History of Japan

By | April 28, 2022

According to historyaah, the Japanese islands have been inhabited for at least 30,000 years. On the basis of archaeological excavations, the prehistoric phase of the country’s development is usually divided into four periods: the Paleolithic pre-ceramic (up to about 10,000 BC); the Jōmon period, characterized by the advent of pottery (about 10,000 BC – about 300 BC); the Yayoi period, during which metalwork and stable agriculture were widespread (about 300 BC – about 300 AD); the Kofun period, marked by huge burial mounds and the beginning of political centralization (4th–6th centuries AD).

In the 6th-7th centuries. the old clan society began to undergo a major restructuring towards a centralized imperial administration along Chinese lines. The Asuka period (593-710), when the court of Empress Suiko established itself in Toyoura Palace, marked the transition to the written history of Japan. Under her, Prince Shotoku served as regent, who in his Constitution, which consisted of 17 articles, provided for the strengthening of power and increasing the prestige of the imperial dynasty and directed the country towards the creation of a single state. The imperial court supported Buddhism, built temples, palaces and cities according to Korean, and later – according to Chinese models, introduced Chinese characters into circulation and laid the foundations of the ritsuryo state structure, which reproduced the Chinese order. These innovations were further developed by the Taika reforms,

In 710 the capital of the country was moved to Nara. This marked the beginning of the Nar period, which witnessed the comprehensive cultural and technological influence of China on Japan. Political power widely used Buddhism and Confucianism to strengthen their positions, but to the end. 8th c. the centralized imperial administration and the system of state allotments began to show signs of great tension. The rivalry between aristocrats and clerics in Nara undermined the stability of the political course. In an effort to provide the administration with a “new start”, Emperor Kammu in 784 tried to revive the former power of the ritsuryō system and moved the capital to Kyoto. See ehistorylib for more about Japan history.

The Heian period (784-1185) thus begun was an era of complete assimilation of Chinese culture and the flourishing of elegant court customs. Politically, however, the court fell under the domination of the Fujiwara family, was unable to prevent the spread of private fiefdoms (shoen) and maintain control over the provincial authorities. The absence of a centralized military system led to the growth of the power of bands of warriors, first in the field, and then in the capital, when the Taira family in the middle. 12th c. seized power there.

The overthrow of the Taira (1185) by warriors under the leadership of Minamoto no Yoritomo, who was given the title of shogun and who established a military government in the town of Kamakura, was the starting point of the Kamakura period (1185-1333). Four centuries of domination of warriors, covering both the Kamakura and the next period – Muromachi (1333-1568), are considered in Japan as the feudal era. The influence of the imperial court was weakening uncontrollably. The shogunate passed control over the legal system, succession to the throne, and the defense of the country. Led at first by Yoritomo himself and his sons, and then by shoguns, children with regents from the Hojo family, the Kamakura shogunate was the first in a series of military regimes that dominated Japan until the middle. 19th century

This shogunate was overthrown by a coalition led by Emperor Godaigo, who tried to restore direct imperial rule, but in 1336 he himself was removed from power, and this was done by Ashikaga Takauji, who had previously helped the emperor. Using Godaigo’s rival emperor as a puppet, Takauji established a new shogunate in Muromachi (a district of Kyoto). Decades of civil war between the two imperial courts ended with the victory of Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, who managed to subdue the provincial warriors who supported his shogunate. Subsequently, however, the feudal lords organized a series of civil strife, as a result of which the country plunged into the era of “warring states” (1467-1568), when local princelings (daimyo) ignored both the shogunate and the imperial court and fought each other for power on the ground.

From Ser. 16th century a movement gradually took shape for the reunification of the country into a single whole, in which three prominent figures played a decisive role: Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu. The short but eventful period of activity of Nobunaga and Hideyoshi, within which they established military control over the country and began to reform feudal institutions, is called the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1568-1600). It was a time of greatness and openness to the outside world. Hideyoshi pacified the province by confiscating swords and separating the samurai from the peasants. He dreamed of conquering Korea and establishing a long-term dynasty, but the invasion of the Korean Peninsula ended in failure. Hideyoshi’s death in 1598 left his heir practically vulnerable to hostile daimyo.

The victory allowed the Tokugawa to reorganize the political map of Japan. He established a strictly balanced structure (bakuhan) in which the shogunate directly controlled Edo and the center of the country, and the daimyo, classified according to their allegiance to the Tokugawa, ruled over about 250 dominions. The Tokugawa and his descendants managed to maintain a strong centralized feudal power through the introduction of status distinctions between samurai, merchants, artisans and peasants, the exploitation of a hostage system in which daimyo had to spend at court every second year, the eradication of Christianity, control of contacts with the outside world, especially with the West, and formulating regulations for samurai, aristocrats, and even temples. The Bakuhan was dominated by samurai, and this structure largely depended on taxes collected from the peasants.

The Tokugawa system, for all its despotism, gave Japan more than 200 years of peace and relative isolation from other countries. Both achievements were in Ser. 19th century under threat when the US, UK and Russia began to demand the opening of trade with Japan. The inability of the shogunate to “drive out the barbarians”, the conclusion of unequal treaties, the admission of foreign ships to Japanese ports, were the beginning of a chain of events that prompted the powerful Satsuma, Choshu and Tosa clans to use the imperial court in order to challenge Tokugawa dominance. The shogunate was overthrown in 1868.

The young samurai who carried out the Meiji Restoration (the so-called period lasted until 1912), i.e. imperial power, they cared about preserving the sovereignty of their country, revitalizing its economy, and strengthening its military potential. Their slogan “Rich country, strong army” meant the restructuring of most social, political, economic and military institutions in Western fashion. Great efforts in this field were made by such figures as M. Matsukata, H. Ito, K. Saionji, I. Oyama, T. Okubo, T. Iwakura, K. Inoue and others, and Emperor Mutsuhito himself. In 1889, Japan adopted a constitution that paved the way for parliamentary government. Along with this, the new leadership of the country found it possible to turn to the methods of external expansion typical of the leading states of that time. In 1895 Japan won the war with China, in 1905 defeated the Russian armies in Manchuria, annexed Korea in 1910 and became the main imperialist power in East Asia. Its participation in the 1st World War was actually nominal, but brought German concessions in China and German-owned islands in the Pacific Ocean under the control of the empire.

The reign of Emperor Taisho (1912–26) is called by Japanese historians the “era of great opportunity.” On the one hand, these years saw trends that eventually facilitated the democratization of Japan after World War II (party governments, universal suffrage for men over the age of 25, laws on the labor exchange, minimum wages, rental arbitration). conflicts, etc.). On the other hand, the seeds of radical nationalism, expansionism and anti-liberalism appeared at the same time, which flourished in the 1930s. and 1st floor. 1940s (a law to maintain public peace aimed at controlling the spread of “dangerous thoughts” and used to suppress student radicalism and mass arrests of communists and other “subversive elements”, expanding the powers of the secret police,

For a while, supporters of the democratization of the regime managed to hold their ground, and the next Showa era (1926–89) began on an optimistic note. Soon, however, the ultranationalist forces, in which the military played the first fiddle, gained the upper hand and, using the difficult economic situation of the country (the crises of 1927 and 1929), switched from rampant political oppression on the internal front to aggression in Manchuria, in other regions of China and in eventually unleashed a war against the United States and allied powers in Asia and the Pacific.

The defeat of Japan in this war (1945), which ended with the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, resulted in the loss of all colonies, the occupation of the country by allied, primarily American, troops, complete demilitarization, the elimination of old industrial complexes (zaibatsu), the emperor’s refusal of the status of a deity, a new Constitution, a new educational system, a revolutionary agrarian reform, the legalization of leftist parties and trade unions.

After a painful period of post-war recovery, the Japanese economy demonstrated in the 1960s and 70s. very high GDP growth rates, which provided the country with unprecedented prosperity. It was based on the Japanese-American Security Treaty, which was concluded simultaneously with the signing of the San Francisco Peace Treaty, which restored the sovereignty of Japan (1951), the constant emphasis on expanding the scale of the economy, developing policies that met the interests of business, emphasizing education, moderation, frugality, energy and concentrated efforts of the Japanese people. A significant contribution to the achievement of Japan’s post-war success was made by such politicians as S. Yoshida, I. Hatoyama, H. Ikeda, T. Fukuda, Y. Nakasone and others.

A distinctive feature of Japanese history in recent years is the efforts of the people aimed at overcoming the long-term tendency towards alienation from other peoples, towards emphasizing their uniqueness and uniqueness. The Japanese are trying to internationalize their society, to include it in all-round cooperation with an increasingly interdependent world.

History of Japan