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Far East Kingdoms

Japan

 

 

 

FeatureEmperors of the Sun Line of Japan
AD 1st Century - Present Day

Prehistoric Japan is divided into four major cultures: Palaeolithic, Jomon, Yayoi and Kofun. Each of these major cultures, or periods, is further subdivided into several sub-periods. The cultural phases are almost limitless. The dates for these periods are given in uncalibrated radiocarbon years before present, except for the beginning of the Palaeolithic, which is based on other dating methods and dates from 50,000 years ago to the start of the Jomon Period. It is a period generally thought to be dominated by big-game hunters, although there is little direct evidence for how these people lived. Everyone agrees that there is a Late Palaeolithic in Japan, which dates from about 35,000 years ago to the advent of pottery technology 13,000 to 10,000 years ago. The evidence for humans in Japan before 35,000 years ago is quite controversial.

(Additional information from External Link: Japanese Archaeology.)

Jomon Period
13,000 - 300 BC

The earliest inhabitants of the Japanese islands were hunter-gatherers, with the long coasts providing good supplies of fish. Pottery was made, after which the period is named. These hunter-gatherers seem to have arrived before the end of the last ice age, via land bridges that joined Japan  to Asia's mainland. They successfully fended off invaders until about 300-200 BC, but still contributed greatly to the genetic make-up of modern Japanese people.

(Additional information from External Link: Japan-Guide.com.)

Yayoi Period
300 BC - AD 300

Rice culture was imported into Japan around 200-100 BC by farmers who migrated from the Korean peninsula, although some experts believe the influx may have begun up to seven hundred years earlier. These newcomers also introduced the language from which all modern dialects of Japanese appear to descend, replacing any language possessed by the earlier populations of hunter-gatherers (see the Legendary Period, below, for a more detailed examination of Japanese language origins).

With the introduction of agriculture, social classes started to evolve, and parts of the country began to unite under powerful land owners. Chinese travellers during the Han and Wei dynasties reported that a queen called Himiko (or Pimiku) reigned over Japan at this time. The Yayoi Period also witnessed the introduction of iron and other modern ideas from Korea into Japan. As with the preceding period, it is Yayoi pottery that gives the period its name.

fl c.AD 220s?

Himiko / Pimiku

Attested by Chinese travellers.

Legendary Period
First Century AD (660 BC) - AD 539

According to legend, Emperor Jimmu Tenno arrived with his people on the islands of Japan in 660 BC. However, the number of his successors between that arrival and the first truly historical emperors puts that arrival at some time in the first century, coinciding with the Yayoi Period, and all dates prior to AD 500 should be approached with caution. The dates for the first twenty-eight emperors are based on the Japanese calendar system.

Today there are around 127 million Japanese speakers worldwide, with a vocabulary that has been strongly influenced by Chinese during the fifteen hundred years between the legendary period and the modern day. It is an agglutinative language with a complex system of formalities that express the hierarchical relationships within Japanese society and the relative relationships between internal discussion partners. Japanese script is a mixture of Kanji - characters copied from Chinese - and Hiragana and Katakana, which are based on syllables. It is one of two languages in the Japanese Ryukyuan language family - the other being Ryukyuan, which is spoken on the Ryukyu Islands. Experts remain unsure about the origins of this language family. It shows links and similarities with other languages in many different areas, with many theories being expounded about its source, these including the following: Japanese is related to a now-extinct language which used to be spoken in Korea and Manchuria; Japanese is related to Korean; Japanese is one of the Altaic languages which followers of this theory also believe to include Mongolian, Tungusic, Turkish, and Korean; Japanese is a Creole language, possibly with Austronesian influences; Japanese is a purely Austronesian language; Japanese is related to Tamil.

(Additional information from External Link: Fasttranslator.)

AD 1st century

Jimmu Tenno

Tribal leader. Legendary date for his arrival is 660 BC.

Suizei

Annei

Itoku

Kosho

2nd century

Koan

K˘rei

K˘gen

? - 219

Kaika

219 - 249

Sujin

249 - 280

Suinin

280 - 316

Keik˘

316 - 342

Seimu

343 - 346

Chűai

Yamato Period (Kofun Period)
AD 346 - 539

A central power had certainly developed in the fertile Kinai Plain in Japan by the Kofun Period (kofun after the type of tombs which were built for the country's rulers). By about 400 the country was unified as Yamato Japan, with the royal court in the Yamato Province (modern Nara Prefecture). Yamato Japan extended from Kyushu to the Kinai Plain, but did not yet include the Kanto, Tohoku and Hokkaido. Still part of the Legendary Period, dates for the emperors of this period are less uncertain but still not entirely trustworthy.

Japanese did not have its own script before the fifth century. After the Japanese had become acquainted with Chinese culture via Korean monks and scholars, they adopted Chinese script in addition to other Chinese cultural aspects. Their own Japanese script was developed from this over the course of time. Chinese characters were used to write Chinese loan words or Japanese words with the same meaning. Word endings and expressions with a grammatical function were also written in this Kanji script until the development of two writing systems, Hiragana and Katakana, which were based on syllables, replaced it.

(Additional information from External Link: Fasttranslator.)

346 - 395

Oojin

Last proto-historical emperor.

346 - ?

Empress Jingű K˘g˘

Regent.

395 - 427

Nintoku

427 - 432

Richű

433 - 438

Hanzei

438 - 453

Ingyo

453 - 456

Anko

456 - 479

Yuryaku

480 - 484

Seinei

485 - 487

Kenzo

488 - 498

Ninken

498 - 506

Buretsu

507 - 531

Keitai

Possible founder of a new dynasty.

531 - 535

Ankan

535 - 539

Senka

Asuka Period (Historical Period)
AD 539 - 710

The Asuka Period witnessed the continuance of friendly relations with the kingdom of Paekche which helped the arrival of Buddhism in Japan (in 538 or 552), and the flourishing of the imperial court which promoted the new religion. From this point onwards, emperors follow traditional dates which are more or less reliable.

539 - 571

Kimmei

572 - 585

Bidatsu

585 - 587

There is a succession war in Japan.

585 - 587

Yomei

587 - 592

Sushun / Sajun

592 - 628

Empress Suiko

First truly historical empress.

(Unknown)

593 - 622

Shotoku

Regent to Suiko. Promoted Chinese ideas.

629 - 641

Jomei

Grandson of Bidatsu.

642 - 645

Empress Kogyoku

Abdicated in favour of her brother.

645 - 654

Kotoku

Brother.

645

The era of the Fujiwara Clan starts and lasts until the rise of the samurai military class in the eleventh century. A new government and administrative system is established after the Chinese model in the Taika reforms. All land is bought by the state and redistributed equally among farmers in a large land reform in order to introduce the new tax system that is adopted from China.

655 - 661

Empress Saimei

Empress Kogyoku re-acceded throne as Saimei.

662 - 671

Tenji / Tenchi (Nakanooye)

671 - 672

Kobun (Ōtomo)

Named posthumously.

673 - 686

Kemmu / Temmu

Usurper of Kobun's throne.

690 - 697

Empress Jito

697 - 707

Mommu

707 - 715

Empress Gemmei

Nara Period
AD 710 - 794

In AD 710, the first permanent Japanese capital was established in Nara. This was a city modelled on the Tang Chinese capital of Xi'an, which was at its peak in terms of cultural influence and industrial power. China was the superpower of the ancient east, and everyone wanted to copy its glories. The imperial court made a concerted effort in this period to document its history, producing the country's first works of literature.

715 - 724

Empress Gensho

724 - 749

Shomu

749 - 758

Empress Koken

Abdicated in favour of cousin. Buddhist.

758 - 764

Junnin (Haitei)

Second cousin. A young sovereign. Posthumously named Junnin.

764 - 770

Empress Shotoku

Empress Koken took crown back from Junnin and ruled again.

770 - 781

Konin / Kammu

FeatureHeian Period
AD 794 - 1192

Confucianism and other Chinese influences were at their height during this period, and the imperial court was similarly at its height. The period began in 794 with the capital being moved to Heian kyō (modern Kyoto). The first shoguns appeared during this period, but only as generals leading campaigns against northern 'barbarians'.

(Additional information by Haruo Kakuta.)

781 - 806

Kammu

50th Emperor of the Sun Line.

799

The presence of salt pans around the Seto Inland Sea in the eighth century is supported by documents. Nihon Koki, for example, has an entry dated 14 November 799 which relates that 'Bizen Province said, "People in Kojima County have made their living by producing salt, and prepared for Cho and Yo taxes with the salt. The mountains, the wilds, the seashores, and the islands there have been for common use as a rule. Powerful clans and families have come to disturb and deprive the people. The more prosperous the powerful become, the more distressed the poor turn. We beg things to be replaced." The Emperor ordered, "It is against the public benefit that the powerful intimidate the poor. It must be stopped and never be allowed to happen."'.

806 - 809

Heizei

Died 824.

809 - 823

Saga

Died 842.

823 - 833

Junna

Died 840.

833 - 850

Nimmyo

850 - 858

Montoku

858 - 876

Seiwa

Died 880.

877 - 884

Yozei

Died 949.

884 - 887

Koko

887 - 897

Uda

Died 937.

897 - 930

Daigo

930 - 946

Suzaku

Died 952.

946 - 967

Murakami

967 - 969

Reizei

Died 1011.

969 - 984

Enyű

Died 991.

984 - 986

Kazan

Died 1008.

986 - 1011

Ichij˘

1011 - 1016

Sanj˘

Died 1017.

1016 - 1036

Go-Ichij˘

1036 - 1045

Go-Suzaku

1045 - 1068

Go-Reizei

1067 - 1072

Go-Sanj˘

Died 1073.

1072 - 1086

Shirakawa

First 'cloistered' emperor (1086-1129).

1086 - 1129

Shirakawa becomes the first cloistered emperor when he 'retires' to a monastery in 1086, but in fact continues to exert considerable influence over his successor (all cloistered emperors below are shown in red, while their 'influenced' successors are shown with a shaded background).

1086 - 1107

Horikawa

1107 - 1123

Toba

Cloistered emperor (1129-1156).

1123 - 1141

Sutoku

Son. Died 1156.

1141 - 1155

Konoye

Brother. Died aged 17 with no heir.

1155 - 1158

Go-Shirakawa

Brother. Cloistered emperor (1158-1179 & 1180-1192).

1159 - 1165

Nij˘

m daughter of Toba.

1166 - 1168

Rokuj˘

Died 1176.

1169 - 1181

Takakura

Cloistered emperor (1180-1181).

1179 - 1180

Go-Shirakawa attempts to regain direct power, but fails, so he reverts to cloistered rule.

1180 - 1185

The Taira and Minamoto clans fight a deciding war for supremacy, the Gempei War. In 1185, the Battle of Dan-no-ura sees the Taira Clan being overthrown by the Minamoto, who in 1192 become the first shoguns to govern the country.

1181 - 1183

Antoku

Died 1185.

1183 - 1198

Go-Toba

Cloistered emperor (1198-1221). Died 1239.

1199

After Shogun Yoritomo's death, quarrels for supremacy start between the bakufu of Kamakura and the imperial court in Kyoto.

Kamakura Period
AD 1192 - 1333

Emperors of this period follow traditional dates which are more or less reliable. The Shoguns became the secular rulers of the country from 1192, while the Hojo Regents gained imperial power from 1203, depriving the emperor and government offices of practically all remaining power.

1199 - 1210

Tsuchimikado

Died 1231.

1203

The Hojo Regents gain power In Japan.

1211 - 1221

Juntoku

Sent into exile after being defeated. Died 1242.

1221

The quarrels for supremacy between the shoguns and the imperial court reach an end in the Jokyu War (or Incident) when the imperial army is defeated in Kyoto, and the Hojo Regents in Kamakura achieve complete control over Japan.

1221

Chukyo

Died 1234. Dethroned aged 2. Officially listed after 1870.

1222 - 1232

Go-Horikawa

Died 1234.

1233 - 1242

Shijo

1243 - 1246

Go-Saga

Died 1272.

1247 - 1259

Go-Fukakusa

Died 1304.

1260 - 1274

Kameyama

Died 1305.

1274

The first Mongol invasion is defeated through bad weather conditions, with the outnumbered Japanese facing superior and much more modern forces. The defeat is an unexpected one for the otherwise near-universally victorious Mongols.

First Mongol invasion of Japan
This illustration of the first Mongol attempt to invade Japan shows the Mongol fleet being smashed to pieces by the 'divine wind' that saved the Japanese

1275 - 1287

Go-Uda

Died 1324.

1281

The second Mongol invasion is again defeated through bad weather conditions. The Mongols suffer around seventy-five per cent casualties and a clear limit is set on their expansion in Asia. Japan praises the kamikaze, or 'divine wind', which has saved it twice from invasion.

1288 - 1298

Fushimi

Died 1217.

1299 - 1301

Go-Fushimi

Died 1336.

1302 - 1308

Go-Nijo

1309 - 1318

Hanazono

Died 1348.

1319 - 1336

Go-Daigo

Southern Court from 1336.

1333

At the climax of a two-year-long campaign, Go-Daigo overthrows the weakened Hojo Regents.

1336

Ashikaga Takauji drives Go-Daigo out of Kyoto and two years later declares himself shogun, splitting the country between the Northern and Southern courts.

Ashikaga Period / Northern Emperors
AD 1338 - 1392

The Hojo Regents were defeated by the imperial court, but almost immediately the Ashikaga Shoguns seized power and held the stronger north of Japan from Kyoto.

1336 - 1392

The Ashikaga Shoguns rule in the north until the Japanese imperial court is reunited.

Nambokucho Period / Southern Emperors
AD 1338 - 1392

These emperors ruled in the southern court only, in effect from 1336 but officially from 1338, when Ashikaga Takauji declared himself Shogun. In 1392 the southern court gave in and the country was reunified.

1336 - 1338

Go-Daigo

Ruled all of Japan until 1336.

1339 - 1368

Go-Murakami

1369 - 1372

Chokei

1373 - 1392

Go-Kameyama

Died 1424.

1392

The Japanese imperial court is reunited when the southern court surrenders to the north.

Muromachi Period
AD 1392 - 1573

The Muromachi Period emperors were dominated by the Ashikaga Shoguns. The period ended when the last Ashikaga shogun was driven out of the capital in Kyoto by Oba Nobunaga.

(Additional information from Tanegashima - The Arrival of Europe in Japan, Olof G Lidin, and from External Link: History Extra.)

1392 - 1412

Go-Komatsu

100th Emperor of the Sun Line. Died 1433.

1413 - 1428

Shoko

1429 - 1464

Go-Hanazono

Died 1471.

1465 - 1500

Go-Tsuchimikado

c.1467

The Sengoku Period, the age of civil war, begins in Japan.

1501 - 1526

Go-Kashiwabara

1527 - 1557

Go-Nara

1543 - 1544

Although Venice's Marco Polo had known of the country's existence from his travels, the Portuguese now 'discover' Japan by accident, despite having sailed up and down the coast of China for the last thirty years. The accident is due to stormy weather blowing a vessel off course in September 1543, although perhaps the Ryukyu Islands are first explored by Portuguese in 1542. The first visit to Japan by a European seems to take place towards the end of 1544 (or early in 1545, since the country is reported to be a cold place), but the report that reaches Spanish ears is based on a mixture of hearsay and fairly accurate fact. Within seven years the Portuguese establish a trading base at Nagasaki.

1558 - 1586

Oogimachi

Died 1593.

1573

The Ashikaga shogunate is ended when Yoshiaki is driven out of the capital in Kyoto by Oba Nobunaga.

Azuchi-Momoyama Period
AD 1573 - 1603

During this period the Portuguese and Spanish began to make themselves at home in Nagasaki and a few other ports. The Japanese were appalled by the stinking, unwashed sea-dogs who manned these European carracks. One rather sniffy scribe doubted any existence of ceremonial etiquette amongst them, while complaining that they showed their feelings without any self-control. If they had not arrived with muskets to sell then they may not have been given such a welcome reception. These merchants were soon followed by Jesuit missionaries who hoped to convert the country to follow the church in Rome (whilst hiding the fact that Europe was riven by schism). The arrival in 1600 of a Dutch trader changed everything.

(Additional information from External Link: History Extra.)

1587 - 1611

Go-Y˘zei

Died 1617.

1582

Oda Nobunaga dies, and Toyotomi Hideyoshi soon cements his place as successor, the most powerful daimyo in Japan.

1592 & 1598

Japan attempts to invade Korea twice but is defeated both times. Toyotomi Hideyoshi dies on 18 September 1598, and the Council of Five Elders keeps it a secret until they can withdraw the army from Korea. The dream of invading China is over, and Toyotomi's son, the infant Toyotomi Hideyori now faces the threat posed by the powerful Tokugawa Ieyasu. The council fulfils the role of regency for Hideyori, hoping to hold the peace until the child can come of age.

1600

The arrival of a Dutch trading vessel, the Liefde, greatly unsettles the Portuguese and Spanish merchants in Japan. The vessel's pilot, William Adams, is an Englishman of wit and charm. He is escorted to the powerful warlord, Tokugawa Ieyasu, where he reveals the lies peddled by Jesuits about religion in Europe. Ieyasu is no less interested in the Liefde's canon, and it is possible that he uses them in battle later in the year. (William Adams serves as the inspiration for the character of John Blackthorne in James Clavell's novel, Shogun, with the role played by Richard Chamberlain in the remarkable tv mini-series of the same name.)

On 21 October 1600 the Battle of Sekigahara witnesses a mighty clash between more than 200,000 warlords, samurai, and retainers. The mighty 'Western Army' is loyal to an infant ruler-in-waiting named Toyotomi Hideyori. The rival 'Eastern Army' is under the command of Tokugawa Ieyasu, who hopes to seize power. His forces are outnumbered by almost two-to-one and it seems inconceivable that they can defeat the stronger army.

However, Ieyasu is a shrewd operator. At a critical point in the battle, General Kobayakawa and his 16,000 crack troops switch sides to join Ieyasu. Four other general do the same, all thanks to pre-arrangements with Ieyasu. The Western Army is suddenly outnumbered, and badly off-balance. Its ranks break and scatter, and Toyotomi Hideyori is captured and married off to Ieyasu's grand-daughter, bringing him firmly under control. Ieyasu's victory ushers in the Togugawa Period, with Ieyasu himself in the role of its first Shogun.

Edo Period / Tokugawa Period
AD 1603 - 1868

The Edo Period is also known as the Tokugawa Period, as the imperial court was dominated by the powerful Tokugawa shoguns. Japan's various daimyo (feudal lords) had been fighting amongst themselves for several centuries, with several extremely powerful warlords effectively dividing Japan into rival factions during the sixteenth century. Tokugawa Ieyasu was the main beneficiary of the achievements of Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi, but his military and strategic brilliance ended the opposition of any rival warlords at the Battle of Sekigahara. Under his governance Japan experienced relative peace for the next two and-a-half centuries. The capital was now at Edo (modern Tokyo).

The arrival of Pilot William Adams and the Dutch ship, the Liefde, in 1600 transformed the status of foreigners in Japan. Shogun Ieyasu now encouraged both the Dutch East India Company and its English counterpart to establish trading bases. The first English ship to arrive, in 1613, was the Clove. By this time William Adams had been living in the country for thirteen years and, having the ear of the shogun, was able to act as a facilitator and translator. It was not to last, however. Ieyasu may have welcomed traders, but his son was xenophobic and vehemently anti-Christian. A wave of draconian edicts persecuted Christians and merchants alike and soon forced them to leave the country entirely.

(Additional information from External Link: History Extra.)

1612 - 1629

Go-Mi-no-o

Died 1680.

1623

The last English vessel in Japan sets sail in December 1623, taking with it the handful of other traders who have weathered the storm unleashed by Shogun Hidetada. The country enters a period known as sakoku - the closed country. It has seen enough of the troublesome foreign barbarians and their bitter internecine wars. Now, after almost a century of contact, it closes its doors to the world.

1630 - 1643

Empress Myosho

Died 1696.

1644 - 1654

Go-Komyo

1655 -1662

Go-Saiin

Died 1685.

1663 - 1686

Reigen

Died 1732.

1687 - 1709

Higashi-yama

1710 - 1735

Nakamikado

Died 1737.

1736 - 1746

Sakuramachi

Died 1750.

1746 - 1762

Momozono

1763 - 1770

Empress Go-Sakuramachi

Died 1813.

1771 - 1779

Go-Momozono

1780 - 1816

Kokaku

Died 1840.

1817 - 1846

Ninko

1847 - 1867

Komei

Died from hemorrhagic smallpox

1853

For some time, no US ship has been allowed to put in at Japanese ports, and shipwrecked American sailors are regularly dispatched to prevent them from polluting the isolated Japanese culture. Commodore Matthew Perry arrives with a fleet of ships on 8 July and forces Japan to end its period of isolation. This act leads shortly to the ending of the Shogunate.

1856

Following the treaty entered into between Commodore Perry and the Shogun in 1853, the first US consul general, Townsend Harris, arrives on Japanese soil to take up his office. Initially, the Japanese refuse to recognise his official status, treating him as a private citizen and a barely-honoured guest. After eighteen months of protracted negotiations and a personal audience with the Shogun, he is able to open the first US Consulate in Shimoda under the terms of the 'Harris Treaty' (as described by the John Wayne feature film, The Barbarian and the Geisha, 1958).

1867

The Shogun resigns. While being part of a movement which had aimed to reform the aging shogunate, Shogun Yoshinobu is ultimately unsuccessful. The Modern Period begins in Japan.

Modern Period
AD 1868 - Present Day

This period saw the formal restoration of imperial rule on 4 January 1868, ending 265 years of rule by the Tokugawa Shogunate. Strictly speaking, this consists of several periods: the Meiji Period (1868-1912), which saw Japan transform into a modern industrial nation; the Taisho and Early Showa Period (1912-1945), which saw Japan extend its power over much of China and the Pacific; and finally the Post-War Period.

Japanese emperors were more often known by their personal names even after death than those which they were given upon their deaths, so official names are shown here in parenthesis. Inside Japan itself, such a use of personal names would be considered impolite.

(Additional information from A Concise History of Modern Korea: From the Late Nineteenth Century to the Present, Michael J Seth, from the BBC series, The Story of China, by Michael Wood, first broadcast between 21 January and 25 February 2016, and from External Link: Britannica.com.)

1867 - 1912

Mutsuhito (Meiji)

1889

With the promulgation of the Meiji Constitution, a prime minister is selected to head a constitutional monarchy in Japan.

1894 - 1895

With the Qin rapidly losing the age-old Chinese influence in Korea to a newly-resurgent Japan, tensions are high. A decade of peace between the two over Korea comes to an end when the pro-Japanese Korean leader of the 1884 coup, Kim Ok-kyun, is lured to Shanghai and is assassinated. Japanese public opinion is outraged by the subsequent treatment of his body. The peasant-led Tonghak Uprising breaks out in Korea in the same year, and Chinese attempts to reinforce the Korean king are met with military opposition by Japan.

The First Sino-Japanese War is triggered. Japan's modern military forces entirely outmatch the more numerous but outdated forces of China. By March 1895 the Japanese have successfully invaded Shandong Province and Manchuria and have fortified posts that command the sea approaches to Beijing. China sues for peace. In the Treaty of Shimonoseki China recognises the independence of Korea and cedes to Japan the island of Taiwan, the adjoining Pescadores, and the Liaodong Peninsula in Manchuria.

1904

Japan occupies large areas of Korea during the Russo-Japanese War, with the result that a protectorate is formed to oversee these areas. Japanese resident-generals are appointed to 'manage' the country with the Korean emperor remaining in charge in name only.

1910

Following several years of increasing dominance in Korea which is tacitly supported by the Western nations, the former Korean empire is annexed to Japan. The emperor is removed and governors-general replace him in running the country.

1912 - 1926

Yoshihito (Taishō)

1914

With the First World War already underway in Europe, Japan declares war on Germany on 23 August 1914. The principle motive is to take advantage of Europe's confusion - especially Germany's - to expand its own sphere of influence in China and the Pacific. Allied with Britain which has its own need to put down any German forces in the region, Japanese and British troops take Tsingtao Fortress which houses the German East Asia Squadron's headquarters. German-leased territories in China's Shandong Province are also taken, as are the Marianas, Caroline, and Marshall Islands in the Pacific, all of which are part of German New Guinea.

Japan also dispatches a naval fleet to the Mediterranean in order to aid allied shipping against German U-boat attacks (the Anglo-Japanese Alliance ends in 1923, after Japan has grown disillusioned with Western cooperation and instead pursues a nationalist policy).

1919

The Sam-il Movement in Korea embodies a growing resistance to Japanese occupation there. On 1 March 1919, a group of activists read a Korean declaration of independence before signing it and sending a copy to the governor-general. The movement's leaders subsequently hand themselves in to the police, but a student reads the declaration in public. Mass demonstrations follow, increasing in size until a panicked Japanese military uses force to resolve things. Massacres and various atrocities follow, resulting in thousands of dead and injured.

In the same year, following the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, China's youth are shocked to find that the former German colonial territory in China is now to form part of a Japanese territory. They regard this with a sense of outrage. On 4 May 1919, using their newfound rights to freedom of speech, a huge student demonstration is organised in the capital.

1920

A force of 40,000 Czech soldiers which has fought its way across Siberia following the collapse of the Russian empire is finally extracted by a joint American-Japanese bridgehead established at Vladivostok.

1926 - 1989

Hirohito (Shōwa)

Renounced the divinity of the Sun Line 1947. Died of cancer.

1937

The Second Sino-Japanese War is triggered when Japan launches a full-scale invasion of China, inadvertently saving the nascent communist movement from utter obscurity and extinction. That December, in a six-week reign of terror, the Japanese army massacres more than 250,000 people in Nanjing. In distant Yan'an, the defeated communist guerrilla army now finds itself part of a liberation struggle. One of the most fervent leaders of the movement, Mao Zedong, has gained power over the party and has emerged as a formidable and ruthless revolutionary.

A 'United Front' is formed with the nationalists under Chinese Prime Minister Chiang Kai-shek and the communists under Mao, fighting the common enemy - the Japanese.

1941

Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, Costa Rica, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and the USA join the war on the allied side, initially against Japan, but Germany is soon included. Almost at the same time as the attack on Pearl Harbour, Japanese forces land in Siam's territory. Initial Siamese resistance is brief, and following negotiations, the Japanese forces are allowed to advance towards the British-controlled Malay peninsula, Singapore, and Burma.

1942

Peru becomes the first South American country to join the war on the side of the allies, but Mexico does the same in June. Brazil joins in August.

1943

Bolivia joins the war on the side of the allies in April, while Colombia joins in July.

1945

In February, Ecuador, Paraguay, and Uruguay belatedly join the war on the side of the allies, while in March Argentina joins, followed by Chile in April. On 6 August, an atom bomb is dropped on the city of Hiroshima by the US bomber, 'Enola Gay'. A further bomb dropped on Nagasaki on 9 August brings a declaration of surrender from Japan on 2 September. Japan also surrenders its empire, including territory in China and Korea.

1989 - Present

Akihito

125th Emperor of the Sun Line.

Naruhito

Heir.