The Early 20th Century
In 1904, Japan defeated the Russian Empire in the Russo-Japanese War. In 1910, the Japanese Empire annexed the Korean peninsula. It was a member of the Allied powers during the First World War where the country attacked German possessions in the Pacific. By 1937, the country went to war with China again and invaded Manchuria. Relations with the West were already deteriorating at this point.
World War II
Japan was a member of the Axis Powers during the Second World War. After the Fall of France to Nazi Germany, Japan took possession of French Indochina. The Empire was subjected to an oil embargo enacted by the United States.
After the war, Japan was devastated but quickly recovered from the damages. From 1945 to 1951, the United States military occupied Japan. And it was from this that Japan can no longer militarize, it's constitution rewritten in 1947 by the United States, and its emperor only now a symbolic head. The Self-Defense Forces were created as a result of majority of the U.S. forces being deployed to South Korea during the Korean War. By the 1960s and the 1970s, Japan became a rich country. The United States meanwhile, maintained their troops in the islands as a deterence to both the Soviet Union and North Korea. Japan was given a major non-NATO ally status of the United States prior to World War III.
World War III
Prior to war, the JSDF and the United States military forces were on constant high alert due to the Soviet presence in the Kuril and the Sakhalin islands. Though no direct military engagement occurred with the Soviets, U.S. and Japanese fighter jets would occasionally chase out Soviet aircraft outside Japan's airspace.
Upon China's entry to the war in January 1990, the SDF, USMC, and USAF braised in for an invasion. The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force clashed with the PLA in the East China Sea. Subsequently, Japan and South Korea put aside their differences and fought the common enemy in the region. While attacked by China, the SDF managed a few of its forces to the Korean peninsula, the first time since 1945.
China launched air attacks on the U.S. bases in the country. Additionally, cities along the eastern coastline were shelled by the PLAN. The Soviet Union launched their first air attacks on the island of Hokkaido, eventually occupying the island on the process. Upon the fall of Taiwan to the PRC, the Chinese then invaded Okinawa with a force of 4000 men. A joint USMC-JSDF operation successfully repelled the Chinese invasion but casualties were high on both sides. In the north, the U.S. and Self Defense Forces counterattacked the Soviets in Hokkaido. Since Japan and the US was at war, this made the reclamation of Kuril and Sakhalin fair game. Casualties were high of both sides but unexpectedly, the Soviets withdrew all of a sudden. This surprised the U.S. and Japanese troops who promptly recaptured the island.
Japan's economy bloomed again after the Third World War. Post-war Japan was marked with technological advances such as robotics, video game consoles, automobiles, etc. It would also be one of the richest countries in Asia. In 2005, the country formally apologized and compensated to the nations affected by its wartime past. This included the Chinese Federated Union and Korea, both of which were notably anti-Japanese prior to the apology. As a result of this apology, relations between China and Korea have been cordial and better compared to the past years.
On March 11, 2011, a 9.0 magnitude quake struck off the coast of Tohoku. This was followed by a tsunami. This caused severe damages to the coastal towns as well as damaging the nearby Tohoku Power Plant - which released radiation to the coast.The international community quickly responded and sent aid to Japan.
Government and Politics
Japan's armed forces are called the Japan Self Defense Force (JSDF). Article 9 of the Japanese constitution states that the SDF cannot be used for conquest and can only fight in a defensive war. However, there is a debate within the Diet to let the SDF respond to allies, particularly the US, the Philippines, and the ANZ, in a form of collective self defense in the face of a belligerent nation or a campaign against a terrorist organization.
The following are the branches of the Self Defense Force:
- Japan Ground Self Defense Force
- Japan Maritime Self Defense Force
- Japan Air Self Defense Force
Japan has good relations with the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, and other numerous states around the world. Relations with Korea and China has also warmed in the recent years since the nation formally apologized for its war crimes caused during World War II on August 15, 2005; on the 60th anniversary on VJ Day. Japan promised to provide reparations to the countries it affected during the war, which continues to this day. Nonetheless, some challenges for the relations with Korea and China are some territorial disputes in the East China Sea. The nations involved are currently discussing how to resolve these issues peacefully.