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Japan (Japanese: 日本, Nippon or Nihon, and formally 日本国) is an island country in East Asia, located in the northwest Pacific Ocean. It is bordered on the west by the Sea of Japan, and extends from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north toward the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south. Part of the Ring of Fire, Japan spans an archipelago of 6852 islands covering 377,975 square kilometers (145,937 sq mi); the five main islands are Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu, and Okinawa. Tokyo is Japan's capital and largest city; other major cities include Yokohama, Osaka, Nagoya, Sapporo, Fukuoka, Kobe, and Kyoto.

Japan is the eleventh-most populous country in the world, as well as one of the most densely populated and urbanized. About three-fourths of the country's terrain is mountainous, concentrating its population of 125.36 million on narrow coastal plains. Japan is divided into 47 administrative prefectures and eight traditional regions. The Greater Tokyo Area is the most populous metropolitan area in the world, with more than 37.4 million residents.

Japan has been inhabited since the Upper Paleolithic period (30,000 BC), though the first written mention of the archipelago appears in a Chinese chronicle finished in the 2nd century AD. Between the 4th and 9th centuries, the kingdoms of Japan became unified under an emperor and the imperial court based in Heian-kyō. Beginning in the 12th century, political power was held by a series of military dictators (shōgun) and feudal lords (daimyō), and enforced by a class of warrior nobility (samurai). After a century-long period of civil war, the country was reunified in 1603 under the Tokugawa shogunate, which enacted an isolationist foreign policy. In 1854, a United States fleet forced Japan to open trade to the West, which led to the end of the shogunate and the restoration of imperial power in 1868. In the Meiji period, the Empire of Japan adopted a Western-modeled constitution and pursued a program of industrialization and modernization. In 1937, Japan invaded China; in 1941, it entered World War II as an Axis power. After suffering defeat in the Pacific War and two atomic bombings, Japan surrendered in 1945 and came under a seven-year Allied occupation, during which it adopted a new constitution. Under the 1947 constitution, Japan has maintained a unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy with a bicameral legislature, the National Diet.

Japan is a great power and a member of numerous international organizations, including the United Nations (since 1956), the OECD, and the Group of Seven. Although it has renounced its right to declare war, the country maintains Self-Defense Forces that rank as one of the world's strongest militaries. After World War II, Japan experienced record growth in an economic miracle, becoming the second-largest economy in the world by 1990. As of 2021, the country's economy is the third-largest by nominal GDP and the fourth-largest by PPP. A global leader in the automotive and electronics industries, Japan has made significant contributions to science and technology. Ranked "very high" on the Human Development Index, Japan has one of the world's highest life expectancies, though it is experiencing a decline in population. The culture of Japan is well known around the world, including its art, cuisine, music, and popular culture, which encompasses prominent comic, animation and video game industries. (Full article...)

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Native Solomon Islanders guide US 2nd Marine Raiders in pursuit of Japanese forces
Native Solomon Islanders guide US 2nd Marine Raiders in pursuit of Japanese forces
Carlson's patrol, also known as The Long Patrol or Carlson's long patrol, was an operation by the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion under the command of Evans Carlson during the Guadalcanal Campaign against the Imperial Japanese Army from November 6 to December 4, 1942. In the operation, the 2nd Raiders attacked forces under the command of Toshinari Shōji, which were escaping from an attempted encirclement in the Koli Point area on Guadalcanal and attempting to rejoin other Japanese army units on the opposite side of the U.S. Lunga perimeter. In a series of small unit engagements over 29 days, the 2nd Raiders killed almost 500 Japanese soldiers while suffering only 16 killed. The raiders also captured a Japanese artillery cannon that was delivering harassing gunfire on Henderson Field, the Allied airfield at Lunga Point on Guadalcanal. On August 7, 1942, Allied forces (primarily US Marines) landed on Guadalcanal, Tulagi, and Florida Islands in the Solomon Islands. Their mission was to deny the Japanese use of the islands as bases for threatening the supply routes between the U.S. and Australia, and to secure the islands as starting points for a campaign to isolate the major Japanese base at Rabaul while also supporting the Allied New Guinea campaign. The landings initiated the six-month-long Guadalcanal Campaign. The Japanese were taken by surprise, and by nightfall on August 8 the 11,000 Allied troops, under the command of Lieutenant General Alexander Vandegrift, secured Tulagi and nearby small islands as well as an airfield under construction at Lunga Point on Guadalcanal. (Full article...)

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October 20:

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17 October 2021 –
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida says that the mass release of wastewater at the Fukushima nuclear plant cannot be delayed. The water, which has been inside the plant since the 2011 meltdown, is planned to be dumped into the Pacific Ocean over several decades despite strong opposition from local fishermen and the governments of China and South Korea. (CNA)
14 October 2021 – 2021 Japanese general election
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida dissolves the lower house of the Japanese Parliament ahead of the election on October 31. (UPI)
13 October 2021 – COVID-19 pandemic
COVID-19 pandemic in Japan
It is reported that at least 415 children committed suicide in Japan in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic while schools were closed. (Reuters)
8 October 2021 –
In his first speech, Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida vows to fight and end the COVID-19 pandemic and counter the Chinese and North Korean threats by strengthening Japan coast guard and missile defenses while maintaining the country's peace. Kishida also vows to strengthen the country's alliance with the United States. (Al Jazeera)
7 October 2021 –
An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.1 hits Tokyo, Japan, and surrounding areas, wounding 41 people and stopping train lines but without any immediate reports of severe damage. According to Japan's system, this was labeled as a "strong-5 earthquake". (Reuters)

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Monochrome photograph of an elderly Kusumoto Ine seated and reading a book

Kusumoto Ine (楠本 イネ, 31 May 1827 – 27 August 1903; born Shiimoto Ine 失本 稲) was a Japanese physician. She was the daughter of Kusumoto Taki, who was a courtesan from Nagasaki; and the German physician Philipp Franz von Siebold, who worked on Dejima, an island foreigners were restricted to during Japan's long period of seclusion from the world. Ine was also known as O-Ine and later in life took the name Itoku (伊篤). In Japanese she is often called Oranda O-Ine ("Dutch O-Ine") for her association with Dejima and its Dutch-language Western learning. She was the first female doctor of Western medicine in Japan.

Siebold was banished from Japan in 1829 but managed to provide for Ine and her mother and arranged for his students and associates to care for them. Ine's reputation grew after she became a doctor of Western medicine, and she won the patronage of the feudal lord Date Munenari. She studied in various parts of Japan under numerous teachers, one of whom impregnated her—likely having raped her—resulting in her only daughter; she never married. She settled in Tokyo after the country ended its seclusion, and assisted in the birth by one of Emperor Meiji's concubines in 1873. Since her death Ine has been the subject of novels, plays, comics, and musicals in Japan. (Full article...)

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Flag of Tokushima Prefecture
Tokushima Prefecture is a prefecture of Japan located on Shikoku island. The capital is the city of Tokushima. Long ago, the city of Tokushima belonged to a region known as Myodo-gun. During the first wave of government consolidation following the abolishment of the fiefdom system and creation of prefectures in 1871, it became known by the name of Myodo Prefecture. At the time, it included not only the Awa region to the south, but the Awaji and Awaji Island regions as well. In 1873, it further incorporated the region currently occupied by Kagawa Prefecture. During the second wave of government consolidation on September 5, 1875, the Sanuki Region separated to form modern day Kagawa Prefecture. Then, on August 21, 1876, Awaji Island separated to join Hyogo Prefecture and the Awa region separated to form Kōchi Prefecture. Finally, on March 2, 1880, Myodo Prefecture fully separated from Kōchi Prefecture and became Tokushima Prefecture. Tokushima has many agricultural resources and is the site of large-scale production of many different types of vegetables. The plains north of the Yoshino River are particularly fertile, and the produce here is often shipped to across to mainland Japan in the area around Kobe, Osaka and Kyoto. Produce from Tokushima often claims top shares in markets in the Kansai region. Naruto sweet potatoes, the citrus fruit sudachi, lotus roots and strawberries are particularly prominent.

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Coordinates: 36°30′N 139°00′E / 36.5°N 139°E / 36.5; 139