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(Text by Duane R. Hurst © 2013)

Click on a link to view its information and pictures.
Significant Event:
    Russo-Japanese War in 1904 AD
    Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895 AD)

Main Cities: Nara; Tokyo
Time: 1868-1947 AD
Language: Japanese
Personage: Meiji
Religion: Buddhism; Japanese Religion
Related Country: Japan

Brief History:
      I have included only a few items concerning the history of this empire. A good source for more details can be found on Wikipedia or in history books.

Map of Japanese Empire - World War II
Click Map to Enlarge
      Between 1852 and 1854 AD, Commodore Perry from the United States of America sailed his Black Ships into Uraga Harbor near Edo, during the later Tokugawa Shogunate period. He forced Japan to open ports to foreign ships, ending its long-standing policy of seclusion.

      In 1863 AD, Choshu forces under Mori Takachika staged anti-barbarian attacks against foreigners, which resulted in a combined western military response--the Shimonoseki Campaign (July-August 1863 and September 1864 AD). The USS Wyoming severely damaged one and sank two US-built Choshu ships during the campaign.

      In 1866 AD, the Satsuma-Choshu Alliance enabled an end to the Tokugawa shogunate. It placed Meiji in a position of power on 3 February 1867 AD. Shogun Tokugawa Yoshinobu formally resigned on 9 November 1867 AD. However, Tokugawa forces fought pro-imperial troops in the Boshin War (January 1868 - May 1869). A combined army of Choshu-Satsuma-Tosa won a decisive Battle of Toba-Fushimi. Tokugawa survivors of the war briefly established the Republic of Ezo, but it ended shortly after the Siege of Hakodate. Thus ended the feudal regime of Japan in 1869 AD.

      In 1871 AD, the Iwakura Mission negotiated new treaties with western powers and gained information vital to modernize Japan. The Meiji government also negotiated with Russia an exchange of Sakhalin Island for the Kurile Islands. Japan underwent a rapid westernization process.

      Between 1894 and 1895 AD, Japanese troops installed a puppet government in Seoul and fought the First Sino-Japanese War. Naval vessels nearly destroyed the Chinese fleet in the Battle of Yalu River. The Qing Dynasty ceded control of Taiwan and the Liaodong Peninsula to Japan. Western nations compelled Japan to withdraw from the peninsula, while Russia seized it and built a stronghold at Port Arthur. Japan also assisted western nations against the Boxer Rebellion in 1900 AD.

      Japanese naval success during the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905 AD) shocked the western powers. It represented the first successful war of an Asian nation over a European country. Japan gained control of Port Arthur, the southern half of Sakhalin Island and mineral rights in Manchuria. Japan also formally annexed Korea in 1910 AD.

      The militaristic government determined to create an empire by seizing territory throughout East Asia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Ocean. On 19 September 1931 AD, Japanese troops invaded Mukden in Manchuria and installed a puppet government over what they called Manchukuo, with Emperor Puyi as head of state. In 1937 AD, Japan invaded China in the Second Sino-Japanese War. Two rivals who likewise fought Japanese forces were Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-Shek and Communist leader Mao Zedong.

      On 27 September 1940 AD, Japan signed a Tripartite Pact with Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. Japanese troops occupied French Indochina in 1940-1941 AD. On 7 July 1937 AD, Japanese troops initiated a full-scale invasion of China.

      On 7 December 1941 AD, Japanese forces under Marshal Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto launched a surprise attack against American naval forces at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. The American fleet suffered a major loss of personnel and ships, including the U.S.S. Arizona battleship. Japanese forces also attacked U.S. territory in Guam, Philippines and Wake Island. They likewise invaded Dutch East Indies, Hong Kong, Malaya, Siam and Singapore. Congress declared war on Japan and Germany, joining Great Britain and other allied nations of World War II.

      The Japanese government and military forces perpetrated numerous crimes against civilians and captured combatants during the war. Among them were: Bataan Death March; "Comfort Women"; Death Railway in Burma (noted for the River Kwai Bridge); horrendous medical experiments; Massacre in Nanjing, China (between 40,000 to 300,000 people slaughtered).

      On 6 August 1945 AD, the Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. A second atomic bomb exploded over Nagasaki on 9 August. War in the Pacific ended on 2 September 1945 AD with the surrender of Japan. Allied powers agreed that the Japanese emperor could retain a figurehead status.

© Page Publisher: Duane R. Hurst