Japan is an Island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south. The characters that make up Japan’s name mean “sun-origin”, which is why the country is sometime referred to as the “Lad of the Rising sun”. Japan is an archipelago of 6,852 islands, the four largest being Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku.
From the late 19th century Japan began a modernising process that eventually made it into a major world power. It fought wars against China 1894-95 and Russia 1904-05, and after World War I occupied Manchuria 1931 and invaded China 1937. Japan entered World War II on the Axis side with a surprise attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941. The country surrendered in 1945 after the U.S. dropped the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japan is now a highly industrialized country and the leading economic power in the region.