Kita-Kyūshū, Mizushima, and Sakai.

Air transport
      Both domestic and international air transportation are important in Japan. Before World War II, air transportation was considerably restricted, but, since the foundation in 1953 of Japan Air Lines (JAL (Japan Airlines)), international flights have increased manyfold. Despite competition by railways, especially the Shinkansen, the volume of domestic air transport continues to increase. Tokyo is the main centre of the nation's domestic and international air travel, followed by Ōsaka. Other major airports are in Nagoya, Sapporo, and Fukuoka. All other metropolitan areas in Japan are connected by air routes. Generally speaking, southwestern Japan is covered by a denser network of air transport than other regions, primarily because of the presence of many islands.

      The Japanese network of telecommunications and of postal services is among the best in the world. The hundreds of islands, as well as the remotest villages deep in the mountains, are effectively linked by these services. Japan is now a world leader in the use of advanced telecommunications, including widespread use of facsimile transmissions and electronic-mail systems. Per capita telephone ownership is high. The government's privatization of portions of the telecommunications industry—creating Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT (Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation)), one of the largest private firms in the world—is noteworthy. NTT, in concert with the national government, is creating one of the world's most sophisticated domestic and international communications systems, including a national telecommunications network that incorporates fibre-optic transmission capabilities.

Administration and social conditions

Constitutional framework
      Japan's constitution was promulgated in 1946 and came into force in 1947, superseding the Meiji Constitution of 1889. It differs from the earlier document in the following points: the emperor, rather than being the embodiment of all sovereign authority (as he was previously), is the symbol of the state and of the unity of the people, while sovereign power rests with the people; Japan renounces war as a sovereign right; and fundamental human rights are explicitly guaranteed. Furthermore, the government is now based on a constitution that aims at maintaining Japan as a peaceful and democratic country in perpetuity.

      The emperor's major role now consists of such formalities as appointing the prime minister—who is first designated by the Diet (Kokkai)—and appointing the chief justice of the Supreme Court (Saikō Saibansho), convoking sessions of the Diet, promulgating laws and treaties, and awarding state honours—all with the advice and approval of the Cabinet (Naikaku).

 Legislative powers are vested in the Diet, which is popularly elected and consists of two houses. The House of Representatives, or lower house (Shūgiin), ultimately takes precedence over the House of Councillors, or upper house (Sangiin). Membership in the House of Representatives is based on proportional representation from prefectural districts, while that in the House of Councillors is divided between proportional representation and at-large representation. The House of Representatives controls the budget and approves treaties with foreign powers. Executive power is vested in the Cabinet, which is organized and headed by the prime minister. If the House of Representatives passes a resolution of no-confidence or refuses to pass a vote of confidence in the government, the Cabinet must resign, unless the House of Representatives is dissolved within 10 days. There are governmental ministries and agencies in addition to the Prime Minister's Office. All offices of the central government are located in and around the Kasumigaseki district in central Tokyo. An independent constitutional body called the Board of Audit is responsible for the annual auditing of the accounts of the state.

      Japan is divided into 47 prefectures, 43 of which are ken (prefectures proper), one of which (Tokyo) is a to (metropolitan prefecture); one (Hokkaido) is a (district), and two (Ōsaka and Kyōto) are fu (urban prefectures). Prefectures, which are administered by governors and assemblies, vary considerably both in area and in population. The largest prefecture is Hokkaido, with an area of 32,246 square miles, while the smallest is Ōsaka, with 720 square miles. The most populous prefecture is Tokyo, and the least populous is Tottori. A prefecture is further subdivided into minor civil divisions; these include the city (shi), town (machi or chō), and village (mura or son). All these local government units have their own mayors, or chiefs, and assemblies. Before World War II there were also counties (gun), consisting of towns and villages but excluding cities within a prefecture. This county system survives only in the form of statistical units.

      An intermediate level of governmental services is formed between the central and prefecture levels. The branch offices of several central ministries are located in certain cities, which—as regional centres—generally administer several prefectures together. Designated cities (shitei toshi), which must have populations of at least 500,000 each, are divided into wards (ku). These cities include (in the order of their designation) Yokohama, Ōsaka, Nagoya, Kyōto, Kōbe, Kita-Kyūshū, Sapporo, Kawasaki, Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Chiba, and Sendai. A ward has a chief and an assembly, the former being nominated by the mayor and the latter elected by the residents. Tokyo has 23 special wards (tokubetsu ku), the chiefs of which are elected by the residents. These special wards, created after the metropolitan prefecture was established in 1943, demarcate the city of Tokyo from the other cities and towns that make up the metropolitan prefecture; the city proper, however, no longer exists as an administrative unit.

The political process

      Japan has universal adult suffrage for all citizens 20 years of age or older. Members of both the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors are chosen by general elections. The 511 members of the House of Representatives are elected to four-year terms, but this may be terminated earlier if the house is dissolved. The 252 members of the House of Councillors are elected to six-year terms, with half the members being elected every three years. Members of the House of Representatives are elected from 130 multiple-member constituencies. The electoral procedure for the House of Councillors differs from that for the lower house in that about two-fifths of the total are elected from a national constituency, in which each voter casts a vote for a national candidate; the remaining members are elected from the prefectural constituencies. Heads of local governmental units, such as prefectures, cities, special wards, towns, and villages, are elected by local residents.

      The number of seats for each Diet constituency was determined largely on the basis of the population in each area in 1947, with some modifications resulting from the population increase in urban constituencies. Nonetheless, by the early 1980s Japan's population distribution had changed so much that the value of a vote in a sparsely populated rural district might be five times that of one in an urban district. A limited amount of reapportionment was done in the mid-1980s, which redressed somewhat this imbalance, and in 1994 legislation was passed that would reduce the size of the lower house to 500 and create 300 single-member constituencies, the remaining members being elected from electoral districts based on proportional representation.

      Party politics in Japan was inaugurated during the Meiji period (1868–1912) and subsequently suppressed during the war years of the 1930s and '40s. The freedom to organize political parties was subsequently guaranteed by the 1947 constitution. Any organization that supported a candidate for political office was required to be registered as a political party; thousands of parties, most of them of local or regional significance, have since been organized, merged, or dissolved.

      Several parties rose to national prominence. Chief among these was the Liberal-Democratic Party (Liberal-Democratic Party of Japan) (LDP), generally conservative and pro-business and the dominant force in government for nearly all of the second half of the 20th century. The Social Democratic Party of Japan (SDPJ), until 1991 called the Japan Socialist Party (JSP), long was the major opposition party, drawing much of its support from labour unions and inhabitants of the large cities. The moderately socialist Clean Government Party (Kōmeitō, New) (Kōmeitō), also an important opposition party, drew its main support from the Sōka Gakkai (Sōka-gakkai), although the religious organization subsequently renounced any formal ties with the party. The Democratic Socialist Party (DSP) was formed in 1960 by a right-wing splinter group of the JSP. Finally, the Japan Communist Party (JCP), small but influential for its size, remained on the fringe of the opposition.

      The Japanese political landscape underwent radical change after 1990. The LDP's long-held control of the government was broken in 1993, the result of a series of corruption scandals in the party and the subsequent resignations of a large number of LDP members to form new parties. The demise of LDP hegemony produced political uncertainty, notably the unprecedented spectacle of four different prime ministers within a 12-month period in 1993–94. In addition to the formation of new political parties, considerable party realignment occurred, producing an unlikely SDPJ-LDP governing coalition and a large, multiparty opposition coalition called the New Frontier Party (Shinshintō).

      The judiciary is completely independent of the executive and legislative branches of the government. The judiciary system consists of the Supreme Court (Supreme Court of Japan), eight high courts, a district court in each prefecture (with the exception of Hokkaido, which has four) and many summary (informal) courts. Family courts also are numerous.

      The Supreme Court consists of one chief justice and 14 other justices. The chief justice is appointed by the emperor upon designation by the Cabinet, while the other justices are appointed by the Cabinet. The appointment of the justices of the Supreme Court is subject to review in a national referendum, first at the time of the general election following their appointment and then at the general election every 10 years thereafter. An impeachment system also exists; the court of impeachment consists of members of the House of Representatives and of the House of Councillors. The Supreme Court determines questions of the constitutionality of any law, order, regulation, or official act. Lower-court judges are appointed by the Cabinet from a list of persons nominated by the Supreme Court. The appointment term is for 10 years, and reappointment is allowed. All judges of lower courts must retire at the age of 70, according to law.

      As mentioned above, Japan's 1947 constitution stipulates that the country cannot maintain armed forces for purposes of aggression. Between 1945 and 1950, Japan had no armed forces except for police. After the outbreak of the Korean War, however, the government, at the suggestion of the Allied occupation forces, established a National Police Reserve, which later became the Self-Defense Forces (SDF; Jieitai). The SDF consist of ground, maritime, and air branches, under the civilian-controlled National Defense Council.

      National defense also is maintained by the collective security system in which the United States participates. Through the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security, concluded between Japan and the United States in 1960 and reaffirmed in 1970, the United States operates military bases in many parts of Japan. The treaty may be terminated one year after either signatory indicates such an intention.

      The existence of the SDF and of the treaty have provoked considerable controversy. A continuing dispute has been the constitutionality of the SDF, although in 1959 the Supreme Court ruled that the SDF did not violate the constitution because of their defensive nature. The antiwar provision of the constitution also has been challenged, especially by nationalist groups. In 1992 the government authorized the first postwar use of Japanese forces outside the country for noncombatant, UN-sponsored peacekeeping operations.

      Japan's police services are under the supervision and control of the National Police Agency. Police services operate relatively smoothly; many problems that plague other countries are absent because of Japan's insularity, its nearly uniform ethnic composition, and the high professional level to which its police are trained. The relatively low ratio of extremely violent crimes to total crimes stands in contrast to that of most economically advanced countries. There also are a number of more specialized policing bodies, the largest of which, the Maritime Safety Agency, patrols Japan's coastal waters.

      Japan's modern education system is one of the key elements in the country's emergence as a highly industrialized nation. Businesses long have recognized the value of broadly trained workers, and individuals have seen education as the means to achieve personal advancement. In the Japanese system, where one attends school largely determines one's ultimate social status and financial success. As a result, students from a young age work extremely hard to qualify for the best possible schools.

      Higher education is greatly desired. The two great former imperial universities—Tokyo and Kyōto—represent the pinnacle of academic success, and their graduates are considered the best prospects by public and private employers. The high-school curriculum, largely designed as preparation for the difficult and highly competitive university entrance examinations, is especially rigorous. In addition, most students attend one of the large number of extracurricular “cram” schools ( juku) that help them prepare for the examinations. High-school graduates who do not pass the examinations on their first attempt often study intensively for a year and retake the tests; a growing number of passed-over candidates, however, pursue undergraduate degrees abroad.

Development of the modern system
      Many educational institutions existed even in the feudal period preceding the Meiji Restoration of 1868, a number of which had been subjected to Chinese cultural influences since ancient times. Numerous private temple schools (terakoya), mostly in towns, functioned as elementary schools; reading, writing, and arithmetic were taught by monks, unemployed warriors, or others. Provincial lords (daimyo) also established special schools for children of the warrior class. Yet another type of school instructed primarily the children of wealthier merchants and farmers.

      The modern educational system was introduced immediately after the Meiji Restoration. The government set up elementary and secondary schools throughout Japan in 1872, and in 1886 a system providing three to four years of education was inaugurated. The introduction of modern education did not encounter many problems, primarily because it utilized the existing system. Free compulsory education was introduced in 1900, and in 1908 it was extended to a period of six years. Since 1947, education has been compulsory for a nine-year period, beginning at the age of six.

System organization

Primary and secondary education
      The primary and secondary educational systems are organized as follows: kindergarten (not compulsory), from one to three years; compulsory elementary school, six years; compulsory middle school, three years; and high school (not compulsory), another three years. Public elementary and middle schools are free, and there are numerous private institutions. Japan is one of the few countries in the world that provide a complete and thorough education for almost all their people. Although neither kindergartens nor high schools are compulsory, attendance at both has become virtually universal.

      In principle, educational administration is decentralized; responsibilities for the budget, curriculum, teacher appointments, and the supervision of elementary and middle schools are in the hands of local educational boards, with the Ministry of Education playing a coordinating role. In practice, however, the ministry keeps a tight rein on curriculum and other aspects of primary and secondary instruction.

      Institutions of higher education—of which there are now more than 1,100—consist of junior colleges, lasting for two to three years, and ordinary colleges and universities, lasting for four years. A master's degree can be obtained in two years after earning a bachelor's degree, and a doctor's degree in three years after earning a master's degree. In addition, there are five-year technological colleges that combine high school and junior college education. The Tokyo metropolitan area, including Yokohama and many other satellite cities, has a high concentration of both institutions and college students. Of note is the Tsukuba Science City, located about 40 miles northeast of Tokyo, which consists of government research facilities and two universities.

      The strong Japanese sense of self-improvement through education extends beyond formal schooling. For example, although most juku are geared toward preparation for entrance examinations, many also provide music, art, and sports instruction for school-age children. Adult continuing education is conducted by both local governments and private institutions, offering classes in general education, vocational training, technology, homemaking, home economics, arts, physical education, and recreation. In 1985 the University of the Air began operation as a means of providing opportunities for higher education via television broadcasts.

Social conditions
      Japan's high standard of living contributes much to the general good health of the country's population. The nation has one of the most comprehensive health-care systems in the world, characterized by national health insurance, extremely low infant-mortality rates, and one of the world's highest life-expectancy rates. Infectious diseases such as typhoid, diphtheria, and scarlet fever have been virtually eliminated, while tuberculosis and dysentery are much less prevalent than they once were. Instead, there have been increases in the diseases associated with advanced industrial societies: cancer, stroke, high blood pressure, heart ailments, and pulmonary diseases are now principal causes of death, as are traffic accidents and suicide.

      The government has established hundreds of health centres throughout Japan, aiming primarily at improving environmental sanitation and at preventing communicable diseases in their early stages. Most of the country's hospitals are operated by unions, associations, or individuals, and the remainder by local governments and the national government. Japanese medical practice is usually of the Western type, but classical Chinese techniques are also used.

      The Japanese people enjoy an increasingly varied diet. Traditional Japanese foods are being supplemented or replaced partly by Western types of food (notably red meats and dairy products) and partly by Chinese food—to such a degree that the average Japanese no longer regards Western or Chinese food as alien. Although calorie consumption is generally lower than that of Europeans or Americans, overnutrition causing excess weight is considerably more prevalent than in the past.

      The vast discrepancies that existed between the conditions of the rich and poor before World War II have been reduced, largely as a result of the agricultural land reforms between 1946 and 1950 and of the application of a graduated income tax. The great majority of Japanese now regard themselves as middle class, although within this designation there still are considerable differences in income levels and property ownership. Most of those in the upper middle-income group own their own homes, usually houses with several rooms surrounded by a garden; those in the lower middle-income group usually live in a two- to five-room house or (more commonly in urban areas) in an apartment house.

      Social-welfare services have expanded considerably since the end of World War II. Programs include social insurance (health insurance, pension insurance, unemployment insurance, and worker's accident compensation insurance), services for the elderly and the physically and mentally handicapped, and care for disadvantaged children. The health-insurance system, established in 1961, covers all Japanese people. The scale of payments into it varies, and in some cases no payments are required. Elderly people may receive many services, including medical examinations, home-help services, recreational services, and institutional care, as well as varying amounts of financial aid. Local governments are obliged to provide welfare services for the physically and mentally handicapped. Various children's welfare programs also exist—for example, medical-care services are free to expectant mothers and to young children from low-income families. Many voluntary and private associations also provide supplementary services.

      Despite a considerable increase in the number of single-family homes and apartments, Japan continues to have serious housing shortages in large metropolitan areas. The primary cause of this is high urban (urban planning) population concentrations, creating land prices and housing costs that far exceed average incomes. Other contributing factors include the great destruction of urban housing stock during World War II; the losses caused by earthquakes, typhoons, and floods triggered by heavy rains, and a resultant pattern of housing designed to be replaced relatively frequently; and an increase in the number of families through the breakup of extended families into smaller units. In addition, Japan's overall affluence fuels a demand for larger and better houses and for a redirection of capital investment from the heavy emphasis on industrial expansion to house construction.

      The absence of strict zoning in urban areas contributes to the mixed land uses characteristic of Japan's cities; thus, functionally different establishments, such as shops, factories, or houses, are found adjoining one another. In addition, even the largest city may contain scattered plots of agricultural land. These factors, plus the high cost of housing in city centres, are forcing people farther into outlying areas. As a result, the length of daily commuting is steadily increasing, and, not uncommonly, commuters travel two or more hours each way.

      To cope with the initial postwar housing shortage, a semigovernmental agency, the Housing Loan Corporation, was established in 1950 to finance house construction at low interest rates. In 1955 another semigovernmental agency, the Japan Housing Corporation (since 1981 called the Housing and Urban Development Corporation) was organized, which contributed significantly to housing construction. In addition, local governments have built a number of units, mostly of the apartment-house type and primarily for low-income families, and many large corporations maintain low-cost apartment or dormitory-style housing for their employees.

Cultural life

The cultural milieu
 It is common for Western observers of postwar Japan to emphasize its great economic achievement without equal regard to cultural attributes. Yet Japanese cultural distinctiveness and the manner in which it developed are instructive in understanding how it is that Japan came to be the first and so far only non-Western country to attain great-power status.

      The Japanese long have been intensely aware of and have responded with great curiosity to powerful outside influences, first from the Asian mainland (notably China) and more recently from the Western world. Japan has followed a cycle of selectively absorbing foreign cultural values and institutions and then adapting these to existing indigenous patterns, this latter process often occurring during periods of relative political isolation. Thus, outside influences were assimilated, but the basic sense of Japaneseness was unaffected; for example, Buddhist deities were adopted into the Shintō pantheon. Japan's effort to modernize quickly in the late 19th and 20th centuries—albeit undertaken at great national and personal sacrifice—was really an extension of the same processes at work in the country for centuries.

      Prehistoric Japanese culture was exposed to ancient Chinese cultural influences beginning some two millennia ago. One consequence of these influences was the imposition of the gridiron system of land division, which long endured; it is still possible to trace the ancient place-names and field division lines of this system. Chinese writing and many other Chinese developments were introduced in the early centuries AD; the writing system underwent many modifications over the centuries, since it did not fit the Japanese language. Buddhism—which originated in India and underwent modification in Central Asia, China, and Korea before reaching Japan about the 6th century—also exerted a profound influence on Japanese cultural life, although over the course of time it was modified profoundly from its antecedent forms. Similarly, Chinese urban design was introduced in the layouts of the ancient capital cities of Nara and Kyōto but did not proliferate in the archipelago.

      The Japanization of introduced cultural elements was greatly accelerated during the 250-year period of near-isolation that ended in the mid-19th century. After the Meiji Restoration, Japan began to modernize and to industrialize on the European and American pattern. In the period since then, the United States generally has exerted a more conspicuous influence on Japanese cultural and social life than has Europe. Western cultural traits have been introduced on a large scale through the schools and the mass communication media. Western scientific and technical terms have been widely diffused in translation and have even been reexported to China and Korea. American and European influences on Japanese culture are in evidence in literature, the visual arts, music, education, science, recreation, and ideology.

      Modernization was accompanied by cultural changes. Rationalism and socialism based on Christianity, as well as Marxism, became inseparably related to everyday Japanese life. Western or Westernized music seems to be preferred to traditional Japanese music at most social levels. Although Japanese Christians form a tiny percentage of the population, Christmas (or the outer trappings of it) is widely observed, almost as a folk event. The use of Western dress among the Japanese, in place of the traditional kimono, is widespread, although women tend to wear formal kimonos at celebrations, and both men and women may use casual styles for home wear. House construction also has been changed considerably by the introduction of Western architectural forms and functions. In shape, in colour, and in building materials, many contemporary Japanese houses are significantly different from the traditional ones; they now have more modernistic shapes, use more colours, and are more often made of concrete and stucco.

      The dual influences of East and West have helped construct a modern Japanese culture that offers familiar elements to the Westerner but that also contains a powerful and distinctive traditional cultural aesthetic. This can be seen, for example, in the intricate detail, miniaturization, and concepts of subtlety that have transformed imported visual art forms. This aesthetic is best captured in the Japanese concept of shibui (literally, “astringent”), or refined understatement in all manner of artistic representation. Closely related are the twin ideals of cultivated simplicity and poverty (wabi) and of the celebration of that which is old and faded (sabi). Underlying all three is the notion of life's transitory and evanescent nature, which is linked to Buddhist thought (particularly Zen) but can be traced to the earliest examples of Japanese literature.

The arts
      Delicacy and exquisiteness of form, together with simplicity, characterize traditional Japanese artistic taste. The Japanese tend to view the traditional Chinese arts generally as being too grandiose or showy. The more recently introduced Western arts are felt to suffer from flaws of exuberant self-realization at the expense of earnest exploration of the conflicts in human relations, in particular the notions of divided loyalties between community, family, and self that create the bittersweet melancholy so pervasive in Japanese traditional drama.

Traditional forms
      The highly refined traditional arts of Japan include ikebana (flower arranging), the tea ceremony, painting, calligraphy, woodblock printing, dance, music, theatrical plays (including such forms of drama as kabuki, a highly stylized form of drama characterized by singing and dancing; bunraku, the puppet theatre; nō, the classic form of dance-drama), and gagaku (court music), gardening, and architecture. Such arts as ikebana, the tea ceremony, and calligraphy are studied and practiced by a great many Japanese. Ikebana and the tea ceremony, in particular, are popular among young unmarried women, since these are regarded as appropriate cultural or aesthetic accomplishments for future housewives. Traditional Japanese painting, dance, and music have, however, lost much of their traditional popularity, though the poetic forms of haiku and waka continue to flourish.

      Traditional handicrafts constitute some of Japan's finest examples of visual arts. Notable are the various styles of pottery, lacquerwork, cloisonné, and bamboo ware, as well as papermaking, silk weaving, and cloth dyeing.

      With the advance of modernization, many folk traditions and forms of folklore are disappearing. The widespread use of standard Japanese has accelerated this trend, since local cultures are directly related to dialects. Folk songs, for example, are generally no longer commonly sung except in some remote areas in northern and southwestern Japan. Folk music and dance are related to local life and are often significantly concerned with the local religion (whether animistic, Shintō, or Buddhist), agriculture, or human relations (including the theme of love). Some, however, still enjoy a great popularity, which has been increased through the mass media. On informal social occasions, even in the large cities, folk and popular songs are often sung.

Western forms
      Despite their perceived aesthetic shortcomings, Western art forms have been fully embraced by the Japanese. Major cities often have several symphony orchestras, and Western-style painting, sculpture, and architecture are widely practiced. The cinema has been highly successful at taking a Western form and putting it through a Japanese aesthetic filter to produce a distinctive style; internationally acclaimed Japanese film directors include Kurosawa Akira, Ozu Yasujirō, and Mizoguchi Kenji.

Cultural institutions
      The Japanese are among the most literate peoples in the world. The National Diet Library in Tokyo (which also includes branch libraries) is the single largest library in Japan. The concept of the public lending library, however, is fairly new in Japan, which partially explains the country's high incidence of commercial book sales.

      Most of Japan's major cultural institutions—including the Japan Academy, the Tokyo National Museum, and the National Theatre—and many of its most prestigious universities—e.g., the public University of Tokyo and private Waseda and Keio universities—are located in Tokyo. Japan's numerous Buddhist temples also contain a great many cultural properties, especially those located in Kyōto and Nara. In addition to the many public institutions, numerous private museums, art galleries, theatres, and gardens are found throughout the country, and Japanese department stores also play a role in the dissemination of culture by offering free or low-cost exhibitions.

      Of particular note is the national government's practice of identifying and recognizing various artists, performers, and artisans of traditional Japanese art forms. Designated “living national treasures,” these individuals receive an annual stipend that allows them to practice their skills and to pass them along to apprentices. This program helps preserve many of the forms and styles that otherwise might disappear.

The media
      The print and broadcast media have long been influential in Japan. Although their activities were somewhat circumscribed by the government until the end of World War II, they now operate in an atmosphere of considerable freedom. Commercial advertising has become an immense industry, and Japan now has the second largest market, after the United States. Television and newspapers are the most important advertising media, with magazine and radio advertising being less significant.

The press
      Japan ranks as one of the major book publishing countries in the world, and Tokyo is the centre of the Japanese publishing industry. Several thousand magazines are also published, with more than half of these being weeklies.

      The role of newspapers (newspaper) is of great importance. Japan's largest dailies rank among the highest in the world in circulation, and all the large papers are generally considered to maintain high editorial standards. Major newspapers print both morning and evening daily editions, and daily circulation is high; the largest papers each have daily press runs of several million. A number of newspapers have nationwide circulation, and some local papers also have large circulations. Kyodo News Service and Jiji Press are Japan's largest news agencies.

Radio and television
      Radio and television are used in Japan far more extensively than in any other Asian country and, indeed, more extensively than in most other countries in the world. Regular radio broadcasting began in 1926 with the establishment of the Japan Broadcasting Corporation ( Nippon Hōsō Kyōkai, or NHK)—a public corporation financed by license fees that are paid by television-set owners. NHK broadcasts quality, commercial-free programming on both radio and television.

      Regular television broadcasts by NHK began in 1953. Television stations now broadcast to all parts of Japan, including all the isolated islands. NHK has been broadcasting overseas programs such as “Radio Japan” since 1953; it now produces radio broadcasts in more than 20 languages and provides a limited amount of television broadcasting. Private commercial broadcasting began in 1951 and has gained widespread popularity. There are now several private television networks, many of them owned by newspaper companies. In addition, satellite and cable television reception is common.

Popular culture
Daily life
      Contemporary Japanese society is decidedly urban. Not only do the vast majority of Japanese live in urban settings, but urban culture is transmitted throughout the country by a mass media concentrated in Tokyo. Young urban Japanese, in particular, increasingly are known for their conspicuous consumption and for their penchant for trends and fads that quickly go in and out of fashion.

      Modern (usually Western) popular music has gained a strong foothold in Japan. Jazz, rock, and the blues are enjoyed by the younger generation, along with half-Westernized or half-Japanized folk and popular songs. Many basically Japanese songs are sung to the accompaniment of Western musical instruments; at the same time, many basically Western subjects are treated in Japanese-style drama or song.

      The two orbits around which family life typically revolves are the workplace and school. Role specialization between men and women is widespread, though changing. Men traditionally are the family breadwinners, while women are responsible for home finances, child rearing, and care of the extended family; an increasing number of women, the majority of them married, work outside the home, although often in part-time jobs. In rural agricultural areas, women have growing responsibilities in running agricultural operations, since many male heads of household are engaged in full-time employment in manufacturing facilities often at some distance from the family farm.

      Most entertaining is not done at home, in part because of the small size of most Japanese homes. The commercial landscape of most Japanese cities is among the most diverse and service-oriented in the world, where all manner of food, Japanese or otherwise, can be found. Japanese cuisine, which often is served raw or only lightly cooked, is noted for its subtle and delicate flavours.

Social customs
      Especially in the more anonymous world of the city, the traditional arranged marriage (miai-kekkon) is being replaced by the love match. It is still common for a family friend, relative, or mentor to act as a go-between (nakodo), even if the marriage is a love match. The wedding ceremony itself often consists of a curious blend of East and West: a traditional Shintō ceremony, in which the bride and groom wear elaborate kimonos, typically is followed by a Christian-style observance, with the participants in formal Western attire.

      Japan has 12 national holidays. New Year's (New Year festival) Day is traditionally regarded as the most important of these holidays, with millions of people engaging in a kind of pilgrimage to shrines and temples starting at midnight of December 31. For three days thereafter, people visit shrines and temples, their families, and the homes of friends. In addition to the 12 national holidays, there are also such nationwide festivities as the Doll Festival, or Girls' Day (March 3), which is comparable to Boys' Day (May 5), now celebrated as Children's Day (a national holiday). May Day (May 1) is celebrated by many workers. The occurrence of multiple holidays in late April–early May (popularly called Golden Week) is one of the most popular vacation times for the Japanese, as is the week of the Bon festival in mid-July or mid-August. Many temples and shrines celebrate their own specific festivals, attracting large numbers of people. City, town, and village authorities, as well as local communal bodies, often organize local festivals.

      The Japanese have a great fondness for seasonal blossom- and leaf-viewing. Most popular are the cherry blossoms of spring (in many areas, around Golden Week). Each year, the entire country is captivated by the northward progress of the trees—the so-called “cherry blossom front.” This is mirrored in the fall, to a lesser degree, by the southward progress of the turning maple leaves.

      For much of the postwar period Japanese workers did not exploit the full allowance of vacation time allotted to them, but since 1980 the country as a whole has become more leisure-conscious. Japan has an extensive and well-utilized system of national parks, quasi-national parks, and prefectural natural parks. Travel within Japan is widespread and the Japanese are highly knowledgeable, as a result, about their cultural geography. Many institutions help to promote nature studies and recreation through public and private youth hostels, national lodging houses, and national vacation villages. Nonetheless, because of the high price of domestic transportation and lodging, it is increasingly common for Japanese to travel abroad. The cultural capitals of Europe, the American West Coast, nearby South Korea and Hong Kong, as well as Australia and the Pacific islands are favourite destinations.

      Popular outdoor recreational activities include hiking, mountaineering, skiing, skating, golf, and swimming, boating, fishing, baseball, tennis, and football (soccer). Professional soccer now rivals baseball for national attention and patronage. Indoor recreations include shogi and go (both similar to chess), mah-jongg, Japanese and Western card games, basketball, volleyball, table tennis, gymnastics, and such martial arts as judo, kendo, karate, and aikido. Sumo wrestling is also practiced, and watched enthusiastically, both indoors and out.

Yasuo Masai Gil Latz


Ancient Japan to 1185
Prehistoric Japan

Pre-Ceramic culture
 It is not known when humans first settled on the Japanese archipelago. It was long believed that there was no Paleolithic occupation in Japan, but since World War II thousands of sites have been unearthed throughout the country, yielding a wide variety of Paleolithic tools. These include both core tools, made by chipping away the surface of a stone, and flake tools (flake tool), made by working with a stone flake broken off from a larger piece of stone. There is little doubt that the people who used these implements moved to Japan from the Asian continent. At one stage, land connections via what are now the Korea and Tsushima straits made immigration from the Korean peninsula possible, while another connection, via what are now the Sōya and Tsugaru straits, allowed people to come in from northeastern Asia.

      The Paleolithic Period in Japan is variously dated from 30,000 to 10,000 years ago, although the argument has been made for a Lower Paleolithic culture prior to 35,000 BC. Nothing certain is known of the culture of the period, though it seems likely that people lived by hunting and gathering, used fire, and made their homes either in pit-type dwellings or in caves. No bone or horn artifacts of the kind associated with this period in other areas of the world have yet been found in Japan. Since there was no knowledge whatsoever of pottery, the period is referred to as the Pre-Ceramic era.

      Climatic changes help to account for the existence of a Mesolithic (Mesolithic Period) stage in early Japanese culture, a time when much of the abundant fauna of earlier times became depleted by the expanding human population of the archipelago. The introduction of the bow and arrow is regarded as a local response to a decrease in game available for food.

Jōmon culture (7500 BC to c. 250 BC)
      The Pre-Ceramic era was followed by two better-recorded cultures, the Jōmon and the Yayoi. The former takes its name from a type of pottery found throughout the archipelago; its discoverer, the 19th-century American zoologist Edward S. Morse, called the pottery jōmon (“cord marks”) to describe the patterns pressed into the clay. A convincing theory dates the period during which Jōmon pottery was used from about 10,000 years ago until the 2nd or 3rd century BC. Of the features common to Neolithic (Neolithic Period) cultures throughout the world—progress from chipped tools to polished tools, the manufacture of pottery, the beginnings of agriculture and pasturage, the development of weaving, and the erection of monuments using massive stones—the first two are prominent features of the Jōmon period, but the remaining three did not appear until the succeeding Yayoi period. Pottery, for example, first appeared in northern Kyushu (the southernmost of the four main Japanese islands) about 10,000 BC, in an era that is sometimes called the “incipient” Jōmon period. While continental influence is suspected, the fact that Kyushu pottery remains predate any Chinese findings strongly suggests that the impetus to develop pottery was local. Jōmon is thus best described as a Mesolithic culture, while Yayoi is fully Neolithic.

      The manufacture of pottery, however, was highly developed, and the work of Jōmon peoples has a diversity and complexity of form and an exuberance of artistic decoration. It is customary to regard changes in pottery types as a basis for subdividing the age into six periods: incipient, very early, early, middle, late, and very late. Since Jōmon culture spread over the entire archipelago, it also developed regional differences, and this combination of both chronological and regional variations gives the evolution of Jōmon pottery a high degree of complexity.

      The pottery of the very early period includes many deep, urnlike vessels with tapered, bullet-shaped bases. In the early period the vessels of eastern Japan become roughly cylindrical in shape, with flat bases, and the walls contain an admixture of vegetable fibre. In the middle period there were rapid strides in pottery techniques; the pots produced during this time in the central mountain areas are generally considered to be the finest of the whole Jōmon era. The surface of these normally cylindrical vessels is covered with complex patterns of raised lines, and powerfully decorative projections rise from the rim to form handles. From the middle period onward there is increasing variety in the types of vessels, and a clear distinction developed between high-quality ware using elaborate techniques and simpler pots made for purely practical use. The amount of the latter increases steadily, preparing the way for the transition to Yayoi pottery.

      Jōmon dwelling sites have been found in various parts of the country. They can be classified into two types: one, the pit-type dwelling, consisted of a shallow pit with a floor of trodden earth and a roof; the other was made by laying a circular or oval floor of clay or stones on the surface of the ground and covering it with a roof. Remains of such dwellings have been found in groups ranging from five or six to several dozen, apparently representing the size of human settlements at the time. Most of these settlements form a horseshoe shape, with a space in the centre that seems to have been used for communal purposes. Nothing certain is known, however, concerning social or political organization at this period. It can be deduced that each household was made up of several family members and that the settlement made up of such households was led by a headman or shaman.

      The people of the Jōmon period lived mainly by hunting and fishing and by gathering edible nuts and roots. The appearance of large settlements from the middle period onward has been interpreted by some scholars as implying the cultivation of certain types of crop—a hypothesis seemingly supported by the fact that the chipped-stone axes of this period are not sharp but seem to have been used for digging soil. Doubtless there was some form of cultivation: starchy yams and taro, probably originating from the continent, were raised, the starch from them formed into a type of bread. This incipient agriculture seems related to a cultural florescence in mid-Jōmon times that lasted about 1,000 years.

      Weaving was still unknown, and archaeological findings indicate that clothes were largely made of bark. Body ornamentation included bracelets made of seashells, earrings of stone or clay, and necklaces and hair ornaments of stone or bone and horn. From the latter part of the period, the custom also spread throughout the archipelago of extracting or pointing certain teeth, probably performed as a rite marking the attainment of adulthood.

      No especially elaborate rites of burial evolved, and the dead were buried in a small pit dug near the dwelling. Sometimes the body was buried with its knees drawn up or with a stone clasped to its chest, a procedure that probably had some religious or magical significance. A large number of clay figurines have been found, many representing female forms that were probably magical objects associated with primitive fertility cults.

      For years certain scholars have claimed that the bearers of the Jōmon culture were not of Japanese ethnicity but were ancestors of the Ainu, an aboriginal people often regarded as having European (Caucasian) racial connections who now are found in northern Japan. Scientific investigation of the bones of Jōmon people carried out since the beginning of the 20th century, however, has disproved this theory. The Jōmon people might be called proto-Japanese, and they were spread throughout the archipelago. Despite certain variations in character arising from differences in period or place, they seem to have constituted a single ethnic stock with more or less consistent characteristics. The present Japanese people were produced by an admixture of certain strains from the Asian continent and from the South Pacific, together with adaptations made in accordance with environmental changes. Linguistic evidence suggests that a people speaking a language belonging to the Ural-Altaic (Ural-Altaic languages) family moved eastward across Siberia and entered Japan via Sakhalin Island and Hokkaido. Nothing can yet be proved concerning their relationship with the people of the Pre-Ceramic period, but it cannot be asserted that they were entirely unrelated.

The Yayoi period (c. 250 BC–c. AD 250)
  The new Yayoi culture that arose in Kyushu, while the Jōmon culture was still undergoing development elsewhere, spread gradually eastward, overwhelming the Jōmon culture as it went, until it reached the northern districts of Honshu (the largest island of Japan). The name Yayoi derives from the name of the district in Tokyo where, in 1884, the unearthing of pottery of this type first drew the attention of scholars. Yayoi pottery was fired at higher temperatures than Jōmon pottery and was turned on wheels. It is distinguished partly by this marked advance in technique and partly by an absence of the proliferating decoration that characterized Jōmon pottery. It developed, in short, as pottery for practical use. It is accompanied by metal objects and is associated with the wet (i.e., irrigated) cultivation of rice. Culturally, the Yayoi represents a notable advance over the Jōmon period and is believed to have lasted for some five or six centuries, from the 3rd or 2nd century BC to the 2nd or 3rd century AD.

      In China the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC correspond with the period of the unified empire under the Ch'in (221–206 BC) and Han (Han dynasty) (206 BC–AD 220) dynasties, which already had entered the Iron Age. In 108 BC the armies of the emperor Wu Ti (Wudi) occupied Manchuria and the northern part of the Korean peninsula, where they established Lo-lang and three other colonies. These colonies served as a base for a strong influx of Chinese culture into Korea, whence, in turn, it spread to Japan. The fact that Yayoi culture had iron implements from the outset, and bronze implements somewhat later, probably indicates borrowings from Han culture. Since iron rusts easily, comparatively few objects have been found, but they seem to have been widespread at the time. These include axes, knives, sickles and hoes, arrowheads, and swords. The bronze objects are also varied, including halberds, swords, spears, taku (bell-shaped devotional objects from China), and mirrors. The halberds, swords, and spears seem not to have been used in Japan for the practical purposes for which they were evolved in China but rather to have been prized as precious objects.

      The cultivation of rice, probably introduced from the Yangtze River delta area of southern China, was one of the most important features of Yayoi culture. The earliest Yayoi pottery and sites, discovered in northern Kyushu, have yielded marks of rice husks as well as carbonized grains of rice; this suggests that rice growing was carried on in Japan from the earliest days of the culture. Traces of paddy fields, their divisions marked with wooden piles, have been found close to sites of settlements in various districts, along with irrigation channels equipped with dams and underdrains, showing that techniques of making and maintaining paddy fields were quite advanced. Rice was first grown in dry (i.e., nonirrigated) fields and marshy areas, however, before paddy cultivation—involving considerable investment of time, labour, and capital—came to predominate.

      Generally speaking, the settlements of this period were built on low-lying alluvial land to facilitate the irrigation of the paddies, but at one stage they were built instead in the hills or on high ground. It is not clear whether this was dictated by the needs of defense or whether dry cultivation was being practiced. Much as in the Jōmon period, there were two types of dwelling—the pit type and the type built on the surface—but in addition to these, raised-floor structures appeared and were used for storing grain out of the reach of rodents.

      With the acquisition of a knowledge of textiles (textile), clothing made great strides compared with the Jōmon period. The cloth was woven on primitive looms using vegetable fibres.

      The dead were buried (burial) in either large clay urns or heavy stone coffins. Both were common in northern Kyushu and neighbouring areas; similar urns and coffins also are found on the Korean peninsula, where they probably originated. The graves were usually marked by mounds of earth or circles of stones, but a special type employed a dolmen (a large slab of stone supported over the grave by a number of smaller stones). Since the erection of dolmens was widely practiced in Manchuria and Korea, these, too, are believed to be a sign of an influx of continental culture. Normally, graves occur in clusters, but occasionally one is found apart, surrounded by a ditch and with swords, beads, and mirrors buried along with the dead. Such special graves suggest that society was already divided into classes.

      While these new cultural elements represent a migration to Japan from the Korean peninsula or China, the migration was not of a magnitude to change the character of the people who had inhabited the islands from Jōmon times. Yayoi culture undoubtedly represents an admixture of new sanguineous elements, but it seems likely that the chief strain of proto-Japanese found throughout the country during the Jōmon period was not disrupted but was carried over into later ages. Differences in Jōmon and Yayoi skeletal remains can better be explained by nutritional than genetic reasons. This point of view is supported by the accounts of the “people of Wo,” found in the Chinese history Wei chih.

Chinese chronicles
      Japan first appears in Chinese chronicles under the name of Wo (in Japanese, Wa). The Han histories relate that “in the seas off Lo-lang lie the people of Wo, who are divided into more than 100 states, and who bring tribute at fixed intervals.” Lo-lang was one of the Han colonies established in the Korean peninsula. A history of the Later (Eastern) Han (AD 25–220) records that in AD 57 the “state of Nu in Wo” sent emissaries to the Later Han court and that the emperor gave them a gold seal. The “state of Nu,” located around what is now Hakata Bay, in Kyushu, was one of more than 100 states that constituted Wo. This account was confirmed by a gold seal, apparently the identical seal awarded by the Chinese emperor, unearthed on the island of Shikano, at the mouth of Hakata Bay, in 1748. In the latter half of the 2nd century, there was civil war in the state of Wo; Queen Himiko had pacified the land and, relying on her religious powers, ruled over a confederation of more than 30 states that maintained communications with the Wei dynasty (220–264) in China. Wei, too, sent emissaries to Wo, and friendly relations between the two sides continued during the first half of the 3rd century. The Wei chih contains a detailed account of the route from Lo-lang to the court of the Wo queen in “Yamatai.”

      Scholars are divided as to whether Yamatai was located in northern Kyushu or in the Kinai district (central Honshu). If it was in northern Kyushu, then the union of states was a purely local government, unrelated to the Yamato court of later times; but if it was in the Kinai district, then it would be natural to see it as the ancestor of that court. This would suggest, in turn, that Japan had already achieved a considerable degree of political unification. Japanese historians long sought to emphasize the antiquity and degree of unity of Yamatai in order to aggrandize Japan's relations with other East Asian nations. It seems most likely, however, that Yamatai was a local centre of power in Kyushu, and that further unification did not take place until at least a century later.

      According to the Wei chih, the people of Wo already had reached a fairly high degree of civilization. Society had clear-cut divisions of rank, and the people paid taxes. There were impressive raised-floor buildings. The various provinces held fairs where goods were bartered. Since there were exchanges of letters with Wo, it seems, too, that there were already some who could read and write.

The Tumulus (Tumulus period) (Tomb) period (c. 250–552)

The unification of the nation
 The questions of how the unification of Japan was first achieved and of how the Yamato court, with the tennō (“emperor of heaven”) at its centre, came into being in central Honshu have inspired many hypotheses, none of which has so far proved entirely convincing. With the help of Chinese and Korean records, however, it is possible to get at least an approximate idea of the date by which substantial unification had occurred. The relations that Yamatai had begun with Wei were continued with the successor Chin dynasty (Jin dynasty) (265–317); but, following the dispatch of a mission in 266, all records of exchanges cease, and it is not until 147 years later, in 413 during the Eastern Chin dynasty (Dong Jin) (317–419), that the name of Wo again appears in Chinese documents. It is most likely that the blank period resulted from conditions within Japan that made exchanges with other countries impossible. The collapse of Yamatai and the birth pangs of the Yamato kingdom that took its place probably occurred during this period.

      It is possible to push the date of unification of the nation back a few decades earlier than 413: a memorial erected in 414 commemorating the achievements of King Kwanggaet'o of Koguryŏ (a Korean state; 37 BC–AD 668), describing the fighting between Wo and Koguryŏ on the Korean peninsula from the end of the 4th century into the beginning of the 5th century, makes special mention of a great army sent to the peninsula in 391 by Wo. Such military success presupposes a long period of preparation. The 8th-century Nihon shoki (“Chronicles of Japan”), one of Japan's two oldest histories, mentions the dispatch of troops by Japan in 369. Such displays of strength would hardly have been possible unless Japan were already significantly unified, and the date of the unification of the country may therefore be about the mid-4th century at the latest.

Taro Sakamoto G. Cameron Hurst III

The Yamato court
      Post-World War II historians have greatly revised the view of the place of Yamato in Asian affairs, downplaying the degree of control the Japanese formerly asserted that Yamato held over the Korean peninsula in ancient times. Most divide this period into three stages: a time of growth and expansion from about 250 to the end of the 4th century, a period of florescence that covers the 5th century, and then a period of decline from the early 6th century.

Rise and expansion of Yamato
      The period is commonly called the Tumulus, or Tomb, period from the presence of large burial mounds (kofun), its most common archaeological feature. Whereas Jōmon and Yayoi burial practices were rather primitive, from the 3rd century large tombs (tomb), both circular and uniquely keystone-shaped, began to proliferate throughout Japan, marked most especially by the enormous tumuli in and around the Ōsaka area. It is from the very construction of the tombs themselves, from an examination of the grave goods, as well as from increasingly reliable written sources both domestic and foreign that a picture of the Yamato kingdom has emerged.

      In the first stage of Yamato development, tombs clustered around the Shiki area of Yamato province (modern Nara prefecture), in the southwestern corner of the Nara (Yamato) Basin. Rulers there held sway over an expanding portion of the archipelago. The Yamato kings (called kimi and written with the appropriated Chinese characters for “great ruler”) were centred around Mount Miwa, the object of worship. Although the kimi exercised both secular and sacred functions, it seems that their primary focus was a priestly one, based on a sacred connection with Mount Miwa. Archaeological findings suggest, however, that improved agricultural techniques—such as the use of iron tools for cultivation and improved techniques for leveling and flooding paddy fields—allowed the Yamato rulers to exercise control over significant manpower resources, both to construct large tombs and to expand the area under their control outward from the Nara plain.

      From about 350, power shifted north to the Saki area, near the present city of Nara. The nature of the burial goods in the tombs constructed there, the legendary accounts in Kojiki and Nihon shoki, as well as records from the continent all indicate that this was a period of Yamato expansion throughout the archipelago and even into the Korean peninsula, where, as mentioned above, its armies were engaged in the warfare among the three Korean kingdoms on the peninsula. Although the rulers continued to worship Mount Miwa, the religious focus of the court seems to have been concentrated upon the Isonokami Shrine at Tenri, south of Nara. The rulers there seem to have been somewhat more military in nature than their Miwa predecessors, and archaeological findings suggest that the most treasured items of the Isonokami Shrine were in fact weapons—especially the so-called “seven-pronged sword” (shichishitō), which now is designated a National Treasure.

      Thus, by the end of the 4th century, Yamato was a kingdom well settled on the Nara plain with considerable control over the peoples of the archipelago. It was in contact with Chinese rulers, exchanged diplomatic envoys with several of the kingdoms on the Korean peninsula, and was even strong enough to have sent an army against the powerful state of Koguryŏ, which then dominated the peninsula. Yamato was most closely associated with the southeastern kingdom of Paekche, whence came the “seven-pronged sword.” Contact with the mainland, although involving conflict, also encouraged a marked rise in standards of living in the archipelago, as many of the fruits of advanced Chinese civilization reached Japan via people from the peninsula. Weavers, smiths, and irrigation experts migrated to Japan, and the Chinese ideographic script also was introduced at that time, together with Confucian works written in this script. Claims by historians prior to World War II that Paekche paid “tribute” to Japan, and that Japan conquered the southern tip of the peninsula where it established a “colony” called Mimana have since been largely discounted by historians in both Japan and Korea.

      The Yamato court reached its peak in the early 5th century, during the second stage of its existence. Once again, there was a shift in the centre of power, this time directly westward to the provinces of Kawachi and Izumi (modern Ōsaka urban prefecture). The 5th century was one of spectacular development for Yamato, as evidenced by the enormous keyhole-shaped tombs in the suburbs of the modern Ōsaka region. The move into this region is thought to have resulted in a power shift either among or within clan federations. It is now customary to regard the 5th-century rulers as a new line, distinct from those of the Shiki and Saki areas.

      What distinguishes the 5th-century tombs from earlier ones is both their enormous size—the tomb attributed to the semilegendary emperor Ōjin is some 1,380 feet (420 metres) in length—as well as their character. These rulers had access to great power in order to construct their tombs. It has been estimated that the construction of Ōjin's tomb would have taken 1,000 labourers, working from morning to night, four years to complete. The goods associated with these tombs are far more military in nature than those found in the earlier tombs: iron swords, arrowheads, and tools; armour; and all the trappings of a mounted warrior culture. All this suggests that the 5th-century rulers represent a more military, secular line of leaders in comparison with the priestly kings of the earlier Yamato area.

      While most historians regard the 5th-century rulers as representing a new line, there is disagreement over their origin. Some have postulated an invasion of continental “horse riders” who seized control in the archipelago and established a new line of rulers. Myths related to Ōjin's birth on the Korean peninsula while his mother was supposedly leading Yamato armies there, the location of the centre of power at the port of Naniwa (modern Ōsaka), Ōjin's arrival there by boat, and the awesome size of the tombs (which suggest excess slave labour available for their construction)—all these hint tantalizingly at a conquest theory. The consensus, however, still supports an indigenous shift in leaders relying on control of increased agricultural output and monopolizing superior military technology. From the court at Yamato, its rulers extended control along the Inland Sea and beyond, developing more sophisticated offices and units to control the peoples of the archipelago.

The Yamato polity
      The pattern of administrative control established is called the uji-kabane (uji) system. Uji is usually translated as “clan” in English. The uji are thought to be extensions of original agricultural communities, perhaps what early Chinese records referred to as “states.” Essentially, farming communities were associated into lineal groups, united by the belief that harvests would be bountiful if proper respect was paid to the group's ancestral deity (kami). Heads of the community functioned primarily as priests, mediating the relationship between the group and its deity. As clans joined together—probably largely by conquest—vertical relationships began to develop between heads of the communities and the queen or king at emergent courts. By the 5th century, these groups, possibly already called uji, were drawn together into economic, military, religious and familial ties with the Yamato kings. Some scholars have even argued that uji were purely political units, so designated by the Yamato ruler. Uji appeared first in the Nara Basin, in close association with the court; as the Yamato kingdom developed greater power, uji appeared in other areas as well.

      By the 5th century, the Yamato ruler was designating the heads of the most powerful uji, who developed close ties with the ruler over time. The Yamato court was thus headed by a hereditary ruler, while its members were drawn from the group of powerful clan leaders awarded kabane (titles). The two major titles appear to have been muraji and omi, held only by clan leaders of powerful communities serving in the area of the Yamato court. Lower-ranking titles were awarded to leaders of smaller, distant clans who nonetheless swore allegiance. The highest officers of the emerging state were the ō-muraji and the ō-omi, the heads and representatives of those two groups.

      Another factor that aided the expansion of the emergent state was the economic and military support of occupational groups, called be or tomo, attached to the court and its supporting uji. Structurally somewhat similar to clans, these occupational groups were distinguished by providing a special service to the court or to a superior clan. Earlier be were more likely to provide personal services or specialize in religious functions; but as the power of the Yamato court spread throughout the archipelago in the 5th century, newer be came to be involved with the production of weapons, armour, and mirrors or with the construction of irrigation systems. Many of them were composed of recent migrants from Paekche who specialized in raising horses or ironworking; in fact, the term be itself is of Korean origin. Some be were directly controlled by the court, including special ones called nashiro and koshiro set up for the support of certain royal relatives. Others were controlled by powerful clans directly in the service of the court, such as the yugei, the quiver bearers, who were attached to the Ōtomo clan, a major military support group for the Yamato ruling house.

Yamato relations with Korean (Korea) states
      If the 5th century represents an expansion of power throughout the archipelago, it also was a time of involvement in Korean affairs, as the struggle for peninsular hegemony intensified. At the time of Yamato's expedition against Koguryŏ in the late 4th century, Paekche and Yamato found themselves allied against Silla or Koguryŏ (or both); while the latter looked to northern Chinese kingdoms for support and legitimation, Yamato and Paekche usually turned to southern China. In fact, Yamato dispatched some 10 embassies to the Southern Sung between 421 and 478.

      Paekche was frequently attacked by Koguryŏ during the century, prompting continued requests for assistance from Yamato; it is recorded that Paekche even sent a crown prince to Yamato as a hostage on one occasion and the mother of the king on another. Yet, probably because of internal dissension, Yamato did not dispatch any troops to the peninsula, although a lengthy memorial sent with the embassy of 478 and presented to the Southern Sung emperor requested that the Yamato king Yūryaku be appointed commander of a large army being raised for dispatch against Koguryŏ.

      Yamato's interest in Korea was apparently a desire for access to improved continental technology and resources, especially iron, which was especially plentiful near the lower reaches of the Naktong River in the south. Yamato apparently gained a modicum of power in this region, controlled by the league of the Kaya (Japanese: Mimana) states between Paekche and Silla, though the exact relationship—whether ally or tributary—is unclear. But in the 6th century, Silla became militarily powerful, and Yamato faced several reversals in the area, ultimately being driven entirely from the peninsula when Silla annexed the Kaya league in 562.

Yamato decline and the introduction of Buddhism
      The 6th century, in fact, represented a decline of Yamato power both at home and abroad. It was also marked by another shift of the court, this time back to the old region around Mount Miwa sometime late in the reign of Keitai (507–c. 531). From Keitai's reign there was a marked reduction in royal power. A large force assembled to be sent against Silla, for example, had to be detoured to Kyushu in 527 to put down the rebellion of a local chieftain named Iwai, who had apparently refused to raise soldiers and supplies for the continental campaign. That campaign on the continent also ended in defeat, signaling the decline of Yamato power. The rest of the 6th century can be characterized by the growing accumulation of power by regional clan leaders and a weakening of royal power, as well as the rise of new clans, mostly of recent continental origin, who managed technical service groups.

      Chief among them were the Soga, who under the successive chieftains Iname and his son Umako rose to positions of dominance at court. Possessed of administrative and technical skills, especially in the fiscal area, the Soga established marriage connections with the royal house that permitted them considerable influence at court. The Soga are also known as sponsors of Buddhism at the Yamato court. Ultimately, the Soga clan eclipsed all other clans at court, especially after the destruction of the Mononobe clan in a major battle in 587, and dominated the political scene. By the end of the 6th century, Japan had reached a low point in both foreign and domestic affairs.

G. Cameron Hurst III  During the declining years of the Yamato court, however, there was one event of the utmost cultural importance: the introduction of Buddhism from Paekche. The date of its introduction is traditionally set at either 538 or 552, but it seems likely that Buddhist beliefs had begun spreading among the Japanese at a much earlier date. Buddhism at first was an object of wonder and admiration, a rare item of foreign culture symbolized by its beautiful statuary, its imposing religious paraphernalia, and its majestic temples. The Buddhism that first spread among the Japanese was almost certainly a simple reliance on the magical aspects of the religion in seeking various benefits in the present world. It was regarded as especially important in protecting the state. A true understanding of its doctrines did not come until the time of Prince Shōtoku (Shōtoku Taishi).

The age of reform (552–710)

The idealized government of Prince Shōtoku
      The Yamato court was resuscitated by efforts made within the royal family itself, efforts that in the course of a century reformed the government of the country and set it moving toward formation of a centralized state more suited to the new age. This era is sometimes called the Asuka period for the region south of modern Nara where the royal courts were located. The movement was touched off by the theories of ideal government expounded by Prince Shōtoku. Shōtoku (Shōtoku, Taishi) served as regent for his aunt, the empress Suiko (ruled 592–628), who was enthroned after the murder of her predecessor, Sushun (it was during Suiko's reign that the term tennō, or emperor, was adopted). Shōtoku took the Buddhist principles of peace and salvation for all beings as the ideal underlying his government. He made no move, even, to charge the murderer of Sushun but worked to convince him gradually, through the ideas of Buddhism, of the wrong he had done. The prince's political policies, however, were based squarely on Chinese Confucian ideals.

      The prince's most striking domestic achievements were the establishment of a system of 12 court ranks in 603 and the Seventeen-Article Constitution (Seventeen Article Constitution) in 604. The former, which made clear the relative stations of court officials by giving them caps of different colours, aimed to encourage the appointment of men of ability and give the court a proper organization and etiquette of its own. The ranks themselves were named for Confucian values—virtue, humanity, decorum, faith, righteousness, and knowledge, each in greater and lesser grades.

      The constitution set forth the ideals of the state and rules for human conduct. It distinguished the ruler, government ministers, and the people as the three human elements making up the state and clearly laid down the duties and rights of each; it thus established the ideal of a centralized state presided over by a single ruler, and it provided a kind of basic law of the nation. The document not only shows the influence of Buddhism—of which the prince can be counted as the first major propagator in Japan—but it also embodies many of the ethical and political doctrines of Confucian (Confucianism) government, long since established in China and subsequently implemented in the kingdoms on the Korean peninsula as well. By borrowing the ideas and vocabulary of continental government, Shōtoku attempted to buttress the legitimacy of the royal house, which had suffered diminution at the hands of great clans.

      Shōtoku's chief achievement in foreign relations was the opening of relations with the Sui dynasty (581–618) of China. The exchanges between Japan and China in the 5th century had placed Japan in the position of a tributary state. Prince Shōtoku opened relations with Sui on an equal basis, supposedly shocking the Chinese emperor by addressing him as the ruler of the nation “where the sun sets,” while he was the ruler of the nation “where the sun rises.” Envoys were exchanged by the two countries. He also sent Japanese students to China to learn directly from Chinese culture, which had hitherto reached Japan via the states of Korea. Shōtoku was a profound student of Buddhism who gave lectures on the scriptures and himself wrote commentaries. His commentary on the Lotus Sutra, four volumes of which survive in the original draft written by the prince himself, may be called the oldest written work of known authorship in Japan.

 As Buddhism gained ground, imposing temples were built in the Chinese style. The astonishment aroused by these great wooded buildings—often built with more than one story and with massive tiled roofs, where previously there had been only low, thatched houses, may well be imagined. A new civilization descended on Japan almost overnight. Of the temples built at the time, all that has survived of most of them are the foundation stones, but the Hōryū Temple, founded between 601 and 607 at Ikaruga in present Nara prefecture, still preserves its ancient wooden structures; its extant buildings, dating from the late 7th and early 8th centuries, are the oldest wooden structures in the world.

The Taika reforms (Taika era reforms)
      The death of Prince Shōtoku in 622 prevented his ideals of government from bearing full fruit. The Soga family, regaining its former powers, killed Shōtoku's son Yamashiro Ōe and all his family in 643. At the same time, however, the students whom Shōtoku had sent to China were returning to Japan with accounts of the power and efficiency of the T'ang dynasty (618–907), which had overthrown the Sui dynasty and unified China. These accounts impressed on educated men the need to reform the government, strengthen the power of the state, and take every step to prepare against possible pressure from outside.

      East Asia remained in a state of turmoil. The fierce competition for peninsular dominance among Silla, Paekche, and Koguryŏ continued; Koguryŏ had contributed to the downfall of Sui by defeating two massive campaigns launched against it and remained an implacable foe of T'ang. It was not idle worry that Japan might itself be drawn into the conflict. Thus, pressures for a cohesive, unified state were strong.

      In 645 Prince Nakano Ōe (Tenji) and Nakatomi Kamatari (Fujiwara Kamatari) engineered a coup d'état within the palace, killing the Soga family and wiping out all forces opposed to the imperial family. They then set about establishing a system of centralized government with the emperor as absolute monarch at its head. An edict issued in 646 abolished private ownership of land and people by powerful uji. The land thus taken over by the state was to be allocated among all who had attained a certain age, with the right to cultivate, in exchange for which the tenants were to pay a fixed tax. Provisions also were made for a governmental system embracing a capital city and local administration and for defense and communications facilities. A system also was established whereby a kind of “complaint box” was installed at court to give people a chance to appeal directly to the emperor. The main outlines of the reforms were drawn up in about five years. They are given the name Taika reforms for the nengō (“year name”)—the first such in Japanese history—that was given to the era at that time. In the countries of East Asia, era names are a symbol of an independent nation, a sign that the sovereign's authority is effective.

      Not long after the Taika reforms, Japan did, in fact, become involved in a dispute that led it to again send troops to Korea. Paekche, whose capital fell in 660 to the combined forces of T'ang (China) and Silla, called on Japan for help. Japan, which had traditionally been friendly with Paekche, sent a large army; it was crushed, however, in 663, by a T'ang-Silla army at the mouth of the Kum River. Japan withdrew entirely and gave up any further intervention on the Korean peninsula. The Japanese ruler of the time, the empress Saimei, went to northern Kyushu and directed operations personally, even though she was already 67 at the time.

      Saimei was succeeded by Prince Nakano Ōe, who, ascending the throne as the emperor Tenji, directed his attention to domestic affairs. He built fortifications in Kyushu to prepare for an expected T'ang and Silla invasion and amended the system established by the Taika reforms so as to make it more suitable to the practical needs of the state. Upon Tenji's death, a fierce succession dispute erupted into warfare between the supporters of his younger brother and those of his uncle. His younger brother was victorious, and, as the emperor Temmu, he, like his brother, devoted his energies to strengthening imperial government. He upgraded the status of the Shintō shrine at Ise, making it the fountainhead of the dynasty's legitimacy; propagated Buddhism nationwide as a means of protecting and strengthening the state; ordered the compilation of official histories to enhance the prestige of the nation and, consequently, the dynasty; and had the Taika reforms codified as the Asuka Kiyomihara Code, from which the ritsuryō political structure emerged.

The ritsuryō system
      The ritsuryō system refers to the governmental structure defined by ritsu, the criminal code, and ryō, the administrative and civil codes. Such a system had long been in force in China, and the Japanese ritsuryō was an imitation of the lü-ling of T'ang China and incorporated many of its original articles. Where different local conditions called for amendment, however, they were made without hesitation; it is a good early example of the skill of the Japanese in adapting foreign culture. The features were first delineated in rough form in the Taika edicts, but then were refined—perhaps first by Tenji in the Omi Code and then by Temmu—and certainly given final form in the Taihō Code of 701 and its successor, the Yōrō Code of 718.

      Under the ritsuryō system, the Japanese emperor, for example, was in some respects an absolute monarch who ruled over the whole country as the head of a bureaucracy in the same manner as the emperor of China. Yet at the same time, he was also the traditional high priest who maintained peace for the land and people by paying tribute to the deities and sounding out their will. Thus, the central government was headed by twin agencies—the Council of State (Dajōkan), which combined within its functions the various practical aspects of administration, and the Office of Deities (Jingikan), a parallel bureaucracy for the worship of the deities. Prospective bureaucrats were required to study at a central college and to pass prescribed examinations; during their term of office their performance was subjected to scrutiny once a year, and their rank and position were adjusted in accordance with the results. The recruitment of officials via examination was based on the highly developed bureaucratic system of China, yet the ritsuryō system was not too bound by its provisions to provide special favours for men of high rank and good family. This, too, was a compromise between the new principles of the ritsuryō system and the old spirit of respect for birth. In fact, the examinations were soon dropped. The provinces were divided into three types of administrative division: the kuni, or koku (province), the kōri, or gun (county), and the sato, or ri (village), to be administered by officials known as kokushi, gunji, and richō, respectively. The posts of kokushi were filled by members of the central bureaucracy in turn, but the posts of gunji and richō were staffed by members of prominent local families.

      The people were divided into two main classes, freemen and slaves. The slaves (slavery) were the possession of the government, the aristocracy, and the shrines and temples; as such, they were obliged to provide unlimited labour, but their total number accounted for less than one-tenth of the population. The majority of the free population were farmers. At the age of six, each male child was apportioned paddy fields that remained his to cultivate for life. A tax was levied on the produce of the paddies, and a head tax was levied on adult males. The paddy field tax was low (about 3 percent of the crop), but the head tax, payable in handicrafts such as silk and hemp, imposed a heavy burden. Moreover, the transport of the goods from the provinces to the capital was the responsibility of the taxed, which involved an enormous labour for those living in distant parts. Adult males were also obliged to give military service and to provide labour for public works at the command of the local kokushi, amounting to not more than 60 days per year. Since the government's finances depended on such tribute from the common people, whenever the latter found the burden too much and fled to avoid paying taxes, government revenues quickly declined.

      The lowest-ranking freemen were the groups of smiths, tanners, and others engaged in manufacturing. They were mostly the descendants of those with be status who inherited their trades and paid their taxes in the form of manufactured goods or by working for fixed periods in the government workshops.

      All land was, in principle, the property of the state. Most of the land was distributed equally among the people, but, apart from this, land of a certain annual yield was given to bureaucrats and other high-ranking persons as stipends and to Shintō shrines and Buddhist temples as sources of revenue. Land other than paddy fields was left to individuals to use as they pleased. There was a need to open up new paddy fields as a means of providing for a growing population, but the ritsuryō system made inadequate provision for this process. In fact, the complex taxation and allotment system discouraged the heavy investment necessary to open new paddy fields. Ultimately, the government had to encourage the opening up of new land by offering incentives; and in 743 the law was changed to allow permanent private possession of land to the person who had first put it under cultivation. As a result, the aristocrats and the shrines and temples set about putting land under cultivation in order to increase their own privately owned territories. The principle of public ownership of land provided for in the ritsuryō system began to crumble, and as it did so the whole system of government grew increasingly shaky.

The Nara period (710–784)

Beginning of the imperial state
 In 710 the imperial capital was shifted a short distance from Asuka to Nara. For the next 75 years, with minor gaps, Nara was the seat of government, and the old custom of changing the capital with each successive emperor was finally discarded. During this period, the centralized government provided for under the ritsuryō structure worked reasonably well; it was a time of atypical social mobility based on merit, where those with Chinese learning or Buddhist knowledge enjoyed access to power. Perhaps the most conspicuous feature is the brilliant flowering of culture, especially Buddhist (Buddhism) culture. The leaders in its promotion were the emperor Shōmu and his consort, Kōmyō. Immediately on his accession, Shōmu—who from childhood had been given a thorough schooling as future emperor—showed an eager concern to promote the stable livelihood of the people. Convinced that the Buddhist faith was a means to ensure both the happiness of the individual and peace for the country as a whole, he introduced strong doses of Buddhism into his government.

      One of the measures he took was the founding of the provincial temples known as kokubunji. Each province was to build a monastery (kokubunji) and a nunnery (kokubun niji), each with a seven-story pagoda and each housing a statue of the Śakyamuni Buddha. Each monastery was to have 20 monks, each nunnery 10 nuns, whose constant task would be to recite the scriptures and offer up prayers for the welfare of the nation. Just as the temporal world had its kokushi (governors) in each province to attend to its administrative and juridical matters, so the spiritual world would have officially appointed monks and nuns, distributed evenly among the provinces, to attend to the spiritual needs of the people.

  The second measure taken by Shōmu was the construction of the Tōdai Temple as kokubunji of the capital and the installation within it of a huge bronze figure of the Vairocana Buddha as supreme guardian deity of the nation. The casting of the Great Buddha (Daibutsu) was a tremendously difficult task; but the emperor called on the people at large to contribute to the project, in however humble a way, and thereby partake of the grace of the Buddha. The great image that was produced as a result, though damaged in later ages, still stands in the Tōdai Temple and is famous the world over as the Great Buddha of Nara. The court also tried to attract Chinese monks to Nara. The most important of these was Ganjin (Chinese: Chien-chen), who finally reached Nara in 753 on his sixth attempt and founded the Ritsu sect at Tōshōdai Temple.

      The marriage of Buddhism and politics that was Shōmu's ideal was to cause trouble after his death. The temples gradually amassed vast wealth, and the monks acquired high political positions and began to interfere in secular affairs. A movement to counter such abuses arose among the aristocracy, the leaders of the movement being the Fujiwara Family, descendants of Nakatomi Kamatari, who had played such an important role in the Taika reforms. Kamatari and his son Fuhito (both later given the surname Fujiwara) had supervised compilation of the Taihō and Yōrō codes that formalized the ritsuryō system and had become prominent figures at court as a new type of bureaucrat-noble. Moreover, Shōmu's marriage to Fuhito's second daughter (who became known as the empress Kōmyō) created the precedent for a marital relationship with the imperial house that was to last throughout much of premodern Japanese history. The subsequent progress of the family's fortunes in the Nara period was not always smooth, however.

      In particular, the emphasis on Buddhism undercut the family's influence. At the end of the 8th century, the powerful priest-premier Dōkyō rose to a position of undisputed hegemony under Shōmu's daughter, who reigned twice, as the empress Kōken and then as Shōtoku; and Fujiwara nobles feared that the priestly domination of government threatened the future of the nation. Ousting Dōkyō following the death of the empress, they set on the throne a new emperor, Kōnin, who was less enthralled with Buddhism. Kōnin's son, the emperor Kammu, who was of a similar mind, shifted the capital first to Nagaoka and in 794 to Heian (or Heian-kyō; present Kyōto) to sever connections with the temples of Nara and reestablished government in accordance with the ritsuryō system. Kammu's accession also represented a shift from the descendants of the emperor Temmu back to those of Tenji, whose base of power was located in Yamashiro province, the site of the new capital.

Culture in the Nara period
      The cultural flowering centring on Buddhism was an outcome of lively exchanges with other nations. Four times within 70 years the government sent official missions to the T'ang (Tang dynasty) court, each mission accompanied by a large number of students who went to study in China. By this time T'ang had formed a great empire that controlled not only the central plains of China but parts of Mongolia and Siberia to the north and of Central Asia to the west.

      Nara culture, borrowing from the T'ang, whose capital, Ch'ang-an, was a great international city, evinced a marked international flavour itself. The consecration ceremony of the Great Buddha of Tōdai Temple, for example, was conducted by a Brahman high priest born in India, while the music was played by musicians from throughout East Asia. But despite this internationalism, respect was also shown for traditional Japanese cultural forms. An outstanding example of this respect is the collection of Japanese verse known as Man'yōshū (Man'yō-shū) (c. 8th century AD), an anthology of 4,500 poems both ancient and contemporary. Poets represented in the anthology range over all classes of society, from the emperor and members of the imperial family through the aristocracy and the priesthood to farmers, soldiers, and prostitutes; and the scenery celebrated in the verse represents districts throughout the country. The poems deal directly and powerfully with basic human themes, such as love between men and women or between parents and children, and are deeply imbued with the traditional spirit of Japan, scarcely influenced at all by Buddhist or Confucian ideas. The anthology had immense influence on all subsequent Japanese culture.

      The compilation of Japan's two most ancient histories, the Kojiki and Nihon shoki, also took place at the beginning of the 8th century. Both works are extremely important, for they draw on oral or written traditions handed down from much earlier times. The histories—a combination of myth, folk belief, and, as they near the contemporary age, historical fact—were highly political in nature: by stressing the connection between the imperial family and the sun goddess (Amaterasu), they provided a written legitimation of the rule of the imperial house. By purposely dating Japanese history back as far as 660 BC, the compilers sought to raise the level of national sophistication in Chinese and Korean eyes.

The Heian period (794–1185)

Changes in ritsuryō government
 In 794, as noted above, the emperor Kammu shifted his capital to Heian, diluted the ties between government and Buddhism, and attempted to revive government in accordance with the ritsuryō. Commanding that the provisions of the ritsuryō system be enforced, he also amended those articles that were no longer relevant to the age. Since it was difficult in practice to carry out the allocation of rice fields once every 6 years, this was amended to once in 12 years. A tighter watch was imposed on corruption among local officials. The original system of raising conscript troops from among the peasantry was abolished, and soldiers were thenceforth selected from among the sons of local officials with martial prowess. Kammu, continuing campaigns that had plagued the regime since Nara times, dispatched large conscript armies against the Ezo (Emishi), a nonsubject tribal group in the northern districts of Honshu who were regarded as aliens. The Ezo eventually were pacified, although the northern border was never fully brought under the control of the central government. Those Ezo who submitted to government forces were resettled throughout the empire and largely assimilated into the existing population.

      Interference in affairs of state by religious authorities was forbidden, but they were encouraged to see that Buddhism fulfilled its proper functions. Kammu was a supporter of Buddhism for both national and individual purposes. He dispatched two brilliant monks, Saichō and Kūkai, to China to study. Each of them, on his return to Japan, established a new sect of Japanese Buddhism: the Tendai (Tiantai) sect, founded by Saichō, and the Shingon sect, established by Kūkai. In the Nara period, Buddhism had been no more than a transplantation of the Buddhism of T'ang China, but the two new sects, though derived from China, developed in a characteristically Japanese fashion. As headquarters of their new sects, Saichō and Kūkai founded, respectively, the Enryaku Temple on Mount Hiei and the Kongōbu Temple on Mount Kōya. The two sects were thenceforth to form the mainstream of Japanese Buddhism.

      After Kammu, successive emperors carried on his policies, and society enjoyed some 150 years of peace. The formal aspects of government, at least, were carefully observed, and the supplementing of the legal codes, the compilation of histories, and the minting of coins all took place frequently in accordance with precedent. The social reality, however, became increasingly chaotic, so that form and actuality were soon traveling along quite different courses. The very foundations of ritsuryō government began to crumble because of the difficulty of carrying out the allotment system based on census registers and the consequent decline in government revenue. Two changes were instituted early in the 10th century that, while temporarily shoring up government finances, eventually led to further erosion of the ideals of the authority-intensive ritsuryō system. First, the state decided to calculate taxes on the basis of land units rather than individuals. The government set up taxation units based on paddy fields upon which both rent and corvée could easily be assessed. Second, the central government gave up the details of administering provincial affairs, leaving local matters to governors (now increasingly called zuryō, or “tax managers”) and local resident officials (zaichō kanjin) who were mainly responsible for forwarding to Heian a specified tax amount. It now became easier to calculate the amount of taxable public land (kōden) in each province; but entrusting so much authority to governors opened the gates for further abuse, especially the possibilities of increasing the amount of lands held in tax-free estates. Thus, the reality of Heian society continued to deviate from the ritsuryō ideal.

      Another example of the divergence between form and reality is the fact that while, on the surface, appointments to official posts were made in accord with ritsuryō stipulations, real power shifted to other posts that were newly created outside the codes as the occasion demanded. Early examples were the two new posts created during the early 9th century: kurōdo, a kind of secretary and archivist to the emperor, and Kebiishi, the imperial police, who ultimately developed powers to investigate crimes and determine punishments. The two most important posts developed outside the ritsuryō codes were those of sesshō (regent) and kampaku (chief councillor), better known by an abbreviated combination of the two terms, sekkan (regency). The original role of the sesshō was to attend to affairs of state during the minority of the emperor, while the kampaku's role was to attend to state matters for the emperor even after he had come of age. Neither post had been foreseen by the ritsuryō system, which was based on the principle of direct rule by the emperor.

      Prior to the early Heian period, all sovereigns had been adults, and seemingly no one had envisioned the enthronement of a child emperor. In the mid-9th century, however, when nine-year-old Seiwa ascended the throne, his maternal grandfather, Fujiwara Yoshifusa, created the office of sesshō, based on the post once held by imperial family members such as the empress Jingū and the princes Nakano Ōe and Shōtoku. Yoshifusa's son Mototsune (Fujiwara Mototsune) became sesshō during the minority of the succeeding emperor Yōzei, and then in the reign of the emperor Uda he created the post of kampaku. It thus became the established custom that a member of the Fujiwara Family should serve as sesshō and kampaku. In order to hold the sekkan offices, it was necessary that the person concerned should marry his daughter into the imperial family, then establish the resulting offspring as emperor. In other words, the indispensable qualification was that one should be the emperor's maternal grandfather or father-in-law. While not totally new with the Fujiwara—the maternal relatives of the early Yamato rulers (notably the Soga) were the important powers at court—the system reached its height and perfection under the Fujiwara. As a result of this complex system, there were constant struggles at court involving the expulsion of members of other families by the Fujiwara family or wrangling among the branches of extensive Fujiwara clan itself.

      One of the most celebrated affairs involving the expulsion of a member of another family by the Fujiwara was the removal of Sugawara Michizane from his post as minister and his exile to Kyushu. Born into a family of scholars, Michizane was an outstanding scholar whose ability in writing Chinese verse and prose was said to rival that of the Chinese themselves. Recognizing his talent, the emperor Uda singled Michizane out for an attempt to break the authority of the Fujiwara family, to whom the emperor had no connection. Uda appointed Michizane and Fujiwara Tokihira to a succession of government posts. In 899 Uda's successor, the emperor Daigo, simultaneously appointed Tokihira and Michizane as his two top ministers. In 901 Tokihira, jealous of Michizane's influence, falsely reported to Daigo (who was sympathetic to the Fujiwara) that Michizane was plotting treason. Michizane was demoted to a ministerial post in Kyushu, effectively sending him and his family into exile.

      The culture of the 9th century was a continuation of that of the 8th, insofar as its foundations were predominantly Chinese. The writing of Chinese prose and verse was popular among scholars, and great respect for Chinese customs was shown in the daily lives of the aristocracy. Buddhist monks continued to travel to China to bring back as yet unknown scriptures and iconographic pictures. Buddhist sculpture and paintings produced in Japan were done in the T'ang style. At the end of the 9th century, however, Japan cut off formal relations with T'ang China, both because of the expense involved in sending regular envoys and because of the political unrest accompanying the breakup of the T'ang empire. In fact, the Japanese court no longer had a model worthy of emulation, nor did it need one. The practical result was the stimulation of a more purely Japanese cultural tradition. Japanese touches were gradually added to the basically T'ang styles, and a new culture slowly came into being; but it was not until the 10th century and later that this tendency became a strong current.

Aristocratic (aristocracy) government at its peak
 From the 10th century and through the 11th, successive generations of the northern branch of the Fujiwara clan continued to control the nation's government by monopolizing the posts of sesshō and kampaku, and the wealth that poured into their coffers enabled them to lead lives of the greatest brilliance. The high-water mark was reached in the time of Fujiwara Michinaga (966–1028). Four of his daughters became consorts of four successive emperors, and three of their sons became emperors. Government during this period was based mostly on precedent, and the court had become little more than a centre for highly ritualized ceremonies.

      The ritsuryō system of public ownership of land and people survived in name alone; land passed into private hands, and people became private citizens. The fiscal changes of the early 10th century did not bring enough paddy fields into production, and tax rates remained high. Public revenue—the income of the Heian aristocrats—continued to decline, and the incentive to seek new private lands increased. Privately owned lands were known as shōen (“manors”), which developed primarily on the basis of rice fields under cultivation since the adoption of the ritsuryō system. Since the government-encouraged opening up of new land during the Nara period, temples and aristocrats with resources at their disposal had hastened to develop new areas, and vast private lands had accrued to them. Originally private lands had been taxable, but shōen owners developed various techniques to obtain special exemption from taxes, so that by mid-Heian times the shōen gradually became nontaxable estates. The increase in shōen thus came to pose a serious threat to the government, which accordingly issued edicts intended to check the formation of new estates. This merely served, however, to establish more firmly the position of those already existing and failed to halt the tendency for such land to increase. Finally, an edict issued in 1069 recognized all estates established before 1045 and set up an office to investigate shōen records, thus legitimizing the accumulation of private estates. Since the owners of the shōen were the same high officials that constituted the government, it was extremely difficult to change the situation.

      Although the aristocracy and temples around the capital enjoyed exemption from taxes on their private lands, the same privileges were not available to powerful families in the provinces. These, accordingly, commended their holdings to members of the imperial family or the aristocracy, concluding agreements with them that the latter should become owners in name while the former retained rights as actual administrators of the property. Thanks to such agreements, the estates of the aristocracy increased steadily, and their incomes swelled proportionately. The shōen of the Fujiwara family expanded greatly, especially in the 11th and 12th centuries.

      While the aristocracy was leading a life of luxury on the proceeds from its estates, the first stirrings of a new power in the land—the warrior, or samurai, class—were taking place in the provinces. Younger members of the imperial family and lower-ranking aristocrats dissatisfied with the Fujiwara monopoly of high government offices would take up posts as local officials in the provinces, where they settled permanently, acquired lands of their own, and established their own power. In order to protect their territories or expand their power, they began to organize local inhabitants (especially the zaichō kanjin) into service. Since many of these local officials had for centuries practiced martial skills, a number of powerful provincial aristocrats developed significant armed forces. As a consequence, when such men of true martial ability and sufficient autonomy emerged, the slightest incident involving any one of them might provoke armed conflict. The risings of Taira Masakado (d. 940) in the Kantō district and of Fujiwara Sumitomo (d. 941) in western Japan are examples of large war bands extending their control in the provinces; for a time, Masakado controlled as many as seven provinces. Although the government was able to suppress the rebellions, these conflicts had an enormous effect in lowering the government's prestige and encouraging the desolation of the provinces.

      During the 10th century a truly Japanese culture developed, one of the most important contributing factors being the emergence of indigenous scripts, the kana syllabaries. Until then, Japan had no writing of its own; Chinese (Chinese writing) ideographs were used both for their meaning and for their pronunciation in order to represent the Japanese language, which was entirely different grammatically from Chinese. Educated men and women of the day, however, gradually evolved a system of writing that used a purely phonetic, syllabic script formed by simplifying a certain number of the Chinese characters; another script was created by abbreviating Chinese characters. These two scripts, called hiragana and katakana, respectively, made it possible to write the national language with complete freedom, and their invention was an epoch-making event in the history of the expression of ideas in Japan. Thanks to the kana, a great amount of verse and prose in Japanese was to be produced.

 Particularly noteworthy in this respect were the daughters of the Fujiwara, who, under the aristocratic government of the day, became the consorts of successive emperors and surrounded themselves with talented women who vied with each other in learning and the ability to produce fine writing. The hiragana script—largely shunned by men, who composed official documents in stilted Chinese—provided such women with an opportunity to create works of literature. Among such works, The Tale of Genji (Tale of Genji, The) (Genji monogatari), a novel by Murasaki Shikibu, and The Pillow Book of Sei Shōnagon (Makura no sōshi), a collection of vivid scenes and incidents of court life by Sei Shōnagon, who was a lady-in-waiting to the empress Sadako, are masterpieces of world literature.

      By Heian times, the diverse poetic forms found in the Man'yōshū had been refined into one form called waka. The waka, consisting of 31 syllables, was an indispensable part of the daily lives of the aristocracy, and proficiency in verse-making was counted an essential accomplishment for a courtier. The value placed on the skillful composition of poetry led to the compilation in 905 of the Kokinshū (or Kokin wakashū), the first of a series of anthologies of verse made at imperial command. So popular was the craze for composition that formal and informal poetic competitions were common among the aristocracy; careers and even love affairs depended on one's skill at versification.

      The same trend toward the development of purely Japanese qualities became strongly marked in Buddhism as well. Both the Tendai and Shingon sects produced a succession of gifted monks and continued, as sects, to flourish. But, being closely connected with the court and aristocracy, they tended to pursue worldly wealth and riches at the expense of purely religious goals, and it was left to the Pure Land (Jōdo (Pure Land Buddhism)) sect of Buddhism to preach a religion that sought to arouse a desire for salvation in ordinary people.

      Pure Land Buddhism, which became a distinct sect only in the 12th and 13th centuries, expounded the glories of the paradise of Amida ( Amitābha, or Buddha of Infinite Light)—the world after death—and urged all to renounce the defilements of the present world for the sake of rebirth in that paradise; it seemed to offer an ideal hope of salvation in the midst of the disorder and decay of the old order. It grew in popularity as society began to unravel and violence spread at the end of the Heian period. Pure Land was a very approachable religion in that it eschewed difficult theories and ascetic practices, teaching that in order to achieve rebirth it was necessary only to invoke the name of Amida and dwell on the marks of his divinity. This same teaching also inspired artists to produce an astonishing number of representations of Amida in both sculpture and painting. The mildness of his countenance and the softly curving folds of his robe contrasted strongly with the grotesque Buddhist sculpture in the preceding age and represented a much more truly Japanese taste.

      Another example of this Japanization of culture is the style called Yamato-e (“Japanese painting”). Most Yamato-e dealt with secular affairs—for example, the career of Sugawara Michizane or The Tale of Genji—and there were even satirical works lampooning the behaviour of the court nobles. The signs of the growing independence of Japanese culture, apparent in every field, were an indication that, by now, two centuries after the first ingestion of continental culture, the process of naturalization was nearing completion.

Government by cloistered emperors
      The powerful authority wielded by the Fujiwara regents was maintained by their maternal relationship to successive emperors; once such a relationship disappeared, their power was bound to weaken. This is, in fact, what happened in late Heian times. The emperor Go-Sanjō (Sanjō, Go-) ascended the throne in 1068, the first sovereign in more than a century not born of a daughter of the Fujiwara; while Michinaga's sons Yorimichi and Norimichi both gave their daughters to be imperial consorts, no Fujiwara-related heirs resulted from these unions. As a result, the adult Go-Sanjō, who had prepared assiduously for ruling, began to rule free of the strong control of a Fujiwara regent. His policies, such as the shōen regulation edict, were designed both to strengthen the weakening economic institutions of the state and to bolster the fortunes of the imperial family itself.

      After only four years on the throne, Go-Sanjō abdicated and, in accord with the precedent established by earlier emperors, opened an office of the retired emperor (in no chō). Since Go-Sanjō clearly meant to participate in politics even from retirement, especially to direct the imperial succession to his non-Fujiwara sons, his era is often regarded as the institutionalization of rule by retired or cloistered emperors.

      Go-Sanjō died shortly after abdicating, but he was followed by three successive rulers— Shirakawa, Toba, and Go-Shirakawa (Shirakawa, Go-)—who exercised sovereign power both as emperors and then even more effectively as retired emperors. Governmental control in Japan thus passed from Fujiwara regents to the “cloistered emperors” who wielded real power behind the scenes during the late 11th and 12th centuries. This system, known as insei (“cloistered government”) because the retired emperors all took Buddhist vows and retired to cloisters (in), was not dramatically different from the manner in which Fujiwara regents had ruled. Based on the bureaucratic offices of the ritsuryō system, it represented a shift of access to power from matrilineal to patrilineal relatives of the emperor. Decisions continued to be made by a relatively small group of high-ranking nobles, the majority of whom were now clients of the retired emperor rather than the Fujiwara regent. The reigning emperor was largely treated as a figurehead; now, however, control over this position returned to the hands of imperial family, allowing it to compete more effectively for the rewards of power.

      The cloistered emperor system continued for a long period, although the emperors Shirakawa, Toba, and Go-Shirakawa were the only ones to wield absolute, behind-the-scenes power. Insei represented a revival of imperial family fortunes: with a vibrant household organization, the ability to attract clients among the nobility, and the opportunity to attract shōen holdings of its own, the fortunes of the house increased immeasurably. By the end of the Heian period, in fact, the imperial family had eclipsed the Fujiwara as the largest shōen holder in the land.

      One common feature of each reign was that the retired sovereign became a Buddhist priest and governed in a way that theoretically respected the teachings of Buddhism. In practice, however, retired emperors seemed more concerned with the construction of ostentatious temples; temples also were endowed with shōen commended by clients of the imperial family, some of them coming to possess large numbers of estates for the support of a grand lifestyle. The secularization of Buddhism continued apace. Late Heian times were the “latter days” (mappō) of Buddhist calculation, in which one could rely upon nothing but faith in some Buddhist deity or doctrine for salvation. In hopes of salvation, many aristocrats donated funds to construct temples or took holy vows and went to live in temples, which thus became centres of political intrigue. Most higher positions in the religious world were occupied by members of the imperial family and former aristocrats. This effectively closed advancement to commoners, and the lower-ranking monks in the temples often resented their superiors on this account. Whenever some particularly serious grievance arose, they would march in a body on the capital and try to force acceptance of their demands by a direct appeal to the court, a common phenomenon in the last century of the Heian period. Some idea of the nuisance they constituted can be gleaned from the fact that even the most powerful of the retired emperors, Shirakawa, ranked them with the waters of the Kamo River and the dice in games of chance as one of three forces that he was powerless to control. Nor did the monks hesitate to resort to armed force; it was an age in which some members of a priesthood ostensibly committed to compassion and respect for life in all its forms could openly bear arms and engage in slaughter.

The rise of the warrior class
 In the late Heian period, the more powerful of the samurai, who, as noted above in Aristocratic government at its peak (Japan), first established their power in the provinces, gradually gathered in or near the capital, where they served both the military needs of the state against potential outbreaks of rebellion and also as bodyguards for the great noble houses. Through association with the aristocracy, they gradually established a foothold at court. Outstanding among these samurai were the branch of the Minamoto (or Genji) family descended from the emperor Seiwa and the Taira (Taira Family) (Heike) family lineage that traced its roots to the emperor Kammu. The Seiwa Genji established themselves as clients in the service of successive Fujiwara regents even before Michinaga was regent. Their fame as a warrior clan was greatly heightened in the mid-11th century when they quelled a rebellion in northeastern Japan. The victorious Minamoto (Minamoto Yoshiie) leader Yoshiie became the nation's most celebrated warrior, and many local figures made voluntary vows of allegiance to him and commended lands to him in return for his protection. Yoshiie's sudden rise to power forced the court to view him warily, even denying the commendation of estates from would-be clients. The Taira took advantage of this relative decline to advance their own fortunes again.

      The Taira had at first settled in the Kantō district, where they extended their influence over a wide area; but they had suffered a setback with the defeat of Taira Masakado and had finally lost their hold in the Kantō district as the result of another later uprising by Masakado's descendant Tadatsune. With the revitalization of the imperial family, the Taira (Taira Tadamori) curried favour with the retired emperors. Taira Masamori and his son Tadamori served as governors in several western provinces, building up their own power in the area, and aided the retired emperors' programs of temple building by erecting and endowing a number of new temples. Tadamori also initiated trade with Sung dynasty China as a means of amassing wealth. Because they were clients of the retired emperor, the social position of the Taira rose steadily, so that Tadamori's son Kiyomori broke into the ranks of the nobility.

      Discord within both the imperial family and the Fujiwara regent's house split the nobility into two factions, each of which enlisted warriors from the Minamoto and the Taira. The two factions eventually clashed openly in Kyōto in what is known as the Hōgen Disturbance (1156). The conflict was on a small scale—the outcome determined by a single night's fighting—yet it was highly significant in that it demonstrated the inability of the courtiers to settle major differences without reliance on the power of the warriors. Conflicts over rewards arose between the two successful Hōgen generals, Minamoto Yoshitomo and Taira Kiyomori, and, in the Heiji Disturbance (1159) that followed, the two warrior clans were pitted against one another. The Minamoto were thoroughly defeated, and Taira Kiyomori emerged as a major power in the land.

      Although Kiyomori was born into a middle-ranking provincial warrior family, he became, in effect, a military noble and dominated the political scene in ways reminiscent of the Fujiwara. Over the two decades following the Heiji Disturbance, Kiyomori and his kinsmen gradually assumed power at court, at first under the sponsorship of the retired emperor Go-Shirakawa but ultimately by seizing power from his patron in 1179. Kiyomori himself became prime minister (dajō-daijin), and many other official posts were filled by members of his family. All his daughters were married into powerful noble families, and one even became the consort of the emperor Takakura. The infant prince born of their union ascended to the throne in 1180 as the emperor Antoku, and Kiyomori's power rose even higher through his influence over the throne, which represented a return to government by matrilineal relatives of the emperor. (Not being a Fujiwara, however, Kiyomori never became regent.) Kiyomori's rule also had its more drastic aspects. In a single move, for example, he swept 42 court officials from their posts and into exile, and he razed to the ground such troublesome places as the Tōdai and Kōfuku temples. His repairing of the Inland Sea route, however, and his encouragement of trade with Sung China—by which the Taira became wealthy—were farseeing measures that distinguished Kiyomori from earlier Fujiwara regents.

      The high-handed manner in which Kiyomori and his kinsmen dominated the court, however, naturally provoked reaction. While the Taira thrived in the capital, the descendants of the Minamoto (Minamoto Yoritomo) quietly built up their strength in the provinces. Finally Yoritomo, the oldest surviving son of Yoshitomo, who grew up in exile at Izu, invoked the authority of a passed-over imperial prince to rally the Minamoto and other great warrior families in eastern Japan in insurrection. From the initial uprising in 1180 to the final sea battle at Dannoura at the southernmost tip of Honshu, the so-called Gempei (Gempei War) (Genji and Heike) War engulfed Japan in warfare on a scale theretofore unseen. Yoritomo himself spent most of the five years recruiting warrior vassals, organizing institutions of control and reward, and planning strategy. He relied on his younger brothers Yoshitsune and Noriyori and his cousin Yoshinaka to attack Kyōto and carry the fight against the Taira-led court forces. Although traditionally portrayed as a simple Taira-versus-Minamoto conflict, the Gempei War was in actuality a combination of interclan and intraclan fighting, as well as a struggle between central control and forces for local autonomy combined under the larger banner of clan rivalry. The final rout of the fleeing Taira forces on the sea, however, put a more or less decisive end to the swing of fortune between Minamoto and Taira.

      It also marked an important turning point in Japanese history, since Yoritomo's establishment of a military government (bakufu, or shogunate, as it is often called in English) in Kamakura may be seen as the commencement of rule by a samurai class and at least the beginning of the end of the ancient monarchical system of court and aristocracy. In one form or another, a bakufu (literally, “tent government,” the name for the field headquarters of a campaigning warrior), was to hold effective political control in Japan until the restoration of imperial power in 1868.

Taro Sakamoto G. Cameron Hurst III

Medieval Japan
The Kamakura period (Kamakura period) (1185–1333)

The establishment of warrior government
 The establishment of the bakufu by Minamoto Yoritomo at the end of the 12th century can be regarded as the beginning of a new era, one in which independent government by the warrior class successfully opposed the political authority of the civil aristocracy. Modern scholarly interpretation, however, has retreated from recognizing a major break and the establishment of feudal institutions with the founding of the Kamakura regime. During the Kamakura period, total warrior dominance was not achieved. There was, instead, what approached a dyarchy with civil power in Kyōto and military power in Kamakura sharing authority for governing the nation. Institutions of the Heian imperial-aristocratic system remained in place throughout the Kamakura age, replaced with new feudal institutions when Kamakura passed from the scene.

      During the Gempei War, Yoritomo established his headquarters in Kamakura and entrusted the suppression of the Taira to his younger brothers Noriyori and Yoshitsune. Meanwhile, he gathered a following of great eastern warrior leaders and began to lay the foundation for a new military government. In 1180, for example, Yoritomo set up the Samurai-dokoro (Board of Retainers), a disciplinary board to control his multiplying military vassals. General administration was handled by a secretariat, which was opened four years later and known as the Kumonjo (later renamed the Mandokoro). In addition, a judicial board, the Monchūjo, was set up to handle lawsuits and appeals. These institutions represent the emergence of Yoritomo's regime (the term bakufu was used only later in retrospect).

      In 1185, after the destruction of the Taira family at the Battle of Dannoura, Yoritomo was granted the right to appoint his vassals, or gokenin (“housemen”) as military governors ( shugo) in the provinces and military stewards ( jitō) in both public and private landed estates. It was the job of the shugo to recruit metropolitan guards and keep strict control over subversives and criminals. The jitō collected taxes, supervised the management of landed estates, and maintained public order.

 Although the Gempei War ended in 1185, a dispute between Yoritomo and his brother Yoshitsune (Minamoto Yoshitsune) resulted in continued warfare until 1189, when Yoritomo finally destroyed the northern Fujiwara family of Mutsu province (modern Aomori prefecture), which had sheltered his rebellious brother. Three years later Yoritomo went to Kyōto and was appointed shogun (shogunate) (an abbreviation of seii taishōgun; “barbarian-quelling generalissimo”), the highest honour that could be accorded a warrior. Though he kept the title only briefly and was not known by that term in the documents he issued to manage Kamakura affairs, “shogun” ultimately emerged as the title associated with the head of a bakufu. At first the chief base of the Kamakura bakufu lay in the shōen seized from the Taira family and in the limited administrative revenues from public estates in provinces granted to Yoritomo by the imperial court. But later the bakufu was able to expand its influence over lands that were still controlled by the civil provincial governors, as well as the private estates of the civil aristocracy and the temples and shrines.

The Hōjō regency
 After the death of Yoritomo in 1199, real power in the bakufu passed into the hands of the Hōjō Family, from which Yoritomo's wife, Masako, had come. In 1203 Hōjō Tokimasa, Masako's father, assumed the position of regent (shikken) for the shogun, an office that was held until 1333 by nine successive members of the Hōjō family. Taking advantage of disputes among Yoritomo's generals, the Hōjō overthrew and outmaneuvered their rivals, and after three generations the direct line of descent from Yoritomo had become extinct. Though wielding actual power, the Hōjō family was of low social rank, and its leaders could not aspire to become shoguns themselves. Kujō Yoritsune, a Fujiwara scion and distant relative of Yoritomo, was appointed shogun, while Tokimasa's son Hōjō Yoshitoki (shikken 1205–24) handled most government business. Thereafter, the appointment and dismissal of the shogun followed the wishes of the Hōjō family. Shoguns were selected only from the Fujiwara or imperial houses, out of concern for pedigree.

      The increasing political power of the military led to a conflict with the aristocracy. Hence, the emperor Go-Toba (Toba, Go-), seeing in the demise of the Minamoto family a good opportunity to restore his political power, in 1221 issued a mandate to the country for the overthrow of Yoshitoki. Few warriors, however, responded to his call. Instead, the Hōjō family dispatched a bakufu army that occupied Kyōto, and Go-Toba was arrested and banished to the island of Oki. This incident is known as the Jōkyū Disturbance, named for the era name Jōkyū (1219–22). The bakufu now set up a headquarters in Kyōto to supervise the court and to control the legal and administrative business of the western provinces. The several thousand estates of the civil aristocrats and warriors who had joined Go-Toba were confiscated, and Kamakura vassals were appointed to jitō posts in them as rewards. The political power of the bakufu now extended over the whole country.

      Meanwhile, the regent Hōjō Yasutoki, to strengthen the base of his political power, reorganized the council of leading retainers into a Council of State (Hyōjō-shū). In 1232 the council drew up a legal code known as the Jōei Formulary ( Jōei Shikimoku). Its 51 articles set down in writing for the first time the legal precedents of the bakufu. Its purpose was simpler than that of the ritsuryō, the old legal and political system of the Nara and Heian civil aristocracy. In essence, it was a body of pragmatic law laid down for the proper conduct of the warriors in administering justice. In 1249 the regent Hōjō Tokiyori also set up a judicial court, the Hikitsuke-shū, to secure greater impartiality and promptness in legal decisions.

The Mongol invasions (Yuan dynasty)
 The establishment of the regency government coincided with the rise of the Mongols under Genghis Khan in Central Asia. Beginning in 1206, in the space of barely half a century, they had established an empire extending from the Korean peninsula in the east to as far west as Russia and Poland. In 1260 Genghis Khan's successor, Kublai (Kublai Khan), became Great Khan in China and fixed his capital at present-day Peking (Beijing). In 1271 Kublai adopted the dynastic title of Yüan, and shortly thereafter the Mongols began preparations for an invasion of Japan. In the autumn of 1274 a Mongol and Korean army of some 40,000 men set out from present-day South Korea. On landing in Kyushu it occupied a portion of Hizen province (part of present-day Saga prefecture) and advanced to Chikuzen. The bakufu appointed Shōni Sukeyoshi as military commander, and the Kyushu military vassals were mobilized for defense. A Mongol army landed in Hakata Bay, forcing the Japanese defenders to retreat to Dazaifu; but a typhoon suddenly arose, destroying more than 200 ships of the invaders, and the survivors returned to southern Korea.

      The bakufu took measures to better prepare for a renewed invasion. Coastal defenses were strengthened, and a stone wall was constructed extending for several miles around Hakata Bay to thwart the powerful Mongol cavalry. Apportioned among the Kyushu vassals, these public works took five years to complete and required considerable expenditure. Meanwhile, the Mongols made plans for a second expedition. In 1281 two separate armies were arrayed: an eastern army consisting of about 40,000 Mongol, northern Chinese, and Korean troops set out from South Korea, and a second army of about 100,000 troops from southern China under the command of the Mongol general Hung Ch'a-ch'iu. The two armies met at Hirado and in a combined assault breached the defenses at Hakata Bay. But again a fierce typhoon destroyed nearly all of the invading fleet, forcing Hung Ch'a-ch'iu to retreat precipitately. The remnants of the invading army were captured by the Japanese; it is said that of 140,000 invaders, fewer than one in five escaped.

      The defeat of the Mongol invasions was of crucial importance in Japanese history. The military expenditure on preparations, continuous vigil, and actual fighting undermined the economic stability of the Kamakura government and led to the insolvency of many of the jitō. The bond between the Hōjō and the Kamakura vassals was strained to the breaking point. The invasions also led to another prolonged period of isolation from China that was to last until the 14th century. Moreover, the victory gave a great impetus to a feeling of national pride, and the kamikaze (“divine wind”) that destroyed the invading hosts gave the Japanese the belief that they were a divinely protected people.

Samurai groups and farming villages
      The Japanese feudal system (feudalism) began to take shape under the Kamakura bakufu, though it remained only inchoate during the Kamakura period. Warrior-landlords lived in farming villages and supervised peasant labour or themselves carried on agriculture, while the central civil aristocracy and the temples and shrines held huge public lands (kokugaryō) and private estates in various provinces and wielded power comparable to that of the bakufu. These shōen were managed by influential resident landlords who had become warriors. They were often the original developers of their districts who became officials of the provincial government and agents of the shōen. Under the Kamakura bakufu, many such individuals became gokenin and were appointed jitō in lands where the bakufu were allowed access. As leaders of a large number of villagers, these jitō laboured to develop the rice fields and irrigation works in the areas under their jurisdiction, and they and other influential landlords constructed spacious homes for themselves in the villages and hamlets where they lived.

      Among these landlords, some were vassals of the shogun, while others were connected to the aristocracy or the temples and shrines. The jitō owed their loyalty to the shogun, for whom they performed public services such as guard duty in Kyōto and Kamakura. In return, the shogun not only guaranteed these men security of tenure in their traditional landholdings but rewarded them with new holdings in confiscated lands—such as from the Taira or the supporters of Go-Toba. This connection between lord and vassal, on which grants of landownership or management were based, gave Japanese society a somewhat feudal character.

      But these lands were by no means complete fiefs: the Kamakura bakufu did not possess large tracts of its own land that it could grant to its vassals as fiefs in return for service. Kamakura warriors could control traditional land types (shōen and kokugaryō) or be newly appointed into confiscated lands. In either case, there was a nominal absentee central proprietor—temple, shrine, or aristocratic or royal family—who maintained substantial control over the land. Thus, there was a limit on the degree to which the Kamakura warrior could exploit the land and people under his control. Conflict was endemic between central proprietor (usually a local representative of the proprietor) and jitō: the former wished to maintain as much control and income as possible while the latter was concerned with expanding his share. Since the jitō was entirely under the control of Kamakura, disputes flooded the warrior headquarters from landowners seeking to curtail jitō encroachments. Thus, the primary focus of Kamakura activity became the dispensing of justice in legal cases involving land disputes. The Kamakura bakufu gained a reputation for fairness, issuing countless orders of admonition to its vassals to follow the precedents on the land in question. By various means, however, Kamakura warriors managed to whittle away significantly the absentee control of shōen proprietors.

      Conflict also was endemic between the farming population and the warriors, stemming from the efforts of the former to increase personal and economic autonomy, as well as to enlarge their holdings within the shōen or kokugaryō. There were several different statuses among the peasantry, including myōshu, prominent farmers with taxable, named fields (myōden) of significant size and long standing; small cultivators with precarious and shifting tenures; and others who paid only labour services to the proprietor or jitō. These groups, while distinct from one another, were also quite separate from transient agriculturalists present in many estates. The lowest peasant category, called genin (“low person”), was made up of people who were essentially household servants with no land rights.

      The samurai, in theory, performed military service on the battlefield and during times of peace, in addition to managing agricultural holdings, engaging in hunting and training in the martial arts, and nourishing a rugged and practical character. Medieval texts speak of kyūba no michi (“the way of the bow and horse”), or yumiya toru mi no narai (“the practices of those who use the bow and arrow”), indicating that there was an emerging sense of ideal warrior behaviour that grew out of this daily training and the experience of actual warfare. Pride of family name was especially valued, and loyal service to one's overlord became the fundamental ethic. This was the origin of the more highly developed sense of a warrior code of later ages. Like his Heian predecessor, the Kamakura warrior was a mounted knight whose primary martial skill was equestrian archery. The status of women in warrior families was comparatively high; like their Heian predecessors, they were allowed to inherit a portion of the estates and even jitō posts, a practice that gradually came to be restricted.

      After the middle of the Kamakura period, the farming villages in which the warriors resided underwent changes as agricultural practices advanced; other aspects of society were changing as well. Artisans were frequently attached to the proprietors of the shōen and progressively became more specialized, responding to a specific growth of consumer demand. Centres for metal casting and metalworking, paper manufacture, and other skills appeared outside the capital, in various provincial localities, for the first time. The exchange of agricultural products, manufactured goods, and other products thrived; local markets, held on three fixed days a month, became common. Copper coins from Sung China circulated in these markets, while itinerant merchants increased their activity. Bills of exchange were also used for payments to distant localities. In the large ports along the Inland Sea and Lake Biwa, specialized wholesale merchants (toimaru) appeared who, as contractors, stored, transported, and sold goods. Further, it became common for many merchants and artisans to form guilds, known as za, organized under the temples, shrines, or civil aristocrats, from whom they gained special monopoly privileges and exemptions from customs duties.

Kamakura culture: the new Buddhism and its influence
      During the Kamakura period the newly arisen samurai class began to supercede the ancient civil aristocracy, which nonetheless continued to maintain the classical culture. Vigorous overseas trade expanded contacts with the continent, fostering the introduction of Zen Buddhism (in Chinese, Ch'an) and Neo-Confucianism from Sung China. Chinese influences could be seen in monochrome painting style (suiboku-ga), architecture, certain skills in pottery manufacture, and the custom of tea drinking—all of which contributed to the formation of early medieval culture and exerted an enormous influence on everyday life in Japan.

 In matters of religion, the great social changes that took place between the end of the Heian period and the early Kamakura period fostered a sense of crisis and religious awakening and caused the people to demand a simple standard of faith, in place of the complicated teachings and ceremonies of the ancient Buddhism. The warriors of the farming villages, in particular, demanded a religion that would suit their personal experience. Several new Buddhist sects sprang up that eschewed difficult ascetic practices and recondite scholarship. Among these may be included the Jōdo, or Pure Land, sect mentioned earlier and its offshoot, the Shin (True) school, which sought reliance on the saving grace of Amida, and the sect established by the former Tendai priest Nichiren, which sought salvation in the Lotus Sutra. By contrast, the Zen school sought to open the way to insight by self-effort (jiriki); hence, it met with a ready response, satisfying the demands of many samurai. At the same time, scholarship and the arts were still deeply linked with the Tendai and Shingon sects of esoteric Buddhism, which was a vigorous influence even in Shintō circles. Nonetheless, the new forms of worship expanded popular participation in Buddhism tremendously.

      In scholarly and literary circles, the Kyōto nobility confined themselves largely to the annotation and interpretation of the ancient classics and to the study of precedents and ceremonies. But at the beginning of the Kamakura period, a brilliant circle of waka poets around the retired emperor Go-Toba produced a new imperial selection of poems entitled the Shin kokin wakashū. The waka of this period is characterized by the term yūgen, which may be described as a mood both profound and mysterious.

      Just before the Jōkyū Disturbance the Tendai monk Jien (a member of the Fujiwara family) completed his Gukanshō (“Jottings of a Fool”). This is the first work of historical philosophy in Japan to incorporate a notion of historical causality, and it provides an interpretive picture of the rise and fall of political powers from a Buddhist viewpoint. Meanwhile, as warriors (samurai) began to contend and mingle with court nobles, many warrior leaders developed a love of scholarship and a delight in waka poetry. One was Hōjō Sanetoki, who collected Japanese and Chinese books and founded a famous library, the Kanazawa Bunko, in the Shōmyō Temple (at what is now Yokohama). Reflecting the rise of the warrior class, military epics became popular. The most famous is the anonymously written The Tale of the Heike ( Heike monogatari), the various tales of which were first recited throughout the country by Buddhist troubadours called biwa hōshi. After the middle Kamakura period, as Buddhist pessimism grew fainter, various kinds of instruction manuals and family injunctions were composed, while collections of essays such as Yoshida Kenkō's Essays in Idleness (Tsurezuregusa) also made their appearance. The new nationalistic fervour aroused by the successful struggle against the Mongols found expression in Kokan Shiren's Genkō shakusho (1332), a 30-volume history of Buddhism in Japan.

 In the visual arts the carving of wooden images of famous monks flourished, and, after the middle of the Kamakura period, Chinese styles of the Sung dynasty also influenced Kamakura wood carving. In painting as well as sculpture, Buddhist themes began to give way to more secular works; especially popular were picture scrolls (emakimono (emaki)), which took as their themes the history of temples and shrines, the biographies of founders of religious sects, and, increasingly, military epics and the secular life of both courtiers and warriors.

Decline of Kamakura society
      During the troubled state of society at the end of the Kamakura period, the gokenin faced difficult times. They had borne virtually all the expense of military service against the Mongols, but their claims for reward went largely unanswered, since no lands or other wealth were confiscated from the invaders. Thus, they were financially pressed and often in debt. At the same time, important structural changes occurred in warrior houses. First, since warriors proliferated over generations while landholdings remained constant, the practice of dividing lands among heirs gave way to single inheritance, often entirely to the eldest son. The shift from divided to single inheritance was accelerated in the post-Mongol era and became the primary means of inheritance in warrior families. Power thus became concentrated in the head of the house, to whom other family members were of necessity subordinated. Second, deputies sent out by the heads of eastern warrior families to oversee their distant landholdings often broke with the main family. They formed strong ties with other local warrior houses, perhaps even becoming vassals of a shugo. Minimally, their ties to the Kamakura regime weakened.

      General economic conditions began to undermine the position of the bakufu vassals. Yet, despite the social crises among the landholders, trade was flourishing. Coins came increasingly into circulation, and the urban lifestyle began to be imitated in the provinces. But landowners were often unable to meet their expenditures from the income of their limited holdings, even if they practiced single inheritance. Therefore, they borrowed money at high rates of interest from rich moneylenders, and many were forced to surrender their holdings when unable to repay their loans. The bakufu responded with debt-cancellation edicts, which gave temporary relief but neglected the long-term problem. Consequently, the gap between rich and poor became marked among the bakufu. In particular, some shugo, who had the right to raise troops, attempted to turn resident landlords into their vassals. Thus, the vassalage structure of the Kamakura regime began to unravel, and powerful local magnates, nominally Kamakura vassals, began to challenge the authority of the Hōjō regents in the bakufu.

      The Ashikaga, Sasaki, Shōni, and Shimazu families were among the most powerful among these. Buffeted by economic changes beyond its control, the bakufu began to totter, shaken also by the disputes between the Hōjō Family and the rival shugo. The Adachi family was forced into revolt and defeated by the Hōjō in 1285, along with other warrior houses accused of plotting with them. Subsequently, the main Hōjō house turned increasingly inward and autocratic, further alienating other vassal houses. When the Andō family raised a revolt in Mutsu province at the end of the Kamakura period, the bakufu found it difficult to suppress, partly because of the remoteness of the site of the uprising.

      In addition, regional unions of small landlords developed in the Kinai (the five home provinces centered around Kyōto). Elsewhere as well, local warriors with grievances increasingly took the law into their own hands, seizing crops or otherwise disturbing local order. Termed akutō by the authorities, they included many different elements: frustrated local warriors, pirates, aggrieved peasants, and ordinary robbers. Cultivators as well took advantage of unsettled times to rise up against jitō or shōen proprietors.

      These accumulating weaknesses of the bakufu prompted a movement among the Kyōto nobility to regain political power from the military. The occasion was provided by the question of the imperial succession. In the mid-13th century two competing lines for the succession emerged—the senior line centred on the Jimyō Temple in Kyōto and the junior line centred on the Daikaku Temple on the western edge of the city. In the last half of the century, each side sought to win the support of the bakufu. In 1317 Kamakura proposed a compromise that would allow the two lines to alternate the succession. But the dispute did not cease. Finally, in 1318 Prince Takaharu of the junior line acceded to the throne as the emperor Go-Daigo.

The Muromachi (Muromachi period) (or Ashikaga) period (1338–1573)

The Kemmu Restoration and the dual dynasties
      On the accession of Go-Daigo (Daigo, Go-), the retired emperor Go-Uda broke the long-established custom and dissolved the office of retired emperor (in no chō). As a result, the entire authority of the imperial government was concentrated in the hands of a single emperor, Go-Daigo. A party of young reforming court nobles gathered around the emperor, who strove to renovate the government. But to realize his ideal of a true imperial restoration, it was necessary for Go-Daigo to rid himself of the interference of the bakufu (shogunate). His plans for its overthrow were discovered, however, and he was arrested and exiled to Oki Island. But in the Kinai area, local leaders, supported by militant Buddhist monks, raised an army to overthrow the bakufu. The imperial forces were led by Prince Morinaga (or Moriyoshi) and Kusunoki Masashige, but the decisive victory was brought about by the two powerful Kantō warrior families of Ashikaga Takauji and Nitta Yoshisada, discontented vassals of the Hōjō family. In 1333 Takauji turned on the Hōjō and attacked the Hōjō headquarters in Kyōto. Yoshisada meanwhile destroyed the bakufu in Kamakura, at which time most of the Hōjō leaders perished in battle or by their own hand. Thus, after 140 years' rule, the bakufu government was brought to an end.

      The return of Go-Daigo to Kyōto in 1333 is known as the Kemmu Restoration. The emperor immediately set about to restore direct imperial rule. He abolished the powerful office of kampaku and set up a central bureaucracy. He revived the Records Office (Kirokusho) to settle lawsuits in the provinces and established the Court of Miscellaneous Claims (Zassho Ketsudansho) to handle minor suits and a guard station (musha-dokoro) to keep order among the warriors in Kyōto. He placed Morinaga in charge of his military forces and set up members of the imperial family as provincial leaders in the north and east.

      Many local warriors, however, who had joined the imperial forces in the overthrow of the bakufu were disappointed in the division of the spoils and the direction of the emperor's reforms. Ashikaga Takauji now turned against Go-Daigo, raising a revolt that in 1336 drove the emperor from Kyōto. Takauji enthroned an emperor from the senior imperial line, while Go-Daigo and his followers set up a rival court in the Yoshino Mountains near Nara. For the next 60 years political power was divided between the Southern Court in Yoshino and the Northern Court in Kyōto. It remained for Takauji's grandson Yoshimitsu to establish peace (1392) between the two courts; thereafter, imperial succession remained with the descendants of the Northern Court. Throughout the long dispute, however, local warriors attached themselves to shugo, who increasingly asserted their independence from central authority.

The establishment of the Muromachi bakufu (shogunate)
 After the withdrawal of Go-Daigo to Yoshino, Ashikaga (Ashikaga Yoshimitsu) Takauji set up a bakufu at Nijō Takakura in Kyōto. But in 1378 Takauji's grandson, the shogun Yoshimitsu, moved the bakufu to the Muromachi district in Kyōto, where it remained and took final shape. Yoshimitsu, assisted by the successive shogunal deputies (kanrei) Hosokawa Yoriyuki and Shiba Yoshimasa, gradually overcame the power of the great military governors (shugo) who had been so important in the founding of the new regime. He destroyed the Yamana family in 1391, and, in uniting the Northern and Southern courts, attacked and destroyed the great shugo Ōuchi Yoshihiro, thus gaining control of the Inland Sea. Yoshimitsu was now raised to the highest office of prime minister, or dajō-daijin. He constructed the famed Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji; see below The establishment of warrior culture (Japan)) northeast of the capital in Kitayama, taking great pride in its luxurious display, and also reestablished trade and diplomacy with Ming dynasty China under the title “King of Japan.”

Muromachi government structure
      The Muromachi bakufu inherited almost unchanged the structure of its Kamakura predecessor (see above The establishment of warrior government (Japan)), setting up a Mandokoro, Monchūjo, and Samurai-dokoro. But after the appointment of Hosokawa Yoriyuki as kanrei, this post became the most important in the bakufu government. The official business of the Mandokoro was to control the finances of the bakufu; and later the Ise family, who were hereditary retainers of the Ashikaga, came to inherit this office. The Samurai-dokoro, besides handling legal judgments, was entrusted with the control of the capital. Leading officials called shoshi who held the additional post of shugo of Yamashiro province (now in Kyōto urban prefecture) were next in importance to the kanrei. New offices were established to streamline judicial decisions and handle financial matters, and the Ashikaga maintained their own private guard, the hōkōshū. In local administration, a special administrator was set up in Kamakura to control the 10 provinces of the Kantō area. This office came to be held by heads of the Ashikaga Motouji family. The 11 provinces of Kyushu were placed under control of an office known as the Kyushu tandai.

      The crucial difference between the two bakufu, however, was the difference in the role of the shugo. Appointed first by Takauji in the chaos of the war between the courts, many rose to positions of great power in one or several provinces under their purview. By Yoshimitsu's time, their number had been reduced and their powers somewhat curtailed. But the structure of the bakufu was essentially a delicate balance between the Ashikaga shogunal house and about a dozen major shugo houses, almost evenly divided between collateral Ashikaga houses and nonrelated warrior families. Yoshimitsu made them all establish primary residence in Kyōto, where they ruled in council with the shogun. This retarded their abilities to develop stronger vassalage ties with local warriors in their provinces, and they often sent out deputies to manage their provincial areas in their absence. Consequently, in later years many powerful shugo from the early and middle parts of the Muromachi period were overthrown by their own deputies.

      The finances of the Muromachi bakufu could not be met simply from its receipts from the lands under its direct control, as Kamakura had managed to do. So, according to bakufu needs, the shugo and jitō of each province were ordered to levy monetary taxes on either every unit of land or every household; this, however, also was not fully effective in meeting financial needs. As a result, the bakufu extracted taxes from such dealers as pawnbrokers and sake brewers, who were among the wealthiest merchants of the time. Financial deficiencies also were supplemented by trading with China. Despite this more diversified tax structure, the Muromachi regime maintained only a shaky hold on the nation. The foundations of the bakufu began to be shaken by the increasing power of the shugo and by the frequent uprisings of local samurai and farmers.

      In the Kamakura period the authority of the shugo was essentially limited to security matters—suppressing rebellion, apprehending murderers, and mustering out vassals for service in Kyōto. In the latter half of the Northern and Southern courts period, their executive power over the areas under their control was increased. As the number of disturbances grew, they gained wide powers of military command. Sometimes estates were made depots for military supplies on the pretext of protecting them from the depredations of local warriors, and half their yearly taxes were given to the shugo. This was called the equal tax division, or hanzei. Many shugo succeeded to their domains by inheritance, and in cases such as that of the Yamana family a single shugo sometimes held a number of provinces. If the primary agent of the Kamakura bakufu had been the jitō, the shugo was the defining office of the Muromachi regime. From the outset, the controlling power of the Ashikaga bakufu was relatively weak, and, especially after the death of Yoshimitsu, the tendency for powerful shugo to defect became marked. Hence, as time passed the office of shogun became increasingly impotent.

The growth of local autonomy
      In the villages around Kyōto, the status of farmers rose markedly as agriculture became more highly developed, and commerce and small-scale manufacturing prospered. Also, confederations of the middle and small landlords, or myōshu, proceeded apace and often led to uprisings against absentee control. Such confederations appeared where farming by the larger myōshu had dissolved and middle and small myōshu had established themselves on a wide scale. These smaller landlords endeavoured to defend themselves against the ravages of local warfare, forming unions to manage the forests in common and to maintain irrigation works. In such confederations, a leader called the elder (otona) would be selected to head village government. Assemblies were held regularly among its members at the village shrine or temple, and regulations were drawn up for the maintenance of community life.

      As self-government became strong in the communities, the resistance of farmers became fierce. After the unification of the Northern and Southern courts, armed uprisings broke out among the farming villages, the peasants demanding reductions in yearly taxes from the old proprietors and a moratorium on debts owed to the moneylenders. A large-scale uprising of this kind took place in 1428 in the last years of Yoshimitsu's rule. In 1429 an uprising broke out in Harima province (now part of modern Hyōgō prefecture) aimed at the expulsion of the warriors from the province. In 1441 farmers living around Kyōto attacked the pawnbrokers and demanded that the bakufu declare a moratorium on debts. Thereafter, uprisings occurred on a greater or lesser scale almost yearly—testimony to the fading power of both the shōen system and the bakufu.

Trade between China and Japan
      Trade with Ming dynasty China began after the bakufu agreed to suppress Japanese piracy. Ashikaga Takauji had sent ships of the Tenryū Temple to trade with the Yüan (Mongol) dynasty. But trade then ceased because of the internal disturbances, and pirates from the maritime districts of western Japan raided both China and the Korean peninsula. When Korea came under the control of the Chosŏn (Yi) dynasty (Chosŏn dynasty) and in China the Ming dynasty emerged, they both requested that the bakufu open formal trade relations, hoping to suppress piracy. Yoshimitsu, both in response to the desires of the merchants and in order to supplement bakufu finances, began formal trade relations with Ming China and Korea, repatriating a large number of Chinese who had been taken captive by the pirates. In response, the Ming also began to trade with Japan, under the form of tribute from Yoshimitsu, “King of Japan,” to the emperor of China. In order to distinguish between pirate ships and trading ships, seals received from the Ming called kangōfu were used, hence the use of the term kangō, or tally, trade.

      Profits from the China trade were important to the bakufu, but control of this trade later came into the hands of the western shugo families of the Hosokawa and Ōuchi, under whose protection trading merchants became active in the ports of Hakata, Hyōgo, and Sakai. After the Ōnin War (see below The Ōnin War [1467–77] (Japan)), the Ōuchi controlled the trade—albeit in competition and often conflict with the Hosokawa—but with the destruction of the Ōuchi the kangō trade ceased and piracy again became rife. Trade with Chosŏn dynasty Korea was carried on through the agency of the Sō family of Tsushima, and various shugo and the merchants of Hakata were actively involved in it, importing cotton and other goods. Japanese traders even established settlements in southeastern Korea, including Pusan. Also included in the trade with China and Korea were goods imported by Japanese merchants from the Ryukyu Islands, lying between Japan and Taiwan, and dye materials, pepper, and other special products from the South Seas.

The Ōnin War (1467–77)
      During the rule of the shogun Ashikaga Yoshim (Ashikaga Yoshimasa)asa a general civil war broke out in the area around Kyōto, caused by economic distress and precipitated by a dispute over the shogunal succession. Indeed, severe famines engendered rebellion nearly every autumn, and it is said that during his term as shogun Yoshimasa issued 13 edicts for the cancellation of debts known as tokuseirei, or “acts of grace.” Lacking children of his own, Yoshimasa at first proposed that his younger brother should succeed him. But when he later fathered a child a serious dispute arose over control of the Ashikaga family. The two chief administrators, Shiba and Hatakeyama, and most of the remaining shugo also took sides in the power dispute, with Hosokawa Katsumoto and Yamana Sōzen ( Yamana Mochitoyo) at the head. In 1467, the first year of the Ōnin era, fighting broke out between the “eastern” army of the Hosokawa party and the “western” army of the Yamana faction. The eastern army had the advantage of the support of both the emperor and the shogun, but the western army, assisted by the Ōuchi family, recovered its power, and fighting raged mainly in and around Kyōto. Destruction around Kyōto was severe, many large temples and residences were burned, and large numbers of citizens fled the city. After 11 years the war itself ended, but the fighting spread to the provinces. As a result, farming villages held conferences and frequently mounted armed uprisings in self-defense. The leaders of these uprisings were local samurai with village roots. Such men frequently established themselves as domain lords ( daimyo) during the disturbances. They formed associations and often mounted uprisings that extended over an entire province and challenged the great shugo. In the autumn of 1485, for example, 36 representatives of the local warriors of southern Yamashiro province met in the Byōdō Temple at Uji and successfully demanded the withdrawal of the two Hatakeyama armies. As a result, southern Yamashiro became self-governing for more than eight years.

      During this constant warfare, the civil aristocracy and temple complexes lost much of their income from shōen, which, in any event, had been declining. Many of them left the capital, moving to Sakai or Nara or even taking up residence in the castle towns under the protection of local daimyo. This migration of aristocrats and priests functioned to diffuse the higher culture of the capital to the provinces. Old traditions were destroyed, but from the ashes a new culture was born.

      The shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa, for example, ultimately turned his back on a troubled world and built a detached residence—the Silver Pavilion (Ginkaku-ji)—in the Higashiyama section of Kyōto, where he lived in elegance and refinement, paying little attention to matters of government. The political power of the bakufu thus became virtually nonexistent, and real power came into the hands of the chief administrators of the Hosokawa family (1490–1558). In the 16th century actual power devolved into the hands of their retainers, the Miyoshi family (1558–65), until it was finally usurped by their own retainers, the Matsunaga family (1565–68).

The Sengoku (“Warring States”) period

The emergence of new forces.
 After the Ōnin War, the power of independent local leaders increased markedly, and in many instances deputies of great shugo houses usurped the domains of their superiors, retainers overthrew their overlords, and branch families seized power from main families. Because of this tendency for “inferiors to overcome superiors” (gekokujō), the previous shugo almost completely disappeared from Kyōto and the surrounding provinces; a new type of domain lord, the daimyo, took their place. Since this time was marked by constant warfare among many such lords, it is called the Sengoku (“Warring States”) period, named for a somewhat similar period in ancient Chinese history.

      Until the first half of the 16th century, daimyo in the various localities were thus building up strong military bases. During this period, the provinces held by the daimyo were almost completely free of bakufu control. The daimyo turned local leaders into their retainers, taking away their independence by enforcing land surveys and directly controlling the farming villages. Daimyo such as the Imagawa, Date, and Ōuchi issued their own laws, called bunkoku-hō, to administer their own territories. These provincial laws, while drawing on the precedent of warrior codes of the Jōei Formulary, also included regulations for farmers and applied strict controls over retainers. In principle, for example, inheritance by retainers was restricted to the main heir alone, and the lord's permission was necessary for his vassals to inherit property or to marry. In farming villages the daimyo, in addition to carrying out detailed land surveys, also built irrigation dikes and opened new rice fields in order to stimulate production. To concentrate their power they also readjusted the disposition of local fortified strongholds, gathered their retainers into castles, and reorganized roads and post stations to centre on their castle towns (jōkamachi).

      Commerce and towns made marked development at this time in Japan's history. Periodic markets also sprang up throughout the country. Despite the obstructions of customs barriers (erected by both bakufu and private interests), products from all parts of the country were available in these markets. In large cities such as Kyōto, commodity exchange markets were set up to handle huge quantities of rice, salt, fish, and other goods; wholesalers, or toiya, specialized in dealings with distant areas. The circulation of coined (coin) money also became vigorous, but in addition to the various kinds of copper coin imported from China of the Sung, Yüan, and Ming dynasties, privately minted coins also circulated within the country, giving rise to confusion of exchange rates. The bakufu and daimyo issued laws to prohibit people from hoarding good coins but with little success. Muromachi guilds (guild) showed a strong monopolistic tendency in trying to protect themselves against new-style merchants who emerged, while new guilds were set up in the castle towns under the direct control of the daimyo.

      Among the cities of the time, next to Kyōto and Nara, Uji-Yamada, Sakamoto, and other towns sprang up outside the gates of major temples and shrines. Besides these, towns naturally grew up around the castles of the daimyo, such as Naoetsu of the Uesugi family, Yamaguchi of the Ōuchi family, Ichijōdani of the Asakura family, and Odawara of the later Hōjō. As the castles shifted from serving as defensive mountain fortresses to administrative strongholds in the plains, markets were opened outside the castle walls, and merchants and artisans gathered there to live. Harbour towns (minato machi) such as Sakai, Hyōgo, and Onomichi on the Inland Sea, Suruga and Obama on the Sea of Japan, and Kuwana and Ōminato on Ise Bay also flourished as exchange centres. Sake brewers, brokers, and wholesale merchants were leading townsmen (machishu), and town elders (otona) were chosen to carry on local government through assemblies. In the trading port of Sakai, for example, an assembly of 36 men drawn from the wholesale guilds administered the city. They maintained soldiers and constructed moats and other defenses, and while profiting from the confrontation between daimyo, they resisted their domination. The Jesuit missionaries (see below) compared Sakai to the free cities of Europe in the Middle Ages and described its flourishing condition in their reports.

The arrival of the Europeans (European exploration)
      As the warring daimyo carved out their territories, neither emperor nor shogun was able to govern the domestic scene, let alone control overseas trade. Further, Japanese marauders in association with Chinese pirates again became active. It was at this point in Japanese history that the Spanish and Portuguese made their appearance in the archipelago. In 1543 several Portuguese were shipwrecked on the island of Tanega, off southern Kyushu. These were the first Europeans to arrive in Japan, and the art of musket construction they passed on at this time immediately spread to Sakai and other places. This new technology, eagerly sought by the daimyo, revolutionized warfare in Japan.

      In 1549 the Jesuit missionary (mission) Francis Xavier (Xavier, Saint Francis) arrived in Kagoshima. After missionary work for more than two years, he left Japan; but thereafter Jesuit missionaries arrived continuously. The missionaries utilized trade in goods from the Portuguese ships to propagate Christianity, and there were cases in which merchant ships would not enter the ports of daimyo who did not show good will toward missionary activity. Thus, the daimyo of the Sengoku era, seeking profits of foreign trade and the acquisition of military equipment and supplies, protected Christianity. Some daimyo became Christian converts. Three Kyushu Christian lords—Ōtomo Sōrin, Arima Harunobu, and Ōmura Sumitada—even sent an embassy to Rome. Farmers also increasingly became converts, in part because of the influence of the social relief work and medical aid that accompanied missionary activity.

The establishment of warrior culture
      While absorbing the traditional culture of the civil aristocracy, the warrior houses that established themselves in Kyōto during Muromachi times also introduced the continental culture of the Sung, Yüan, and Ming dynasties, especially the culture associated with Zen Buddhism, thus fashioning a new warrior culture. This process began with the golden age of Ashikaga Yoshimitsu at the end of the 14th century, when scholarship and the arts flourished in the five Zen monasteries of Kyōto under shogunal patronage. Renga (linked verse) and nō drama flourished. The essence of this culture found concrete expression in Yoshimitsu's Golden Pavilion at Kitayama (“Northern Mountain”). Destroyed by an arsonist in 1950 and rebuilt in 1955, it is now officially called the Rokuon Temple and is located in northwestern Kyōto. Facing a garden of refined elegance, the Golden Pavilion is built in the Japanese shinden style (a style of mansion construction developed in the Heian period) in its first and second stories, while its upper story is in the kara (“Chinese”) style of the Zen school. Thus Kitayama culture, while absorbing new Zen influences from China, retained much of the earlier native aristocratic culture.

      The era of the shogun Yoshimasa, following the destruction caused by the Ōnin War, was one of an even deeper Zen flavour and showed a refined appreciation of simplicity and quiet profundity. Yoshimasa's Silver Pavilion and its garden in eastern Kyōto (now part of the Jishō Temple) truly reflect Higashiyama (“Eastern Mountain”) culture. This somber temple (never covered, as planned, with silver) and its serene surroundings—in marked contrast to the ostentation of the Golden Pavilion—represent the essence of this polished cultural style. While adopted by the daimyo, Higashiyama culture also spurred the development of a new culture centred on the townspeople of Kyōto and Sakai and was as well the forerunner of the Azuchi-Momoyama and Edo cultures.

      In Buddhism, the great ancient temples like the Enryaku Temple became mere shadows of their former greatness with the gradual diminution of their shōen. Since the Kamakura period, the new Rinzai Zen sect had been especially favoured by high-ranking warrior houses. The Muromachi shogunal family (the Ashikaga) gave special protection to followers of the priest Musō Soseki of this sect, which flourished in the Gozan monasteries (the five most important Zen monasteries) in Kyōto. Gozan monks advised the bakufu in matters of government, diplomacy, and culture; they studied the Neo-Confucian philosophy of Chu Hsi that came from China along with Zen, published books, and wrote poetry and prose in the Chinese style. But the Gozan monasteries became somewhat vulgarized because of their excessive links with the political world, and consequently they ceased to prosper as the bakufu declined. In contrast, the Myōshin and Daitoku temples—also of the Rinzai sect but outside the Gozan system—rose to prominence, the latter perhaps best known for the work of the monk Ikkyū, who propagated his own special form of teaching.

      It was during this period that Rennyo (1415–99) of the Shin (True) sect of Pure Land Buddhism rose to prominence, teaching his principles in simple phrases. His base, the Hongan Temple in Kyōto, was attacked and burned, however, by the still-powerful Enryaku Temple. Rennyo was forced to flee north to the coast of the Sea of Japan, where he established a school at Yoshizaki. He then returned to the capital area, where the Hongan Temple was reestablished and achieved its golden age. While also persecuted by long-established temples, the Hokke (Lotus) sect continued to gain adherents among warriors and merchants. Moreover, it was during this time that the custom of pilgrimages to the holy places of the Buddhist deity Kannon, to the Shintō shrines at Ise, and to the summit of Mount Fuji also became popular. Accompanying this trend was the development of a worldly Shintō belief. In the 15th century the scholar Yoshida Kanetomo attempted to free Shintō shrines from Buddhist control; he believed that only a deep religious faith in Shintō could cure the people of their despondency.

 In the arts the nō (Noh theatre) drama developed in the Kamakura period out of the older tradition of agricultural festival dances, and guilds (za) were formed to serve at the ceremonies of temples and shrines and at funeral services. Four such actor guilds were attached to the Kōfuku Temple and the Kasuga Shrine of Yamato province (present Nara prefecture), from which came the father and son Kan'ami and Zeami Motokiyo; under the patronage of Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, they laid the foundations for a flourishing nō drama, establishing the guidelines for performance and bequeathing many texts. kyōgen (dialogue plays with dance), which developed from the comic elements of an older form of entertainment called sarugaku, were performed in the intervals of nō drama. Based on themes from the everyday life of the common people, kyōgen were widely appreciated by them, especially because they satirized the upper class. Traditional Japanese waka verse was still composed, but renga (linked verse) became ever more popular and was enjoyed by the warriors and the common people alike. After a time, however, even renga became overly formal, as the waka had, and lost its freshness; hence, the free-style verse called haikai was born.

 As Zen prospered, the shoin (shoin-zukuri) architectural style closely connected with this school was widely adopted by both warriors and civil aristocrats in the construction of their residences, becoming the foundation of present-day Japanese domestic architecture. Originally a room in which monks read the Buddhist scriptures, the shoin had several distinctive features: an entrance called a genkan, straw mats called tatami laid out over the entire floor of the room, paper-covered sliding partitions (shoji) between rooms, and an alcove (tokonoma) and shelves at different levels (chigai-dana) for displaying works of art. The custom of hanging a monochrome painting in the tokonoma and placing flowers or an incense bowl before it also became popular at this time. In the construction of gardens, delight was taken in adding the Zen mood of retreat from the world to the old shinden style, making symbolic use of streams, flowers, and bushes. Later, even more symbolic gardens were constructed using arrangements only of stones, raked sand, and gravel.

 The carving of images of the Buddha and the Buddhist paintings that had flourished in the Kamakura period declined in later Muromachi times; so, too, did the ancient sects themselves, and new ones arose. Yamato-e painting also declined, and the picture-scrolls lost their freshness. In their place, the increased interest in Zen led to the introduction of monochrome painting in the Sung and Yüan style by the Gozan monks. By the time of Yoshimasa, however, the great painter Sesshū broke away from imitation of Chinese models and opened new frontiers in monochrome paintings. The father and son Kanō Masanobu and Kanō Motonobu introduced the gentle forms of Yamato-e to monochrome painting and became the founders of the new Kanō school.

 Tea drinking, introduced from Sung China by the Zen priest Eisai in the Kamakura period, spread among warriors and even common people from the mid-14th century. In the time of the shogun Yoshimasa, Murata Shukō, a man of merchant background from Nara, began the wabi-cha form of tea ceremony by bringing together the cha-no-yu of the civil aristocracy and the cha-yoriai of the common people. This new form spread among the warriors and great merchants and was further stylized by the Sakai merchant Takeno Jōō. The development of the tea ceremony stimulated new forms in tearoom architecture, flower arrangement, pottery, and even the Japanese cakes served with tea. The Higashiyama cultural tradition was further diffused among the common people, and as the levels of wealth and education of urban merchants and artisans rose, they, too, came to enjoy nō and kyōgen dramas, the tea ceremony, and renga. Fairy tales were also widely enjoyed, being easy to read, and included stories that had been related among the people since ancient times. These became popular not only among the children of the nobility and warriors but also among those of the townspeople who were educated in temples and shrines. Muromachi fiction celebrated the life of the burgeoning artisan and merchant classes. Local daimyo also promoted culture within their domains, eager to enhance their dignity as lords by building temples and shrines in their castle towns and by employing artists and scholars who helped spread the culture of Kyōto.

      Thus, while warfare was rife in the Muromachi period, it gave Japan some of its most distinctive cultural institutions.

Takeshi Toyoda G. Cameron Hurst III

Early modern Japan (1550–1850)

The Oda regime
 In the 1550–60 period the Sengoku daimyo, who had survived the wars of the previous 100 years, moved into an even fiercer stage of mutual conflict. These powerful daimyo were harassed not only by each other but also by the rise of common people within their domains. The daimyo sought to resolve their dilemma by acquiring land and people to widen their domains and, finally, by trying to seize control of the whole country. That, of course, required the control of Kyōto, the political centre of Japan since ancient times. Out of these bloody struggles emerged one Sengoku daimyo, Oda Nobunaga of Owari province (in modern Aichi prefecture), who succeeded in occupying the capital as the first feudal unifier.

      The emergence of Nobunaga's regime reversed the feudal disintegration of the previous century and moved the country toward unification. Oda was a military genius, who was the first to successfully adapt firearms to Japanese warfare. His bold wars of suppression, waged against both other daimyo and recalcitrant religious communities, led to a great redrawing of the political map of Japan, previously split up among daimyo throughout the country. In the Kinai district, where Nobunaga's conquered territory was centred, however, he established control by dividing his new domain among his commanders. Rather than completely abrogating the long-established privileges of the temples, shrines, and local landlords (kokujin), he at first recognized them, regarding them as an important adjunct to the strengthening of his military power and using them as followers in his battles for unification. Cadastral surveys aimed at strengthening feudal landownership were at this stage carried out not so much to gain control over the complicated landholding and taxation system of the farmers as to define the size of fiefs (chigyō) of Nobunaga's retainers in order to confirm the extent of their military services and obligations to him.

      Nobunaga's unification policy was predicated on a separation of warriors from the farmers, but unification was hampered because of resistance from old political forces, especially several major Buddhist temples. Unification proceeded further during the era of Nobunaga's successor, Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

The Hideyoshi regime (Toyotomi Hideyoshi)
 Nobunaga's father was a minor Owari daimyo, whereas Hideyoshi was the son of a peasant from the same province. After entering Nobunaga's service, Hideyoshi impressed all with his brilliant talents, and he soon rose to become one of Nobunaga's most powerful commanders. After Nobunaga's death—his vassal Akechi Mitsuhide assassinated him—Hideyoshi eliminated many rivals by relying on his superb political judgment and shrewd actions, firmly establishing himself as successor. Following in Nobunaga's footsteps, Hideyoshi proceeded to unify the whole country at a rapid pace, and by 1590 all Japan—from Kyushu in the southwest to Tōhoku in the northeast—had come under his control. As an example of Hideyoshi's shrewd judgment, he gave the Kantō domain, formerly controlled by the Hōjō family, to Tokugawa Ieyasu, nominally as a reward for distinguished service. The “reward” forced Ieyasu to move to Edo (modern Tokyo); this was, in fact, a stratagem to remove the Tokugawa family from the Chūbu region around modern-day Nagoya, which had been its power base.

      At the core of Hideyoshi's unification policy was its firm establishment in the principle of the separation between warriors and peasants. Hideyoshi adopted several major policies to accomplish this end: a comprehensive land survey (kenchi), the disarmament of the peasantry, and the separation of the classes. The so-called Taikō land survey played a crucial role in this process. Taikō was a traditional title for the former office of kampaku (chancellor) which Hideyoshi assumed in 1591. Like Nobunaga, Hideyoshi felt constrained by lineage not to make himself shogun and thus sought other titles to legitimize his rule. The Taikō land survey was carried out throughout the country from 1583 to 1598, being completed just before Hideyoshi's death. As a result of this survey, the complicated relationships of rights to landownership that had developed since the Kamakura period were now clarified. The former shōen system of complex landholding had been obliterated by Sengoku daimyo. Landowning relations were now based on kokudaka—i.e., on the actual product of the land. Moreover, this kokudaka now came within the landlord's grasp in every village, and land taxes were levied on the village as a unit. In addition to this definition of the rights held by the farming population, the kokudaka system also applied to the landholdings of the daimyo for distribution among their retainers. In place of previous land taxes (nengu) assessed in money as so many hundred or ten thousand kan of silver, an assessment of kokudaka was made as so many hundred or ten thousand koku of rice. A koku represented the amount of rice consumed by one person in one year (about five bushels); the amount also was used as a standard on which military services were levied in proportion.

      As part of the process, a register was drawn up in every village. Peasants (peasant) had their rights as cultivators recognized to the extent that their land was duly registered; in return, they were bound to pay land taxes in rice and were forbidden to neglect the cultivation of their fields or to move elsewhere. In return for a certain security of tenure, peasants were thus tied more closely to the land, allowing for easier exploitation. The promulgation of an order of social-status control in 1591 prohibited warriors from taking up farming and forbade other daimyo from employing a samurai who left his master. The ordinance required that peasants remain in villages and not flee to cities; it also forbade artisans and merchants from residing in villages, thus extending Nobunaga's attempt to separate warriors and farmers into a social-class system of warriors, farmers, artisans, and merchants. Hideyoshi's so-called “sword hunt” (katana-gari) of 1588, which attempted to disarm the peasantry and melt the confiscated arms into an enormous statue of the Buddha, was an important prerequisite for this policy. With the establishment of the kokudaka system, the Taikō land survey delivered the final blow to the shōen system of manorial holdings, which had already virtually disappeared under the onslaught of the Sengoku daimyo. The feudal (feudalism) chigyō system, based on the kokudaka assessment, was established throughout the country. The provincial daimyo all submitted to Hideyoshi's regime, and the more egalitarian, alliance-like relationship between Nobunaga and the former Sengoku daimyo was replaced by a clear lord-vassal relationship.

      The political structure of the Hideyoshi regime was not yet fully sufficient, however, to be the unified governing authority for the whole country. For example, the kurairechi (lands under its direct control), which were the immediate financial base of the regime, amounted to more than 2.2 million koku by the time of Hideyoshi's death, nearly one-eighth of Japan's cultivated land. But aside from those in the metropolitan and surrounding provinces, these lands were in many cases divided among the distant, independent tozama (tozama daimyo) (“outside”) daimyo, and the management of these lands was entrusted to them. Such lands were thus not firmly in the grasp of the regime. By contrast, the lands that later came under the direct control of the Tokugawa shogunate amounted to more than four million koku, or nearly double those of the Hideyoshi regime; four-fifths of these were managed by officials known as gundai and daikan, who were direct retainers of the shogunate, with only a fifth entrusted to daimyo. This limitation of Hideyoshi's regime gave rise to internal power struggles and finally drove Hideyoshi to such reckless actions as the invasions of Korea in 1592 and 1597. These two ill-advised adventures were designed to bring China under Hideyoshi's sway and to provide an outlet for tens of thousands of warlike samurai only recently—and loosely—brought under Hideyoshi's vassalage. Hideyoshi's regime collapsed on the failure of the second Korean expedition and as the direct result of Hideyoshi's subsequent death. Hideyoshi failed to bequeath his power to his heir, Hideyori, and Tokugawa Ieyasu emerged as the strongest candidate to succeed him.

Azuchi-Momoyama culture
 Cultural historians often refer to the last few decades of this era as the Azuchi-Momoyama period, taking the name from Oda Nobunaga's massive fortress at Azuchi, overlooking Lake Biwa at Hikone, and Hideyoshi's magnificent edifice in the Momoyama district, southeast of Kyōto. Often abbreviated as, simply, the Momoyama period, it is characterized by gaudy splendour celebrating the ego of the two great rulers. The defining feature of the age is the castles (castle) —magnificent structures of stone, surrounded by wide moats and topped by graceful ramparts and donjons—that dotted the landscape between the 1580s and 1630s. Many of the associated castle towns were the forerunners of Japan's present provincial capitals (e.g., Okayama, Kanazawa, Hiroshima, Ōsaka, and Matsuyama).

 The castles were often filled with items reflecting the personalities of the rulers. In particular, Momoyama culture is noted for the magnificent standing screens, fusuma (sliding doors), and wall paintings of a monumental nature that decorated the castles. Artists of the Kanō school, drawing on the old Yamato-e style, produced colourful pictures of animals and landscapes. Characterized by rich pigments on reflective, gold-leaf backgrounds, these paintings are thought to have enhanced the poor illumination in the massive rooms of these castles. Whatever the reason for the strikingly rich colours and great reliance on gold, Momoyama paintings provide a vivid contrast to the somber tones of the monochrome paintings of the Muromachi era. A specific genre within this tradition is often referred to as namban (“southern barbarian”) pictures, since they represent both the European priests and traders—referred to as “southern barbarians” since they had entered Japan from the South Seas—of the day and their magnificent ships. Nobunaga and Hideyoshi spent great amounts of time and money indulging their cultural proclivities, especially the tea ceremony (cha-no-yu). Both men collected valuable tea bowls, caddies, and other implements associated with the rituals of the ceremony, and Hideyoshi favoured enormous social events, such as the massive tea party scheduled to last for several days in Kyōto in 1587. Not always devoted to ostentation, Hideyoshi extended his patronage to the tea master Sen no Rikyū, the figure from whom all current tea masters trace their lineage. Rikyū brought the tea ceremony to new heights before he was forced to commit suicide by the impetuous Hideyoshi in 1591.

The bakuhan system

The establishment of the system
 The ancestors of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Edo bakufu, were the Matsudaira, a Sengoku daimyo family from the mountainous region of Mikawa province (in present Aichi prefecture) who had built up their base as daimyo by advancing into the plains of Mikawa. But when they were attacked and defeated by the powerful Oda family from the west, Ieyasu's father, Hirotada, was killed. Ieyasu had earlier been sent to the Imagawa family as a hostage to cement an alliance but had been captured en route by the Oda family. After his father's death Ieyasu was sent to the Imagawa family and spent 12 years there under detention. When, in 1560, Oda Nobunaga destroyed the Imagawa family in the Battle of Okehazama, launching him on his course of unification, Ieyasu was finally released. Ieyasu returned to Okazaki in Mikawa and brought this province under his control. As Oda's ally, he guarded the rear for the advance on Kyōto, and he thereafter fought his own military campaigns, advancing steadily eastward. By 1582 he was a powerful daimyo, possessing, in addition to his home province of Mikawa, the four provinces of Suruga and Tōtōmi (modern Shizuoka prefecture), Kai (Yamanashi prefecture), and southern Shinano (Nagano prefecture).

 When Hideyoshi seized power, Ieyasu at first opposed him. But he then submitted, and, rising to be the most powerful daimyo among Hideyoshi's vassals, he became chief of the five tairō (senior ministers), the highest officers of the Hideyoshi regime. After Hideyoshi's death the daimyo split between those supporting Hideyori and those siding with Ieyasu. Matters came to a head at the Battle of Sekigahara (Sekigahara, Battle of) in 1600, where Ieyasu won a decisive victory and established his national supremacy. Ieyasu had seen the failure of both Nobunaga and Hideyoshi to consolidate a lasting regime, and in 1603 he set up the Edo bakufu (more commonly known as the Tokugawa shogunate [1603–1867]) to legalize this position. Assuming the title shogun, he exercised firm control over the remaining daimyo at this time. On the pretext of allotting rewards after Sekigahara, he dispossessed, reduced, or transferred a large number of daimyo who opposed him. Their confiscated lands he either gave to relatives and Tokugawa family retainers to establish them as daimyo and to increase their holdings, or he reserved them as Tokugawa house domains. Furthermore, Hideyoshi's son and heir Hideyori (Toyotomi Hideyori) was reduced to the position of a daimyo of the Kinki (Ōsaka area) district. Two years after the establishment of the bakufu, Ieyasu relinquished the post of shogun to his son Hidetada, retiring to Sumpu (modern city of Shizuoka) to devote himself to strengthening the foundations of the bakufu. In 1615 Ieyasu stormed and captured Ōsaka Castle, destroying Hideyori and the Toyotomi family. Immediately afterward, the Laws for the Military Houses (Buke Shohatto) and the Laws for the Imperial and Court Officials (Kinchū Narabi ni Kuge Shohatto) were promulgated as the legal basis for bakufu control of the daimyo and the imperial court. In 1616 Ieyasu died, the succession already having been established.

      Under the second and third shoguns, Hidetada (Tokugawa Hidetada) and his successor, Iemitsu (Tokugawa Iemitsu), the bakufu control policy advanced further until the bakuhan system—the government system of the Tokugawa shogunate; literally a combination of bakufu and han (the domain of a daimyo)—reached its completion. By reorganizations in 1633–42 the executive of the bakafu government was almost completed, as represented by the offices of senior councillors (rōjū), junior councillors (wakadoshiyori), and three commissioners (bugyō) for the temples and shrines of the country, the shogun's capital, and the treasury of the bakufu. Confiscations and reductions of domains continued, and wide-scale transfers of daimyo also took place, distributing the strategic districts of Kantō, Kinki, and Tōkaidō among the daimyo who were relatives and retainers of the bakufu, thus keeping the “outside” (tozama) lords in check. Along with the rearrangement of the daimyo, the lands under the direct control of the bakufu also were increased at key points throughout the country. The most important cities—Kyōto, Ōsaka, and Nagasaki—and mines (notably, the island of Sado) also were placed under direct bakufu administration and used to control commerce, industry, and trade.

      The bakufu also revised the Laws for the Military Houses and established a system called sankin kōtai (alternative attendance), by which the daimyo were required to pay ceremonial visits to Edo every other year, while their wives and children resided permanently in Edo as hostages. The system also forced the daimyo—especially the potentially dangerous tozama who lived farthest away—to spend large sums of money to support two separate administrative structures and trips to and from Edo. In addition, the daimyo were forced to assist in such public works as the construction of castles in the bakufu domains, thus being kept in financial difficulties. Tokugawa bakufu domains now amounted to more than seven million koku—about one-fourth of the whole country. Of these lands, more than four million koku were under its direct control, and three million koku were distributed among the hatamoto and gokenin, the liege vassals to the bakufu. In addition, because the bakufu declared a monopoly over foreign trade and alone had the right to issue currency, it had considerably greater financial resources than did the daimyo. In military strength as well, it was also far more powerful than any individual daimyo.

      In step with the structural organization of the bakufu as the supreme power, the domain administration (hansei) of the daimyo also progressively took shape. The relationship between the shogun and the daimyo was that of lord and vassal, based on the feudal chigyō system. In theory, the land belonged to the shogun, who divided this among the lords as a special favour, or go-on. In order to rank as a daimyo, a warrior had to control lands producing at least 10,000 koku. In return, the daimyo incurred the obligation to provide military and other services to the shogun. Precisely the same connection existed between the domain lords and their retainers; and for the daimyo to concentrate and strengthen their rule, it was necessary for them to tighten this connection. In order to restrict the traditional right of their vassals to chigyō, or subdomains, daimyo rewarded them instead with rice stipends (kuramai), thus increasing their dependence on the daimyo. At the same time, this policy increased the lands under the direct control of the daimyo, strengthening the economic base of the domain. Thus, the daimyo employed the same methods toward their own vassals as the bakufu used to control them. In this way, a hierarchical, “feudal” regime was established by means of the kokudaka system, which extended from the shogun through the daimyo to their retainers.

      Control over the agricultural populace was now further strengthened. The Taikō land survey had recognized the rights of the peasants as actual cultivators of the land and made them responsible for taxes. Similar in intent, the land surveys of the bakufu and the daimyo were much more detailed and precise, concerned, as they were, with extracting the greatest possible tax yield. Tokugawa villages thus differed from those of the preceding ages, which had been controlled by local landlords, or myōshu. The Tokugawa villages were composed of a main core of small farmers, generally called hyakushō. Since villages were now administrative units of the new regime, a three-tiered system of village officers was established—nanushi (or shōya), kumigashira, and hyakushōdai—to carry out its functions. The inhabitants of towns and villages throughout the country were required to form gonin-gumi (“five-household groups”), or neighbourhood associations, to foster joint responsibility for tax payment, to prevent offenses against the laws of their overlords, to provide one another with mutual assistance, and to keep a general watch on one another. Economic controls over peasants were further strengthened. They were strictly prohibited from buying, selling, or abandoning their land or from changing their occupation; minute restrictions were also placed on their attire, food, and housing. The Keian no Ofuregaki (“Proclamations of the Keian era”), promulgated by the bakufu in 1649, was a compendium of bakufu policies designed to control rural administration.

The enforcement of national seclusion
      The 1630s also marked an important dividing line in foreign relations with the issuance of a series of directives enforcing a policy of national seclusion, later called sakoku (literally, “closed country”). The seeds of this policy had been sown in trade control and in measures against Christianity by the Nobunaga and Hideyoshi regimes. Hideyoshi, although strongly attracted to trade as a source of national wealth and military strength, had issued an order for the exclusion of the missionaries. Ieyasu (Tokugawa Ieyasu), even more strongly attracted by profits, made efforts to trade not only with the Portuguese Roman Catholics but also with Protestant Holland and England, protecting trade with the southern regions by granting special licenses, or shuin-jō (“red-seal license”), to oceangoing merchant ships. But Ieyasu's encouragement of trade was aimed at establishing a bakufu trade monopoly. In 1604, for example, a special system for the purchase of silk was established: Chinese silk imported to Japan by Portuguese ships was sold at fixed prices to the powerful merchants of Kyōto, Sakai, and Nagasaki, who formed a guild and then distributed this silk to the domestic retail merchants. Ieyasu, however, enjoyed a preferential purchase of a part of the imported silk (the goyō ito, or “official silk”) prior to the guild's allotment and reaped a huge profit on releasing this to the domestic markets.

      Eager for trade, Ieyasu was initially tolerant of Christian (Christianity) proselytization, but later he came to fear that the Christians would join Hideyoshi's heir Hideyori to resist the bakufu, and he took steps to prohibit Christianity before his destruction of the Toyotomi family. Decrees prohibiting Christianity were promulgated in 1612 and 1614, and the persecution of its adherents began immediately thereafter. Persecution became much more severe under Hidetada and Iemitsu, until, at length, it became official policy to stamp out Christianity even at the sacrifice of trade. This policy became manifest with the seclusion orders of the 1630s. Thus, in 1635 Japanese were forbidden to make overseas voyages or to return to Japan from overseas, which was a severe blow to Japan's traders.

      In 1637, in resistance to heavy taxes and the prohibition of Christianity, Amakusa Shiro, a Christian masterless samurai (rōnin), led an uprising of peasants and Christians in the Shimabara (Shimabara Rebellion) Peninsula of Kyushu. For five months they put up a fierce fight before their defeat by the bakufu army. The bakufu having been hard-pressed to quell the rebellion, thereafter stepped up its strict controls on Christians and attempted to root them out by such means as fumi-e, in which one was made to trample on an image of Christ or the Virgin Mary. The system of registration at Buddhist temples was instituted: all Japanese were required to register as parishioners to a parent Buddhist temple, called a danna-dera (“family temple”), which every year had to guarantee that the parishioner was not a Christian. When in 1639 Portuguese ships were forbidden to visit Japan, the sakoku orders were completed. The Dutch and the Chinese were allowed to trade as before, although this trade was restricted and confined to the island of Dejima at Nagasaki. Iemitsu also allowed a certain amount of trade with Korea and the Ryukyu Islands.

      Scholars continue to debate the effects of national seclusion, but its impact on Japan was profound. The vigorous desire of the Japanese of the Sengoku era to expand overseas was thenceforth transformed into an attitude hostile to foreign trade, if not to foreigners themselves. On the one hand, the seclusion policy was instrumental in enabling the Tokugawa bakufu to establish a prolonged peace of nearly 300 years; yet on the other, it has been argued that this simply prolonged a rigid feudal system to an extent unknown elsewhere in the world. Pax Tokugawa may have helped foster commerce and given rise to a unique popular culture, but it also was a narrowly chauvinistic culture with no international dimension. Certainly, one viewpoint is that it produced in the Japanese a unique sense of insularity.

The Tokugawa status system
      Thus, the bakuhan system was firmly solidified by the second half of the 17th century. The establishment of a strict class structure of warriors, farmers, artisans, and merchants (shi-nō-kō-shō) represents the final consummation of the system. Distinctions between the statuses of warriors, farmers, artisans, and merchants were strictly enforced, but the distinction between the samurai and the other three classes was especially strict. Forming barely 7 percent of Japan's total population, warriors levied taxes on the farmers, who formed more than four-fifths of the population and who thus provided the economic foundation of the system. Symbolizing their dominance of society by force of arms, samurai wore two swords; by law, the other classes were forbidden to wear them, thus carrying the policies of Nobunaga and Hideyoshi to their logical conclusion. Concern for strict status differentiation was evident even in family relationships, as absolute obedience was demanded from members of the family toward the house head (kachō). Among the family members, the status of women was especially low, and the idea of danson-johi (“respect for the male, contempt for the female”) was prevalent.

      The establishment of the Tokugawa regime created a need for legitimation, a new worldview, and a system of ethics to support it. Neither the Shintō nor the Buddhist ideologies of the earlier medieval society was adequate. But the ideas of Neo-Confucianism, especially of the Sung dynasty Chu Hsi school ( Shushigaku)—which had been well-known to political and ethical thinkers since the 13th century—provided an intellectual rationalization for the status-oriented social structure of the bakuhan system. Shushigaku appealed especially to the feudal rulers because, among the various schools of Confucianism, it was the most systematic doctrine. Fujiwara Seika is regarded as the father of Tokugawa Neo-Confucianism, lecturing even to Ieyasu himself. Seika's student, the Chu Hsi scholar Hayashi Razan, served as advisor to the first three shoguns. He established what was to become the official Confucian school, which provided philosophical guidance to the shogunal house and high bakufu officials throughout the period. Razan is said to have had a hand in the drafting of all bakufu official documents and in the formulation of bakufu laws. His political ideas—as seen in such works as Honchō hennen-roku (“Chronological History of Japan”) and Honchō tsugan (“Survey History of Japan”), completed by his son Gahō—provided a historical justification for the establishment of the Tokugawa shogunate, based upon the concept of tendō (“way of heaven”). Tendō essentially took on the connotation of the Chinese term t'ien-ming (“mandate of heaven”; Japanese: tenmei), and Razan and other Confucian thinkers provided an explanation and justification for changes in rulers through the process of gekokujō (overthrow of superiors by inferiors) of the Sengoku period. But the role of Chu Hsi political-ethical thought in Tokugawa times was to repudiate the revolutionary idea of gekokujō by stressing the legitimacy of Ieyasu's new regime, emphasizing instead the idea of kenshin (“devotion,” or “loyalty”), linking this to Confucian moral concepts. Razan stressed the Chinese idea that, just as there is order between heaven and earth, there needed to be order between rulers and subjects. Thus he argued that the separation of the four classes of society was in accord with the teachings of Confucius. The two central moral ideals of Confucianism were chū, or “loyalty,” and , or “filial piety.” But in contrast to China, Tokugawa thinkers like Razan placed more emphasis on chū as a support for feudal lord-vassal relations than on kō (xiao), which was a family ethic. Chu Hsi studies opposed the new worldview and logic introduced by Christianity, which gave more importance to God than to the ruler-subject relationship, and also bitterly criticized the other-worldly aspects of Buddhism, which had been the ideology of the medieval era. Orthodox Chu Hsi thought was a perfect conservative philosophy of statecraft that valued loyalty and order above all else.

      Japanese thinkers of the 17th century could hardly have been expected to fully ingest a foreign political philosophy already several hundred years old, and challenges to orthodox Chu Hsi thought were many. Some argued for a return to the original teaching of Confucius himself, emulating a reform movement already under way in China. The philosophy of yet another Sung thinker, Wang Yang-ming (Wang Yangming), also held a special place in Confucian circles in the early Edo period. Wang Yang-ming studies ( Ōyōmeigaku in Japanese) were characterized by a strong subjective idealism but, at the same time, were quite practical since they emphasized the unity of thought and deed. Virtue had to be not only cultivated in the abstract but practiced as well. Nakae Tōju, often regarded as the father of Japanese Wang Yang-ming studies, was so earnest in performing virtuous acts that he was called the sage of Ōmi. One of his followers, Kumazawa Banzan, who criticized the growing autocracy in the politics of his day, transformed Wang Yang-ming studies from a means for individual spiritual training into a method for political reformation.

Commerce, cities, and culture
      By reducing Ōsaka Castle and quelling the Shimabara Rebellion, the Tokugawa regime brought to an end the period of violence and ushered in an era of unprecedented domestic peace. As a result, commerce was promoted and cities developed. Widespread commercialization occurred in the latter half of the 17th century, centred in the Kinki region, where productive capacity was the most advanced. Now the nationwide farming populace (hyakushō) of independent landowners, although subject to heavy taxes and various kinds of labour services, sought the means to enjoy a better standard of living. In addition to their primary efforts as cultivators, they reclaimed new lands and produced various commercial crops and handicraft goods for sale in the city and town markets. Among these commercial crops were cotton and rapeseed oil in the Kinki region and silk in eastern Japan. Communications and transportation also developed for the circulation of such goods, thanks to the earlier efforts of various daimyo to maximize production in their domains and to the increased mobility caused by the sankin kōtai system. As a result of the development of commerce and communications, new-style merchants such as wholesalers and brokers to handle commercial crops came to the fore, and powerful financiers also appeared.

      There was a massive growth of urban centres in the first half of the Edo period, mainly represented by the castle towns of the various daimyo. These daimyo, numbering some 250 for most of the period, were allowed by the bakufu to have but one castle, and thus there was a move to pull down other castles and concentrate the samurai of each han in a capital castle town. These castle towns gradually came to acquire the character of commercial cities, as some farmers abandoned the countryside and merchants emerged to serve the needs of the burgeoning urban population. Purely commercial cities and post towns (towns along highways) also arose throughout the country as part of this massive urbanization. While most cities averaged between 10,000 and 20,000 inhabitants, many had populations exceeding 100,000. The three main cities of Edo, Ōsaka, and Kyōto, under the direct control of the bakufu, were especially developed. When its warrior inhabitants are included, Edo in the early years of the 18th century had a population of more than one million and thus became one of the largest cities in the world.

      The early and mid-Edo periods produced many remarkable figures in the fine arts and crafts. Perhaps the three artists most representative of the culture were Ihara Saikaku in ukiyo-zōshi (“tales of the floating world”) genre novels, Chikamatsu Monzaemon in jōruri (“puppet play”) drama, and Matsuo Bashō in haiku poetry. All three flourished during the Genroku (Genroku period) era (1688–1704), the name more broadly denoting a golden age of cultural development roughly 50 years long during the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Saikaku was an Ōsaka townsman who first aspired to write haikai—humorous renga (linked-verse) poetry from which the more serious haiku was derived—and for more than 30 years he was active as a haikai composer. He was especially skilled at yakazu haikai, a competition to compose as many haikai as possible within a fixed period of time that derived its name from a popular arrow-shooting competition (yakazu). Saikaku set a new record by composing 23,500 haikai in a single day and night—one verse every four seconds. By 1682 Saikaku largely had given up haikai, however, and began to write ukiyo-zōshi, producing about 20 masterpieces in succession, beginning with Kōshoku ichidai otoko (1682; The Life of an Amorous Man). The ukiyo-zōshi developed out of the so-called kana-zōshi (storybooks written in kana script) into a more thoroughly urban commoner's form of literature after the latter had themselves replaced the previous otogi-zōshi (“fairy-tale books”) in popularity. The unique urban spirit of the age can be seen in the word ukiyo, which had meant “sad world” in Buddhist terms during medieval times. Written with a different Chinese ideogram in Edo times, it now came to mean “floating world” and implied pleasure—specifically from the pleasure quarters of the great Edo cities. Saikaku consistently attempted to create an accurate depiction of the human desire for love and profit. His works offer sharp criticism of the Edo samurai as men so bound by social status and moral principles that they could not live a free life.

      Matsuo Bashō became closely attached to haiku (although the word itself was not coined until the 19th century) and fashioned it into a popular form of poetry. Bashō was born into a warrior family, but after becoming a rōnin he devoted himself to the development of haiku as a literary form. Bashō found the existing haikai style unsatisfying. He began writing hokku (17-syllable opening verses for renga) as separate poems, developing a new style called shōfū or “Bashō style.” Bashō proclaimed what he called makoto no (“true”) haiku, seeking the spirit of this poetic form in sincerity and truthfulness. He also introduced a new beauty to haiku by using simple words. Bashō essentially grafted the aristocratic conceptions of medieval poetry onto the more mundane feelings of Tokugawa urban culture, creating a highly popular poetic form. Rather than repudiating tradition, Bashō's haiku brought it to completion.

      About the turn of the 17th century, the Jōrurihime monogatari (a type of romantic ballad), which drew on the traditions of the medieval narrative story, was for the first time arranged as a form of dramatic literature accompanied by puppetry and the samisen (a lutelike musical instrument). It continued to develop until the three great masters—Takemoto Gidayū as narrator, Chikamatsu Monzaemon as composer, and Tatsumatsu Hachirobei as puppeteer—made jōruri into a highly popular Tokugawa performing art, enjoyed by all classes of society.

      Chikamatsu, like Bashō, came from a warrior family. Chikamatsu, a prolific writer, wrote more than 80 jidaimono (historical dramas) and 20 sewamono (domestic dramas focusing on urban society), both for jōruri. He also wrote more than 30 kabuki plays. The chief theme running through Chikamatsu's works is the idea of giri (“duty”), which is to be understood not so much as feudal morality enforced from above but rather as the traditional consciousness of honour and dignity in one's motives and of social consciousness in human relations. The compositions of Chikamatsu's later years seek the motif of tragedy in the fact that this giri, while proof that people have humanity, cannot be thoroughly achieved because of their immorality and lack of principle. Giri is constantly in conflict with ninjō (“human feelings,” especially love), and this tension provides the drama in many of his works. Beginning with his Shinjū ten no Amijima (1720; The Love Suicide of Amijima), the leading male and female characters in his sewamono dramas are unable to resolve the contradictions between giri and ninjō in this world and so die by shinjū (a suicide pact between lovers) in order to realize their love in a future life. While Buddhist elements can be detected in these tragic endings, they also graphically capture the unresolvable contradictions that faced townspeople in Genroku society.

 Besides the licensed quarters for prostitutes, theatrical districts also flourished in the Genroku era. Kabuki drama also developed in the early Edo period. Okuni kabuki, named for the female dancing troupe led by Izumo Okuni, became popular at the turn of the 17th century and is conventionally regarded as the origin of this dramatic form. Other troupes imitated her work, developing into yūjo (“prostitutes' ”) kabuki, run by brothel owners. Ultimately, women were banned from kabuki, and actors and prostitutes separated into distinct quarters. A further development was the wakashū (“young-man style”) kabuki, in which the young men were also available as sexual partners; this also was prohibited because of widespread homosexuality. All kabuki was banned following the death of the shogun Iemitsu in 1652. It was allowed once again, but only after substantial reform, in which even women's parts were played by adult males (who were distinguished from the wakashū by shaved forelocks). Kabuki now developed from its previous dancing-act form into a theatrical form centred on a dramatic plot with realistic acting. In western Japan (Kyōto and Ōsaka), the style that emerged was called wagoto (“tender business”), which had a pronounced comical element and concentrated on love; by contrast, the popular form of Edo kabuki was aragoto (“rough business”), which focused on the rash actions of historical heroes. This Edo form of kabuki seemed to suit the rowdy elements of society; indeed the word kabuki itself (using different Chinese ideograms), meaning “inclined,” was first used by wild gangs of outrageously dressed young men called kabukimono.

      Despite the popularity of these new theatrical forms, traditional arts of nō drama, the tea ceremony, and flower arrangement also reached new stages of development in the period. The tea ceremony (cha-no-yu) in particular became popular and was practiced not only by the shogun and daimyo but also by the newly risen merchants, who used their wealth to become eager collectors of famous antique tea-ceremony utensils. As the tea ceremony became popular, many schools emerged, most notably the Sen-ke (Sen house), the school of Sen Rikyū. The art of the tea ceremony came to be monopolized by the house heads of the various schools, fostering the development of the “profession” of tea master. This “house head” (iemoto) system also spread to flower arrangement and to other arts and became a distinguishing feature of the Edo period. One result of this segmentation into tradition-conscious schools was that it inhibited further development of these artistic forms. Often, it was only by breaking away from the iemoto that innovation could proceed.

 Distinctive development also occurred in the fine arts and crafts. Ogata Kōrin, for example, brought decorative painting to its highest stage of perfection, bequeathing to posterity many splendid masterpieces in gold lacquer (maki-e) and other media. Techniques of dyeing (dye) and weaving were also improved in the Edo period. In Kyōto, Miyazaki Yūzen developed the splendid techniques of yūzen-zome (a rice-paste batik method of dyeing), and the weaving and decorating of the traditional kimono became even more colourful. In Edo, drawing in traditional styles was further developed by Hishikawa Moronobu, who not only depicted the usual courtesans and actors but also vividly portrayed various aspects of the lives of ordinary people. But Moronobu's real contribution was to develop the Chinese technique of wood-block printing to produce the ukiyo-e (“pictures of the floating world”) style, which met a growing popular demand. Many great Edo-period artists—e.g., Andō Hiroshige and Katsushika Hokusai—developed the ukiyo-e genre into a unique Japanese art form. Famous centres of pottery production also flourished at various places throughout the country, some ancient, like Seto, but others, like Hagi, stimulated by the influence of Korean potters captured during Hideyoshi's invasions.

 Both the old ceremonies of the imperial court and the various forms of warrior etiquette developed by the successive bakufu were codified, studied, and even extended to the common people, helping to shape manners throughout the country. Indeed, Japanese customs in dress, food, and housing became established and somewhat standardized during the Edo period. Even eating habits changed from two to three meals a day; in the cities rice became the standard food, and a rich variety of cakes and sweets were consumed by urban dwellers.

The weakening of the bakuhan system
      As Japan entered the 18th century, the bakuhan system began to show signs of weakness. The finances of both the bakufu and the han were theoretically based on a rice-producing economy, in which administrators endeavoured to levy taxes to be paid in kind, mostly in rice, centred on the annual crop. Rice and other crops were then transported to the great central cities of Edo and Ōsaka, where they were exchanged for money. The extremely diverse economic and social life of these cities was based upon a money economy in which people and produce were constantly exchanged. This activity radiated outward to the various daimyo castle towns and, inevitably, into the countryside as well. Thus, even the rural areas of Japan were increasingly drawn into a monetized economy, and peasants everywhere paid part of their taxes in money. If commercial development had been largely a phenomenon of the cities in the 17th century, in the 18th and 19th centuries it spread to the hinterlands of Japan, where small-scale producers of goods, distributors, and even retailers appeared. Inevitably, it meant the rise of some wealthy members of the rural populace, who used their wealth to invest in land and commercial ventures and to “ape their betters” in the cities in both custom and culture. Few farmers, however, prospered through producing commercial goods, and the majority of peasants remained impoverished. Rural villages were characterized by a few wealthy farmers, a majority of small-scale independent landholders, and a growing number of impoverished tenants. Many small-scale farmers, squeezed by the demands of commercial development, were forced to part with their lands and fell into tenancy.

      Thus, as the commercial economy extended into rural (rural society) villages, social divisions arose among the farmers. Tax collection became unstable, and many warriors—whose stipends, still calculated in koku, depended upon taxes paid by the farmers—found themselves in serious financial difficulty. Despite the general improvement of agricultural technology and the spread of such knowledge through manuals and handbooks among an increasingly literate populace during the Edo period, productivity was uneven; and in many areas, and especially during certain eras, periodic crop failures and famines, exacerbated by excessive taxation, resulted in people starving or fleeing their villages. The abandonment of cultivated land also became conspicuous. As noted above, the samurai class had long since taken up normal residence in the cities. With the development of the urban way of life, they now incurred increasing expenses, despite a spate of bakufu and domain exhortations to practice frugality. Living on fixed incomes, many became greatly impoverished. At times, both the bakufu and the domains tried to suppress commercial production as a means of alleviating the suffering of their vassals; but this met with great resistance from merchants and affected the self-sufficient economy of the farmers as well. It was, in any event, a hopeless effort, given the scale of commercial development nationwide. When attempts to restrict production failed, bakufu and han administrators encouraged such production, seeking to supplement their finances by monopolizing the farmers' commercial goods and selling them themselves. Thus, on top of excessive taxes, farmers also were sometimes deprived of the profits of their commercial goods.

      Ultimately, such rural conditions led to major outbreaks of violence. Stratification of rural villages—a growing gap between wealthy and poor farmers—tenancy, the inability of many to survive the harsh realities of commercialization, and exploitation by feudal lords forced some peasants into uprisings (hyakushō ikki). Even in early Edo times, there were localized demonstrations against daimyo for excessive taxation, but from the 18th century peasant protest became increasingly violent and widespread. Some uprisings were directed at local lords, some were more widespread, and some were directed not at feudal warrior overlords but at wealthy peasant landlords and village headmen who also had become exploitative. Meanwhile, economic conditions in the cities—to which frustrated peasants often fled seeking a better life—were hardly better. While many wealthy merchants enjoyed luxurious lifestyles in cooperation with warrior rulers, the city poor, driven to the edge of starvation by the rising prices of rice and other commodities, often rioted, plundering and destroying rice shops and pawnshops.

Political reform in the bakufu and the han
      The second half of the Tokugawa period is characterized by continual political reforms made by the samurai overlords in response to this ongoing economic crisis. Such reforms began with the Kyōhō Reforms instituted by the eighth shogun, Tokugawa Yoshimune (ruled 1716–45). Yoshimune proved adept at personnel matters. He swept out officials favoured by his two predecessors and appointed new officials to posts in finance and rural administration in order to increase government efficiency. In general, he reaffirmed the influence of the fudai daimyo, the traditional stalwart supporters of the regime, whose power had been undercut under Tsunayoshi and Ienobu. Besides consulting a group of about 20 personally selected advisers, he periodically set up a complaint box to gain new information, especially on such matters as corruption and bribery. The thrust of his reform efforts, however, came in the area of general economic policy and the bakufu's own finances. As an emergency policy, Yoshimune ordered the daimyo to make rice contributions (agemai), which he then allotted to the hatamoto to supplement their stipends. More characteristic was his effort to increase tax yields by opening new lands to cultivation and revising the method of taxation. His attempt to control the falling price of rice earned him the name of “the rice shogun.” But when the price of rice rose sharply in a great famine in the 1730s, the common people of Edo attacked the wholesale rice dealers who had cornered the market. This was the first such riot in Edo. Yoshimune's reforms focused heavily on currency reform. He successfully revalued and standardized the currency and also brought regulation into the chaotic and disruptive world of Edo's money changers. His economic reforms enjoyed no small success. By 1744, the year before his retirement, the receipts of the bakufu both in total land taxes and in tax receipts reached their highest level for the entire Edo period. Yoshimune's reforms also expedited the legal process, ameliorated punishments, and were published in a collection of laws (Kujikata osademegaki). For such reasons, Yoshimune was regarded as the restorer of the bakufu. His success, however, was possibly due to the fact that the urban and rural disturbances had not yet become that grave, while the coercive power of the bakufu was still quite strong.

      Under the rule of Yoshimune's son Ieshige, control of government by attendants of the shogun—which Yoshimune's strong personal rule had prevented—was revived. Chamberlains (soba-yōnin) who handled communications with the senior councillors (rōjū), gained strong powers of authority as his spokesmen when they won the shogun's confidence. One such man was Tanuma Okitsugu, who rose from chamberlain to be senior councillor under Ieshige's son, Ieharu, the 10th shogun. Tanuma and his associates accepted bribes, and he was criticized by an opposition group for corruption. But Tanuma was nonetheless an active reformer who further developed some of Yoshimune's programs. Though cognizant of the problems posed by merchants and the spread of a commercial economy, Tanuma chose not to suppress the activities of big-city merchants but rather used them to promote production; while advancing the development of the commercial economy, he sought to control it. His decision to force commercial and industrial guilds, or kabu nakama, into monopolistic associations and to demand licensing fees seems to have been aimed not so much at gaining contributions for the bakufu treasury as much as to establish control over the circulation of commercial goods, linking the city guilds with village producers. Tanuma, too, was concerned with a monetized economy, especially the problem of money lenders. He tried—unsuccessfully—both to control the issuance of unbacked promissory notes and to issue a new silver coin, the value of which was calculated in terms of gold. He was widely criticized by the people for issuing large amounts of debased coinage that caused a rise in prices; yet it was a rational attempt to establish a gold standard in place of the confusing practice of using silver in western Japan and gold in the east.

      Tanuma's rational and progressive political attitude is best revealed in his attempt to develop Ezo (present-day Hokkaido) as a bulwark against the southward advance of the Russians; he even considered trading with Russia. Various natural disasters occurred in his time, however, and peasant protests rose to more than 50 per year during the 1780s. A great eruption of Mount Asama in 1783 was followed by a widespread famine during the Temmei era (1783–87), in which large numbers of people starved to death. An uncommon number of crop failures, fires, epidemics, and droughts reconfirmed peoples' sense of divine displeasure with the performance of the ruler. The protests of the farmers were now most often directed against wealthy members of the village community. In 1787 large-scale riots threatened Edo, Ōsaka, and other major cities. Tanuma had already been dismissed as senior councillor the previous year, and Matsudaira Sadanobu, grandson of Yoshimune and the daimyo of Shirakawa domain (in modern Fukushima prefecture), was selected as his successor. But Tanuma's supporters in the bakufu sought to prevent Sadanobu's appointment, and for more than six months the political situation remained a complete vacuum. The outbreak of peasant violence, however, was enough to drive Tanuma's supporters from office, and Sadanobu was appointed senior councillor.

      Sadanobu is renowned as the initiator of the Kansei reforms (1789–1801). He rejected Tanuma's administration and instituted a policy of retrenchment in the spirit of Yoshimune's reforms half a century earlier. To combat the frustration against Tanuma's regime, Sadanobu sought to restore morale, revive the economy, and reinvigorate the social system. He set out to reduce the high prices in the great cities and had a fund established in Edo called shichibu tsumikin (70 percent reserve fund); knowing that land and house rents were high in the shogun's capital because of the heavy taxes levied on its landlords, he reduced this tax and set aside 70 percent of it for relief for the poor. To relieve the hardships of the bakufu retainers, he took emergency measures to cancel the debts of the hatamoto to the Edo merchants who handled the exchange of their stipends. Again following Yoshimune, Sadanobu—himself skilled in several martial arts—urged the samurai to devote their energies to practice of the martial arts. The farming villages (rural society), which were the foundation of the bakuhan system, had been devastated in the Temmei famine of the 1780s. Sadanobu encouraged officials to bring land back into cultivation and to increase the population of the villages by such measures as granting parcels of land to vagabonds. Those who had left villages for seasonal work in cities were given money to return to agricultural productivity. Infanticide and abortion were widely used as means of limiting family size, both to maximize wealth and to avoid starvation, and pregnant women were thus watched over in order to increase the farming populace—so that tax revenues from that sector would rise. But effective control of agriculture depended largely upon competent officials, and, despite heroic efforts to root out incompetence and avarice, Sadanobu had recurrent problems dealing with corrupt and ruthless local officials.

      Sadanobu was a firm admirer of Chu Hsi studies, and he believed that government must be conducted on the basis of Confucian benevolent rule. In the mid-1790s, he prohibited all teachings except those of the Chu Hsi school at the Shōheikō, the bakufu official college headed by the Hayashi family. He even instituted a five-level examination system for promotions among bakufu officials who were trained at this shogunal academy.

      While Sadanobu was senior councillor, a Russian envoy, Adam Laxman, landed at Nemuro in 1792 and requested trade relations. Although the bakufu rejected the Russian proposal, Sadanobu ordered that plans be drawn up immediately for a coastal defense system centred on Edo Bay (now called Tokyo Bay), while he himself inspected the coastline of Izu, Sagami, and Bōsō. At Sadanobu's resignation in 1793 these plans were scrapped, but the bakufu councillors of this era were the first to react to the threat of foreign nations advancing on Japan, which now could be heard through the wall of national seclusion. Sadanobu's reforms appear to be an overreaction to Tanuma's administration, and, whereas people at first welcomed them, antipathy gradually increased. Within the bakufu Sadanobu had his enemies. Some Tanuma supporters remained in bakufu posts through his early years; in addition, the ōoku (women's quarter, the shogun's harem), disliked him since he had purged some women who had become involved with Buddhist priests. Ultimately, he lost the confidence of the shogun Ienari and resigned.

      In conjunction with the bakufu programs, reforms were carried out within the various daimyo domains. A distinctive feature of han reforms at this time, however, was that they tried to apply stronger regulations and control over the commercial economy of the farmers.

      Ienari was restrained by Sadanobu's strict political reforms, but, when the latter left the bakufu council, the shogun was able to relax. Even so, Ienari was not completely free while the councillors who had supported Sadanobu's reforms were still alive. During the period 1804–31 these men died one after another, and the bakufu government became lax once again. Mizuno Tadaakira, a senior councillor with acute business acumen, rose to power as a personal attendant to Ienari. But he and other high officials seemed as addicted to bribery as earlier regimes, and the corruption of the bakufu increased considerably. On the surface things seemed peaceful, but underneath the stagnation of the feudal system became even more grave. Even in the villages of Kantō, the seat of the bakufu, disturbances continued apace. The bakufu therefore set up an office called the Kantō Torishimari-deyaku (“Supervisors of the Kantō District”) to strengthen police control of the area, and it ordered the villages of Kantō to form associations to assist this office. But the impetus to reform had faded, as almost a century of bakufu efforts to deal effectively with vastly changed socioeconomic conditions had proved ineffective: many samurai “rulers” lived in poverty, while officially despised merchants became incredibly wealthy; the number of tenants soared as the gap between rich and poor farmers widened; commercialization proceeded far beyond the understanding as well as the control of the regime; rural and urban unrest threatened the stability of society; and now the ominous spectre of a foreign threat loomed on the horizon.

The growth of the northern problem
      In the early 1800s foreign relations, which national seclusion policies had been designed to avoid, became a pressing problem for the bakufu, and the situation in Ezo became especially worrisome. In 1804 another Russian envoy, N.P. Rezanov (Rezanov, Nikolay Petrovich), visited Japan—this time at Nagasaki, where the Dutch by law were allowed to call—to request commercial relations. The bakufu refused Rezanov's request, and during the next three years Russians attacked Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands. Earlier in 1804, the bakufu had taken eastern Ezo away from the jurisdiction of the Matsumae domain in northern Honshu and placed it under its direct control, and in 1807 the bakufu also took direct control of both eastern and western Ezo for defensive purposes. In 1808 the English warship Phaeton made an incursion on Nagasaki, and three years later the Russian naval lieutenant V.M. Golovnin (Golovnin, Vasily Mikhaylovich) landed on Kunashiri Island, where he was arrested by bakufu authorities. When these various incidents were resolved, peace continued for a time in the northern regions; the bakufu relaxed its precautions, returning all Ezo to the control of the Matsumae domain in 1821. In the south, English ships often appeared in Japanese waters after the Phaeton incident, and the bakufu failed to adopt a consistent policy. In 1825, responding to a proposal by Takahashi Kageyasu, Edo authorities promulgated the Order to Drive Away Foreign Ships (Ikokusen uchiharairei), which also enjoined coastal authorities to arrest or kill any foreigners who came ashore. This was also known as the ninen nashi or “no second thought” law. It was never fully carried out because of opposition by a number of officials, including Matsudaira Sadanobu. In 1842, upon hearing the news of China's defeat in the Opium War (Opium Wars), the bakufu responded to foreign demands for the right to refuel in Japan by canceling that order and adopting the Order for the Provision of Firewood and Water (Shinsui kyūyorei). While attempting to preserve the iron law of seclusion to the bitter end, bakufu policy was thus inconsistent, driving foreign ships away at one point and treating them with leniency at others. And it proved to be utterly powerless when it was faced with the full weight of foreign pressure later in the 1840s.

New learning and thought
      Underlying this weakening of the bakuhan political system was an ideological crisis, the result of many new movements that took place in scholarship and culture. The mid-Tokugawa period, roughly the 18th century, as discussed above, was a time of considerable unrest. Samurai leaders of bakufu and han alike sought to grapple with the disturbing fact that the great peace envisioned as resulting from policies of rigid class separation, national isolation, and agricultural self-sufficiency was being undermined by unintended economic changes released by those policies themselves. In the area of thought, the ideological foundations of Edo rule—orthodox Chu Hsi philosophy—came into question. Ironically, the ideal of “the investigation of things” inherent in Chu Hsi philosophy encouraged speculation that inevitably led to questioning Chu Hsi orthodoxy itself. And many of those who were led into such speculation were not samurai but commoners.

Heterodox Confucian schools
      Already in the second half of the 17th century the scholars of the Kogaku (“study of antiquity”) school criticized Chu Hsi studies and advocated a return to the original ideals of Confucianism. Two of the most important thinkers articulating this view were Itō Jinsai and Ogyū Sorai. Sorai, acknowledged to be the seminal thinker of Edo times, was especially concerned with the contradictions between social theory and reality. Critical of the rise of merchants and farmers at the expense of the samurai, he tried to find a way to revive the deteriorating conditions of warriors. In his work Seidan, for example, Sorai insisted that the main reason for the financial distress of the warrior class in both the bakufu and the domains was that warriors had moved to the cities, where they were at the mercy of a monetary economy. If they would return to the villages, they could be self-sufficient once again, and other orders of society—especially the peasants—would respect them. The proper relations between the classes could thus be restored. Kogaku critics of orthodoxy were hardly alone. Various other schools of Confucianism arose, such as setchūgaku (“eclectic school”) and kōshōgaku (“positivistic school”). Conflict between the various schools became fierce, and the authority of Chu Hsi studies grew weak, which explains Sadanobu's prohibition of heterodox studies during the Kansei reforms. The bakufu attempted to reinvigorate Chu Hsi orthodoxy by prohibiting all other schools of Confucianism in the college of the bakufu, but the attempt was destined to failure. Confucianism, both Chu Hsi orthodoxy and other types, now spread widely throughout the provinces, especially with the establishment of domain schools (hankō) for the education of the domain samurai. Beginning in the 18th century, but continuing until the end of the Edo period, domains one after another opened such schools to train their warrior-administrators in both civil and military skills. Thus, learning and culture arose in the domains, accompanied by a growth of scholarship with local colouring. Among such schools, the Kaitoku-dō in Ōsaka became famous as the “townspeople's university.” This school was founded cooperatively by Confucian scholars and wealthy merchants in 1724, and samurai and merchants sat together to hear lectures. Perhaps the best-known and most unique thinker to come out of the school was Yamagata Bantō.

Shintō and kokugaku
      The intellectual vitality of the 18th century was not limited to Confucianism. New currents also appeared in Shintō, which, often mixed with Confucianism and Buddhism, served as the ideology of popular education. The Confucian scholar Yamazaki Ansai, who had urged samurai to cultivate themselves thoroughly so as to better lead the people, also formulated a Shintō ideology with a distinctly Confucian bent, called the Suika form of Shintō. Anzai was only somewhat atypical of Edo thinkers: born in Kyōto, he became a Zen monk but later returned to lay life and embraced Confucianism. After years of teaching Confucianism, he studied several forms of Shintō—notably Watarai and Yoshida—before formulating his own syncretic Shintō ideals. In the later Tokugawa period popular interest in Shintō grew progressively stronger, centred especially on faith in the shrine at Ise, which became the focus of mass pilgrimages. This popularity was spurred by public lectures that explained Shintō in terms easily understood by the common people; furthermore, Watarai Nobuyoshi, Anzai, and others decoupled Shintō from its previous amalgamation with medieval Buddhism, explaining it from a Confucian perspective. Ishida Baigan developed a religious tradition called Shingaku (“Heart Learning”), which articulated a “way” for townsmen and farmers. An amalgamation of ideas from the three teachings of Confucianism, Shintō, and Buddhism, Shingaku held forth a code of self-cultivation that valued performance of one's tasks; in so stressing a prudent and disciplined lifestyle grounded in the value of work, Ishida's ideas have sometimes been regarded as a Japanese version of the “Protestant ethic.”

       Kokugaku (“national learning”) also arose from a similar social background. Kamo Mabuchi focused on a study of Japan's most ancient poetry anthology, the Man'yōshū, and other ancient writings, urging a return to ancient ways before Japan had been “defiled” by foreign ideas, such as Confucianism and Buddhism. By studying the ancient language of Japan's oldest classic, the Kojiki (“Records of Ancient Matters”), Mabuchi's pupil Motoori Norinaga tried to explicate Japan's ancient system of morality, called kannagara no michi (“way of the gods”). Another important figure in the kokugaku stream was Hirata Atsutane. Atsutane accepted Norinaga's explanation of Fukko (Fukko Shintō) (“Restoration,” or “Revival”) Shintō and regarded Japan as the centre of the world; as an adherent of the belief in Japan as a divine country (shinkoku), he strongly advocated reverence for the imperial house. Hirata's thought, along with the Confucian-inspired loyalism of the Mito school, provided the ideological underpinnings of the “Sonnō jōi” (“Revere the Emperor! Expel the Barbarians!”) movement of the last years of the Tokugawa period.

Western studies
      The study of modern European science, termed yōgaku (“Western learning”) or rangaku (“Dutch learning”), also attracted the attention of curious scholars, especially as the regime began to lose its efficacy. A great stimulus to the concrete development of Western studies was provided by the publication, in 1774, of the Kaitai shinsho (“New Book of Anatomy”), a translation by Sugita Gempaku and others of an anatomical book imported from the Netherlands. Thereafter, Western studies became increasingly dynamic, focusing primarily on medicine. But as the systemic crisis grew more severe, many scholars of Western studies began to criticize the seclusion policy, arousing the ire of the bakufu. For example, several rangaku scholars criticized the bakufu plan to attack an American merchant ship. The resulting persecution of Watanabe Kazan, Takano Choei, and other scholars by bakufu officials in the so-called bansha no goku incident dealt a serious blow to Western studies in Japan. Thereafter, as consciousness of the foreign threat grew stronger, adherents of Western studies placed heavy emphasis on the study of military technology.

      Other philosophers also appeared who repudiated feudal society. Andō Shōeki rejected the stratified society established by rulers as no more than a fabrication, preaching in its place a “natural society” in which all were equal. In his Shizen shin'eidō (c. 1753), Shōeki portrayed an ideal society in which all people equally engaged in farming, without social distinctions or exploitation. While Shōeki may be considered exceptional in the degree of his criticism of the society, others developed critical antifeudal worldviews that were directly or indirectly influenced by empirical science and Western studies. Miura Baien of Kyushu called his learning jōrigaku (“rational studies”); it contained a dialectical method of thought that, rejecting the fixed “way” of orthodox Neo-Confucianism, saw the world as being constantly in flux. The naturalist Hiraga Gennai, from the Takamatsu domain in Shikoku, rejected the restricted life of the warrior; he became a rōnin and moved to Edo, where he thought and acted freely. As an advocate of the idea that Japan prevent the outflow of gold and silver by promoting domestic production and exchanging these products for foreign goods, Hiraga agreed substantially with Tanuma Okitsugu's desire to promote the production of various goods. Hiraga was employed by Tanuma and sent to Nagasaki. While experimenting with such things as dynamos and thermometers, Gennai gave full play to his genius by cultivating sugarcane and carrots, producing Dutch-style pottery, and surveying and developing mines in various provinces of the country. He also produced a number of significant works as a dramatist.

      Two other noteworthy scholars of the late 18th and early 19th century were Shiba Kōkan and Yamagata Bantō. An artist who began within the Kanō school tradition and then studied ukiyo-e with Harunobu, Kōkan was widely influenced by Dutch studies and Western rationalism in general. He is known as the pioneer of etching in Japan; but in his writings, Kōkan also criticized the Tokugawa status system on the ground that the emperor and the beggar were similar human beings, thus insisting on human equality. Bantō was chief manager for a wealthy Ōsaka merchant and a noted student of the Kaitokudō, discussed above. In his work Yume no shiro (“Instead of Dreams”), he reconstructed Japanese history in the age of gods on the basis of natural science.

Growth of popular knowledge
      The common people of the Tokugawa period, both urban and rural dwellers, by the very fact of their integration into a nationwide economic system of some technological sophistication, were increasingly reared in a world of empirical knowledge; and their self-awareness as human beings rose accordingly. At the outset of the period only a handful of upper-class farmers, such as the shōya or nanushi, or urban merchants were literate; by the end of this period, with the exception of the very lowest class, farmers were all at least partly literate. This spread of literacy was to some extent facilitated by the diffusion of temple schools (terakoya), the educational organs of the common people. In any case, there was a marked growth in popular knowledge over the two and half centuries of Tokugawa rule. As an example, “village conflicts” (murakata sōdō) became more fierce in the later part of this period, as the farmers sought to censure the improper acts of village officials and to make the village more democratic. Leadership in these conflicts was often taken by middle- and lower-class farmers, demonstrating how far peasant self-consciousness and sociopolitical sophistication had progressed.

Religious attitudes
      Despite official hostility toward systems of thought and belief other than Neo-Confucianism, Buddhism nonetheless retained a strong influence over the lives of the common people. For example, the medieval sects of Jōdo, Jōdo Shin, Zen, and Nichiren (Nichiren Buddhism) made striking advances during the Edo period, if only because their temples (temple) were guaranteed privileged status by the implementation of the terauke (“temple certificate”) system of the bakufu. Besides their previous roles conducting funeral rites and other more strictly “religious” functions, they now were charged with the official state functions of registering citizens and conducting the census. As they were thus exceedingly closely connected to the daily lives of the people, the continued existence of Buddhist temples was guaranteed. Though hardly a new phenomenon, more people in Edo times tended to engage in what was termed genze riyaku—i.e., they prayed for happiness during their lifetime, such as for commercial prosperity or restoration of health—rather than wait for happiness after their death, as had been more common in medieval Buddhism. In response to these practical desires and needs, temples conducted various ceremonies and concocted other means to increase their income. Two of the most important such ceremonies were kaichō (“displaying temple treasures”) and tomitsuki. Kaichō consisted of allowing the people to worship a Buddhist image that was normally kept concealed and not generally displayed. Gradually this ceremony came to be performed by transporting the image to other cities and villages for display. Tomitsuki was an officially authorized lottery, and in Edo the raffles at such temples as Yanaka Tennō, Yushima Tenjin, and the Meguro Fudō (better known as the Ryūsen Temple) were famous. Many Buddhist priests profited from these activities, and some led rather profligate private lives, providing orthodox Confucian scholars reasons for demanding that Buddhism be stamped out. Yet, despite official disapproval, it remained important in the lives of the people.

      Various sorts of popular faiths flourished also in the cities and villages of Edo times. Shugendō (Shugen-dō), for example, was an ancient form of ascetic practice preached by itinerant monks (yamabushi), who offered prayers to cure illness or bring happiness. While its teachings centred on traditional Tendai and Shingon Buddhism, it also contained beliefs drawn from Shintō, religious Taoism, and elsewhere to meet the religious feelings of the people. A new faith in healing spirits arose, sparked by the view that human suffering could be cured only by those who had suffered similar hardships themselves; and in the late Tokugawa period there developed a belief in living gods (ikigami) who could respond to the various needs and desires of the common people and who became revered as founders (kyōso) of new religious sects (Kyōha Shintō). Among such sects were Kurozumikyō (Kurozumi-kyō), founded by Kurozumi Munetada, Konkōkyō (Konkō-kyō) of Kawate Bunjirō, and Tenrikyō of Nakayama Miki, all of which remain active in present-day Japan. People like Nakayama Miki, for example, reflected the confused social conditions of the late Tokugawa period. A peasant girl who suffered great hardship in her personal life, Nakayama became a shaman and a faith healer and attracted a widespread following. Many such people founded new religions, espousing utopian causes and leading millenarian movements; their advocacy of yo-naoshi, or relief of the world by social reform, had clear political overtones. In a similar manner, others were influenced by the growth of the cult of Shintō shrines, and periodic pilgrimages to Ise, called okage-mairi or nuke-mairi, became popular. Not only Ise but other shrines as well became the focus of popular pilgrimages; such major deities as Inari, Hachiman, and Tenjin became associated with local gods (ujigami) and developed into objects of local worship. Pilgrimages could consist of groups of several hundreds of thousands of commoners. Among these masses of Shintō pilgrims were many harbouring the same social and political hopes for yo-naoshi expressed in the faiths of the founders of new sects.

The maturity of Edo culture
      In the early 19th century the urban culture that had arisen in the 17th century reached full maturity. Supported originally by wealthy townspeople and warriors, this Edo urban culture spread widely among the urban dwellers of Japan's major cities and castle towns. In the 17th century literary and artistic production had centered in the Kyōto-Ōsaka area, but late Tokugawa culture was primarily produced in Edo. Literary styles took various forms; representative authors are Santō Kyōden in the sharebon (genre novel), Jippensha Ikku in the kokkeibon (comic novel), and Takizawa Bakin in the yomihon (regular novel). They examined in detail such things as the townspeople's way of life, customs, conceptions of beauty, and ways of thinking. Ikku is best known for his Tōkai dōchu hizakurige (1802–22; Shank's Mare), a humorous and bawdy tale of adventures on the Tōkaidō. In contrast, Bakin's lengthy Nansō Satomi hakkenden (1814–42; “Satomi and the Eight Dogs”) is a didactic tale about the attempt to restore the fortunes of a warrior house.

  In the world of art, ukiyo-e reached maturity in both form and content and was unquestionably the most popular art form. Early wood-block printing had been simply in black and white, but artists had experimented with colour. nishiki-e, literally “brocade pictures” (wood-block printing in many colours), was invented by Suzuki Harunobu in 1765 and entered its golden age with the prints of kabuki actors by Tshūsai Sharaku and of courtesans by Kitagawa Utamaro. In the last years of the Edo period, the masters of wood-block landscape prints, Andō Hiroshige (Hiroshige) and Katsushika Hokusai (Hokusai), extended the boundaries of wood-block prints far beyond the world of the pleasure quarters. While their prints show how Japanese artists had absorbed some techniques from Western art, the popularity of their works outside Japan and influence on foreign art is a measure of the sophistication Japanese culture reached in Edo times. As a result of the development of complex transportation links and market networks between city and countryside, scholarship, literature, and art not only spread to but even was produced in regional towns and villages, where crafts and products with distinctive local colouring were supported by landlords and merchants. A national culture emerged and became the foundation of a modern Japanese culture that developed after 1868.

      Yet the spread of literacy and a nationwide culture could not mask contradictions in the political sphere. There were signs of stagnation and corruption in some aspects of Edo culture—a reflection of the crisis in the bakuhan system. The crisis had reached new levels by the 1830s. A great famine then, the result of abnormal weather conditions and resultant crop failures, lasted several years and dealt a savage blow to the impoverished villages. Both peasant uprisings and city riots over food shortages and intolerable living conditions reached unprecedented peaks. In 1836, to cite one extreme example, an uprising in Gunnai district of Kai province (Yamanashi prefecture), then under direct bakufu control, eventually attracted more than 50,000 participants and for a time reduced the centre of Kai to anarchy. The depth of the bakufu's shock can be gauged from the fact that they sentenced 562 persons to crucifixion for their part in the uprising. Just a year later in the bakufu-controlled city of Ōsaka, Ōshio Heihachirō, a former city official, led a revolt aimed at overthrowing city officials and wealthy merchants and relieving the plight of the poor. Although the uprising was speedily suppressed, the bakufu was again shocked, incredulous that a former faithful official would lead a revolt.

      At the same time that the bakufu was facing these serious domestic disturbances, the European powers also began to press more heavily upon Japan. The Opium War (Opium Wars) (1839–42) broke out between Ch'ing dynasty China and Britain, and foreign encroachments on Chinese territory following the British victory filled bakufu authorities with a sense of crisis. Tokugawa Nariaki, lord of Mito han, a Tokugawa collateral domain, urged the bakufu to institute drastic political reforms: he called the outbreak of rural and urban violence “domestic anxiety” and the pressure of the foreign powers “foreign anxiety.”

The last years of the bakuhan

The Tempō reforms (Tempō reforms)
      Thus beset by crises in both domestic and foreign affairs, the chief senior councillor (tairō), Mizuno Tadakuni, instituted the Tempō reforms, named for the Tempō era (1830–44). Based on the earlier Kōhyō and Kansei reforms and equally conservative, Tadakuni's efforts lasted only from 1841 to 1843. He revised the regulations for the government officials and encouraged the samurai to practice frugality and diligently study the literary and martial arts. He also aimed to restore the farming villages devastated by the great famine. Stricter than earlier reformers, Tadakuni planned to force temporary residents in Edo to return to their home villages and to restrict the commercial-goods production of the farmers to make them concentrate on rice farming. He tried to lower the prices of commodities in the cities through detailed regulations on the lives of townspeople. Tadakuni further ordered the dissolution of kabu nakama, the merchant and artisan guilds, since he regarded them as the cause of rising commodity prices. Concerned as well with the foreign threat, he planned to reclaim the Imba Swamp (in modern Chiba prefecture) so that food supplies could easily be conveyed to nearby Edo if Edo Bay were blockaded by foreign ships. Plans for the defense of the bay also were formulated. Tadakuni also promulgated a land-requisition (agechi) order to bring daimyo and hatamoto domains surrounding Edo and Ōsaka under direct bakufu control: the stated object of this was the defense of Edo, but it also was designed to supplement the finances of the bakufu. The agechi order was finally withdrawn, however, in the face of fierce opposition from the daimyo, hatamoto, and people of the domains affected; and, as a direct result of this failure, Tadakuni was driven from power in 1845.

      Tadakuni predicted that, thanks to his reforms, the Tokugawa regime would survive for another 30 years. It was, in fact, almost 30 years after his reforms (1867) that the bakufu was toppled by the combined forces of several tozama lords. During the Tempō period, administrative reforms were carried out in many of the domains, often with far more success than those of the bakufu. The reforms of the powerful domains in southwestern Japan—Chōshū, Satsuma, and Hizen in particular—were especially noteworthy, where middle- and lower-class samurai, motivated by a sense of loyalty to the han and frustrated at having been denied participation in domain administration, came forward as reformers. Replacing the previous conservative officials, these young reformers, often with a more realistic knowledge of the outside world gained through study in Edo, Nagasaki, and Kyōto, set about to strengthen their domains and expressed opinions on the national situation as well. Adopting the slogan “Fukoku kyōhei” (“Enrich the Country, Strengthen the Military”), these new officials were able to institute policies that improved domain finances and modernized their military capabilities. The way was thus gradually being prepared for the emergence of the leaders of the Meiji Restoration (1868) and of modern Japan.

The opening of Japan
 In 1845, when Abe Masahiro replaced Mizuno Tadakuni as head of the rōjū, there were various reactions against the Tempō reforms. Reaction against domestic reform was comparatively calm, however, and the major stumbling block facing the bakufu was the foreign problem. The Netherlands, the only European power trading with Japan, realized that, if Britain succeeded in forcing Japan to open the country, it would lose its monopoly; so the Dutch now planned to seize the initiative in opening Japan and thus to turn the situation to their own advantage. In 1844 the Dutch sent a diplomatic mission urging the bakufu to open the country, but Abe and the bakufu rulers refused this suggestion. Yet visits by foreign ships proliferated. In 1844, 1845, and 1846, British and French warships visited the Ryukyu Islands and Nagasaki to request commercial relations. In response, the bakufu in 1845 established a new office for coastal defense and various diplomatic posts. The defense system of Edo Bay also was revived, the number of domains on guard duty was increased, and new gun emplacements were built. In 1848 the bakufu decided not to revive the Order to Drive Away Foreign Ships, which had been rescinded during the Tempō reforms, but decided instead to continue extensive military preparations against potential attack.

 Rumours had long circulated among the various Western powers that the U.S. government would send an expeditionary fleet to Japan. In 1846 Commander James Biddle (Biddle, James) of the American East Indian fleet appeared with two warships in Uraga Harbour (near Yokohama) and held consultations with bakufu representatives on the question of opening commercial relations. When refused by the bakufu, Biddle returned empty-handed. The United States, however, eagerly desired ports for fuel and provisions for its Pacific merchant and whaling ships and was not willing to give up attempts to open Japan. But the bakufu had for two centuries retained its political dominance through strict adherence to the policy of seclusion, and it could not muster up the resolution necessary to open the country. Opinion among the daimyo and samurai was split between seclusion and opening the country. The opening of Japan was thus postponed until the last possible moment and had to be effected unilaterally by foreign pressure, backed by massive naval strength. This pressure was initiated by the squadron of U.S. warships commanded by Commodore Matthew C. Perry (Perry, Matthew C) that entered Uraga Bay in July 1853.

Kitajima Masamoto G. Cameron Hurst III

Japan from 1850 to 1945
 The term restoration is commonly applied to the political changes in Japan that returned power to the imperial house in 1868. In that year the boy emperor Mutsuhito—later known by his reign name Meiji, or “Enlightened Rule”—replaced the Tokugawa bakufu, or shogunate, at the political centre of the nation. Although phrased in traditional terms as a restoration of imperial rule, the changes initiated during the Meiji period (1868–1912) constituted a social and political revolution that began in the late Tokugawa period and was not completed until the promulgation of the Meiji constitution in 1889.

The fall of the Tokugawa
      The arrival of Americans and Europeans in the 1850s increased domestic tensions. The bakufu, already weakened by an eroding economic base and ossified political structure, now found itself challenged by Western powers intent on opening Japan to trade and foreign intercourse. When the bakufu, despite opposition from the throne in Kyōto, signed the Treaty of Kanagawa (Kanagawa, Treaty of) (or Perry Convention; 1854) and the Harris Treaty (1858), the shogun's claim of loyalty to the throne and his role as “subduer of barbarians” came to be questioned. To bolster his position, the shogun elicited support from the daimyo through consultation, only to discover that they were firmly xenophobic and called for the expulsion of Westerners. The growing influence of imperial loyalism, nurtured by years of peace and study, received support even within the shogunal camp from men such as Tokugawa Nariaki, the lord of Mito domain (han). Activists used the slogan “Sonnō jōi” (“Revere the emperor! Expel the barbarians!”) not only to support the throne but also to embarrass the bakufu. Nariaki and his followers sought to involve the Kyōto court directly in shogunal affairs in order to establish a nationwide program of preparedness. In this Nariaki was opposed by the bakufu's chief councillor (tairō), Ii Naosuke, who tried to steer the nation toward self-strengthening and gradual opening. But Ii's effort to restore the bakufu was short-lived. In the spring of 1860 he was assassinated by men from Mito and Satsuma. Ii's death inaugurated years of violence during which activist samurai used their swords against the hated “barbarians” and all who consorted with them. If swords proved of little use against Western guns, they exacted a heavy toll from political enemies.

      By the early 1860s the Tokugawa bakufu found itself in a dilemma. On the one hand it had to strengthen the country against foreigners. On the other it knew that providing the economic means for self-defense meant giving up shogunal controls that kept competing lords financially weak. Activist samurai, for their part, tried to push their feudal superiors into more strongly antiforeign positions. At the same time, antiforeign acts provoked stern countermeasures and diplomatic indemnities. Most samurai soon realized that expelling foreigners by force was impossible. Foreign military superiority was demonstrated conclusively with the bombardment of Kagoshima in 1863 and Shimonoseki in 1864. Thereafter, samurai activists used their antiforeign slogans primarily to obstruct and embarrass the bakufu, which retained little room to maneuver. Domestically it was forced to make antiforeign concessions to placate the loyalist camp, while foreigners were assured that it remained committed to “opening the country” and abiding by the treaties. Both sides saw it as prevaricating and ineffectual. After the arrival of the British minister Sir Harry Parkes in 1865, Great Britain, in particular, saw no reason to negotiate further with the bakufu and decided to deal directly with the imperial court in Kyōto.

      Samurai in several domains also revealed their dissatisfaction with the bakufu's management of national affairs. One domain in which the call for more direct action emerged was Chōshū (now part of Yamaguchi prefecture), which fired on foreign shipping in the Shimonoseki Strait in 1863. This led to bombardment of Chōshū's fortifications by Western ships in 1864 and a shogunal expedition that forced the domain to resubmit to Tokugawa authority. But many of Chōshū's samurai refused to accept this decision, and a military coup in 1864 brought to power, as the daimyo's counselors, a group of men who had originally led the radical antiforeign movement. Several of these had secretly traveled to England and were consequently no longer blindly xenophobic. Their aims were national—to overthrow the shogunate and create a new government headed by the emperor. The same men organized militia units that utilized Western training methods and arms and included nonsamurai troops. Chōshū became the centre for discontented samurai from other domains who were impatient with their leaders' caution. In 1866 Chōshū allied itself with neighbouring Satsuma, fearing a Tokugawa attempt to crush all opponents to create a centralized despotism with French help.

      Again shogunal armies were sent to control Chōshū in 1866. The defeat of these troops by Chōshū forces led to further loss of power and prestige. Meanwhile, the death of the shogun Iemochi in 1866 brought to power the last shogun, Yoshinobu (Tokugawa Yoshinobu), who realized the pressing need for national unity. In 1867 he resigned his powers rather than risk a full-scale military confrontation with Satsuma and Chōshū, doing so in the belief that he would retain an important place in any emerging national administration. But this was not to be. Outmaneuvered by the young Meiji emperor, who succeeded to the throne in 1867, and a few court nobles who maintained close ties with Satsuma and Chōshū, the shogun (shogunate) faced the choice of giving up his lands, which would risk revolt from his vassals, or appearing disobedient, which would justify punitive measures against him. Yoshinobu tried to move troops against Kyōto, only to be defeated. In the wake of this defeat, Satsuma, Chōshū, and Tosa units, now the imperial army, advanced on Edo, which was surrendered without battle. While sporadic fighting continued until the summer of 1869, the Tokugawa cause was doomed. In January 1868 the principal daimyo were summoned to Kyōto to learn of the restoration of imperial rule. Later that year the emperor moved into the Tokugawa castle in Edo, and the city was renamed Tokyo (“Eastern Capital”). With the emperor and his supporters now in control, the building of the modern state began.

From feudal to modern state
      The Meiji government was dominated by men from Satsuma, Chōshū, and those of the court who had sided with the emperor. They were convinced that Japan needed a unified national government to achieve military and material equality with the West. Most, like Kido Kōin (Kido Takayoshi) and Itō Hirobumi of Chōshū and Saigō Takamori and Ōkubo Toshimichi of Satsuma, were young samurai of modest rank, but they did not represent in any sense a class interest. Indeed, their measures destroyed the samurai class. In order to gain backing for their policies, they enlisted the support of leaders from domains with which they had worked—Tosa, Saga, Echizen—and court nobles like Iwakura Tomomi and Sanjō Sanetomi. The cooperation of the impressionable young emperor was essential to these efforts.

      It was believed that the West depended on constitutionalism for national unity, on industrialization for material strength, and on a well-trained military for national security. “Fukoku kyōhei” (“Enrich the country, strengthen the military”) became the Meiji slogan. Knowledge was to be sought in the West, the goodwill of which was essential for revising the unequal treaties. In 1871 Iwakura Tomomi led a large number of government officials on a mission to the United States and Europe. Their experiences strengthened convictions already formed on the requisites for modernization.

Abolition of feudalism
      The Meiji reformers began with measures that addressed the decentralized feudal structure to which they attributed Japan's weakness. In 1869 the lords of Satsuma, Chōshū, Tosa, and Saga were persuaded to return their lands to the throne. Others quickly followed suit. The court took steps to standardize the administration of the domains, appointing their former daimyo as governors. In 1871 the governor-daimyo were summoned to Tokyo and told that the domains were officially abolished. The 250 former domains now became 72 prefectures and three metropolitan districts, a number later reduced by one-third. In the process, most daimyo were eased out of administrative roles, and though rewarded with titles in a new European-style peerage in 1884, were effectively removed from political power.

      The Meiji leaders also realized that they had to end the complex class system that had existed under feudalism. Yet, it was difficult to deal with the samurai, who numbered, with dependents, almost two million in 1868. Starting in 1869 the old hierarchy was replaced by a simpler division that established three orders: court nobles and former feudal lords became kazoku (“peers”); former samurai, shizoku, and all others (including outcast groups) now became heimin (“commoners”). The samurai were initially given annual pensions, but financial duress forced the conversion of these into lump-sum payments of interest-bearing but nonconvertible bonds in 1876. Other symbolic class distinctions such as the hairstyle of samurai and the privilege of wearing swords were abolished.

      Many former samurai lacked commercial experience and squandered their bonds. Inflation also undercut their value. A national conscription system instituted in 1873 further deprived samurai of their monopoly on military service. Samurai discontent resulted in numerous revolts, the most serious occurring in the southwest, where the restoration movement had started and warriors expected the greatest rewards. An uprising in Chōshū expressed dissatisfaction with administrative measures that deprived the samurai of their status and income. In Saga, samurai called for a foreign war to provide employment for their class. The last, and by far the greatest, revolt came in Satsuma in 1877. This rebellion was led by the restoration hero Saigō Takamori and lasted six months. The imperial government's conscript levies were hard-pressed to defeat Saigō, but in the end superior transport, modern communications, and better weapons assured victory for the government. In this, as in the other revolts, issues were localized, and the loyalties of most Satsuma men in the central government remained with the imperial cause.

      Land (land reform) surveys were begun in 1873 to determine the amount and value of land based on average rice yields in recent years, and a monetary tax of 3 percent of land value was established. The same surveys led to certificates of land ownership for farmers, who were released from feudal controls. The land measures involved basic changes, and there was widespread confusion and uncertainty among farmers that expressed itself in the form of short-lived revolts and demonstrations. But the establishment of private ownership, and measures to promote new technology, fertilizers, and seeds, produced a rise in agricultural output. The land tax, supplemented by printed money, became the principal source of government revenue for several decades.

      Although it was hard-pressed for money, the government initiated a program of industrialization, which was seen as essential for national strength. Except for military industries and strategic communications, this program was largely in private hands, although the government set up pilot plants to provide encouragement. Trade and manufacturing benefited from a growing national market and legal security, but the unequal treaties enacted with foreign powers made it impossible to protect industries with tariffs until 1911.

      In the 1880s fear of excessive inflation led the government to sell its remaining plants to private investors—usually individuals with close ties to those in power. As a result, a small group of men came to dominate many industries. Collectively they became known as the zaibatsu, or financial cliques. With great opportunities and few competitors, zaibatsu firms came to dominate enterprise after enterprise. Sharing a similar vision for the country, these men maintained close ties to the government leadership. The House of Mitsui (Mitsui Group), for instance, was on friendly terms with many of the Meiji oligarchs, and that of Mitsubishi (Mitsubishi Group) was founded by a Tosa samurai who had been an associate of those within the government's inner circle.

      Equally important for building a modern state was the development of national identity. True national unity required the propagation of new loyalties among the general populace and the transformation of powerless and inarticulate peasants into citizens of a centralized state. The use of religion and ideology was vital to this process. Early Meiji policy, therefore, elevated Shintō to the highest position in the new religious hierarchy, replacing Buddhism with a cult of national deities that supported the throne. Christianity was reluctantly legalized in 1873, but, while important for some intellectuals, it was treated with suspicion by many in the government. The challenge remained how to use traditional values without risking foreign condemnation that the government was forcing a state religion upon the Japanese. By the 1890s the education system provided the ideal vehicle to inculcate the new ideological orientation. A system of universal education had been announced in 1872. For a time its organization and philosophy were Western, but during the 1880s a new emphasis on ethics emerged as the government tried to counter excessive Westernization and followed European ideas on nationalist education. In 1890 the Imperial Rescript on Education (Kyōiku Chokugo) laid out the lines of Confucian and Shintō ideology, which constituted the moral content of later Japanese education. Thus, loyalty to the emperor, who was hedged about with Confucian teachings and Shintō reverence, became the centre of a citizen's ideology. To avoid charges of indoctrination, the state distinguished between this secular cult and actual religion, permitting “religious freedom” while requiring a form of worship as the patriotic duty of all Japanese. The education system also was utilized to project into the citizenry at large the ideal of samurai loyalty that had been the heritage of the ruling class.

Constitutional movement
      Many Japanese believed that constitutions provided the unity that gave Western nations their strength. The Meiji leaders therefore sought to transform Japan in this direction. In 1868 the government experimented with a two-chamber house, which proved unworkable. Meanwhile, the emperor's charter oath of April 1868 committed the government to establishing “deliberative assemblies” and “public discussion,” to a worldwide search for knowledge, to the abrogation of past customs, and to the pursuit by all Japanese of their individual callings.

      Echoing the government's call for greater participation were voices from below. Village leaders, who had benefited from the commercialization of agriculture in the late Tokugawa period, wanted a more participatory system that could reflect their emerging bourgeois interests. Former samurai realized that a parliamentary system might allow them to recoup their lost positions. Samurai interest was sparked by a split in the government's inner circle over a proposed Korean invasion in 1873. At odds with Iwakura and Ōkubo, who insisted on domestic reform over risky foreign ventures, Itagaki Taisuke (Itagaki Taisuke, Hakushaku) and several fellow samurai from Tosa and Saga left the government in protest, calling for a popularly elected assembly so that future decisions might reflect the will of the people—by which they largely meant the former samurai. Starting with self-help samurai organizations, Itagaki expanded his movement for “freedom and popular rights” to include other groups. In 1881 he organized the Liberal Party (Jiyūtō), whose members were largely wealthy farmers. In 1880 nearly 250,000 signatures were gathered on petitions demanding a national assembly.

      Under these circumstances, the emperor requested the advice of his ministers on constitutional matters. Ōkuma Shigenobu, a leader from Saga, submitted a relatively liberal constitutional draft in 1881, which he published without official approval. He also revealed sensational evidence of corruption in the disposal of government assets in Hokkaido. For this he was forced out of the government's inner circle. Ōkuma organized the Progressive Party ( Kaishintō) in 1882 to further his British-based constitutional ideals, which attracted considerable support among urban business and journalistic communities.

      The clamour of 1881 resulted in an imperial promise of a constitution (Meiji Constitution) by 1889. Meanwhile, the parties were encouraged to await its promulgation quietly. The constitution was drafted behind the scenes by a commission headed by Itō Hirobumi and aided by the German constitutional scholar Hermann Roesler. The period of its drafting coincided with an era of great economic distress in the countryside. This provided an environment in which party agitation could easily kindle direct action and violence, and several incidents of this type led to severe government reprisals and increased police controls and press restrictions. Village leaders, confronted by unruly members of their community whose land faced imminent foreclosure, became less inclined to support liberal ideas. Consequently, the parties decided to dissolve temporarily in 1884. In the interim Itagaki traveled to Europe and returned convinced more than ever of the need for national unity in the face of Western condescension.

      Itō (Itō Hirobumi) also traveled to Europe as part of the work to prepare the new constitution. In Germany he found an appropriate balance of imperial power and constitutional forms that seemed to offer modernity without sacrificing effective control. To balance a popularly elected lower house, Itō established a new European-style peerage in 1884. Government leaders, military commanders, and former daimyo were given titles and readied for future seats in a house of peers. A cabinet system, in which ministers were directly appointed by the emperor, was installed in 1885, and a Privy Council, designed to judge and safeguard the constitution, was set up in 1888. Itō became head of the council.

      The constitution was formally promulgated in 1889, and elections for the lower house were held to prepare for the initial Diet (Kokkai), which met in 1890. The constitution took the form of a gracious gift from the sovereign to his people, and it could be amended only upon imperial initiative. Its provisions were couched in general terms. Rights and liberties were granted “except as regulated by law.” If the Diet refused to approve a budget, the one from the previous year could be followed. The emperor was “sacred and inviolable”; he commanded the armies, made war and peace, and dissolved the lower house at will. Effective power thus lay with the executive, which could claim to represent the imperial will. The rescript on education guaranteed that future generations would accept imperial authority without question.

      Despite its antidemocratic features, the constitution provided a much greater arena for dissent and debate than had previously existed. The lower house could initiate legislation. Private property was inviolate, and freedoms, though subject to legislation, were greater than before. Even military budgets required Diet approval for increases. Initially, a tax qualification of 15 yen limited the electorate to about 500,000; this was lowered in 1900 and 1920, and in 1925 universal manhood suffrage came into effect. The government leaders found it harder to control the lower house than initially anticipated, and party leaders found it advantageous, at times, to cooperate with the oligarchs. The constitution thus basically redefined politics for both sides. It also ended the revolutionary phase of the Meiji Restoration. With the new institutions in place, the oligarchs withdrew from power and were content to maintain and conserve the ideological and political institutions they had created through their roles as elder statesmen (genrō).

The emergence of imperial Japan

 Achieving equality with the West was one of the primary goals of the Meiji leaders. Treaty reform, designed to end the foreigners' judicial and economic privileges provided by extraterritoriality and fixed customs duties was sought as early as 1871 when the Iwakura mission went to the United States and Europe. The Western powers insisted, however, that they could not revise the treaties until Japanese legal institutions were reformed along European and American lines. Efforts to reach a compromise settlement in the 1880s were rejected by the press and opposition groups in Japan. It was not until 1894, therefore, that treaty provisions for extraterritoriality were formally changed.

      During the first half of the Meiji period, Asian relations were seen as less important than domestic development. In 1874 a punitive expedition was launched against Formosa (Taiwan) to chastise the aborigines for murdering Ryukyuan fishermen. This lent support to Japanese claims to the Ryukyu Islands, which had been under Satsuma influence in Tokugawa times. Despite Chinese protests, the Ryukyus were incorporated into Japan in 1879. Meanwhile, calls for an aggressive foreign policy in Korea, aired by Japanese nationalists and some liberals, were steadily rejected by the Meiji leaders. At the same time, China became increasingly concerned about expanding Japanese influence in Korea, which China still viewed as a tributary state. Incidents on the peninsula in 1882 and 1884 that might have involved China and Japan in war were settled by compromise, and in 1885 China and Japan agreed that neither would send troops to Korea without first informing the other.

      By the early 1890s Chinese influence in Korea had increased. In 1894 Korea requested Chinese assistance in putting down a local rebellion. When the Chinese notified Tokyo of this, Japan quickly rushed troops to Korea. With the rebellion crushed, neither side withdrew. The Sino-Japanese War formally erupted in July 1894. Japanese forces proved to be superior on both land and sea, and, with the loss of its northern fleet, China sued for peace. The peace treaty negotiated at Shimonoseki (Shimonoseki, Treaty of) was formally signed on April 17, 1895; both sides recognized the independence of Korea, and China ceded to Japan Formosa, the Pescadores Islands, and the Liaotung Peninsula, granted Japan all rights enjoyed by European powers, and made significant economic concessions, including the opening of new treaty ports and a large indemnity in gold. A commercial treaty giving Japan special tax exemptions and other trade and manufacturing privileges was signed in 1896. Japan thus marked its own emancipation from the unequal treaties by imposing even harsher terms on its neighbour. Meanwhile, France, Russia, and Germany were not willing to endorse Japanese gains and forced the return of the Liaotung Peninsula to China. Insult was added to injury when Russia leased the same territory with its important naval base, Port Arthur (now Lü-shun), from China in 1898. The war thus demonstrated that the Japanese could not maintain Asian military victories without Western sufferance. At the same time, it proved a tremendous source of prestige for Japan and brought the government much internal support; it also strengthened the hand of the military in national affairs.

      Reluctant to accept Japanese leadership, Korea instead sought Russia's help. During the Boxer Rebellion (1900) in China, Japanese troops played a major part in the allied expedition to rescue foreign nationals in Beijing, but Russia occupied southern Manchuria, thereby strengthening its links with Korea. Realizing the need for protection against multiple European enemies, the Japanese began talks with England that led to the Anglo-Japanese Alliance (1902). In this pact both countries agreed to aid the other in the event of an attack by two or more powers but remain neutral if the other went to war with a single enemy. Backed by Britain, Tokyo was prepared to take a firmer stand against Russian advances in Manchuria and Korea. In 1904 Japanese ships attacked the Russian fleet at Port Arthur without warning. In the Russo-Japanese War (1904–05) that followed, Japanese arms were everywhere successful; the most spectacular victory occurred in the Tsushima (Tsushima, Battle of) Strait, where the ships of Admiral Tōgō Heihachirō destroyed the Russian Baltic fleet. But the war was extremely costly in Japanese lives and treasure, and Japan was relieved when U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt (Roosevelt, Theodore) offered to mediate a peace settlement. The Treaty of Portsmouth (Portsmouth, Treaty of), signed on September 5, 1905, gave Japan primacy in Korea, and Russia granted to Japan its economic and political interests in southern Manchuria, including the Liaotung Peninsula. Russia also ceded to Japan the southern half of the island of Sakhalin. The victory over Russia altered the balance of power in East Asia, and it encouraged nationalist movements in India and the Middle East. But at home Japan's failure to gain an indemnity to pay for the heavy war costs made the treaty unpopular.

Japanese expansionism
 After the conclusion of the war, Japanese leaders gained a free hand in Korea. Korean opposition to Japanese “reforms” was no longer tolerated. Itō Hirobumi, sent to Korea as resident general, forced through treaties that gave Korea little more than protectorate status and ordered the abdication of the Korean king. Itō's assassination in 1909 led to Korea's annexation by Japan the following year. Korean liberties and resistance were crushed. By 1912, when the Meiji emperor died, Japan had not only achieved equality with the West but also had become the strongest imperialist power in East Asia.

      Japan had abundant opportunity to use its new power in the years that followed. During World War I it fought on the Allied side but limited its activities to seizing German possessions in China and the Pacific. When China sought the return of former German holdings in Shantung province, Japan responded with the so-called Twenty-one Demands, issued in 1915, that tried to pressure China into widespread concessions ranging from extended leases in Manchuria and joint control of China's coal and iron resources to policy matters regarding harbours and the policing of Chinese cities. While giving in on a number of specific issues, the Chinese resisted the most extreme Japanese demands that would have turned China into a Japanese ward. Despite its economic gains, Japan's World War I China policy left behind a legacy of ill feeling and distrust, both in China and in the West. The rapaciousness of Japanese demands and China's chagrin at its failure to recover its losses in the Treaty of Versailles (1919) cost Japan any hope of Chinese friendship. Subsequent Japanese sponsorship of corrupt warlord regimes in Manchuria and North China helped to confirm the anti-Japanese nature of modern Chinese nationalism.

      The part played by Japan in the Allied intervention in Siberia following the Bolshevik Revolution of 1918 caused further concerns about Japanese expansion. One of the principal reasons for the disarmament conference held in Washington (Washington Conference), D.C., in 1921–22, was to reduce Japanese influence. A network of treaties was designed to place restraints on Japanese ambitions while guaranteeing Japanese security. These treaties included a Four-Power Pact, between Japan, Great Britain, the United States, and France, that replaced the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, and a Five-Power Naval Limitation Treaty (with Italy) that set limits for battleships at a ratio of five for Great Britain and the United States to three for Japan. An agreement on the fortification of Pacific island bases was intended to assure Japan of security in its home waters. Finally a Nine-Power Pact would, it was hoped, protect China from further unilateral demands. Japan subsequently agreed to retire from Shantung, and, shortly thereafter, Japanese armies withdrew from Siberia and northern Sakhalin. In 1925 a treaty with the Soviet Union extended recognition to the U.S.S.R. and ended active hostilities.

      Thus, by the mid-1920s Japan's great surge forward in Asia and the Pacific had ended. This brought hope that a new quality of moderation and reasonableness, based on the absence of irritating reminders of inferiority and weakness, might characterize Japanese policy.

Constitutional government
      The inauguration of parliament in 1890 was accompanied by a vigorous and often obstreperous opposition in the lower house, and it was only a general determination to convince Western skeptics that constitutional government could work in Japan that forced party and government leaders to cooperate. The first cabinets, led by Yamagata Aritomo, Matsukata Masayoshi, and Itō, maintained the principle that the government, which represented the emperor, must be aloof from parties and that the lower house should approve government requests. This policy failed because the parties tried to increase their power and patronage and therefore sought cabinets responsible to the Diet. Only the Sino-Japanese War produced the kind of unity the constitution's makers had envisaged. Thereafter, the oligarchs formed alliances with the two parties, usually exchanging cabinet seats for support in the lower house. These arrangements proved unsatisfactory, however, when party leaders raised their sights. In 1898 Itagaki (Itagaki Taisuke, Hakushaku) and Ōkuma (Ōkuma Shigenobu) combined forces to form a single party, the Constitutional Party (Kenseitō), and were allowed to form a government. But their alliance was brittle as long-standing animosities and jealousies enabled antiparty forces among the bureaucracy and oligarchy to force their resignation within a few months.

      A discernible division developed among the dwindling group of Meiji leaders. Yamagata Aritomo dominated the army and much of the bureaucracy. In power for two years after the Kenseitō cabinet, he strengthened legal and institutional safeguards against rule by political parties and secured an imperial ordinance that service ministers should be career officers on active duty; this gave the army and navy power to break cabinets. Meanwhile, Itō Hirobumi endorsed the party trend by forming the Friends of Constitutional Government Party ( Rikken Seiyūkai) in 1900, which enlisted most of the former followers of Itagaki's Jiyūtō. Thereafter, practical political goals of power and patronage softened the hostility between oligarchs and politicians.

      After 1901 both Itō and Yamagata retired from active participation in politics, and until 1913 cabinets were led by their protégés Saionji Kimmochi and Katsura Tarō. Basic decisions on politics and policy, however, continued to be made by the elder statesmen, who advised the emperor on all important matters and selected prime ministers by rotating power between the two principal factions. Saionji (Saionji Kimmochi) was the last leader recruited into this extraconstitutional body.

      With the death or enfeeblement of the first generation of oligarchs, the pattern of political manipulation changed. No subsequent group could match the prestige of the Meiji leaders. The Meiji emperor died in 1912 and was succeeded by a son who took the reign name Taishō (“Great Righteousness”; reigned 1912–26); but mental illness prevented him from approximating his father's fame. The growing prestige and power of businessmen found expression in their control of the political parties and resulted in an increasing role for professional party politicians. The genrō's last attempt to seat Katsura in 1912 ended in failure, while his successor, Admiral Yamamoto Gonnohyōe, was discredited by scandals in naval procurement. Ōkuma Shigenobu emerged from retirement to head a cabinet during World War I and was succeeded by a military cabinet under General Terauchi Masatake (Terauchi Masatake, Count). In 1918, however, discontent with Terauchi's reactionary posture and administrative incompetence combined with the rising power of the party professionals to bring about the appointment of Hara Takashi (Hara Kei) as prime minister. Hara was the first nontitled person to hold that office, and his appointment marked the first party cabinet. His assassination in 1921 cut short his cautious efforts to rein in military and bureaucratic power and extend the franchise. After several short-lived cabinets, a successful party cabinet was organized by Katō Takaaki in 1924. The army was reduced in size, moderate social legislation was enacted, and universal manhood suffrage extended the franchise to some 14 million voters. Meanwhile, Japan avoided stronger involvement in the civil war in China and pursued a conciliatory course with the Soviet Union, despite demands from nationalists, who utilized alleged outrages in China and the discriminatory U.S. Immigration Act of 1924 to warn of the futility of cooperating with Western countries.

      But, as the parties grew in power, they tended to look to bureaucrats for leadership. The businessmen who supported the parties and the bureaucrats who led them shared a fear of the social movements that followed industrialization and the importation of foreign ideas. A growing labour movement already had been checked by a special police law introduced in 1900. This was strengthened under Katō in 1925 as conservatives generally began to fear subversion in labour and tenant movements. Their anxieties mounted after the Japan Communist Party (JCP) was organized in 1922, and interest in Marxism expanded in intellectual circles. Under the Meiji constitution, party cabinets had to make peace with the military, the House of Peers, and the conservatives close to the throne. Therefore, they needed to work out their ideas for reform with utmost caution. The Diet often found itself virtually powerless, which led to disorder and corruption that did little to win popular support for representative government. The Meiji constitution was so ambiguous in assigning executive power that without institutional reform the party prime ministers could do little but compromise with forces antagonistic to democratic government.

      Social and intellectual changes taking place in Japan were as important as those in politics. Many were closely related to the growth and development of industry. After the Treaty of Shimonoseki the government used the Chinese indemnity to subsidize the Yawata Iron and Steel Works in northern Kyushu, which came into production in 1901 and greatly expanded Japan's heavy industrial sector. At the same time, textile and other consumer-goods industries expanded to meet Japanese needs and to earn credits required for the import of raw materials. Heavy industry was encouraged by government-controlled banks, which provided needed capital. Strategic industries, notably steel and the principal rail lines, were in state hands, but most new growth was in the private sector.

      By 1900 Japan's population had expanded to nearly 45 million from a late Tokugawa base of about 30 million. Increasing numbers of Japanese were attracted to urban industrial centres. At the same time, domestic food production was hard-pressed to stay abreast of population increases. Agricultural productivity, after early improvements, slowed and stagnated, and it became necessary to import food.

      The enlarged urban population produced movements of social inquiry and protest. In 1895 the industrial labour force numbered about 400,000, the majority of which were women employed in the textile mills. Several efforts to organize socialist movements met with police repression. Peace-preservation laws were passed in 1900 and 1925 to inhibit labour organization, and in 1928 it became a capital crime to agitate against private property or the Japanese “national polity” (kokutai). In 1903 a small group organized the Heimin shimbun (“Commoner's Newspaper”); it published The Communist Manifesto and opposed the Russo-Japanese War before being forced to cease publication. The socialist movement gained strength after World War I, but its program was often theoretical and doctrinaire, and its leaders found it difficult to make contact with workers. Police repression and the difficulties of organizing a labour movement among large numbers of women workers (who worked under three-year contracts before leaving to get married) and diverse industrial empires such as Mitsui and Mitsubishi also hampered union organizers. Meanwhile, the increasing confidence and power of management came to influence, and at times control, the political parties.

      In the countryside the principal reflection of Japan's growing involvement in the world economy was the increased production of silkworms, which augmented farm income. At the same time, rural Japan provided the bulk of the labourers for the new industries, and daughters from farming families were found in many textile plants. But the early 20th century was not a time of agricultural prosperity. Colonial competition tended to depress domestic agricultural prices. Farmers also were handicapped by growing fragmentation of holdings and increasing tenancy. The rising number of tenants resulted in an expansion of tenant organizations, especially during and after World War I. Government efforts to address the situation resulted in little more than a law in 1924 that called for mediation of landlord-tenant disputes. A financial panic in 1927 aggravated rural conditions and indebtedness, even before the collapse of the American silk market in 1929 spelled disaster for farmers and workers alike. In social terms, the countryside remained poor, traditional, and largely undeveloped.

      The most lasting social changes were found in the great metropolitan centres, where a growing labour force and new middle class were concentrated. The Tokyo-Yokohama area was devastated by the great Kantō earthquake of September 1923, and the region's reconstruction as a modern metropolis symbolized the growth of the urban society. Cultural interests during and after World War I were uniformly international and largely American in inspiration. Western music, dancing, and sports became popular, and rising urban living standards and expectations produced the need for more and better higher education. The participation of women in office work and other new occupations, and the rise of a feminist movement, however unsuccessful, marked the beginning of changes in the family system.

      The educated class grew in size and vigour. Currents of thought included Western-style democracy and the new radicalism of the Soviet Union; the Marxist influence went far beyond the ranks of the struggling Communist Party—which, in any event, was soon crushed by the police. Political liberalism was championed by the educator and politician Yoshino Sakuzō, who formed a group of students and intellectuals into the New Peoples Association (Shinjinkai), which represented a self-conscious break with tradition. Minobe Tatsukichi, a distinguished constitutional theorist, introduced the idea that the emperor was an organ of the state and not the sole source of sovereignty. Such men faced sharp criticism and, in time, were forced to resign their positions, but they had great influence, both symbolizing and stimulating the world of advanced ideas.

      The base for these new currents, however, was precarious. Politically and institutionally, no advances—beyond the suffrage act of 1925—were made, while the peace-preservation laws of 1928 established a special police corps to ferret out “dangerous thoughts.” The economic well-being of the urban classes depended on the continued expansion of international trade. When the worldwide financial collapse at the end of the decade wrecked Japan's foreign markets and removed the possibility of villagers augmenting their meagre incomes from rice farming with silk production, and when the venality, irresponsibility, and occasional corruption of Diet representatives was contrasted to the poverty found in many parts of Japan, numerous Japanese were prepared to listen to charges that the political-party government, dominated by selfish zaibatsu interests, had neglected Japan's markets in China, imperiled morality and decency at home, and allowed subversive trends to flourish, while politicians reaped personal fortunes.

The rise of the militarists
 The notion that expansion through military conquest would solve Japan's economic problems gained currency during the Great Depression of the 1930s. It was argued that the rapid growth of Japan's population—which stood at close to 65 million in 1930—necessitated large food imports. To sustain such imports, Japan had to be able to export. Western tariffs limited exports, while discriminatory legislation in many countries and anti-Japanese racism served as barriers to emigration. Chinese and Japanese efforts to secure racial equality in the League of Nations covenant had been rejected by Western statesmen. Thus, it was argued, Japan had no recourse but to use force.

The weakening of party government
      To these economic and racial arguments was added the military's distrust of party government. The Washington Conference had allowed a smaller ratio of naval strength than the navy desired, while the government of Prime Minister Hamaguchi Osachi in 1930 had accepted the London Naval Conference's limits on heavy cruisers over military objections. In 1925 Katō Takaaki had cut the army by four divisions. Many military men objected to the restraint shown by Japan toward the Chinese Nationalists' northern expedition of 1926 and 1927 and wanted Japan to take a harder line in China. Under Prime Minister Tanaka Giichi (Tanaka Giichi, Baron) the Seiyūkai cabinet reversed earlier policy by intervening in Shantung in 1927 and 1928. But Tanaka was replaced by Hamaguchi in 1929, and under his cabinet the policy of moderation was restored. The army and its supporters felt that such vacillation earned Japan ill will and boycotts in China without gaining any advantages.

      While many military leaders chafed under the restrictions that civilian governments placed upon them, they still retained considerable power. It would be wrong to attribute such resentment to all, or even most, of the high command, but enough army officers held such views to become a locus for dissatisfaction among other groups in Japanese society. The idea of the frugal and selfless samurai served as a useful contrast to the stock portrait of the selfish party politician.

      Economic pressures and political misgivings were further exploited by civilian ultranationalists who portrayed parliamentary government as being “un-Japanese.” A number of rightist organizations existed that were dedicated to the theme of internal purity and external expansion. These sought to preserve what they thought was unique in the Japanese spirit and fought against excessive Western influence. Some originated in the Meiji period, when nationalists had felt obliged to work for a “fundamental settlement” of differences with Russia. Most, like the Black Dragon Society (Kokuryūkai), combined continental adventurism and a strong nationalist stance with opposition to party government, big business, acculturation, and Westernization. By allying with other rightists, they alternately terrorized and intimidated their presumed opponents. A number of business leaders and political figures were killed, and the assassins' success in publicizing and dramatizing the virtues they claimed to embody had a considerable impact on the troubled 1930s. It is clear, however, that the terrorists never had as much influence as they claimed or as the West believed.

      The principal force against parliamentary government was provided by junior military officers, who were largely from rural backgrounds. Distrustful of their senior leaders, ignorant of political economy, and contemptuous of the urban luxuries of politicians, such officers were ready marks for rightist theorists. Many of them had goals that were national-socialist in character. Kita Ikki, a former socialist and one-time member of the Black Dragon Society, contended that the Meiji constitution should be suspended in favour of a revolutionary regime advised by “national patriots” and headed by a military government, which should nationalize large properties, limit wealth, end party government and the peerage, and prepare to take the leadership of a revolutionary Asia. Kita helped persuade a number of young officers to take part in the violence of the 1930s with the hope of achieving these ends.

Aggression in Manchuria
      The Kwantung Army, which occupied the Kwantung (Liaotung) Peninsula and patrolled the South Manchurian Railway zone, included officers who were keenly aware of Japan's continental interests and were prepared to take steps to further them. They hoped to place the civilian government in an untenable position and to force its hand. The Tokyo terrorists similarly sought to change foreign as well as domestic policies. The pattern of direct action in Manchuria began with the murder in 1928 of Chang Tso-lin (Zhang Zuolin), the warlord ruler of Manchuria. The action, though not authorized by the Tanaka government, helped bring about its fall. Neither the cabinet nor the Diet dared to investigate and punish those responsible. This convinced extremist officers that their lofty motives would make retribution impossible. The succeeding government of Prime Minister Hamaguchi sought to curtail military activists and their powers. The next plots, therefore, were aimed at replacing civilian rule, and Hamaguchi was mortally wounded by an assassin in 1930. In March 1931 a coup involving highly placed army generals was planned but abandoned.

      On September 18, 1931, came the Mukden (Mukden Incident) (or Manchurian) Incident, which launched Japanese aggression in East Asia. A Kwantung Army charge that Chinese soldiers had tried to bomb a South Manchurian Railway train (which arrived at its destination safely) resulted in a speedy and unauthorized capture of Mukden (now Shen-yang), followed by the occupation of all Manchuria. The civilian government in Tokyo could not stop the army, and even army headquarters was not always in full control of the field commanders. Prime Minister Wakatsuki Reijirō gave way in December 1931 to Inukai Tsuyoshi. Inukai's plans to stop the army by imperial intervention were frustrated. On May 15, 1932, naval officers took the lead in a terrorist attack in Tokyo that cost Inukai his life but failed to secure a proclamation of martial law. The army now announced that it would accept no party cabinet. To forestall its desire for power, the last genrō, Saionji, suggested retired Admiral Saitō Makoto as prime minister. Plotting continued, culminating in a revolt of a regiment about to leave for Manchuria. On February 26, 1936, several outstanding statesmen (including Saitō) were murdered; Prime Minister Okada Keisuke escaped when the assassins mistakenly shot his brother-in-law. For more than three days the rebel units held much of downtown Tokyo. When the revolt was put down on February 29, the ringleaders were quickly arrested and executed. Within the army, the influence of the young extremists now gave way to more conservative officers and generals who were less concerned with domestic reform, while sharing many of the foreign-policy goals of the young fanatics.

      The only possible source of prestige sufficient to thwart the military lay with the throne. But the senior statesmen were cautious lest they imperil the imperial institution itself. The young emperor Hirohito had been enthroned in 1926, taking as his reign name Shōwa (“Enlightened Peace”). His outlook was more progressive than that of his predecessors; he had traveled in the West, and his interests lay in marine biology. Those close to the throne feared that a strong stand by the emperor would only widen the search for victims and could lead to his dethronement. As international criticism of Japan's aggression grew, many Japanese rallied to support the army.

The road to World War II
 Each advance by the military extremists gained them new concessions from the moderate elements in the government and brought greater foreign hostility and distrust. Rather than oppose the military, the government agreed to reconstitute Manchuria as an “independent” state, Manchukuo. The last Manchu emperor of China, P'u-i, was declared regent and later enthroned as emperor in 1934. Actual control lay with the Kwantung Army, however; all key positions were held by Japanese, with surface authority vested in cooperative Chinese and Manchu. A League of Nations (Nations, League of) committee recommended in October 1932 that Japanese troops be withdrawn, Chinese sovereignty restored, and a large measure of autonomy granted to Manchuria. The League called upon member states to withhold recognition from the new puppet state. Japan's response was to formally withdraw from the world body in 1933. Thereafter, Japan poured technicians and capital into Manchukuo, exploiting its rich resources to establish the base for the heavy-industry complex that was to undergird its “new order” in East Asia.

Events in China
      In northern China, boundary areas were consolidated in order to enlarge Japan's economic sphere. In early 1932 the Japanese navy precipitated an incident at Shanghai in order to end a boycott of Japanese goods; but Japan was not yet prepared to challenge other powers for control of central China, and a League of Nations commission arranged terms for a withdrawal. By 1934, however, Japan had made it clear that it would brook no interference in its China policy and that Chinese attempts to procure technical or military assistance elsewhere would bring Japanese opposition.

      Further external ambitions had to wait, however, for the resolution of domestic crises. The military revolt in Tokyo in February 1936 marked the high point of extremist action. In its wake power shifted to the military conservatives. Moreover, the finance minister Takahashi Korekiyo, whose policies had brought Japan out of its economic depression, was killed, and his opposition to further inflationary spending was thus stilled. In politics, the confrontation between the parties and the army continued. Efforts to find a leader who could represent both military and civilian interests led to the appointment to the premiership of the popular but ineffective Konoe Fumimaro, scion of an ancient court family, in 1937. Meanwhile, in China the Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek had been kidnapped in the Sian Incident (Xi'an Incident) in December 1936, and this led to an anti-Japanese united front by Nationalists and Communists. Domestic politics revealed, moreover, that the Japanese people were not yet prepared to renounce their parliamentary system. In the spring of 1937, general elections showed startling gains for the new Social Mass (or Social Masses) Party (Shakai Taishūtō), which received 36 out of 466 seats, and a heavy majority of the remainder went to the Seiyūkai and Minseitō, which had combined forces against the government and its policies. The time seemed ready for new efforts by civilian leaders, but in the field the armies preempted them.

      On July 7, 1937, Japanese troops engaged Chinese units at the Marco Polo Bridge (Marco Polo Bridge Incident) near Beijing, leading to warfare (Sino-Japanese War) between China and Japan. Japanese armies took Nanking, Han-k'ou (Hankow), and Canton despite vigorous Chinese resistance; Nanking was brutally pillaged by Japanese troops. To the north, Inner Mongolia and China's northern provinces were invaded. On discovering that the Nationalist government, which had retreated up the Yangtze to Chungking, refused to compromise, the Japanese installed a more cooperative regime at Nanking in 1940.

      In November 1936 Japan signed the Anti-Comintern Pact with Germany and later with Italy. This was replaced by the Tripartite Pact in September 1940, which recognized Japan as the leader of a new order in Asia; Japan, Germany, and Italy agreed to assist each other if they were attacked by any additional power not yet at war with them. The intended target was the United States, since the Soviets (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) and Nazis (Third Reich) had already signed a nonaggression pact in 1939, and the Soviets were invited to join the new agreement later in 1940.

      Japanese relations with the Soviet Union were considerably less cordial than those with Germany. The Soviets consented, however, to sell the Chinese Eastern Railway to the South Manchurian Railway in 1935, thereby strengthening Manchukuo. In 1937 the Soviet Union signed a nonaggression pact with China, and in 1938 and 1939 Soviet and Japanese armies tested each other in two full-scale battles along the border of Manchukuo. But in April 1941 a neutrality pact was signed with the Soviet Union, with Germany acting as intermediary.

      Japanese-German ties were never close or effective. Both parties were limited in their cooperation by distance, distrust, and claims of racial superiority. The Japanese were uninformed about Nazi plans for attacking the Soviet Union, and the Germans were not told of Japan's plans to attack Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. Nor, despite formal statements of rapport, did Japan's state structure approach the totalitarianism of the Nazis. A national-mobilization law (1938) gave the Konoe government sweeping economic and political powers, and in 1940, under the second Konoe cabinet, the Imperial Rule Assistance Association was established to merge the political parties into one central organization; yet, the institutional structure of the Meiji constitution was never altered, and the wartime governments never achieved full control over interservice competition. The Imperial Rule Assistance Association failed to mobilize all segments of national life around a leader. The emperor remained a symbol, albeit an increasingly military one, and no führer could compete without endangering the national polity. Wartime social and economic thought retained important vestiges of an agrarianism and familism that were in essence premodern rather than totalitarian.

      Japan's relations with the democratic powers deteriorated steadily. The United States and Great Britain did what they could to assist the Chinese Nationalist cause. The Burma Road into southern China permitted the transport of minimal supplies to Nationalist forces. Constant Japanese efforts to close this route led to further tensions between Great Britain and Japan. Anti-Japanese feeling strengthened in the United States, especially after the sinking of a U.S. gunboat in the Yangtze River in 1937. In 1939 U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull (Hull, Cordell) renounced the 1911 treaty of commerce with Japan, and thus embargoes became possible in 1940. President Franklin Roosevelt (Roosevelt, Franklin D.)'s efforts to rally public opinion against aggressors included efforts to stop Japan, but, even after war broke out in Europe in 1939, American public opinion rejected involvement abroad.

World War II and defeat

Prologue to war
      The European war presented the Japanese with tempting opportunities. After the Nazi attack on Russia in 1941, the Japanese were torn between German urgings to join the war against the Soviets and their natural inclination to seek richer prizes from the European colonial territories to the south. In 1940 Japan occupied northern Indochina in an attempt to block access to supplies for the Chinese Nationalists, and in July 1941 it announced a joint protectorate with Vichy France over the whole colony. This opened the way for further moves into Southeast Asia.

      The United States reacted to the occupation of Indochina by freezing Japanese assets and embargoing oil. The Japanese now faced the choices of either withdrawing from Indochina, and possibly China, or seizing the sources of oil production in the Dutch East Indies. Negotiations with Washington were initiated by the second Konoe (Konoe Fumimaro) cabinet. Konoe was willing to withdraw from Indochina, and he sought a personal meeting with Roosevelt, hoping that any U.S. concessions or favours would strengthen his hand against the military. But the State Department refused to agree to such a meeting without prior Japanese concessions. Having failed in his negotiations, Konoe resigned in October 1941 and was immediately succeeded by his war minister, General Tōjō Hideki. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Hull rejected Japan's “final offer”: Japan would withdraw from Indochina after China had come to terms in return for U.S. promises to resume oil shipments, cease aid to China, and unfreeze Japanese assets. With Japan's decision for war made, the negotiators received instructions to continue to negotiate, but preparations for the opening strike against the U.S. fleet at Pearl Harbor were already in motion. Japan's war aims were to establish a “new order in East Asia,” built on a “coprosperity” concept that placed Japan at the centre of an economic bloc consisting of Manchuria, Korea, and North China that would draw on the raw materials of the rich colonies of Southeast Asia, while inspiring these to friendship and alliance by destroying their previous masters. In practice, “East Asia for the Asiatics,” the slogan that headed the campaign, came to mean “East Asia for Japan.”

Early successes
 The attack on Pearl Harbor (Pearl Harbor attack) (December 7 [December 8 in Japan], 1941) achieved complete surprise and success. It also unified American opinion and determination to see the war through to a successful conclusion. The Japanese had expected that, once they fortified their new holdings, a reconquest would be so expensive in lives and treasure that it would discourage the “soft” democracies. Instead, the U.S. fleet was rebuilt with astonishing speed, and the chain of defenses was breached before the riches of the newly conquered territories could be effectively tapped by Japan.

      The first years of the war brought Japan great success. In the Philippines, Japanese troops occupied Manila in January 1942, although Corregidor held out until May; Singapore fell in February, and the Dutch East Indies and Rangoon (Burma) in early March. The Allies had difficulty maintaining communications with Australia, and British naval losses promised the Japanese navy further freedom of action. Tōjō grew in confidence and popularity and began to style himself somewhat in the manner of a fascist leader. But the U.S. Navy had not been permanently driven from the South Pacific. The Battle of Midway (Midway, Battle of) in June 1942 cost the Japanese fleet four aircraft carriers and many seasoned pilots, and the battle for Guadalcanal (Guadalcanal, Battle of) Island in the Solomons ended with Japanese withdrawal in February 1943.

Japan on the defensive
      After Midway, Japanese naval leaders secretly concluded that Japan's outlook for victory was poor. When the fall of Saipan in July 1944 brought U.S. bombers within range of Tokyo, the Tōjō cabinet was replaced by that of Koiso Kuniaki. Koiso formed a supreme war-direction council designed to link the cabinet and the high command. Many in government realized that the war was lost, but none had a program for ending the war that was acceptable to the military. There were also grave problems in breaking the news to the Japanese people, who had been told only of victories. Great firebombing raids in 1945 brought destruction to every major city except the old capital of Kyōto; but the generals were bent on continuing the war, confident that a major victory or protracted battle would help gain honourable terms. The Allied talk of unconditional surrender provided a good excuse to continue the fight.

      In February 1945 the emperor met with a group of senior statesmen to discuss steps that might be taken. When U.S. landings were made on Okinawa in April, the Koiso government fell. The problem of the new premier, Admiral Suzuki Kantarō (Suzuki Kantarō, Danshaku), was not whether to end the war but how best to do it. The first plan advanced was to ask the Soviet Union, which was still at peace with Japan, to intercede with the Allies. The Soviet government had agreed, however, to enter the war; consequently, its reply was delayed while Soviet leaders participated in the Potsdam Conference in July. The Potsdam Declaration issued on July 26 offered the first ray of hope with its statement that Japan would not be “enslaved as a race, nor destroyed as a nation.”

The end of the war
      Atomic bombs (atomic bomb) largely destroyed the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, respectively. On August 8 the Soviet Union declared war and the next day marched into Manchuria, where the Kwantung Army could offer only token resistance. The Japanese government attempted to gain as its sole condition for surrender a qualification for the preservation of the imperial institution; after the Allies agreed to respect the will of the Japanese people, the emperor insisted on surrender. The Pacific war came to an end on August 14 (August 15 in Japan). The formal surrender was signed on September 2 in Tokyo Bay aboard the battleship USS Missouri.

      Military extremists attempted unsuccessfully to prevent the radio broadcast of the emperor's announcement to the nation. There were a number of suicides among the military officers and nationalists who felt themselves dishonoured, but the emperor's prestige and personal will, once expressed, sufficed to bring an orderly transition. To increase the appearance of direct rule, the Suzuki cabinet was replaced by that of Prince Higashikuni Naruhiko.

      Postwar investigators concluded that neither the atomic bombs nor the Soviet entry into the war was central to the decision to surrender, although they probably helped to advance the date. It was determined that submarine blockade of the Japanese islands had brought economic defeat by preventing exploitation of Japan's new colonies, sinking merchant tonnage, and convincing Japanese leaders of the hopelessness of the war. Bombing brought the consciousness of defeat to the people. The destruction of the Japanese navy and air force jeopardized the home islands. Japan's largest armies, however, were never defeated, and this was responsible for the army's eagerness to fight on. By the end of the war, Japan's cities were destroyed, its stockpiles exhausted, and its industrial capacity gutted. The government stood without prestige or respect. An alarming shortage of food and rising inflation threatened what remained of national strength.

Japan since 1945
The early postwar decades

      From 1945 to 1952 Japan was under Allied military occupation, headed by the Supreme Commander for Allied Powers (SCAP), a position held by U.S. General Douglas MacArthur (MacArthur, Douglas) until 1951. Although nominally directed by a multinational Far Eastern Commission in Washington, D.C., and an Allied Council in Tokyo—which included the United States, the Soviet Union, China, and the Commonwealth countries—the occupation was almost entirely an American affair. While MacArthur developed a large General Headquarters in Tokyo to carry out occupation policy, supported by local “military government” teams, Japan, unlike Germany, was not governed directly by foreign troops. Instead, SCAP relied on the Japanese government and its organs, particularly the bureaucracy, to carry out its directives.

      The occupation, like the Taika Reform of the 7th century and the Meiji Restoration 80 years earlier, represented a period of rapid social and institutional change that was based on the borrowing and incorporation of foreign models. General principles for the proposed governance of Japan had been spelled out in the Potsdam Declaration and elucidated in U.S. government policy statements drawn up and forwarded to MacArthur in August 1945. The essence of these policies was simple and straightforward: the demilitarization of Japan, so that it would not again become a danger to peace; democratization, meaning that, while no particular form of government would be forced upon the Japanese, efforts would be made to develop a political system under which individual rights would be guaranteed and protected; and the establishment of an economy that could adequately support a peaceful and democratic Japan.

      MacArthur himself shared the vision of a demilitarized and democratic Japan and was well suited to the task at hand. An administrator of considerable skill, he possessed elements of leadership and charisma that appealed to the defeated Japanese. Brooking neither domestic nor foreign interference, MacArthur enthusiastically set about creating a new Japan. He encouraged an environment in which new forces could and did rise, and, where his reforms corresponded to trends already established in Japanese society, they played a vital role in Japan's recovery as a free and independent nation.

      In the early months of the occupation, SCAP acted swiftly to remove the principal supports of the militarist state. The armed forces were demobilized and millions of Japanese troops and civilians abroad repatriated. The empire was disbanded. State Shintō was disestablished, and nationalist organizations were abolished and their members removed from important posts. Japan's armament industries were dismantled. The Home Ministry with its prewar powers over the police and local government was abolished; the police force was decentralized and its extensive power revoked. The Education Ministry's sweeping powers over education were curtailed, and compulsory courses on ethics (shūshin) were eliminated. All individuals prominent in wartime organizations and politics, including commissioned officers of the armed services and all high executives of the principal industrial firms, were removed from their positions. An international tribunal was established to conduct war crimes trials, and seven men, including the wartime prime minister Tōjō, were convicted and hanged; another 16 were sentenced to life imprisonment.

Political reform
      The most important reform carried out by the occupation was the establishment of a new constitution. In 1945 SCAP made it clear to Japanese government leaders that revision of the Meiji constitution should receive their highest priority. When Japanese efforts to write a new document proved inadequate, MacArthur's government section prepared its own draft and presented it to the Japanese government as a basis for further deliberations. Endorsed by the emperor, this document was placed before the first postwar Diet in April 1946. It was formally promulgated on November 3 and went into effect on May 3, 1947.

      The emphasis in the new constitution was clearly on the people rather than the throne. Sovereignty now lay with the people. A 31-article bill of rights followed, with Article 9 renouncing forever “war as a sovereign right of the nation” and pledging that “land, sea and air forces” would “never be maintained.” The emperor, no longer “sacred” or “inviolable,” was now described as the “symbol of the state and of the unity of the people.” The constitution called for a bicameral Diet, with the greatest power concentrated in the House of Representatives, members of which would now be elected by both men and women. The old peerage was dissolved, and the House of Peers was replaced by a House of Councillors. The Privy Council was abolished. The prime minister was to be chosen by the Diet from its members, and an independent judiciary was established with the right of judicial review.

      Despite its hasty preparation and foreign inspiration, the new constitution gained wide public support. Although the ruling conservatives desired to revise it after Japan regained its sovereignty in 1952, and an official commission favoured changes in the constitution in 1964, no political group in postwar Japan has been able to secure the two-thirds majority needed to make revisions. While parts of the structure established by the document have been modified through administrative actions—including a reversal of the principle of decentralization in areas such as the police, the school system, and some spheres of local administration—and while Article 9 has been compromised by the decision to form a National Police Reserve that in 1954 became the Self-Defense Forces, the basic principles of the constitution have enjoyed support among all factions in Japanese politics. Executive leadership proved to be the chief asset of the new institutions, and, with the abolition of the competing forces that had hampered the premiers of the 1930s, Japan's postwar prime ministers have found themselves firmly in charge of the administration and (with limited rearmament) the armed forces as well. Thus, responsible leadership gradually replaced the ambiguous claims of imperial rule of earlier days.

Economic and social changes
      The occupation's political democratization was reinforced by economic and social changes. SCAP was aware that political democracy in Japan required not only a weakening of the value structure of the hierarchic “family state,” which restricted the individual, but also a liberation of the Japanese people from the economic forces that reinforced such a state. With nearly half of Japan's farmers subsisting as tenants, Americans saw little hope for democracy in Japan without significant changes in the ownership of land. Occupation authorities therefore set out to establish a program of land reform that was designed to convert tenants into owner-farmers. Through legislation a plan was devised whereby landlords, many of whom lived in the cities, were forced to divest themselves of a high proportion of their holdings to the government. This land was then sold to tenants on favourable terms. Given the fact that prices were set at wartime and postwar pre-inflation rates, landlords were essentially expropriated. Still, the reforms were implemented with great efficiency and in the end proved highly successful. Supported by favourable tax and price arrangements, the majority of Japan's new owner-farmers gained control of their land, which on average consisted of about 2.5 acres (1 hectare) per farm. Benefited by agricultural subsidies and government-maintained high agricultural prices, the Japanese countryside experienced increased prosperity. Rural voters became not only the mainstay of the conservative Liberal-Democratic Party (Liberal-Democratic Party of Japan) (LDP) after its formation in 1955 (fulfilling the original American intent), but as one of Japan's most powerful lobbies they often successfully resisted agricultural trade liberalization. In a reversal of the Taishō dilemma that sprang from low domestic consumption, land reform and agricultural price supports contributed significantly to Japan's emergence as a consumer economy in the 1950s and '60s.

      Initial Allied plans had contemplated exacting heavy reparations from Japan, but the unsettled state of other Asian countries that were to have been recipients brought reconsideration. Except for Japanese assets overseas and a small number of war plants, reparations were largely limited to those worked out between Japan and its Asian victims after the Treaty of Peace with Japan was signed in 1951.

      The dissolution of Japan's great financial houses ( zaibatsu) also was an early occupation priority, but it gave way under Cold War pressures. Although the zaibatsu originally were seen as the chief potential war makers, the need for an economically viable Japan changed this perspective to viewing them as essential for economic recovery. Thus, of 1,200 concerns marked for investigation and possible dissolution, fewer than 30 were broken up by SCAP, though the major units of the zaibatsu empires—holding companies—were dissolved and their securities made available for public purchase. New legislation sought to enforce fair trading and to guard against a return to monopolies. The war itself, new postwar tax policies, and the purges that removed many top executives further undercut the largest firms. By 1950 extensive changes, although far short of those initially proposed, had taken place in the industrial world. The large banks, however, were not broken up and proved to be the centres for a measure of reconsolidation in the years after the occupation ended.

      Strengthening the influence of labour in Japan also was seen as important for the advancement of democracy. A new Ministry of Labour was established in 1947. Laws on trade unions and labour relations modeled on New Deal legislation in the United States were passed, and a strong union movement was initially encouraged. Leaders of this movement included a number of socialists and communists who had been released from prison by the occupation. But a proposed general strike in 1947 and the Cold War-induced shift toward rapid economic reconstruction, anti-inflationary policies, and a control of radicalism quickly resulted in a purge of left-wing labour leaders and an effort to bring labour under government control. In 1948 SCAP ordered the government to take steps to deprive government workers—including those in communications unions—of the right to strike. At the same time a new labour organization, the General Council of Trade Unions of Japan ( Sōhyō), was sponsored as a counterweight and gradual replacement for the Congress of Industrial Labour Unions of Japan (Sambetsu Kaigi), which had become dominated by the left. In the late 1950s Sōhyō, too, had become increasingly antigovernment and anti-American, its Marxist and socialist orientation finding a political voice in the Japan Socialist Party (Social Democratic Party of Japan) (JSP), of which it became the leading supporter.

      Postwar social legislation also provided relief from earlier restrictions. The civil code, which had supported the power of the male family head in the past, was rewritten to allow for equality between the sexes and joint inheritance rights. Women were given the right to vote and to sit in the Diet.

      Occupation authorities, convinced that democracy and equality were best inculcated through education, revised the Japanese educational system. A Fundamental Law of Education was passed in 1947, which guaranteed academic freedom, extended the length of compulsory education from six to nine years, and provided for coeducation. Americans were convinced that Japanese education had been too concerned with rote memorization and indoctrination and that what Japan needed was a curriculum that encouraged initiative and self-reliance. The prewar system of special channels that led to vocational training, higher technical schools, or universities was seen as essentially elitist, and the occupation therefore supported the standardization of grade levels so that completion of any level would allow entrance to the next. The American 6-3-3-4 structure of elementary, lower secondary, higher secondary, and undergraduate higher education was adopted. Entrance to high schools and universities came to depend on passing highly competitive examinations, which many Japanese young people still call “examination hell.” Other efforts to democratize education were made. To complement Japan's prewar elite institutions, such as Tokyo Imperial University (now the University of Tokyo), the Americans sought to encourage the establishment of prefectural universities and junior colleges. By the 1960s college and university graduates numbered nearly four times their prewar counterparts, and there were some 565 universities and junior colleges.

Political trends
      Politics under the occupation and new constitution experienced considerable flux, as many of Japan's prewar leaders found themselves purged from public office and the two prewar parties, the Seiyūkai and Minseitō, restructured themselves as the Liberal and Progressive parties, respectively (the latter eventually becoming the Japan Democratic Party). On the left wing, the socialists and communists also reorganized their respective parties. Initial postwar elections included many political splinter groups. Faced with a lack of consensus, cabinets tended to be unstable and short-lived. This was true of the first Yoshida Shigeru cabinet (1946–47), which implemented most of the early SCAP reforms only to be replaced by an equally transitory cabinet headed by the Socialist Katayama Tetsu (1947–48). A similar fate confronted Ashida Hitoshi, who became prime minister for five months in 1948. Yoshida's return to power in the fall of 1948 resulted in a more stable situation and ushered in the Yoshida era, which lasted until 1954. During those years, Japan capitalized on the economic benefits of close cooperation with the United States during the Korean War (1950–53), which laid the groundwork for national reconstruction and for the essential postwar U.S.-Japan relationship. In 1951 Yoshida achieved what he regarded as his greatest accomplishment—the restoration of national sovereignty—by taking Japan to the San Francisco peace conference. There, with the American negotiator John Foster Dulles and representatives of 47 nations, he hammered out the final details of the Treaty of Peace with Japan. The treaty was formally signed on September 8, 1951, and the occupation of Japan ended on April 28, 1952.

The era of rapid growth
      From 1952 to 1973 Japan experienced accelerated economic growth and social change. By 1952 Japan had at last regained its prewar industrial output. Thereafter, the economy expanded at unprecedented rates. At the same time, economic development and industrialization supported the emergence of a mass consumer society. Large numbers of Japanese who had previously resided in villages became urbanized; Tokyo, whose population stood at about three million in 1945, reached some nine million by 1970. Initial close ties to the United States fostered by the Mutual Security Treaty gave way to occasional tensions over American policies toward Vietnam, China, and exchange rates. The first trade frictions, over Japanese textile exports, took place at that time. Meanwhile, foreign culture, as was the case in the 1920s, greatly influenced young urban dwellers, who in the postwar period broke with their own traditions and turned increasingly to Hollywood and American popular culture for alternatives. Japan's new international image was projected and enhanced by events such as the highly successful 1964 Olympic Summer Games and the Ōsaka World Exposition of 1970.

Economic transformation
      The Korean War marked the turn from economic depression to recovery for Japan. As the staging area for the United Nations forces on the Korean peninsula, Japan profited indirectly from the war, as valuable procurement orders for goods and services were assigned to Japanese suppliers. The Japanese economy at the return of independence in 1952 was in the process of growth and change. Sustained prosperity and high annual growth rates, which averaged 10 percent in 1955–60 and later climbed to more than 13 percent, changed all sectors of Japanese life. The countryside, where farmers had benefited from land reform, began to feel the effects of small-scale mechanization and a continuous migration to industrial centres. Agricultural yields rose as improved strains of crops and modern technology were introduced, as household appliances appeared in remote villages, and as the changing patterns of urban food consumption provided an expanded market for cash crops, fruits and vegetables, and meat products. Efforts to control population growth, which had begun with the legalization of abortion in 1948 and included a national campaign to encourage family planning, showed considerable success, as the population stabilized and thereafter grew slowly. Gains in economic output, therefore, were not offset by a rapidly expanding population, and steady industrial growth brought full employment and even labour shortages.

      Two elements underscored rapid growth in the 1960s. The first was the development of a consumer economy, which was given a significant boost by Ikeda Hayato's Income Doubling Plan of 1960. This plan reaffirmed the government's responsibility for social welfare, vocational training, and education, while also redefining growth to include consumers as well as producers. The second was the new industrial policy that emerged out of the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MITI) in 1959. Under these influences the structure of the Japanese economy changed to concentrate on high-quality and high-technology products designed for domestic and foreign consumption. The production of such products also emphasized Japan's need for stable, economically advanced trading partners to replace the Asian markets to which inexpensive textiles had been sent earlier. Improvements in transportation—e.g., cargo-handling methods and bulk transport by large ore carriers and tankers—helped to remove the disadvantage of the greater distances over which Japan's products had to be shipped. Most important, the large and growing domestic market was rendering invalid earlier generalizations about Japan's need for cheap labour and captive Asian colonies to sustain its economy. The era of high growth continued until the “oil shock” of 1973: the embargo by OPEC (the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Nations). In the interim, Japan's output shifted with world currents, and its industrial expansion made it a world leader in shipbuilding, electronics, precision optical equipment, steel, automobiles, and high technology. In the 1960s Japanese exports expanded at an annual rate of more than 15 percent, and in 1965 Japan revealed the first signs that it had a trade surplus.

      A number of factors greatly aided Japan's economic resurgence during the 1950s and '60s. One was the complete destruction of the nation's industrial base by the war. This meant that Japan's new factories, using the latest developments in technology, were often more efficient than those of their foreign competitors. The Japanese became enthusiastic followers of the American statistician W. Edward Deming (Deming, W. Edwards)'s ideas on quality control and soon began producing goods that were more reliable and contained fewer flaws than those of the United States and western Europe. At the same time, Japan was able to import, under license, advanced foreign technology at relatively low cost. With the addition of a youthful and well-educated workforce, a high domestic savings rate that provided ample capital, and an activist government and bureaucracy that provided guidance, support, and subsidies, the ingredients were in place for rapid and sustained economic growth.

      Two major changes were visible in the social life of the Japanese from 1952 to 1973. The first was the significant decline in the birth rate that stabilized the Japanese population. The second was the population shift from the countryside to urban centres. In addition to birth control, such factors as a more highly educated populace, postponement of marriage in favour of education and employment, and a desire for greater independence in early adulthood contributed to changing fertility patterns—as did the increasing conviction among many couples that it was in their economic self-interest to have fewer children. But even with a stable population Japan remained one of the world's most densely populated countries.

      As population growth slowed and the economy expanded, Japan faced a labour shortage that drew workers from agriculture, as well as from small and medium enterprises, to the new large-scale industries of the cities. The resulting shift in Japan's population was dramatic. In the Meiji period the rural population of Japan stood at 85 percent of the national total; by 1945 it was approximately 50 percent, and by 1970 it had fallen to less than 20 percent. In the process, both village and urban life underwent significant changes. Factories were built in the countryside as industrialists tried to tap into the still-underemployed rural labour force. Agriculture itself became increasingly mechanized and commercialized. As sons, and even husbands, went off to the factories, women, children, and the elderly were often left to run the family farm. At the same time, the face of rural Japan changed, with hard-surfaced roads, concrete schools, factories, and sales outlets for automobiles and farm equipment replacing the once timeless thatched-roof houses. By 1970 the average farm household income had risen higher than its urban counterpart, providing considerable rural purchasing power. Television tied rural households to urban Japan and to the world beyond. Young men brought up on visions of urban life as projected by American television programs were eager to move to the cities after graduation from high school. Young women showed increasing reluctance to become farm wives, and in some instances villagers sought spouses for their sons in Southeast Asia. Rural solidarity suffered from such out-migration, and in many cases prewar village life ceased to be, as villages amalgamated into cities and struggled to develop new identities.

      Cities (urbanization) also underwent rapid change. By 1972 one in every nine Japanese lived in Tokyo and one in four lived in the Tokyo-Ōsaka industrial corridor. As the national centre for government, finance, business, industry, education, and the arts, Tokyo became a magnet for many Japanese and the quintessential expression of Japanese urban life.

      But while Tokyo and other large cities remained highly attractive, urban dwellers also faced serious problems, notably housing. Living space for most urban dwellers was infinitesimal when compared with Western societies. Although Japanese bristled when Westerners described them as living in “rabbit hutches,” apartments with 125 square feet (12 square metres) of living space—often with shared facilities—were common. Such apartments were often found in drab residential developments that pushed out at greater distances from the inner wards of major cities and required increased commuting times. The dream of owning one's home, which most urban dwellers sought to keep alive, was already becoming increasingly elusive by the 1970s. In 1972 the price of land in or near Japan's largest cities was some 25 times higher than it had been in 1955, far surpassing the rise in the average urban worker's disposable income for the same period. While government and private industry were able to provide some low-cost housing, higher-priced housing in the form of high-rise condominiums, or “mansions,” proliferated, and for most Japanese urbanites housing remained the chief flaw in Japan's postwar economic “miracle.”

      If urban life retained a number of density-induced drawbacks—which in addition to housing included few parks and open spaces, limited sewage systems, and an overcrowded transportation network of trains, subways, and buses that often required “pushers” and “pullers” to get passengers on and off—it also had its compensations in a rising standard of living and the entertainments that money afforded in splendid department stores, shopping areas, movie houses, coffee shops, bars, nightclubs and restaurants. The impact of American culture was everywhere. Young urbanites, in particular, took with gusto to jazz and rock music, pinball machines, American soft drinks and fast foods, baseball, and the freer social relations that typified American dating patterns. American fashions of dress and grooming, often set by movie and rock stars, quickly found bands of faithful imitators. Indeed, almost every American fad from the hula hoop to hang gliding had its Japanese supporters.

      Urban life also brought about changes in traditional Japanese family and gender relationships. The position of women improved, as many more now went to high schools and colleges. Most found urban employment until marriage. As arranged marriages declined and “love” matches increased, marriage customs also changed. Urban living promoted the ideal of the nuclear family, particularly as housing conditions made it difficult for the extended family to live together. Urban dwellers found themselves less dependent on the goodwill of their neighbours. There was also less need for the conformity that typified rural life—although for many recent arrivals the city-based company and factory effectively restructured village values to support an efficient workplace.

      The majority of villagers actually made the transition from rural to urban life with less social stress than was the case in Europe and America. Juvenile delinquency showed some increase, but overall crime rates remained low. So-called “new” religions such as Sōka Gakkai (Sōka-gakkai) (Value-Creation Society), which strongly appealed to those feeling isolated or alienated, flourished in the 1950s and '60s. Disparities between the newly rich and the older generation living on fixed incomes and between a freer, franker, and often more egotistic and brash mass culture that appealed to the young and traditional taste set by what once had been the aristocracy often accentuated how generations viewed the postwar situation. For many of the older generation, the new culture epitomized moral decay, which they attributed to the postwar system of education; to the young, the older generation seemed out of touch with the new realities that Japan faced. Such a generational split was further dramatized in the universities, where older professors were firmly in control but where young people struggled to find ways of expressing their own positions, which, typically, were often far more radical than those of their teachers.

Political developments
      With the restoration of sovereignty, politicians who had been purged by the occupation were allowed to return to public life. This included a number of prewar rightists who had been active in the 1930s. But the ideological right found few adherents among the postwar generation, and without military or big-business support the right wing played a largely dormant role during the 1950s and '60s. Occasionally disturbing incidents, such as the 1960 assassination of the socialist leader Asanuma Inajirō by a right-wing activist, revealed that the right was still able to intimidate; but rightists, for the most part, concentrated on campaigns to restore the use of the national flag, revive such national holidays as Foundation Day (February 11; succeeded in 1966), and restore state sponsorship for Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo (where Japan's war dead, notably those of World War II, are enshrined). The left fared considerably better. Communists (communism) who returned to Japan from foreign exile or who were released from domestic prisons played a vigorous role in the immediate postwar political arena. In 1949 the Japan Communist Party (JCP) elected 35 candidates to the lower house and garnered 10 percent of the vote. But by 1952 the Korean War (which had led SCAP to purge communists from public office), steady improvements in living conditions, and uncooperative Soviet attitudes in negotiations over the return of the Kuril Islands and over fishing treaties had seriously undermined public support for the communists, as did communist opposition to the imperial institution and extremist labour tactics. Still, Marxist, and later Maoist, ideas remained highly appealing to large numbers of Japanese intellectuals and college students, and the noncommunist left became a major voice for opposition in Japanese politics.

      The year 1955 was highly significant in postwar politics. The right and left wings of the socialist movement, which had been divided since 1951 over the peace treaty, merged to form the Japan Socialist Party (Social Democratic Party of Japan) (JSP). Faced with this united opposition the conservative parties, the Liberals and the Democrats, joined to found the Liberal-Democratic Party (Liberal-Democratic Party of Japan) (LDP). Japan thus entered a period of essentially two-party politics. The dominant LDP, which inherited Yoshida's mantle, worked effectively to solidify the close ties he had created with bureaucrats, bankers, and the business community. As a result, ex-bureaucrats played significant roles in the LDP, often being elected to the Diet and becoming important cabinet members. Three of the next six prime ministers (all from the LDP) who succeeded Yoshida—Kishi Nobusuke, Ikeda Hayato, and Satō Eisaku—were ex-bureaucrats. These close government-business ties, which became essential to domestic economic growth, later were characterized as “Japan Incorporated” in the West.

      Ideologically, the LDP combined a strong commitment to economic growth with the desire to return Japan to world prominence. The party depended on the financial support of business and banking, but its voter base remained in rural Japan. At the local level, LDP politicians established political networks that became the hallmarks of postwar politics and emphasized the role of personal “machine” politics over party platforms. But individual LDP Diet members realized that in order to provide patronage for their constituents they needed the support of party leaders with access to the bureaucracy. Factions therefore formed around such leaders, who vied with one another for the premiership and sought to have members of their faction appointed to important cabinet posts.

      As the voice of the opposition, the JSP resisted rearmament, had a strong antinuclear stance, campaigned to rid Japan of the American bases and abrogate the Mutual Security Treaty, supported mainland China, and vigorously opposed all efforts to change the postwar constitution. The appeal of the JSP was directed both to urban intellectuals and to the working classes, and its financial support came largely from labour (Sōhyō). In contrast to the LDP's focus on economic growth, big business, and agriculture, the JSP concentrated on urban issues, on those bypassed by prosperity, and on the mounting problems of pollution and environmental degradation that accompanied accelerated industrial growth. Socialist influence was weakened, however, when the more right-wing JSP members split off to form the Democratic Socialist Party (DSP) in 1959.

      By the early 1970s urban issues also attracted the JCP, which started to substitute practical matters for ideology and won a number of mayoral elections. To the right of the communists and socialists appeared the Clean Government Party (Kōmeitō, New) (Kōmeitō; later renamed the New Clean Government Party (Kōmeitō, New)), which began in 1964 as the political arm of Sōka Gakkai but dissociated itself from the religion by 1970; like its opposition counterparts, it focused on the urban electorate. On occasion, as in 1960 with the Kishi (Kishi Nobusuke) government and the proposed renewal of the U.S-Japan Mutual Security Treaty, the opposition could mount sufficient public support to bring down an LDP cabinet, but on the whole the era was one in which the LDP remained firmly in power.

      Still, by the late 1960s and early '70s there also were signs of a decline in LDP support. Dissatisfaction with the party's handling of domestic labour issues, Japan's involvement in the Vietnam War, demands for the reversion of Okinawa to Japanese sovereignty, and extensive student uprisings on university campuses, combined with growing doubts about the effects of unbridled growth and the increasing dangers from pollution, all undercut the party's popularity. In 1952 the LDP had garnered two-thirds of the Diet seats, but by 1972 it controlled only slightly more than half. The effects of the so-called “Nixon shocks” in 1971, which allowed the yen to rise against the dollar and restructured the U.S.-China (and hence the Japan-China) relationship, were compounded in 1973 by the OPEC oil crisis that threatened the underpinnings of Japan's postwar prosperity and the LDP's political hegemony.

      The Japan that returned to the international community in 1952 was considerably reduced in territory and influence. The Republic of China (Taiwan), the People's Republic of China on the mainland, the Republic of Korea (South Korea), and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) all possessed military establishments far larger than what became Japan's Self-Defense Forces. Given the rise of the Cold War, international relations were not destined to be conducted on the pacifist lines envisioned by Article 9 of the constitution. The United States maintained its occupancy of Okinawa and the Ryukyus, while the Soviet Union occupied the entire Kuril chain and claimed southern Sakhalin. The Korean War increased the urgency for a peace treaty. Details for such a treaty were worked out by the United States and its noncommunist allies during the command of General Matthew B. Ridgway, who succeeded MacArthur as supreme commander in April 1951.

      The San Francisco peace conference that convened in September 1951 thus ratified arrangements that had been worked out earlier. In the peace treaty that ensued, Japan recognized the independence of Korea and renounced all rights to Taiwan, the Pescadores, the Kurils, and southern Sakhalin and gave up the rights to the Pacific islands earlier mandated to it by the League of Nations. The Soviet Union attended the conference but refused to sign the treaty. This enabled Japan to retain hope for regaining four islands of the Kurils closest to Hokkaido—territory that Japan had gained through negotiations, not war. The peace treaty recognized Japan's “right to individual and collective self-defense,” which it exercised through the United States–Japan Security Treaty (1951) by which U.S. forces remained in Japan until the Japanese secured their own defense. Japan agreed not to grant similar rights to a third power without U.S. approval. Americans promised to assist Japan's Self-Defense Forces while U.S. military units (except air detachments and naval forces) were withdrawn to Okinawa.

      The treaty made no arrangements for reparations to the victims of Japan's Pacific war but provided that Japan should negotiate with the countries concerned. Consequently, effective resumption of relations with the countries of Asia came only after treaties covering reparations had been worked out with them. These were signed with Burma (now Myanmar) in 1954, the Philippines in 1956, and Indonesia in 1958. In 1956 Japan restored diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) but without a formal peace treaty. With the Soviet Union no longer blocking the way, Japan was admitted to the United Nations in late 1956 and subsequently became active in United Nations meetings and specialized agencies. It also became a contributing member of the Colombo Plan group of countries for economic development in South and Southeast Asia, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Japan spearheaded the creation of the Asian Development Bank in 1965–66.

      At the time of the peace treaty, Prime Minister Yoshida wanted to delay committing Japan to either of the two Chinas, but the U.S. negotiator John Foster Dulles (Dulles, John Foster) convinced him that the treaty would be opposed in the U.S. Senate unless assurances were given that Japan would recognize the Republic of China. Thus, Tokyo soon negotiated a peace treaty with that regime, but one that would not prejudice subsequent negotiations with Beijing. A lively trade developed with Taiwan, where Japan made considerable contributions to the economy.

      Trade relationships with mainland China developed slowly in the absence of diplomatic ties. In 1953 an unofficial trade pact was signed between private Japanese groups and Chinese authorities. In addition, a semiofficial “memorandum” trade became increasingly important in the 1960s. The Chinese government made skillful use of trade for political purposes, in the hope of embarrassing or weakening Japan's conservative governments, and intervals of ideological tension on the mainland—e.g., the Great Leap Forward (1958–60) and the Cultural Revolution (1966–76)—usually were reflected in a decline or cessation of trade with Japan. Nevertheless, Japan gradually became China's most important trading partner.

      U.S. overtures toward mainland China in 1971 led to a rapid reorientation of Japan's China policy. Japanese government leaders indicated a willingness to compromise ties with Taiwan in favour of a closer relationship with Beijing. Beijing also revealed a new interest in formal relations with Japan, subject to Japan's revocation of its treaty with Taiwan. In 1972, a year after mainland China was admitted to the UN, Prime Minister Tanaka Kakuei reached an agreement with Beijing on steps to normalize relations. Japan simultaneously severed its ties with Taiwan, replacing its embassy with a nonofficial office.

      Japan's post-occupation relationship with the United States was founded on the 1951 security treaty. Part of the understanding that lay behind this treaty was that Japan would have access to the U.S. market in exchange for the maintenance of American bases on Japanese soil. While the LDP saw advantages to maintaining such a quid pro quo relationship, which allowed Japan to dramatically expand its foreign trade while avoiding undue security costs, Japan's opposition parties were less sanguine about a relationship that tied Japan directly into the increasingly hostile Cold War. Tensions therefore mounted as the renewal date of the treaty (scheduled for 1960) approached; both governments hoped to extend it for 10 years as the revised Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security. The situation was complicated by domestic dislike of Kishi Nobusuke, who had become prime minister in 1957 after having earlier served in the Tōjō cabinet. Kishi had been named, though not tried, as a war criminal by the occupation. His staunch anticommunist stand, his open support of constitutional revision, and his undemocratic tactics made him suspect among many Japanese who felt they had been only marginally involved in the making of the original treaty and were anxious about the nation's future. Added to this was the proposed visit to Japan by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhowe (Eisenhower, Dwight D.)r that was scheduled amid new tensions caused by the downing of a U.S. reconnaissance plane by the Soviet Union in May 1960. When the Kishi cabinet used its majority in the Diet to force through treaty revisions, opposition increased steadily. Gigantic public demonstrations, largely composed of students, shook Tokyo for days. In the end the treaty survived, but Eisenhower's visit was canceled and Kishi resigned in July 1960.

      The administration of U.S. President John F. Kennedy (Kennedy, John F.) caught the imagination of many Japanese, and Kennedy's designation of the popular scholar Edwin O. Reischauer as ambassador further improved Japanese-American relations. But by the late 1960s the unpopularity of the Vietnam War threatened to disturb the relationship once more. Prime ministers Ikeda (Ikeda Hayato) and Satō (Satō Eisaku) worked hard to remove the final reminders of war. In 1967, under Satō, the Bonin (Ogasawara) Islands were restored to Japan; and in 1969, on the eve of renewed negotiations over treaty revisions, the United States agreed to return the Ryukyus in 1972, although bases were to be maintained on Okinawa under the terms of the security treaty. The treaty was renewed without incident in 1970, now changed to allow termination by either side with a year's advanced notification. Thus, by 1972 the U.S.-Japan relationship had stabilized. While signs of change on the part of both countries could be found in their China policies, there was as yet little to indicate the mounting conflict over trade that subsequently emerged.

Marius B. Jansen Fred G. Notehelfer

The late 20th and early 21st centuries

Economic change
      By the early 1970s a series of forces had combined to bring to an end the era of high growth that Japan had experienced in the 1950s and '60s. These included significant advances in technology, the disappearance of ample rural labour for industry, and the decline in international competitiveness of heavy manufacturing industries such as shipbuilding, aluminum, fertilizers, and, later, steel. Outcries over urban congestion, pollution, and environmental degradation and dissatisfaction with ever-escalating land prices caused many middle-class Japanese to question the economic and political logic that linked growth with national success. The foreign trading environment also was changing. In 1971 the United States devalued the U.S. dollar by 17 percent against the Japanese yen. The OPEC oil embargo of 1973–74 created a further disruption of the Japanese economy, which depended heavily on Middle Eastern oil. Outbreaks of panic buying by consumers brought reminders of the essential fragility of Japan's economic position; the rapid rise in the price of oil ended an era of relatively cheap and abundant energy resources. Thus, by the mid-1970s many Japanese felt increasingly insecure about their place in the global economy. Japanese dependency on fuel and food—as demonstrated by the consternation caused in 1972 when the United States temporarily embargoed soybean exports to Japan—had become increasingly clear.

      During the 1970s and '80s, consequently, Japan tried to integrate its economy more effectively into the global system and sought to diversify its markets and sources of raw materials. Japan became a firm advocate of international free trade and tried to create at least a measure of energy self-sufficiency through the increased use of nuclear power. The economic uncertainties of the 1970s produced a reemergence of a defensive, nationalistic sentiment that pictured Japan in a struggle with outside forces aimed at depriving the Japanese of their hard-won postwar gains. Until the early 1990s, international economic tensions were effectively used by the ruling LDP and the bureaucracy to contain and defuse important domestic economic and political issues.

      The domestic rhetoric about the hostile international environment in which Japan operated cloaked the fact that by the 1980s the Japanese economy had become one of the world's largest and most sophisticated. Per capita income had surpassed that of the United States, and total gross national product stood at roughly one-tenth of world output. By the mid-1980s Japan had become the world's leading net creditor nation and the largest donor of development aid. Prosperity, however, was increasingly linked to trade (international trade). Slow domestic growth was offset by booming exports. In the 1970s exports were seen as vital to balance the deficits anticipated from rapidly rising oil prices. But, as the Japanese economy successfully weathered the recessions induced by escalating oil prices in 1972–74 and 1979–81, the volume of exports accelerated. Headed by automobiles, colour television sets, high-quality steel, precision optical equipment, and electronic products, Japan's merchandise trade balance with western Europe and the United States steadily mounted in its favour.

      By contrast, domestic consumption, which had played such an important role in the first phase of Japan's postwar recovery, began to stagnate. By the early 1990s the Japanese were consuming considerably less than their American, British, or German counterparts. At the same time, consumer prices in Japan were considerably higher than the world average. Studies showed that consumption patterns were influenced by lagging wage increases, congested housing, traditional savings habits, and long working and commuting schedules that provided little time for leisure.

      Mounting Japanese trade surpluses increased friction between Japan and its trading partners in Europe and the United States. Japan's critics charged that the country advocated free trade abroad but maintained a closed market at home, engaged in “adversarial trade” designed to benefit only Japan, and pushed trade to export domestic unemployment during economic hard times, and there were complaints that Japan sold goods abroad at lower than domestic prices—a charge denied by Japanese business and government leaders. The government and bureaucracy responded by making efforts to “open” Japan. In the early 1970s Japan had the world's second highest tariffs on manufactured goods, but two decades later such tariffs were the lowest among the economically advanced countries. Restrictions on many agricultural products—including, in the early 1990s, rice—were lifted. Japan's financial markets were deregulated and liberalized, and a study commissioned under Prime Minister Nakasone Yasuhiro in 1986 proposed the restructuring of the Japanese economy to make it rely almost entirely on domestic demand for growth. Plans for such changes were further taken up in the so-called Structural Impediments Initiative (SII) in the late 1980s. By the end of the decade it was generally acknowledged that formal barriers to trade had been largely dismantled, though areas such as construction bidding were still closed, and many cultural barriers remained.

      At the same time, what came to be called Japan's “bubble economy” of the 1980s, which typified an era that combined easy credit with unbridled speculation and eventually drove Japanese equity and real estate markets to astronomical price levels, burst. In 1992–93 this ushered in a deep recession, the severity of which postponed many of the earlier reform plans, further undercut Japanese consumer confidence, and inevitably exacerbated trade tensions. Japan's merchandise trade surplus with the world, however, continued to spiral up. Those export surpluses finally produced a rapid appreciation of the yen against the dollar in the mid-1990s. Contrary to American expectations, however, this had only marginal effects on the trade balance. At the same time, the stronger Japanese currency allowed Japanese firms and individuals to invest heavily abroad by buying foreign assets (notably real estate) at bargain prices.

      The Japanese economy continued to stagnate, teetering between economic recession and anemic growth as the country entered the 21st century. Unemployment, still relatively low by Western standards, rose considerably and in 2000 surpassed 5 percent for the first time in the postwar era. A series of prime ministers in the 1990s and early 21st century called for major economic reforms, particularly deregulation. Notable were the sweeping reforms (dubbed the “Big Bang”) proposed by Hashimoto Ryūtarō (who served as prime minister 1996–98) in administration, finance, social security, the economy, the monetary system, and education. The measures were endorsed by Hashimoto's successors, but they met resistance in many sectors. Several leaders, including Koizumi Junichiro, who became prime minister in 2001, felt stymied by the inability of the policy changes to produce economic growth. The economy also faced other challenges, particularly from a rapidly aging population and rising income disparities. Although the bond with the United States remained the linchpin of Japan's external relations, Japan reoriented its economy to integrate it more effectively into that of the Asian economic bloc.

Political developments
      The LDP (Liberal-Democratic Party of Japan) continued its dominance of Japanese politics until 1993. Its success in steering Japan through the difficult years of the OPEC oil crisis and the economic transition that substituted high-technology enterprises for smokestack industries in the 1970s and '80s, thereby restoring Japan's international economic confidence, was not lost on the Japanese public. The emerging prosperity that accompanied this transition and the declining influence of the opposition parties, particularly the socialists and communists, served as further popular endorsements of the government-business alliance that the LDP represented. By the late 1980s and early '90s, however, as economic growth slowed and income disparities heightened public sensitivity to political corruption, this bargain between the people and their government changed.

      Yet, there were also earlier signs of a political transition. While LDP rule appeared to be strengthening, the party's share of the popular vote was declining—from three-fifths in 1969 to barely half in 1983 and to less than a third in the House of Councillors election of 1989. And, while the premiership remained firmly under LDP control, all governments but that of Nakasone Yasuhiro (1982–87) were short-lived. In 1989 the LDP lost control of the House of Councillors to a coalition of opposition parties headed by the socialists, who proposed Doi Takako, the first woman to head a major party in Japan, to be prime minister—a nomination rejected by the lower house.

      The era had begun in 1972 with considerable hope for political change, as Tanaka Kakuei, a self-made politician who defied the usual LDP bureaucratic model, sought to address the problems of pollution and urban crowding by calling for a redistribution of industry throughout the Japanese islands. Tanaka's grand plans soon encountered the reality of the OPEC oil crisis. His era ended in 1974 with little change and with him mired in a major influence-peddling scandal. Indeed, Tanaka came to symbolize the rise of “money politics,” as election campaigns became increasingly expensive and faction leaders—expected to provide campaign funds to their followers—became heavily entangled in questionable financial relationships. At the same time, aggressive businesses needed the cooperation of politicians and bureaucrats to expand within Japan's highly regulated economic system. As the bubble economy inflated in the 1980s, money flowed freely into political coffers. Although there were early calls for reform, few in the LDP were prepared to make changes. To some degree Tanaka, who was arrested in 1976 and convicted of bribery charges in 1983, underscored this reluctance on the part of the LDP to undertake serious reforms. Despite the guilty verdict, he served no jail time and remained a political force into the late 1980s. By that time, political corruption had become almost endemic, and the LDP was racked by a succession of scandals.

      Political turmoil was muted for some months during Emperor Hirohito's illness in 1988. His death, in January 1989, ended the Shōwa (Shōwa period) era, the longest recorded reign in Japanese history—some 62 years. He was succeeded by his son, Akihito, who took the reign name Heisei (“Achieving Peace”).

      But “peace” was difficult to preserve on both the domestic and foreign fronts. Later in 1989 Prime Minister Takeshita Noboru was forced out of office for involvement in a scandal involving manipulation of the stock market. Takeshita's successor Uno Sōsuke almost instantly found himself embroiled in a sex scandal, and he resigned after only 68 days in office. Uno was replaced by the “clean” Kaifu Toshiki, who lacked firm support in the party. This became apparent in the lead-up to the Persian Gulf War (1990–91), when Kaifu found himself labeled “reluctant” and “indecisive” in handling Japan's response to U.S. requests for assistance. Kaifu was forced from office in late 1991 when his efforts to secure legislation for Japanese noncombat participation in UN peacekeeping efforts—which was passed in 1992—and anticorruption measures failed to gain Diet support.

       Miyazawa Kiichi, who succeeded Kaifu in 1991, had been a powerful figure within the LDP for several decades. Another damaging political scandal emerged, and Miyazawa, sensing the public outcry, tried to introduce reform legislation in the Diet. This cost him the support of key LDP members, and a no-confidence motion in June 1993, supported by many LDP members, toppled his government. In elections held the following month, the LDP lost its Diet majority to a coalition of opposition parties, ending its 38-year rule.

      The July 1993 election ushered in a period of political transition. Several new parties emerged that were essentially splinter groups off the LDP, including the Japan New Party (JNP) and the Japan Renewal Party. These joined several former opposition parties to form a coalition government with Hosokawa Morihiro, leader of the JNP, as prime minister.

      Hosokawa initiated political reform, including limitations on campaign contributions and a change in the Japanese electoral system. He achieved some success in limiting contributions and managed to pass a modified elections package that included the creation of 300 single-member constituencies (the remainder of the House of Representatives was to be elected by proportional representation in 11 regional blocs). Opposition within his coalition to tax reform and accusations of his own involvement in the Miyazawa-era scandal forced his resignation in April 1994. Hosokawa's successor, Hata Tsutomu, lasted a mere two months. In the ensuing power vacuum, socialists and remaining LDP members formed an unlikely coalition, and Murayama Tomiichi became Japan's first socialist premier since 1948.

      During Murayama's short tenure (1994–96), Japan experienced a devastating earthquake in Kōbe that killed more than 5,000 people and a terrorist attack on the Tokyo subway system by AUM Shinrikyo, a small religious sect, that killed 12 people and injured thousands of others. In 1995 the House of Representatives passed a resolution expressing “deep remorse” for past “acts of aggression,” particularly in Asia, and pledging adherence to the no-war clause in the postwar constitution. Murayama followed the resolution by becoming the first Japanese prime minister to use the word owabi (unambiguously, “apology”). That year, however, Murayama's Social Democratic Party of Japan (the former Japan Socialist Party) suffered a string of election defeats, and in early 1996 Murayama resigned as prime minister.

      Murayama was succeeded by LDP president Hashimoto Ryūtarō, who retained the support of the socialists and the smaller New Harbinger Party (Sakigake). In October the LDP won 239 of 500 seats in the House of Representatives, but with no party willing to join a coalition with the LDP, Hashimoto oversaw a minority administration. By the following year, however, the LDP was able to recruit enough independents to command a majority in the House. Nevertheless, the economic recession reduced the government's popularity and led in 1998 to legislative losses for the LDP and Hashimoto's resignation. Obuchi Keizo, who led the largest of the LDP's factions, was elected LDP president and prime minister. In April 2000 Obuchi suffered a stroke that left him comatose (he died six weeks later), and the LDP secretary-general, Mori Yoshiro, was quickly confirmed as prime minister. In elections that June, the LDP lost its majority and was forced into an awkward alliance with two smaller parties. Mori's many missteps—for example, he referred to Japan as a “divine country,” a phrase that evoked Japan's militaristic past—reduced his approval rating to an all-time low for a Japanese prime minister. In April 2001 Mori announced his intention to resign.

      Koizumi Jun'ichirō (Koizumi Junichiro), who urged economic reform and fiscal restraint and criticized the party's factions, defeated several rivals to win the presidency of the LDP and was confirmed as prime minister. Koizumi enjoyed widespread popularity, but some of his reforms were resisted by the LDP's conservative factions. In addition, his support for allowing Japan's military forces to exercise a full-fledged (rather than only defensive) security policy and his visits to the Yasukuni Shrine elicited outrage from some segments of the Japanese population and protests from Japan's neighbours in Asia, particularly South Korea and China. Despite the controversies, the LDP's resurgence continued, and in 2003 the party won a clear majority in the House of Representatives, securing Koizumi a second term as prime minister.

      Koizumi, after serving his full term, stepped down in September 2006 and was succeeded over the next two years by a string of three prime ministers—all from politically well-connected families. Abe Shinzo, the grandson of Kishi Nobusuke and great nephew of Satō Eisaku (both former prime ministers), served in 2006–07 but resigned amid party scandals and concerns about his health and after the LDP had lost its majority in the upper house of the Diet. His replacement, Fukuda Yasuo—whose father, Fukuda Takeo, was prime minister in 1976–78—also stepped down after a year in office (2007–08), following a nonbinding censure vote by the upper house (the first under the 1947 constitution) and continued frustration over his political agenda. Succeeding Fukuda in September 2008 was Asō Tarō, grandson of Yoshida Shigeru and son-in-law of Suzuki Zenkō, both also former prime ministers.

      Japan has continued its transformation into a high-technology, urban, industrial society. The migration from countryside to city largely has been completed; some four-fifths of Japan's people now live in urban areas, and few families live on farms. urbanization has resulted in further demographic change, including an accelerating decline in the birth rate that by the mid-1980s was less than the level needed to replace the population. Urban congestion, confined housing space, the cost of raising children, a trend toward delaying marriage, a growing reluctance by women to get married, and effective birth-control measures have all contributed to this phenomenon. By 2000 the proportion of Japanese age 65 or older had surpassed those 15 or younger. Thus, Japanese society faces serious demographic challenges, the most urgent being a rapidly aging population and concomitant declining active workforce.

      Living standards have risen dramatically since the early 1970s, supporting a strong consumer market. But the excessive crowding and congestion in major cities has been exacerbated by the high cost of real estate, making home ownership difficult for many Japanese families. Hours spent commuting also increased as people moved ever farther from city centres. By the 1990s many Japanese citizens felt confined to an urban environment designed to serve the needs of corporate Japan and not its people and were less willing to support the entrenched government-business alliance that assured majorities for the LDP.

      Japanese values also have been changing as generations born and raised in the city mature and replace those brought up in the villages. While Japanese society remains formally hierarchical and social distinctions based on education and family background persist, the degree of conformity and the acceptance of consensus appear to be lessening. As the agriculture-induced submission of the individual to the group fades and as corporations, which previously served as pseudo-villages in the urban environment, lose their paternalistic overtones, greater individuation is apparent. In marketing, for example, it has been found that the former consumer habit of buying the same, familiar brand-name items is not being continued by Japanese who reached adult age from the mid-1980s. Many of those individuals have become disenchanted with the shops and goods their parents favoured and have opted for diversity and competitive pricing. Such phrases as “my car,” “my home,” and “my leisure” further underscore the growing emphasis on the individual and individual choice and on the more assertive attitude of the ordinary Japanese.

      Gender relations also have undergone a gradual transition—though not at the speed hoped for by many women. Important role models, such as the socialist leader Doi Takako, Tanaka Makiko (who was chosen in 2001 as Japan's first woman foreign minister), and Princess Masako (the Harvard-educated diplomat who married Crown Prince Naruhito in 1993), have helped make the place of professional women more acceptable. Women now account for about two-fifths of the workforce, but many occupy temporary or part-time positions, and full-time women employees often find it difficult to advance to management positions. Despite growing dissatisfaction with traditional gender roles, Japanese perceptions of the family and the position of the wife and mother in it have been slow to change. Women, particularly those married to white-collar workers, are still expected to carry much of the responsibility of household management and child rearing, while the males devote themselves to their office culture. Japanese divorce rates, though rising, remain low by Western standards, and the stability of the Japanese family continues to undergird the social system.

      Globalization (globalization, cultural) has been another important theme since the early 1970s, as large numbers of Japanese have traveled abroad and an increasing number of foreign students and foreign workers have come to Japan. In the last two decades of the 20th century, the number of foreign residents in Japan roughly doubled to more than 1.3 million. A majority of the foreign residents were Chinese or Korean, but foreign labourers from the Middle East and Southeast Asia, drawn by higher wages, also relocated to Japan to perform many of the less desirable jobs. The absorption of such residents has not always been easy for a society that sees itself as ethnically distinct and homogeneous. Discrimination against minorities, however—including Koreans, the former outcast group now called burakumin, and the Ainu—which has persisted for centuries, appears less acceptable today in a society that is not only more educated but also increasingly subject to international scrutiny and criticism. The internationalization of Japan also has resulted in a reassertion of Japanese nationalism, particularly among the older members of society who see Japan losing its identity amid the influx of foreign culture. And yet, as even a brief visit to Tokyo confirms, American cultural symbols—from fast-food restaurants to blue jeans and motorcycles—are now as much at home in the Harajuku district as on Venice Beach in Los Angeles.

      Japan has continued its close cooperation with the United States, but it also has sought to rebuild relations with its Asian neighbours. Despite the rapid political transformation of the world after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, ties between the United States and Japan have been little altered in their fundamental tenets. Both countries officially remained committed to the Mutual Security Treaty, which keeps Japan under the U.S. nuclear weapons “umbrella” and permits thousands of U.S. troops to be stationed there, particularly on Okinawa; however, many Japanese favour redefining the relationship between the two countries and reducing the number of U.S. troops.

      Economic issues have often strained U.S.-Japanese relations, as Japan's resurgence in the early postwar decades transformed the country from a client to a competitor of the United States. Such a change has not been easy. Trade issues sometimes have been particularly acrimonious, intensified by essential misunderstandings on solutions proposed by each side. While friction on economic issues has removed some of the harmony that once typified the relationship between the two countries, there nevertheless remains substantial goodwill, both countries realizing that, as the dominant economic and military powers of the Asian Pacific region, their bilateral relationship is the most important in East Asia.

      The end of the Cold War provided Japan with the opportunity to pursue an independent China policy. Following Prime Minister Tanaka Kakuei's trip to China in 1972, which began the process of normalizing relations between the two countries, Japan vigorously pursued trade opportunities with China, and in 1978 a peace treaty and the first of a series of economic pacts were concluded. Both trade and cultural contacts between Japan and China expanded dramatically, and by the early 1990s China was Japan's second largest trading partner, surpassed only by the United States. Tensions occasionally have arisen between the two countries over issues such as Chinese objections to the Japanese attitude toward its wartime conduct and its colonial rule of China and to visits by Japanese officials to the Yasukuni Shrine or to Japanese protests of the Chinese repression of demonstrators in 1989. The visit to China by Emperor Akihito in 1992, however, which included a tacit apology for the “severe suffering” that the Japanese had inflicted on the Chinese during the war, demonstrated that Japan was determined not just to build economic ties with China but also to transcend the gap that stemmed from the war and to restore cultural ties. Nevertheless, the political relationship between the two countries remained uneasy into the 21st century.

      Although Japan's formal relationship with Taiwan was discontinued after 1978, Taiwan continued to play an important role for Japan, particularly since the late 1980s, when Japan sought to strengthen its ties with the so-called newly industrialized countries of Asia (South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore, as well as Hong Kong when it was a British colony). These were all seen as areas capable of providing high-quality goods for the Japanese market and consequently as sites for direct investment by Japanese firms. Earlier Japanese concerns that these countries would become competitors with Japan for the U.S. market faded as economic interaction between them created a highly dynamic economic region.

      Efforts to solidify relations with Southeast Asia advanced in the late 20th century. Lingering resentment over the war and the insensitive attitudes of Japanese businessmen toward local populations in the 1960s produced anti-Japanese riots when Prime Minister Tanaka toured the region in 1974. Anger against Japan and feelings of Japanese exploitation in the region continued into the 1980s, when efforts were made to improve the situation. Southeast Asian nations—particularly Indonesia—became recipients of extensive Japanese development aid. Japan also made efforts to work with Vietnam and Cambodia. Japan's interests in Vietnam have been largely economic, but in Cambodia Japan played an important role in working out the 1991 UN Security Council “peace plan” and helped with its implementation the following year; through passage of the International Peace Cooperation Law by the Diet, unarmed troops from Japan's Self-Defense Forces participated in a UN peacekeeping operation, the first time since the World War II that Japanese forces had ventured overseas.

      The Japanese government also sought to address lingering animosities that existed toward Japan on the Korean peninsula. Formal statements of apology to Korea for Japan's colonial rule were issued (most notably by Prime Minister Murayama Tomiichi in 1995), visits were made by the leaders of Japan and South Korea to each other's countries, and bilateral trade agreements were negotiated. However, such positive steps tended to be offset by events that often angered South Korea: occasional statements by Japanese government officials that seemed to defend Japan's colonial and wartime actions (including the forced prostitution of Korean women during the war), continued periodic prime ministerial visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, and revelations that Japan's colonial rule was positively depicted in Japanese textbooks. A further issue for South Korea was the status of Koreans living in Japan, many of whom were third- or fourth-generation Japanese-born. Despite these differences, in 2002 Japan and South Korea cohosted the association football (soccer) World Cup finals, the first time the event was held in Asia or staged jointly by two countries.

      Relations with Russia have remained decidedly cool. A formal peace treaty was never concluded with the Soviet Union before its dissolution. The major sticking point for the Japanese has been the disposition of the “northern territories,” the four small islands in the southern Kuril (Kuril Islands) chain that the Russians seized following World War II. The Japanese have sought the return of these islands and have been reluctant to grant Russia development aid without an agreement. Negotiations with Russia to resolve the issue continued throughout the 1990s and into the early 21st century.

      Japan's larger role in the world has changed dramatically since the 1970s. As its economy matured, Japan became a leading advanced industrial country. The macroeconomic changes of the 1980s—slower growth, financial deregulation, technological success, tighter labour markets, and currency appreciation—all helped to transform Japan into an important creditor nation, swelling the country's direct foreign investments. While Japan long has been concerned with the outside world as a source of raw materials and a market for its goods, the Japanese ownership of extensive manufacturing plants, financial institutions, and real estate overseas has required Japan to be more directly involved in world affairs. Accordingly, economic bodies, such as OECD, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization, have received increasing Japanese attention and participation. Japan has also sought to wield more influence within the United Nations, launching a bid in the 1990s for a permanent seat on the Security Council. However, a more “activist” foreign policy role—particularly one hinting at military participation—is not coveted by all Japanese, which is why the dispatch of troops by Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro in 2003 to support the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq (Iraq War) was such a watershed in Japan's postwar history. Representing the first deployment of Japanese military units into a war zone since the end of World War II, the decision elicited opposition by Japanese who believed that it violated the no-war clause of the Japanese constitution, but it also garnered support from those who believed that Japan needed to take a more active role in its defense and to break free from the constraints imposed on the country after 1945.

Fred G. Notehelfer Ed.

Emperors and empresses regnant of Japan
       Emperors and empresses regnant of Japan Emperors and empresses regnant of JapanThe table provides a chronological list of the emperors and empresses regnant of Japan.

Prime ministers of Japan
       Prime ministers of Japan Prime ministers of JapanThe table provides a chronological list of the prime ministers of Japan.

Additional Reading

General works
An excellent, textually rich, and well-illustrated compendium is Richard Bowring and Peter Kornicki (eds.), The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Japan (1993). Compilations of information on Japan's history and its modern physical, social, political, and cultural environment include Kodansha Encyclopedia of Japan, 9 vol. (1983), and supplement (1986); Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, 2 vol. (1993); Ronald E. Dolan and Robert L. Worden (eds.), Japan: A Country Study, 5th ed. (1992); and Japan: Profile of a Nation (1995). Further research can be found in Bibliography of Asian Studies (annual).Representative atlases of Japan include Teikoku-Shoin Co. (ed.), Atlas Japan: In English & Japanese (1989); Martin Collcutt, Marius Jansen, and Isao Kumakura, Cultural Atlas of Japan (1988); Akira Ebato and Kazuo Watanabe, Atlas of Japan: Physical, Economic, and Social, 2nd rev. ed. (1974), with text in English, French, and Spanish; Grand Atlas of Japan (1985, reissued 1990), published by Heibonsha; and Geographical Survey Institute, The National Atlas of Japan, rev. ed. (1990).

The land
Ryuziro Isida, Geography of Japan (1961), covers the country's physical geography as well as its economy and cultural environment. Glenn Thomas Trewartha, Japan: A Geography (1965, reissued 1979), is considered the classic regional geography in English. Association of Japanese Geographers (eds.), Geography of Japan (1980), is a highly regarded study. Representative geographic works include Regional Geography of Japan, trans. from Japanese, 6 vol. (1957), the proceedings of a conference of the International Geographical Union; Norton Ginsburg, “Economic and Cultural Geography,” in Arthur E. Tiedemann (ed.), An Introduction to Japanese Civilization (1974), pp. 423–459; Gil Latz, “The Experience of Place in Japan,” Asian Art, 5(2):2–7 (Spring 1992); and Jacques Pezeu-Massabuau, The Japanese Islands: A Physical and Social Geography (1978; originally published in French, 1968), a thoughtful account from a European perspective. Toshio Noh (Toshio Nō) and Douglas H. Gordon (eds.), Modern Japan: Land and Man, rev. ed. (1978); and Toshio Noh (Toshio Nō) and John C. Kimura (eds.), Japan: A Regional Geography of an Island Nation, 2nd ed. (1989), review the distinctive regional character of the archipelago. Geomorphology is covered by Watanabe Akira (Akira Watanabe), “Landform Divisions of Japan,” Bulletin of the Geographic Survey Institute, 2(1):81–94 (1950); and Torao Yoshikawa, Sohei Kaizuka, and Yoko Ota, The Landforms of Japan (1981). Climatology is dealt with in E. Fukui (ed.), The Climate of Japan (1977). Aono Hisao (Hisao Aono) and Birugawa Shōhei (Shōhei Birugawa) (eds.), Nihon chishi, 21 vol. (1967–80), is a comprehensive series (in Japanese) dealing with Japan's regional geography by prefectures. A detailed survey of biogeography can be found in M. Numata (ed.), The Flora and Vegetation of Japan (1974).A classic field survey of village life from geographic, historical, and social viewpoints is Richard K. Beardsley, John W. Hall, and Robert E. Ward, Village Japan (1959, reissued 1969). Japan's cities are treated in detail in Ronald P. Dore, City Life in Japan: A Study of a Tokyo Ward (1958, reissued 1965); and in Japanese Cities: A Geographical Approach (1970). David Kornhauser, Japan: Geographical Background to Urban-Industrial Development, 2nd ed. (1982), contains an original assessment of Japan's urban and historical geography.

The people
Three penetrating profiles of Japanese society include Chie Nakane, Japanese Society, rev. ed. (1973, reissued 1984; originally published in Japanese, 1967); Takeo Doi, The Anatomy of Dependence (1973, reissued 1981; originally published in Japanese, 1971); and Takie Sugiyama Lebra (ed.), Japanese Social Organization (1992). George De Vos and Hiroshi Wagatsuma, Japan's Invisible Race: Caste in Culture and Personality, rev. ed. (1972), discusses the burakumin minority. Studies of Japanese religions include Ian Reader, Religion in Contemporary Japan (1991); and H. Neill McFarland, The Rush Hour of the Gods: A Study of New Religious Movements in Japan (1967, reissued 1970). Gender questions are explored in Gail Lee Bernstein, Haruko's World: A Japanese Farm Woman and Her Community (1983); Takie Sugiyama Lebra, Japanese Women: Constraint and Fulfillment (1984); Anne E. Imamura, Urban Japanese Housewives: At Home and in the Community (1987, reissued 1992); and Sumiko Iwao, The Japanese Woman: Traditional Image and Changing Reality (1993).

The economy
General background texts include G.C. Allen, Japan's Economic Recovery (1958, reprinted 1986), Japan's Economic Expansion (1965), and A Short Economic History of Modern Japan, 4th ed. (1981); and Penelope Francks, Japanese Economic Development: Theory and Practice (1992). Robert B. Hall, Jr., Japan: Industrial Power of Asia, 2nd ed. (1976), contains a brief analysis of post-World War II industrial development. Japan in Transition: One Hundred Years of Modernization (1968, reissued 1975), is an illustrated description of Japan's transition to an industrial power. Edward Augustus Ackerman, Japan's Natural Resources and Their Relation to Japan's Economic Future (1953), is a basic source for understanding post-World War II economic development. Energy and power issues are treated in Richard J. Samuels, The Business of the Japanese State: Energy Markets in Comparative and Historical Perspective (1987). Cogent analyses of the Japanese agricultural sector can be found in Ronald P. Dore, Land Reform in Japan (1959, reissued 1985), and Shinohata: A Portrait of a Japanese Village (1978, reissued 1994).Other valuable works on the economy are Richard K. Beardsley (ed.), Studies on Economic Life in Japan (1964); Alice H. Cook, An Introduction to Japanese Trade Unionism (1966); William W. Lockwood (ed.), The State and Economic Enterprise in Japan: Essays in the Political Economy of Growth (1965, reissued 1981); Yutaka Matsumura, Japan's Economic Growth, 1945–1960 (1961); Takafusa Nakamura, The Postwar Japanese Economy: Its Development and Structure, 1937–1994, 2nd ed. (1995; originally published in Japanese, 1978); Ardath W. Burks, Japan: A Postindustrial Power, 3rd ed. rev. and updated (1991); Ronald P. Dore, Taking Japan Seriously: A Confucian Perspective on Leading Economic Issues (1987); Frank Gibney, Miracle By Design: The Real Reasons Behind Japan's Economic Success (1982), and Japan: The Fragile Superpower, 2nd rev. ed. (1985); Edward J. Lincoln, Japan's Unequal Trade (1990), and Japan's New Global Role (1993); Kenneth B. Pyle, The Japanese Question: Power and Purpose in a New Era (1992); and Yoshio Suzuki (ed.), The Japanese Financial System (1987, reissued 1992; originally published in Japanese, 1986).

Administration and social conditions
Chalmers Johnson, MITI and the Japanese Miracle: The Growth of Industrial Policy, 1925–1975 (1982), offers a seminal contribution to understanding Japan's government-business relationships. Thoughtful discussions of the Japanese political system include Hans H. Baerwald, Japan's Parliament: An Introduction (1974); Gerald L. Curtis, The Japanese Way of Politics (1988); Takeshi Ishida and Ellis S. Krauss (eds.), Democracy in Japan (1989); and Daniel I. Okimoto and Thomas P. Rohlen (eds.), Inside the Japanese System: Readings on Contemporary Society and Political Economy (1988).Reviews of the Japanese educational system can be found in William K. Cummings, Education and Equality in Japan (1980); Thomas P. Rohlen, Japan's High Schools (1983); and Merry White, The Japanese Education Challenge: A Commitment to Children (1987).

Cultural life
H. Paul Varley, Japanese Culture, 3rd ed. (1984), is the most useful cultural history. Cultural aspects also are treated in the encyclopaedias cited above. Additional sources may be found in the bibliographies to the articles arts, East Asian, and Japanese literature.Gil Latz

General works
The classic survey is George Bailey Sansom, A History of Japan, 3 vol. (1958–63, reissued 1978). The most comprehensive and detailed account in English is John W. Hall et al. (eds.), The Cambridge History of Japan (1988– ). James Murdoch, A History of Japan, 3 vol. (1903–26, reprinted 3 vol. in 6, 1964), though dated, is a pioneer work detailing political history. Shorter, excellent interpretive works include Edwin O. Reischauer, Japan: The Story of a Nation, 4th ed. (1990); Edwin O. Reischauer and Albert M. Craig, Japan: Tradition & Transformation, rev. ed (1989); Edwin O. Reischauer and Marius B. Jansen, The Japanese Today: Change and Continuity, enlarged ed. (1995); Saburō Ienaga, History of Japan, 9th ed. (1965); and John Whitney Hall, Japan from Prehistory to Modern Times (1970, reissued 1991). Another authoritative general history is John K. Fairbank, Edwin O. Reischauer, and Albert M. Craig, East Asia: Tradition & Transformation, rev. ed. (1989). Works covering more specific periods include Mikiso Hane, Premodern Japan: A Historical Survey (1991), and Modern Japan: A Historical Survey, 2nd ed. (1992); John Whitney Hall, Government and Local Power in Japan, 500–1700: A Study Based on Bizen Province (1966, reissued 1980); Conrad Totman, Japan Before Perry: A Short History (1981); and W.G. Beasley, The Rise of Modern Japan (1990), which updates and is based on his classic The Modern History of Japan, 3rd ed. (1981).

Ancient Japan
Useful works on Japan's ancient history include C. Melvin Aikens and Takayasu Higuchi, Prehistory of Japan (1982), an inventory of archaeological sites and finds; and Gina L. Barnes, Protohistoric Yamato: Archaeology of the First Japanese State (1988). The earliest compilations of myths and histories are contained in L. Carrington Goodrich (ed.), Japan in the Chinese Dynastic Histories: Later Han Through Ming Dynasties, 2nd ed. (1968); and Donald L. Philippi (trans.), Kojiki, trans. from Japanese (1968, reissued 1992). Further English-language materials are W.G. Aston (trans.), Nihongi: Chronicles of Japan from the Earliest Times to A.D. 697, 2 vol., trans. from Japanese and Chinese (1886, reissued 1972); J.E. Kidder, Jr., Japan Before Buddhism, rev. ed. (1966); Michiko Yamaguchi Aoki (trans.), Izumo Fudoki (1971; originally published in Japanese, 1931); Robert S. Ellwood, The Feast of Kingship: Accession Ceremonies in Ancient Japan (1973); and Richard J. Miller, Ancient Japanese Nobility: The Kabane Ranking System (1974), and Japan's First Bureaucracy: A Study of Eighth-Century Government (1978).The Nara and Heian periods are discussed in Robert Borgen, Sugawara no Michizane and the Early Heian Court (1986, reissued 1994); G. Cameron Hurst III, Insei: Abdicated Sovereigns in the Politics of Late Heian Japan, 1086–1185 (1976); Allan G. Grapard, The Protocol of the Gods: A Study of the Kasuga Cult in Japanese History (1992); Ivan Morris, The World of The Shining Prince: Court Life in Ancient Japan (1964, reissued 1994); Karl F. Friday, Hired Swords: The Rise of Private Warrior Power in Early Japan (1992); and William Wayne Farris, Population, Disease, and Land in Early Japan, 645–900 (1985), and Heavenly Warriors: The Evolution of Japan's Military, 500–1300 (1992).

Medieval Japan
Among works of note on medieval Japan are several by Jeffrey P. Mass: Warrior Government in Early Medieval Japan: A Study of the Kamakuru Bakufu, Shugo, and Jitō (1974, reissued 1991), The Development of Kamakura Rule, 1180–1250 (1979), and Lordship and Inheritance in Early Medieval Japan: A Study of the Kamakura Soryō System (1989). Excellent volumes of essays by Japanese and Western scholars include Jeffrey P. Mass (ed.), Court and Bakufu in Japan: Essays in Kamakura History (1982); John Whitney Hall and Jeffrey P. Mass (eds.), Medieval Japan: Essays in Institutional History (1974, reissued 1988); and John Whitney Hall and Toyoda Takeshi (Takeshi Toyoda) (eds.), Japan in the Muromachi Age (1977).Other useful works include H. Paul Varley, Imperial Restoration in Medieval Japan (1971), and Warriors of Japan as Portrayed in the War Tales (1994); Minoru Shinoda, The Founding of the Kamakura Shogunate, 1180–1185 (1960); Kenneth Allen Grossberg, Japan's Renaissance: The Politics of the Muromachi Bakufu (1981); Carl Steenstrup Hōjō Shigetoki, 1198–1261, and His Role in the History of Political and Ethical Ideas in Japan (1979); Peter Judd Arnesen, The Medieval Japanese Daimyo: The Ōuchi Family's Rule of Suō and Nagato (1979); Martin Collcutt, Five Mountains: The Rinzai Zen Monastic Institution in Medieval Japan (1981); Thomas Keirstead, The Geography of Power in Medieval Japan (1992); and Hitomi Tonomura, Community and Commerce in Late Medieval Japan: The Corporate Villages of Tokuchin-ho (1992).

Early modern Japan (1550–1850)
Conrad Totman, Early Modern Japan (1993), is a good general text. Among the many excellent collections of essays are John Whitney Hall and Marius B. Jansen (eds.), Studies in the Institutional History of Early Modern Japan (1968); John Whitney Hall, Nagahara Keiji (Keiji Nagahara), and Kozo Yāmamura (eds.), Japan Before Tokugawa: Political Consolidation and Economic Growth, 1500–1650 (1981; originally published in Japanese, 1978); Chie Nakane and Shinzaburō Ōishi (eds.), Tokugawa Japan: The Social and Economic Antecedents of Modern Japan (1990); and Tetsuo Najita and Irwin Scheiner (eds.), Japanese Thought in the Tokugawa Period, 1600–1868: Methods and Metaphors (1978, reissued 1988).The Sengoku era is discussed in Mary Elizabeth Berry, Hideyoshi (1982), and The Culture of Civil War in Kyoto (1994); George Elison, Deus Destroyed: The Image of Christianity in Early Modern Japan (1973, reissued 1988); George Elison and Bardwell L. Smith (eds.), Warlords, Artists & Commoners: Japan in the Sixteenth Century (1981); and Neil McMullin, Buddhism and the State in Sixteenth-Century Japan (1984).The political history of the Tokugawa period is best covered in Conrad Totman, Politics in the Tokugawa Bakufu, 1600–1843 (1967), and The Collapse of the Tokugawa Bakufu, 1862–1868 (1980); James L. McClain, Kanazawa: A Seventeenth-Century Japanese Castle Town (1982); and Harold Bolitho, Treasures Among Men: The Fudai Daimyo in Tokugawa Japan (1974). Economic history is discussed in William B. Hauser, Economic Institutional Change in Tokugawa Japan: Ōsaka and the Kinai Cotton Trade (1974); Thomas C. Smith, The Agrarian Origins of Modern Japan (1959, reissued 1984); Thomas C. Smith, Robert Y. Eng, and Robert Lundy, Nakahara: Family Farming and Population in a Japanese Village, 1717–1830 (1977); Susan B. Hanley and Kozo Yamamura, Economic and Demographic Change in Preindustrial Japan, 1600–1868 (1977); Charles David Sheldon, The Rise of the Merchant Class in Tokugawa Japan, 1600–1868 (1958, reprinted 1973); and Tetsuo Najita, Visions of Virtue in Tokugawa Japan: The Kaitokudō Merchant Academy of Osaka (1987). Excellent scholarship on Tokugawa thought is found in Masao Maruyama, Studies in the Intellectual History of Tokugawa Japan (1974, reissued 1989; originally published in Japanese, 1965); H.D. Harootunian, Things Seen and Unseen: Discourse and Idealogy in Tokugawa Nativism (1988), and Toward Restoration: The Growth of Political Consciousness in Tokugawa Japan (1970, reissued 1991); and Herman Ooms, Tokugawa Ideology: Early Constructs, 1570–1680 (1985). E.H. Norman, Origins of the Modern Japanese State, ed. by John W. Dower (1975), is a collection of representative essays; the themes are continued in two studies of peasant revolts: Herbert P. Bix, Peasant Protest in Japan, 1590–1884 (1986); and Anne Walthall, Social Protest and Popular Culture in Eighteenth-Century Japan (1986). Cultural history is well covered in Ronald P. Dore, Education in Tokugawa Japan (1965, reprinted 1992); Howard Hibbett, The Floating World in Japanese Fiction (1959, reissued 1975); and Donald Keene, The Japanese Discovery of Europe, 1720–1830, rev. ed. (1969). Ronald P. Toby, State and Diplomacy in Early Modern Japan: Asia in the Development of the Tokugawa Bakufu (1984, reissued 1991), discusses foreign relations.

Japan since 1850
Useful works on the opening of Japan and the fall of the shogunate include Matthew C. Perry, Narrative of the Expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and Japan, 3 vol. (1856, reissued 1967); Oliver Statler, Shimoda Story (1969, reprinted 1986); Grace Fox, Britain and Japan, 1858–1883 (1969); and W.G. Beasley (trans. and ed.), Select Documents on Japanese Foreign Policy, 1853–1868 (1955, reissued 1967). Works on the Meiji Restoration include W.G. Beasley, The Meiji Restoration (1972); Marius B. Jansen, Sakamoto Ryōma and the Meiji Restoration (1961, reissued 1994); Albert M. Craig, Chōshū in the Meiji Restoration (1961); Thomas M. Huber, The Revolutionary Origins of Modern Japan (1981), a newer interpretation; and E. Herbert Norman, Japan's Emergence as a Modern State: Political and Economic Problems of the Meiji Period (1940, reprinted 1973). The emergence of the modern state during Meiji is surveyed in William W. Lockwood, The Economic Development of Japan: Growth and Structural Change, expanded ed. (1968, reissued 1974); Thomas C. Smith, Political Change and Industrial Development in Japan: Government Enterprise, 1868–1880 (1955, reissued 1974); Johannes Hirschmeier, The Origins of Entrepreneurship in Meiji Japan (1964); and Marius B. Jansen (ed.), Changing Japanese Attitudes Toward Modernization (1965, reissued 1982).Meiji political issues are the focus of Robert Arden Wilson, Genesis of the Meiji Government in Japan, 1868–1871 (1957, reprinted 1980); George Akita, Foundations of Constitutional Government in Modern Japan, 1868–1900 (1967); and Robert E. Ward (ed.), Political Development in Modern Japan (1968, reissued 1973). Foreign relations are treated in Hilary Conroy, The Japanese Seizure of Korea, 1868–1910: A Study of Realism and Idealism in International Relations (1960, reissued 1974); John Albert White, The Diplomacy of the Russo-Japanese War (1964, reissued 1984); and Shumpei Okamoto, The Japanese Oligarchy and the Russo-Japanese War (1970). Meiji social and intellectual trends can be followed in Kenneth B. Pyle, The New Generation in Meiji Japan: Problems of Cultural Identity, 1885–1895 (1969); Carol Gluck, Japan's Modern Myths: Ideology in the Late Meiji Period (1985); Sharon L. Sievers, Flowers in Salt: The Beginnings of Feminist Consciousness in Modern Japan (1983); and Gail Lee Bernstein (ed.), Recreating Japanese Women, 1600–1945 (1991). Developments in late 19th- and early 20th-century agriculture and industry include James I. Nakamura, Agricultural Production and the Economic Development of Japan, 1873–1922 (1966); Richard J. Smethurst, Agricultural Development and Tenancy Disputes in Japan, 1870–1940 (1986); Andrew Gordon, The Evolution of Labor Relations in Japan: Heavy Industry, 1853–1955 (1985); and Sheldon Garon, The State and Labor in Modern Japan (1987).Works dealing with the emergence of politics and nationalism include Tetsuo Najita, Hara Kei in the Politics of Compromise, 1905–1915 (1967); Peter Duus, Party Rivalry and Political Change in Taishō Japan (1968); Robert A. Scalapino, Democracy and the Party Movement in Prewar Japan (1953, reissued 1975); Gordon Mark Berger, Parties out of Power in Japan, 1931–1941 (1977); Masao Maruyama, Thought and Behavior in Modern Japanese Politics, expanded ed., edited by Ivan Morris (1969); William Miles Fletcher III, The Search for a New Order: Intellectuals and Fascism in Prewar Japan (1982); Delmer Myers Brown, Nationalism in Japan: An Introductory Historical Analysis (1955, reissued 1971); Akira Iriye, After Imperialism: The Search for a New Order in the Far East, 1921–1931 (1965, reissued 1990); Ramon H. Myers and Mark R. Peattie (eds.), The Japanese Colonial Empire, 1895–1945 (1984); James B. Crowley, Japan's Quest for Autonomy: National Security and Foreign Policy, 1930–1938 (1966); Francis Clifford Jones, Japan's New Order in East Asia: Its Rise and Fall, 1937–45 (1954, reprinted 1978); and Richard Storry, The Double Patriots: A Study of Japanese Nationalism (1957, reprinted 1973).Studies of the wartime period include Sadako N. Ogata, Defiance in Manchuria: The Making of Japanese Foreign Policy, 1931–1932 (1964, reprinted 1984); a four-volume series, Japan's Road to the Pacific War, ed. by James William Morley, Deterrent Diplomacy: Japan, Germany, and the USSR, 1935–1940 (1976), The Fateful Choice: Japan's Advance into Southeast Asia, 1939–1941 (1980), Japan Erupts: The London Naval Conference and the Manchurian Incident, 1928–1932 (1984), and The China Quagmire: Japan's Expansion on the Asian Continent, 1933–1941 (1983), all trans. from Japanese; Dorothy Borg and Shumpei Okamoto (eds.), Pearl Harbor as History: Japanese-American Relations, 1931–1941 (1973); Ronald H. Spector, Eagle Against the Sun: The American War with Japan (1985); Robert J.C. Butow, Japan's Decision to Surrender (1954, reissued 1967); Thomas R.H. Havens, Valley of Darkness: The Japanese People and World War Two (1978, reprinted 1986); and John W. Dower, War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War (1986, reissued 1993).Important postwar studies include Masataka Kosaka, 100 Million Japanese: The Postwar Experience (1972, reissued as A History of Postwar Japan, 1982); Andrew Gordon (ed.), Postwar Japan as History (1993); Robert E. Ward and Sakamoto Yoshikazu (Yoshikazu Sakamoto) (eds.), Democratizing Japan: The Allied Occupation (1987); Kazuo Kawai, Japan's American Interlude (1960, reprinted 1979); Shigeru Yoshida, The Yoshida Memoirs (1961, reissued 1973; originally published in Japanese, 4 vol., 1957–58); Ezra F. Vogel, Japan as Number One: Lessons for America (1979, reprinted 1985); Hugh Patrick and Henry Rosovsky (eds.), Asia's New Giant: How the Japanese Economy Works (1976); Yasutake Murakami and Hugh Patrick (eds.), The Political Economy of Japan, 3 vol. (1987–92); J.A.A. Stockwin, Japan: Divided Politics in a Growth Economy, 2nd ed. (1982); T.J. Pempel, Policy and Politics in Japan: Creative Conservatism (1982); I.M. Destler et al., Managing an Alliance: The Politics of U.S.-Japanese Relations (1976); Michio Nagai, Higher Education in Japan: Its Takeoff and Crash (1971); Joyce Lebra, Joy Paulson, and Elizabeth Powers (eds.), Women in Changing Japan (1976); Martin E. Weinstein, Japan's Postwar Defense Policy, 1947–1968 (1971); John Owen Haley, Authority Without Power: Law and the Japanese Paradox (1991); Frank K. Upham, Law and Social Change in Postwar Japan (1987); Chae-Jin Lee, China and Japan: New Economic Diplomacy (1984); Dennis J. Encarnation, Rivals Beyond Trade: America Versus Japan in Global Competition (1992); and Edward J. Lincoln, Japan's New Global Role (1993).G. Cameron Hurst III Fred G. Notehelfer

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