The Japan reference article from the Simple Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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Japan is a country in Asia. It is made of islands, four of them are large. The islands are off the east Asian coast in the western part of the Pacific Ocean.

The name "Japan" is actually a foreign word. In Japan, they refer to their country as "Nihon" or "Nippon", which literally means "The origin of the sun". The Japanese used to believe that the Japanese emperors were the children of the Sun goddess, Amaterasu. But, the emperor said that he was not anymore after World War II.


The earliest records on Japan appeared in Chinese history. One of those records said there were many small countries which had wars between them and later a country ruled by a queen became strongest among them and peace came. Japan begen to write its history in writing after the 5th and 6th centuries, when Korea and China told Japan about the Chinese writing system. Japan's neighbors also showed them the ways of Buddhism. The Japanese changed Buddhism many ways, starting ideas such as Zen.

In the ancient and medieval time lots of cultural new ideas were brought into Japan from China, but their relations and transporting were weaker in time wars occured in China, such as the late time of Tang dynasty or Mongol invasion into China. In the late of the 13th century Mongorian Yuan dynasty in China have tried to invade Japan but both attempt was failed.

Japan had contacts with the Europeans for a little while in the 16th century. The first Europeans recorded who visited Japan were Portuguese. Later, the Spanish, English and Dutch came to trade. Also Christianity was brought. Japan's men of politics welcomed them first but later they knew these Europeans conquered many places in the world and suspected they could conquer Japan too, so the Japanese did not let the Europeans come into Japan anymore, except a small area in Nagasaki city. Only Chinese, Korean and Dutch were allowed to visit Japan finally and their activity in Japan were under severe control of Japanese government. Japan was open again in 1854 by Matthew Perry, under president Millard Fillmore, since they wanted that American whale catchers used Japanese ports.

This new contact with Europeans and Americans changed some ways of Japanese life. The Meiji Restoration of 1868 stopped some old ways and added some new ones. Japan became a very powerful nation. It tried to take over its neighbours, like China, Manchuria, Taiwan and Korea. In the early 20th century, Japan's area grew more and more. It had two wars with China. Many people were killed, such as the 260,000 Chinese in the Nanjing Massacre.

Japan dropped bombs on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii of the United States in 1941. This started the United states' involvement in World War 2. Four years later, the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan and killed 130,000 Japanese people in a few seconds. Japan surrendered and gave up all the places it took from other countries. The United States forced Japan to write a new constitution, in which they promised to never go to war again.

Japan was hurt very much after the atomic bombs, but it grew strong again very soon and very rich.

See also