The 1500s: The start of the Renaissance
The 1500s was a time of great prosperity. Trade began to pick up again as most of those people who had lived through the worst times of the Great Plague had already passed away from old age. The new generations had come a long way in preventing diseases, and the late 1400s and early 1500s saw stability reign across much of the world. In many nations, not only in Europe, there came to be seen a break from the recent past, and a yearning for the ancient past. This yearning was expressed most directly in a bevy of Greek- and Roman-inspired edifices that became more ubiquitous over time. Even the Asian countries showed an interest in this style, and mixed it with their own to produce many new forms. Often, the ornate rooves of Asian building styles were mixed with ornate columns, walls, and other support structures to produce spectacular constructions. Domes, too, though never common, found some acceptance and respect in the Far East. As mentioned above, ideas changed, too, as most of Europe (and East Asia) became more secular in nature (while the Middle East saw renewed radicalism). Some areas in Europe that didn't take a much more secular turn included Castile, Portugal, and the Papal States and Naples.
Sri Vijaya's Growing Wealth
In 1524, a large diamond deposit was found in southern Africa. This would eventually lead to the "Gold and Diamond Rush" of the mid-1500s. The amount of precious material found was huge, and the areas where they were first discovered are still being mined to some extent, almost 500 years later. This massive rush did two major things. Firstly, it secured Sr Vijaya's prominence among the major empires of the world, and secondly, it led to a major influx of Malays into southern Africa. By the year 1600, there were more than 500,000 Malays living in Africa, principally in the south. As for the Khoisan peoples, the Malays generally left them alone. As they were thought of as unable to function in a modern society, and also partly because they were thought of as a possible forebear of the Malays, they were allowed much space to continue their nomadic lifestyles. A need for workers is what created a demand for more Malays, and Malays became highly urbanized in most of Africa, while the Khoisan (and Bantus) of Africa remained in the rural areas.
The Sino-Japanese Agreement
Tensions were rising again between Japan and China, as both nations wanted the Yodderick (New World) continents. The Sino-Japanese Colonial War a century prior taught the countries that disputes about colonies only served to weaken both countries, so in 1530, it was agreed to split up the New World between the two powers. Having sailed around and mapped most of the coastline of the two continents (though largely lacking knowledge on the interiors), these nations were in a better position to partition the land in a fair manner (that is, fair to the two colonizers). Although China was much larger than Japan in landmass and population, Japan was the first colonizer on the continents, and had a substantial head-start. This led to China agreeing that a majority of the land in the New World would be under Japanese jurisdiction. In the end, according to the agreement, China acknowledged Japan's claims of OTL Alaska, Canada, most of the U.S., Argentina, and Chile (that is, most of temperate and arctic America), while Japan acknowledged China's claim to most of OTL tropical America, including Mexico, Central America, and northern South America. Sri Vijaya didn't participate in the agreement, and did not recognize these claims, but unofficially made it clear that it wouldn't protest the agreement or try to colonize the Americas as long as neither China nor Japan intervened in the continent of Africa.
Japan Strikes it Rich
Only in the 1500s did Japanese migration to the New World begin in earnest. Population centers ballooned, and rural areas were increasingly settled. Migrants from Shintoukou (新東港; San Jose, CA) started to explore farther afield. In 1536, only 12 years after the Sri Vijayan southern Africa gold and diamond rush began, major gold deposits were found in the Japanese colonies. The new town of Tougane (東金; Sacramento, CA) sprouted up as a base for further mining exploration. By the end of the 1500s, Tougane grew to become the largest colonial settlement in the Yodderick. Japanese were further drawn to the new territories.
The Two Europes
The Catholic Church lost power rapidly in a succession of states. By the mid-1500s, Catholics represented minorities in Tolosa (long a strongly Cathar and secular state), Aragon, France, England-Normandy, Scotland, and Ireland (while Castile had succeeded in crushing Muslim Granada). States still strongly Catholic included Spain (Castile), Portugal, the Papal States, and Naples. The Holy Roman Empire was in a crisis, as there were many ethnic groups and differing religious beliefs, and these boiled over during the late sixteenth century.
This was a war of territory and religion. Aragon had not agreed to join with Castile, as it was feared that Castile would dominate, and would also try to convert Aragon's Cathar population to Catholicism. This angered Castile. At the same time, Aragon had control of Corsica and Sardinia (in addition to the Balearic Islands), which were only a hop away from the Papal States. The Pope and his bishops felt that those islands - far from Aragon proper, and still mostly Catholic - should belong to the Papal States. Aragonese control over them represented a grave threat, as they made it much easier to invade, and the Pope didn't want any heathen power close enough to attack. So a preemptive war was agreed upon by the Papal States and Castile. Castile invaded Aragon in the summer of 1563. A Papal invasion of Corsica followed soon thereafter. At first, Aragon was little prepared and lost much territory. The Castilians almost made it to the capital, Barcelona. The Pope's forces were able to take Corsica and, later, Sardinia during the war. However, Aragon was helped by Tolosan troops as well as by a wildcard that had not been foreseen by most Europeans. Sri Vijaya entered the war on Aragon's side. It turns out that Aragon had been a major trading partner to Sri Vijaya, and besides that, it was a general rule that Catholic countries were less open to trade relations with Asian countries. This meant that Sri Vijaya had a large stake in the survival of the more secular and Cathar states. This war would mark a major change in world affairs that would echo throughout the proceeding centuries. For the first time in history, an Asian nation intervened in European wars. Because of Tolosa and Sri Vijaya, Aragon survived, although, again, it lost Corsica and Sardinia to the Pope. Castile, frustrated by its inability to take Aragon, went on to invade north Africa, sparking the fall of the last Muslim states, which was completed in the 1600s.