Ancient Japan - Empire of Japan (1868–1945)

Empire of Japan (1868–1945)

Main article: Empire of Japan

Beginning in 1868, Japan undertook political, economic, and cultural transformations emerging as a unified and centralized state, the Empire of Japan (also Imperial Japan or Prewar Japan). This 77-year period, which lasted until 1945, was a time of rapid economic growth. Japan became an imperial power, colonizing Korea and Taiwan. Starting in 1931 it began the takeover of Manchuria and China, in defiance of the League of Nations and the United States. Escalating tension with the U.S.--and western control of Japan's vital oil supplies—led to World War II. Japan launched multiple successful attacks on the U.S. as well as British and Dutch territories in 1941–42. After a series of great naval battles, the Americans sank the Japanese fleet and largely destroyed 50 of its largest cities through air raids, including nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japan surrendered in late summer 1945, gave up its overseas holdings in Korea, China, Taiwan and elsewhere, and was occupied and transformed into a demilitarized democratic nation by the U.S.

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