History of Japan

map of Japan von Francois Caron (17. Jhd.)

the history of Japan is coined/shaped by an interrelation of isolation and external influences. On the one hand both the geographical isolation and an intended locking led against the external world to a spatially limited development on the Japanese islands, closed in itself. So is the history of Japan in the opinion many historians (z. B. John W. Halls) almost a model for the development of the master over the aristocracy and Feudalgesellschaft to the modern trend. In relation to this isolation the influence of China stands. The large neighbour affected of Japan writing and language; the Konfuzianismus and the Chinese state theories coined/shaped its political culture crucially also. In addition, the west exerted influence on of Japan history: By force it forced the opening and modernization of the country. Japan did not become modern only, but aimed at immediately an expansion of its sphere of influence. The expansion ended with the defeat in the Second World War and with occupation by the United States. Today Japan is a modern industrial nation, but the steeped in tradition, various history of the island realm is still alive in various regard.

For a schematic representation for the allocation of the history of Japan in periods, see article Periodisierung of Japanese history.


Weltkrieg 5.4 Besatzungszeit

del imperialistische de Meiji-Zeit

5.2 Das del dado

de Ära

Tokugawa 5 Moderne 5.1 del der de Kultur 4.4 Das Ende del und del Gesellschaft del aislamiento 4.3 de Ständesystem 4.2 del Edo-Zeit 4.1 de Reiche 4 del aber 100.000 del vermutlich del liegt del sie zurück. Probably humans came from three regions to Japan:

  • A group immigrated from the area of the today's Siberia over a land bridge from the asiatic mainland to Hokkaido . The migration of this north's group in such a way specified is today archaeologically and linguistically (elements from the group of the altaischen languages are both in the finno ugrischen language family and in the Japanese) quite well occupied.
  • A second immigration was made likewise by a land bridge from the Korean peninsula to central Japan.
  • The south of Japan was opened by humans from Southeast Asia by the sea route. With these settlers it possibly concerned member of the prähistorischen Sundaland - culture.

to Jōmon time

see also major items: Jōmon time

the twilight of the Japanese Ur and early history becomes only with the occurrence of the Jōmon culture illuminates. The Jōmon time covers about the period of 10.000 to 300 v. Chr. Their name is derived from the samples in ceramic(s), at that time produced with cords and cords. Humans of that time were hunters and collecting tanks and lived together in loose federations. At this time the Empire of China of the Han time conquered the peninsula Korea. The Chinese culture area had moved the bases close one closely at Japan, also in the following centuries of meaning culture exchange was put.

to Yayoi time

see also major items: Yayoi time

the technological progress led the Yayoi time, which itself for instance of 300 v.Chr. to the transition into a new epoch, to 300 n. Chr. extended. In the Yayoi time cultivation of wet rice and metalworking came to Japan. This time is designated after the Tokioter suburb Yayoi, in which ceramic(s) was found, was on the one hand clearly simpler as those the Jomon time, which was on the other hand however from higher quality and which illustrated increase of fate relating to crafts. From the culture stage of the Yayoi time with their village communities the time of the first states stepped out in Japan. The step for state formation introduces the Japanese antiquity.

to antiquity

Kofun time

see also major items: Kofun time

the Kofun time (about 300 710 n. Chr.) is designated to the schlüssellochförmigen hill graves of that time, the Kofun. At that time the speech of a kingdom is already Yamato on the Japanese islands in Chinese chronicles. This mixed in 4. Jhd. also into conflicts on the Korean peninsula, where after the departure of the Chinese during the Wei time three realms (Koguryo, Paekche, Silla) fought for the rule. In the Kofun time active relations developed to China and Korea, agricultural engineerings was imported. The Buddhismus was substantial, in 6. Jhdt. to Japan came. It became after violent conflicts state religion (in this fight the family Soga arrived at substantial influence). The following phase of Japanese history is called it after the capital at that time Asuka time, begins about 590 and lasts to 710 n. Chr. on.

to Asuka time

see also major items: Asuka time

although the Asuka time temporally regarded it with the Kofun time overlapped, separately, since in this period switch positions for of Japan took place history. The Soga established a rule, which was far distant from the buddhistischen ideal. The accession Suikos ( a niece of the Soga Familienvorstandes) nevertheless introduced a large change in of Japan history. Suikos prince regent Shōtoku Taishi was creditor Buddhist. It created 604 with „the 17 articles “a writing for the ethical practice of the rule. Further he took over the Chinese system of yard ranks, created a first Wegenetz and instructed the preparation of chronicles. Although the following years for Japan passed unfavorably, z. B. if it came into Korea militarily under pressure by a erstarktes China, further reforms of large consequence followed. 645 issued the ruling powers a set of laws, those as Taika reform (Taika, jap. Large turn) history to enter should. The Taika edicts subordinated all country to the emperor, arranged the building of a capital, ordered land surveyings, censuses and taxations. With the Taiho decrees of the yearly 701 the reorganization of the Japanese empire was locked. It was now a central state with a legal order, which was developed around the emperor. Due to the Japanese faith that each death gets the place dirty of deceasing, it had to be changed the capital in the process of the Asuka time several times.

to Nara time

see also major items: Nara time

only in the year 710 becomes Nara for longer time capital. The Japanese antiquity (also Japanese classical period called) begins. Altogether the Nara time was coined/shaped by peace and cultural bloom. Danger threatened in form of an invasion from China or Korea, but a military service system guaranteed manned defense barriers. Otherwise the achievements of the Asuka time secured the imperial yard, which from a to a large extent befriedeten and arranged country of tax revenues received. However nearly unnoticed new problems developed by the dominant ones, because country came into the possession of monasteries and extended families and was weakened so the yard.

These developments and the unfavorable geographical location of Naras forced a transfer of the capital after Heiankyo.

am kaiserlichen Hof
at the imperial yard

to Heian time

see also major items: Heian time

after this city is also the Heian time (794 - 1185) designated. At the beginning it succeeded to the Heian time to Kammu - Tenno again the imperial rule to stabilize. But gradually it succeeded to exercise the family Fujiwara the rule. By skillful marriage politics the clan secured its influence. Only emperor Go-Sanjo (accession 1068) broke the rule of the Fujiwara, but at a high price. It went into the monastery and governed from there indirectly, a practice those the emperor house then one while maintained. But this procedure had strongly limited imperial power and had lastingly harmed the reputation of the emperor house. Literature and seal arrived despite or straight because of the adverse conditions at high bloom, then the Genji Monogatari in the Heian time was written. But the cultural bloom could not stop the purge of the order. The emperor was no more powerful order strength, others took up the fight for the rule.

the Japanese Middle Ages

with the decay of the centralnational order began the Japanese Middle Ages, which extend from 1185 to approximately 1600.

to Kamakura time

see also major items: Kamakura time

the first phase of the Middle Ages is the Kamakura time of 1185 to 1333. Their central motive is the conflict between the families Taira and Minamoto. This Kriegerfamilien had settled tasks of police for the yard in Heiankyō and had accomplished campaigns. With the decay of the order the situation intensified itself to a fight for the rule between the two families. After the Taira had destroying struck the Minamoto, Taira NO Kiyomori left however the leaders of the Minamoto alive. A consequence-fraught error, because under the guidance of the brothers Yoritomo and Yoshitsune struck the armed forces of the Minamoto the Taira destroying. This as Gempei war admits become conflict is a popular motive in of Japan literature, seal and film.

Yoritomo forced its brother after differences to the suicide and established then in Kamakura the first Shogunat. It established parallel to the old imperial rule structure a taut, militarily organized administration. Its government was called also Bakufu logical, that means in approximately tent government and suggests the military character of the guidance. After Yoritomo (that, then wants it the legend, after a fall of the horse deceased, which the spirit of its brother Yoshitsune is to have released) still two of its sons governed, but then power shifted on the family Hōjō.

the rule of the Hōjō

under its leader Masako (1156 - 1225) was reached again a relatively peaceful condition. But danger threatened from the outside: 1274 and 1279 came it to tried Mongol invasions into Japan. The government knew around this threat and established on Kyūshū a barrier plant, in order to meet the invasion. Of Japan could not nevertheless have stopped armed forces the Mongols probably. But both marks came violent storms the defenders of the island realm to assistance and the absent-minded invasion fleets. This was the origin of the term „God wind “and/or. Kamikaze.

The protection against the attacks of the Mongols destabilized the rule of the Shōgunats substantially. Was the direct threat past, but there was no possibility of remunerating those Vasallen which had placed troops and had occupied the fortifications. Usually the winners received the Ländereien of the defeated families as remuneration with internal-Japanese wars. With the Mongolian aggressors there was nothing to conquer however, so that displeasure made itself broad.

In the year 1333 the Kamakura Bakufu ended with the destruction of the Hōjō by troops of the families Ashikaga and Nitta. These had pulled on operation emperor Go-Daigos against the Shōgunat to field, which had entmachtet completely the emperors and had sent into the exile. Go-Daigo hoped to come with the help of the Ashikaga power.

to Muromachi time

see also major items: Muromachi time

differently than planned established however the Ashikaga a new Shōgunat and introduced the Muromachi time (1333 1568). Muromachi was a quarter of Heiankyo, there, in the old capital, had the Ashikaga also them genehmen emperors begun. This led to a temporary Schisma of the imperial line, since Go-Daigo held to its requirement. 1392 gave Go-Daigos up successor this unjustified demand however.

The rule of the Ashikaga took a sudden end. After a short high phase under Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (that even Ming - China as rulers of Japan recognized) disintegrated the Shōgunat in the Ōnin war (1467 - 1477). This conflict raved in the capital and led to of them almost complete destruction. With the capital also the central power was finally smashed.

Schlacht von Nagashino
To battle of Nagashino

the time the arguing realms

see also major items: Sengoku time

Japan was a patch carpet from rule areas of individual princes and families. Into the following bloody and eventful times the arrival of the Portuguese falls in Japan, who along-brought also the first Feuerwaffen. Besides the Christian Missionierung Japan began. Despite all unrest and force those as Sengoku jidai (time the arguing realms) admitted time, came it also to the development of a trade between the individual regions, to the first European contact and to the coining/shaping contact with the Christianity (see. Christianity in Japan). Even the Feuerwaffe, which did not experience technical advancement, should become important few decades later in the battle of Nagashino very.

A Japan vibrated by cruel civil war received only in the Azuchi Momoyama time (1568 - 1600) new hope. It was the time three of the realm some, Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu. Oda Nobunaga, a small Daimyō from Owari arrived through skillful TAC animals, military gift and brutal penetration will at influence to Japan over completely.

Toyotomi Hideyoshi, which as a simple soldier in Nobunagas began army, continued its agreement work, whereby its invasion attempt in Korea cost 1592 more than 200,000 men the life. It is disputed whether he did not send with priority potential troublemakers into this military adventure. It advanced of Japan agreement particularly with diplomatic fate.

After Toyotomi Hideyoshis death 1598, stepped out from the large ones of the country Tokugawa Ieyasu. In the battle of Sekigahara in the year 1600 it, not least owing to the Feuerwaffen, subjected its opponents and became absolute ruler of Japan. With the Tokugawa rule of Japan begin early modern times, which persist approximately from 1600 to 1868 and also as a Edo time (after the capital Edo) admits is.

to Edo time

see also major items: El dado

Tokugawa del Edo-Zeit errichteten el sistema de los politisches del ein, machte de Kamakura-Bakufu del beim de Anleihen del gewisse de los das. Japan was governed divided in provinces (han) by prince (Daimyō). The Daimyō was the Shōgun (the title was the Tokugawa - rulers reserve) lean requiring. Similarly as in the European Feudalismus it went exhausting deliveries thereby around military service and the obligation to the centre government.

condition system

the imperial yard was completely excluded and isolated from the exercise of power. Since the Tokugawa supported this rule system by rigide laws and control mechanisms, it could exist nearly 200 years long. The population was divided into a konfuzianisch inspired condition system, which knew four conditions, Krieger, farmers, craftsmen and buyers (ski NO ko sho). A change of the conditions was almost impossible. In highest place the Samurai stood, for now less krieger than administrative elite of the country. From fear of rebellions the Tokugawa the Kriegeradel hunted however strict behavior rules up. Samurai lived no more on the country with them subordinated the farmers, but in the castle cities their gentleman. They were allowed to implement only few activities and were nearly completely dependent on the yields of the Lehen to the Broterwerb. The farmers were nominal the second conditions in the state, but were their life exactly controlled. Im el Gesellschaft von ihrer del dado de la guerra de Tokugawa del der de Japón kleinsten Einheit, erfasst del genau de Dorfebene del zur del bis de Gruppen von Familien del über de Familie del der (IE). Each of these units had a responsible person, who had to put down its superior in relation to account. Misdemeanours of a community member often drew the punishment of the group. The craftsmen were indispensable due to their abilities, but around their products to the population of the developing cities to sell, they needed the buyers, the fourth and officially lowest conditions of the society.


Further elements of the Tokugawa rule were the pursuit than of in a revolutionary manner valid Christianity and locking outward (sakoku). During this phase of the isolation the Empire of China and the Netherlands of Japan was only trade partners. The Netherlands east India company maintained a commercial station on the artificial island Deshima. Western ideas and concepts came in such a way in form of the Rangaku (Holland studies) to Japan.

society and culture

all attempts of the Shōgunats to receive a static social order failed however last end. The buyers (chōnin) stood in the meant social order in last place, but their material influence was substantial. In the process of Japan grew the Edo time cities, the centralization of the Kriegeradels at these places created new sales markets. As link between the producing conditions of the farmers and craftsmen and the consumers in the cities functioned chōnin. Samurai came into dependence on buyers, often were high-indebted them. Even the Daimyō was often forced to take up credits in order to be able to finance the expensive life to Edo. The ascent of the buyer conditions destabilized on the one hand the condition system, led however on the other hand to new impulses in the cultural area. The Japanese culture and aesthetic feeling were since the end of the Heian time always by war-arose coined/shaped. Conservative styles in architecture and literature, aesthetic feeling of the Zen, the classical Nō theatre and different ritualisierte actions (for example the famous dte ceremony) determined the picture. This world was locked for the buyers, and so they developed their own culture with increasing prosperity and increasing education. In demarcation to the aristokratischen this dedicated itself ukiyo, to the passing world. To emphasize the well-known painting of the Ukiyo e as well as the Kabuki are as new form of the theatre.

the end of the era Tokugawa

Samurai of the Satsuma clan, approx. 1868-1869, admission of Felice Beato

the development of large cities, which and the dissolution of the order of the conditions rang to emergence of wholesale and money economy the end of the Tokugawa rule, this final phase of the Edo time become also as Bakumatsu - time designates. Center 19. Century came it to farmer rebellions, many Samurai were highly indebted, the rising dealers continued to win against it at influence. The Shōgunat entglitt increasingly control. Also the foreign country exerted solid pressure, in order to reach an opening of Japan, all in front Russia, England and the USA. 1853 landed American tank ships under Commodore Matthew Perry in the bay of Edo, in order to reach with the Shogunat concessions and the opening from treaty ports to. After four years of tough struggle Shōgun Tokugawa Iesada finally gave way, and it comes for the first time to trade relations between the USA and Japan in the contract of Kanagawa.

1868 led this development to the Meiji restoration, a revolution from above, which placed the Tennō symbolically the point of the state.

to modern trend

the Meiji time

see also major items: Meiji time

in the Meiji time among emperors Mutsuhito comprehensive reforms were introduced. The condition system was abolished, introduced money instead of nature when taxes and set up a military service army. Feudalistische forces undertook a rebellion with the Satsuma rebellion of 1877, which failed however.

Japanese realm inspired from 1870 to the end of the Second

World War by the Iwakura mission, a study trip of high-ranking politicians to North America and Europe, received the country a condition. Japan transferred the German civil law book in almost unchanged form. It should become a modern constitutional monarchy and be able by rapid technological development the west on eye level to meet. And this succeeded very fast. Economic growth like an explosion and efficient armements policy made a power factor in Asia from the been subject island realm. 1895 succeeded to Japan a victory over China in the fight for the supremacy in Korea (Chinese Japanese war) and 1905 struck of Japan navy the Russian armed forces in the sea-battle with Tsushima destroying (Russian-Japanese war).

With death emperor Mutsuhitos in the year 1912 ended the Meiji time. The restoration of the emperor rule and the economic, social and military reorganisation of the country in this epoch mark of Japan entrance into the modern trend. The Japan of 1855 forced upon „unequal contracts “and/or. the Exterritorialität of the treaty ports could already have been waived 1894/1911.

imperialistic Japan

to 17. November 1905 became Korea a protectorate of Japan, and 1910 officially annektiert (see: Korea under Japanese rule). Also Manchuria arrives under Japanese influence, which was limited however up to the Manchuria crisis to the economic exploitation of the Manchuria, which also the building of the südmandschurischen railway served.

Japanese nut/mother with twins, 1917

in the First World War fought to Japan on sides of the allied ones and profited economically. With the Versailler contract transferred it the German colonies to China, which led to substantial protests in China, the movement of fifth May. In the 20's of the twentieth century Japan was gebeutelt strongly by the world economic crisis. The economy was restructured and a erstarkte heavy industry and influential banking syndicates (zaibatsu) stepped out in the 30's. These groups had strong interest in armament and further expansion.

Strengthened of these successes Japan tried to seize 1918 in Siberia foot. The October Revolution international interventions on side of the “white” followed, anticommunist resistance. Thus 70,00 Japanese and 9,000 US troops, Japan landed kept Wladiwostok, parts of the Pacific coast and areas occupied along the Trans-Siberian railway in the eastern republic with Wladiwostok. 1920 was back-pushed alone the Japanese interveners on Wladiwostok and the coastal strips, remaining with the troops of the Byelorussian general Semjonow, back-conquered Wladiwostok only at the 25.Oktober 1922. This failure led in Japan to rebellions, which caused a change of government in the civil camp.

From 1912 to 1926 it governed with the Taishō - Tennō Yoshihito psychologically ill a man, whereby itself power of the Tennō and its familiar one, which genrō, on the parliament and the again created parties shifted.

1926 began the Shōwa time with Hirohitos Inthronisierung. It governed a country, in which since the end of the First World War nationalistic forces won increasingly in influence. Japan had been not equally treated in various international negotiations, in particular with the contract by Portsmouth. Although its requirement in Korea (despite protests) was recognized, the expansion plans in China did not find support in the west. World economic crisis, natural catastrophes like the destruction Tōkyōs by an earthquake 1923 and social problems led to a political radicalization of the country. Several Putschversuche and a substantial socialist pursuit led finally to the seizure of power of a ultranationalen grouping out military.

HIJMS Kaga, Japans erster großer Flugzeugträger
HIJMS Kaga, of Japan first large aircraft carrier

of the Tennō and its göttliche descent were moved in the center of the political ideology, others than the ultranationale opinion were pursued. In the year 1940 the multi-party state was dead, a central organization named Taisei Yokusankai took over all functions. Already before this final seizure of power those of military had already operated without influencing control of the policy in China - so in Manchuria (see: Mandschuko).

1933 withdrew Japan from the Völkerbund . 1937 became the incident at the Marco Polo bridge the Initialzündung of the second Japanese-Chinese war. It came with the massacre from Nanking to a drastic war crime. With the Axis powers Germany under Hitler and Italy under Mussolini connected its aggressive expansionist tendency to Japan. Embedded into the axle Berlin Rome Tokyo and a nonaggression treaty with the Soviet Union (1941) began the military under the slogan Asia the Asian a conquest campaign in Eastern Asia, which let the colonial empires of the Dutchmen, Englishmen and Americans break down within fewer months. Japan replaced these with „the largeEast Asian prosperity sphere in such a way specified “.

Japan in the Second World War

the attack on Pearl Harbor at the end of of 1941 meant the formal entrance into the Second World War. Japan achieved successes in the case of the occupation of China and could be sphere of influence in completely Southeast Asia to expand, so that even Australia was threatened. On the way to these military successes atrocities, it happened came to the employment of biological and chemical agents and to people attempts at prisoners of war in the occupied areas.

Japan controlled the Philippines, new Guinea and Burma, as well as countless Inselgruppen, with Indonesia a oil-rich country colony of the empire had become. Only in June 1942 with the battle around Midway the sheet in the Pacific war turned. The Japanese navy lost four aircraft carriers. In August 1942 the Japanese lost a further important battle with Guadalcanal.

The imperial army was far distributed over the giant realm, their supply susceptible to attacks by submarines. Until 1944 could keep itself the imperial army nevertheless good. But with increasing arrival of troops of the European theater and from the United States the allied Gegenoffensive came into rolling. Southeast Asia was released gradually and in a number of amphibious operations, which admits asisland hopping “became, moves US armed forces towards the Japanese Hauptinseln.

Despite embittered resistance fell 1945 in the battles around Iwo Jima and around Okinawa the most important defense positions of the Japanese armed forces. Despite this military situation offering no prospects and permanent bombardments were to be explained Japanese military not ready the unconditional surrender. The disputed atom bomb releases took place a little later on Hiroshima and Nagasaki (6. and 9. August 1945), the Soviet Union explained Japan to 8. August 1945 the war. These events forced the unconditional surrender of Japan, the emperors Hirohito to 15. August in a broadcast speech announced.

crew time and new beginning

of 1945 1951 were occupied Japan of the allied ones (actual the United States). The Potsdamer of contracts reduced the Japanese territory the Hauptinseln, the Ryukyu islands became US-American territory (and this remained until 1972).

During of general the Douglas MacArthur, the Commander-in-Chief of Pacific armed forces led, crew time comprehensive democratization and demilitirization measures were accomplished. Despite everything however for the emperor an accusation remained in the Tokioter processes saved and a part of the old elite for the establishment of a new social order was consulted. This procedure led to the establishment of a stable new state structure (while maintaining dock ore around as basic element), led however at the same time to a processing lacking of the war events and - commit a crime.

Differently than in Germany and this topic in Japan was was tabuisiert and the debt of a small Riege of military charged. All in all the renewal of Japan was however a success; large companies, which had earned at the war, were smashed, a new condition, which made democracy and peace its central topics, came into force 1947 . Reforms in the training and university nature should eliminate the remainders of ultranationalen synchronising. Regarding the armed forces the condition gave that only self-defense armed forces will maintain may. Since that time the USA and Japan are connected in a security pact, which obligates the United States to the support of Japan. 1951 closed 48 states in the peace treaty of San Francisco officially again peace with Japan, the crew ended to 1951/52.

Japan of the 50ern to today

in the year 1956 also the Soviet Union and the VR China took (see: Japanese-Chinese relations) again diplomatic relations up, and a rehabilitated Japan became part of the United Nations. 1955 were established a stable system of two parties, the liberal-democratic party (LDP) and the socialist party. The political structure resembled thus numerous western democracies. With the entry into force of the basis-of-relations treaty between the Republic of Korea and Japan to 18. December 1965 came it to the normalization of the diplomatic relations with South Korea.

The country remained reserved now with regard to foreign policy, but its economic ascent was inexorable. Automobile and building of ships, late electronics became the industries, whose export beaconed Japanese< economics> /b growth of the years 1960 to 1970 crucially. Japan was taken up to the group of the G8 - states. 1985 were released the Yen separated to date from the foreign exchange market, it came to a revaluation of the Yen in relation to the US Dollar. This development absorbed the Japanese economic development, since the USA were and are main sales market of Japanese exports.

1989 died emperors Hirohito. Its son Akihito was from the beginning overshadowed 1990 emperors and thus began the Heisei time, those by the blow-out of the Bubble Economy. Japan did not come in the following decade to the peace. The economy came into a deep crisis, several governments and Prime Ministers failed. In the years 2000/2001 there was a stabilization of the situation for the first time. The 2001 selected government around prime minister Koizumi Junichiro is up-to-date (2006) still in power. Japan is beginning after internal stabilization, with the UNTAC - mission of 1992, now also world-wide in the context of peace-receiving measures of the United Nations actively.


  • Roger Bersihand: History of Japan. From the beginnings to the present. To Stuttgart 1963
  • John Whitney resound: The Japanese empire. Fischer world history 20. Fischer, Frankfurt A. M. 1968.
  • Manfred Pohl: History of Japan. C.H. Beck, 2002, ISBN 3406479901
  • George B. Sansom: Japan. From early history to the end of the Feudalsystems. Zurich 1967
  • Takeuchi Yoshimi: Japan in Asia. Historical thinking and culture criticism after 1945, Munich: Iudicium publishing house 2005
  • pure hard Zöllner: History of Japan. From 1800 to the present, Paderborn: To Schöningh 2006, ISBN 3825226832

see also

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