Japan is an island country in East Asia. It is surrounded by the Sea of Japan to the East and the Pacific Ocean to the West. Japan has more than 6800 islands. The four largest islands are Honshu, Hokkaido, Shikoku and Kyusha. There are over 127 million people living in Japan, which is the tenth largest population in the world. The capital city is Tokyo. The country does not have an official language, however most people speak Japanese. The Japanese name for Japan is “Nihon” or “Nippon” which means “sun origin”.

Human life in Japan dates back thousands of years. Between 794 to 1185 the Japanese famous culture developed during the Heian era. The imperial court turned out enduring art, poetry, and prose. The samurai warrior class developed at this time as well. Since the 16th century, Japan has been in contact with the West, and since the 19th century, has become a major power, acquiring colonies such as Korea and Taiwan, participating in both world wars and briefly dominating large parts of Southeast and East Asia. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, victories in the First Sino-Japanese War, the Russo-Japanese War and WW I allowed Japan to expand its empire during a period of increasing militarism. During the WW II - Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor, British forces in Malaya, Singapore and Hong Kong and declared war on the United States and the British Empire. After Allied victories across the Pacific during the next four years, which culminated in the Soviet invasion of Manchuria and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, Japan agreed to an unconditional surrender on August 15.The war cost Japan, its colonies.

The Order of the Chrysanthemum was the highest title and it is rarely conferred to anyone outside of the Royal Family and Heads of State. It can only be awarded to men, and it can be conferred posthumously.


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