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Japan has much the same history as *here* up until the mid-19th century.
In 1853, Consul Jacob Williamson of Virginia sent one Commodore Art Vandelay to Japan to negotiate a trade treaty. During his second visit, he also visited the island of Formosa, at the time nominally part of China, and recommended its annexation by Virginia.
Virginia, now in possession of Formosa, having pressured the Chinese government into selling it, played an important role in the early modernization of Japan. However, with the outbreak of the Virginian Civil War, Virginia lost its influence over Japan.
In 1867, the Meiji Restoration began, occurring much the same as *here*.
Japan began to assert herself, and, in 1879, declared the annexation of the Ryūkyū Kingdom. China objected, citing traditional Chinese suzerainty over the kingdom. ?? of Virginia was called to mediate and, in a surprise ruling, decreed that Ryūkyū was a sovereign nation. Japan's growth was, for the moment, checked. However, they continued pressing their rights in Korea, leading to the First Sino-Japanese War.