Source: BBC News
A chronology of key events:
1894 - Japan goes to war with China. Japan’s better equipped forces win victory in just nine months.
1895 - China cedes Taiwan to Japan and permits Japan to trade in China.
- Comprises the ‘shi’ (inner city) and ‘to’ (metropolis)
- Population: 12.4 million (2003 estimate)
1904 - Japan goes to war with Russia. Japanese victory in 1905.
1910 - Japan annexes Korea after three years of fighting. Japan is now one of the world’s great powers.
1914 - Japan joins World War I on the side of Britain and her allies. Japan has limited participation.
1919 - Treaty of Versailles gives Japan some territorial gains in the Pacific.
1923 - Earthquake in Tokyo region kills more than 100,000 people.
1925 - Universal male suffrage is instituted. The electorate increases fivefold.
Ultra-nationalism and war
Late 1920s - Extreme nationalism begins to take hold in Japan. The emphasis is on a preservation of traditional Japanese values, and a rejection of “Western” influence.
1931 - Japan invades Manchuria, renames it and installs a puppet regime.
- Until 1945 emperors had the status of living gods
- Currently, only males can succeed to the throne
- Princess Kiko gave birth to a baby boy in September 2006, potentially resolving a succession crisis
1932 - Japanese prime minister is assassinated by ultra-nationalist terrorists. The military holds increasing influence in the country.
1936 - Japan signs an anti-communist agreement with Nazi Germany. It concludes a similar agreement with Italy in 1937.
1937 - Japan goes to war with China. By the end of the year, Japan has captured Shanghai, Beijing and Nanjing. Japanese forces commit atrocities, including the “Rape of Nanjing”, in which up to 300,000 Chinese civilians are said to have been killed.
1939 - Outbreak of World War II in Europe. With the fall of France to Nazi Germany in 1940, Japan moves to occupy French Indo-China.
Attack on Pearl Harbor
1941 - Japan launches a surprise attack on the US Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Twelve ships are sunk, with a further 9 damaged; nearly 2,500 people are killed. The US and its main allies declare war on Japan the following day.
1942 - Japan occupies a succession of countries, including the Philippines, Dutch East Indies, Burma and Malaya. In June, US aircraft carriers defeat the Japanese at the Battle of Midway. The US begins a strategy of “‘island-hopping”, cutting the Japanese support lines as its forces advance.
1944 - US forces are near enough to Japan to start bombing raids on Japanese cities.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki
- US planes drop two atomic bombs, one on Hiroshima (6 August), the second on Nagasaki (9 August). Emperor Hirohito surrenders and relinquishes his divine status. Japan is placed under US military government. All Japanese military and naval forces are disbanded.
1947 - A new constitution comes into force. It establishes a parliamentary system, with all adults eligible to vote. Japan renounces war and pledges not to maintain land, sea or air forces for that purpose. The emperor is granted ceremonial status.
1951 - Japan signs peace treaty with the US and other nations. To this day, there is no peace treaty with Russia, as the legal successor to the Soviet Union.
1952 - Japan regains its independence. The US retains several islands for military use, including Okinawa.
1955 - Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) formed. Apart from a brief interlude in the early 1990s, the party governs almost uninterruptedly for the rest of the century and beyond.
1956 - Japan joins United Nations.
1964 - Olympic Games held in Tokyo.
1972 - Japanese prime minister visits China and normal diplomatic relations are resumed. Japan subsequently closes its embassy in Taiwan.
Okinawa is returned to Japanese sovereignty, but US retains bases there.
1982 - Japanese car firm Honda opens its first plant in the US.
- 1995 attack on the Tokyo underground claimed 12 lives, injured more than 5,500
- Aum Shinrikyo was founded by Shoko Asahara in 1987 and drew thousands of followers
- Asahara was sentenced to death in 2004 over the Tokyo attack
1989 - Emperor Hirohito dies, succeeded by Akihito.
1993 - Elections held against a background of bribery scandals and economic decline see the LDP ousted for the first time since 1955. A seven-party coalition takes power.
1994 - The anti-LDP coalition collapses. An administration supported by the LDP and the Socialists takes over.
Natural and man-made disasters
1995 January – An earthquake hits central Japan, killing thousands and causing widespread damage. The city of Kobe is hardest hit.
1995 March – A religious sect, Aum Shinrikyo, releases the deadly nerve gas sarin on the Tokyo underground railway system. Twelve people are killed and thousands are injured.
Rape of a local schoolgirl by US servicemen based on Okinawa sparks mass protests demanding the removal of US forces from the island.
1997 - The economy enters a severe recession.
1998 - Keizo Obuchi of the LDP becomes prime minister.
2000 - Obuchi suffers a stroke and is replaced by Yoshiro Mori. Obuchi dies six weeks later.
2001 March – Mori announces his intention to resign as LDP leader and prime minister.
Koizumi at helm
2001 April – Junichiro Koizumi becomes new LDP leader and prime minister.
2001 April – Trade dispute with China after Japan imposes import tariffs on Chinese agricultural products. China retaliates with import taxes on Japanese vehicles and other manufactured goods.
- Monument also venerates convicted war criminals
- Ceremonies at the shrine raise hackles across Asia
2001 August – Koizumi pays homage at the Yasukuni shrine dedicated to the country’s war dead, provoking protests from Japan’s neighbours. The memorial also honours war criminals.
2001 October – Koizumi visits Seoul and offers an apology for the suffering South Korea endured under his country’s colonial rule.
2001 December – Birth of Japan’s new princess – first child of Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako – reignites debate over male-only succession law.
2002 September – Koizumi becomes the first Japanese leader to visit North Korea. North Korean leader Kim Jong-il apologises for abductions of Japanese citizens in 1970s and 1980s and confirms that eight of them are dead.
2002 October – Five Japanese nationals kidnapped by North Korea return home to emotional family reunions.
2003 December – Government announces decision to install “purely defensive” US-made missile shield.
2004 February – Non-combat soldiers arrive in Iraq in first Japanese deployment in combat zone since World War II.
2004 September – Japan, along with Brazil, Germany and India, launches an application for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.
2004 October – More than 30 people are killed in powerful earthquakes in the north, the deadliest quakes in almost a decade.
2004 December – Dispute with North Korea over the fate of Japanese citizens kidnapped by North Korea during the Cold War. Pyongyang says any imposition of sanctions by Tokyo will be treated as declaration of war.
2005 April – Relations with Beijing deteriorate amid sometimes-violent anti-Japanese protests in Chinese cities, sparked by a Japanese textbook which China says glosses over Japan’s World War II record.
2005 September – PM Koizumi wins a landslide victory in early general elections called after the upper house rejects plans to privatise the postal service – the key part of his reform agenda. Parliament approves the legislation in October.
2006 July – The last contingent of Japanese troops leaves Iraq.
Abe takes over
2006 September – Shinzo Abe succeeds Junichiro Koizumi as prime minister.
2006 December – Parliament approves the creation of a fully-fledged defence ministry, the first since World War II.
2007 April – Wen Jiabao becomes the first Chinese prime minister to address the Japanese parliament. Mr Wen says both sides have succeeded in warming relations.
2007 July – The ruling LDP suffers a crushing defeat in upper house elections.
2007 August – On the 62nd anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II, almost the entire cabinet stays away from the Yasukuni shrine. Prime Minister Abe says he has no plans to visit the shrine for as long as the issue continues to be a diplomatic problem.
Abe steps down
2007 September – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe resigns, is replaced by Yasuo Fukuda.
- Rigidly enforced state religion until the 1950s
- Followers venerate “kami”, spirits who number in the millions
- Shinto has no founder, major scriptures or ethical laws
- Tens of thousands of Shinto shrines dot the country
2007 November – A Japanese whaling fleet sets sail on a six-month mission Tokyo describes as scientific research. Australia and other nations call the programme a front for commercial whaling.
2008 June – The opposition-controlled upper house passes a censure motion against Mr Fukuda for his handling of domestic issues, but the lower house backs a confidence motion in him.
Japan and China reach a deal for the joint development of a gas field in the East China Sea, resolving a four-year-old dispute.
2008 September – Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda resigns. Former foreign minister Taro Aso appointed as new premier.
2008 November – General Toshio Tamogami, head of Japan’s air force, loses his job after writing an essay seeking to justify Japan’s role in the second world war.
2009 February – Economics Minister Kaoru Yosano says Japan is facing worst economic crisis since World War II, after figures show its economy shrank by 3.3% in last quarter.
Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa resigns amid claims that he was drunk at a G7 meeting.
2009 July – Prime Minister Taro Aso calls an election for 30 August following his party’s emphatic defeat in local elections held in Tokyo.
The outlook for Japan’s economy remains uncertain as consumer confidence increases but fears remain over output and deflation.
2009 August – Opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) wins general election by a landslide, ending more than 50 years of nearly unbroken rule by the Liberal Democratic Party.
The US base on Okinawa has been a source of friction between the allies
2009 September - DPJ leader Yukio Hatoyama elected PM at head of coalition with Social Democratic Party and People’s New Party.
2010 January – Prime Minister Hatoyama says Japan may rethink US military bases after a city on Okinawa elects a mayor opposed to hosting a major air base.
2010 March – Japan’s economy grew by less than first estimated in the final quarter of 2009. On an annualised basis, economic growth was 3.8%, down from the initial estimate of 4.6%.
2010 May – PM Yukio Hatoyama apologises for not keeping an election promise to move the United States’ Futenma military base – unpopular with many locals – from Okinawa.
2010 June – Prime Minister Hatoyama quits. Finance Minister Naoto Kan takes over after a vote in the party’s parliamentary caucus.
2010 July – Ruling coalition loses majority in elections to the upper house of parliament.
Tsunami is a Japanese word meaning harbour wave
2010 September – Diplomatic row erupts with China over Japan’s arrest of Chinese trawler crew in disputed waters in East China Sea. Japan later frees the crew but rejects Chinese demands for an apology.
2010 October – Japan’s central bank cuts interest rate to almost zero in effort to stimulate faltering economy.
2010 November – Tensions surface with Russia after PM Kan criticises visit by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to the disputed Kuril Islands.
2011 February – Japan is overtaken by China as world’s second-largest economy.
2011 March – Huge offshore earthquake and subsequent tsunami devastate miles of shoreline. Damage to a nuclear plant prompts the nation to brace for a radiation catastrophe.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/asia-pacific/country_profiles/1261918.stmPublished: 2011/03/16 09:33:17 GMT© BBC 2011