A time-line of Japan

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(Copyright © 1999-2018 Piero Scaruffi)

(Please help adjust the names so that the family name is written after the first name)

100 BC: rice and iron are imported into Japan by the migration of the Yayoi (related to the Mongols), who also brought a new language and a new religion
0 AD: shintoism becomes the national religion and the "emperor" is merely an official in charge of performing Shinto rituals and symbolic ceremonies
57 AD: Japan is mentioned for the first time in Chinese history
200: sushi is invented
250: the shintoist shrine of Ise is founded
239: first visit by a Japanese envoy to China
286: Korean prince Atogi brings Chinese writing to Japan
370: Japan invades Korea
400: the Yamato culture, modeled after China, rules from Kyushu to the Kinai plain, centered around the town of Naniwa in the Yamato plain (Osaka)
500: Japan adopts the Chinese alphabet
538: the Korean kingdom of Paekche dispatches a delegation to introduce Buddhism to the Japanese emperor
550: the Sun (Soga) dynasty ascends to the throne and the capital of Japan is moved to their homeland, the Asuka valley in the central Yamato plain
550: the term "Shinto" is introduced to differentiate the native religion from Buddhism and Confucianism
593: prince Shotoku of the Soga clan rules Japan and promotes Buddhism
600: prince Shotoku sends the first official Japanese mission to China
604: prince Shotoku issues a Chinese-style constitution (Kenpo Jushichijo), based on Confucian principles, which de facto inaugurates the Japanese empire
605: prince Shotoku declares Buddhism and Confucianism the state religions of Japan
607: Shotoku builds the Buddhist temple Horyuji in the Asuka valley
608: Four Japanese travelers return from China and spread Chinese culture
610: The first paper mill opens in Japan
645: Shotoku is succeeded by Kotoku Tenno, who strengthens imperial power over aristocratic clans (Taika Reform), turning their states into provinces
710: Japan's capital is moved from Asuka to Nara, modeled after China's capital Xian
712: the collection of tales "Kojiki" (record of ancient times)
720: the "Nihon shoki" (history of Japan)
749: A woman, Shomu's daughter Koken, becomes empress (also known as "empress Shotoku") and commissions one million (relief printed) copies of the Buddhist "dharani"
752: Japan's emperor Shomu founds the temple Todaiji in Nara (largest wooden building in the world) with a colossal Buddha inside
759: the poetic anthology "Man'yoshu" ("Collection of Myriad Leaves")
784: the emperor moves the capital to Nagaoka
788: the Buddhist monk Saicho founds the monastery of Mt Hiei, near Kyoto, which will become a vast ensemble of temples
794: emperor Kammu moves the capital to Heian-kyo (Kyoto)
804: the Buddhist monk Saicho (Dengyo Daishi) introduces the Tendai school
806: the monk Kukai (Kobo Daishi) introduces the Shingon (Tantric) school
819: Kukai founds the monastery of Mount Koya, near Kyoto
838: the emperor forbids contacts with China
858: emperor Seiwa begins the rule of the Fujiwara clan
909: first "monogatari" (long story)
1050: rise of the military class (samurai)
1053: the Byodo-in temple (near Kyoto) is inaugurated by emperor Fujiwara Yorimichi
1068: emperor Gosanjo overthrows the Fujiwara clan
1087: emperor Shirakawa abdicates and becomes a Buddhist monk, the first of the "cloistered emperors" (insei)
1156: Taira Kiyomori defeats the Minamoto clan and seizes power, thereby ending the "insei" era
1175: Shinran introduces the Jodo (Pure Land) school of Buddhism
1181: the famine kills hundreds of thousands of people
1185: Taira is defeated (Gempei War) and Minamoto Yoritomo of the Hojo clan seizes power, becoming the first shogun of Japan, while the emperor (or "mikado") becomes a figurehead
1191: Rinzai Zen Buddhism is introduced in Japan by the monk Eisai of Kamakura and becomes popular among the samurai, the leading class in Japanese society
1192: the emperor appoints Yoritomo as "shogun" (military leader) with residence in Kamakura (bakufu system of government)
1199: Yoritomo dies
1221: the Kamakura army defeats the imperial army (Jokyu Disturbance), thereby asserting the supremacy of the Kamakura shogunate (Hojo regents) over the emperor
1227: Soto Zen Buddhism is introduced in Japan by the monk Dogen
1232: the Joei Shikimoku code of law is promulgated to enhance control by the Hojo regents
1274: the Mongols of Kublai Khan try to invade Japan but are repelled by "kamikaze"
1333: emperor Go-Daigo defeats the Kamakura shogunate, restores imperial power and moves the capital to Muromachi (near Kyoto)
1336: Ashikaga Takauji captures Kyoto and forces Go-Daigo to move to a southern court (Yoshino, south of Kyoto)
1338: Takauji declares himself shogun, moves his capital in the Muromachi district of Kyoto and declares the northern court
1392: the southern court surrenders to the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu and the empire is unified again
1467: civil war (Onin war) erupts in Japan and Japan is split among feudal lords (daimyo)
1542: Firewarms are introduced by a shipwrecked Portugese
1549: the Catholic missionary Frances Xavier reaches Japan
1551: Spanish missionary Francis Xavier brings a clock to Japan
1568: the daimyo Oda Nobunaga enters Kyoto and ends the civil war
1570: the Archbishopric of Edo is established and the first Japanese Jesuits are ordained
1573: the daimyo Oda Nobunaga overthrows the Muromachi bakufu and extends his control over most of Japan
1575: Nobunaga defeats the rival Takeda clan in the battle of Nagashino by employing modern warfare
1582: Nobunaga is murdered and is succeeded by Toyotomi Hideyoshi
1590: Riemon Soga learns Western methods of copper refining and establishes a smelting business in Kyoto (later Sumitomo)
1591: Toyotomi Hideyoshi reunifies and pacifies Japan
1591: the Jesuits establish the first printing press in Japan
1592: Toyotomi Hideyoshi tries to conquer Korea but is repelled by China
1598: Hideyoshi dies after trying a second time to invade Korea
1600: at the battle of Sekigahara, Tokugawa Ieyasu, a friend of Hideyoshi and Nobunaga, defeats the other contenders to the leadership of Japan
1603: the emperor appoints Ieyasu as shogun, who moves his government to Edo (Tokyo) and founds the Tokugawa dynasty of shoguns
1603: the Tokugawa Shogunate divides the subjects into five hereditary classes of decreasing importance (lords, samurai, farmers, artisans, merchants)
1614: Ieyasu bans Christianity from Japan
1615: Ieyasu captures Osaka and destroys the Toyotomi clan
1633: the shogun Iemitsu forbids travelling abroad and reading foreign books
1638: the shogun Iemitsu forbids ship building
1639: Iemitsu restricts interaction with foreigners to Nagasaki
1641: Iemitsu bans all foreigners, except Chinese and Dutch, from Japan (the Dutch remain off the coast of Nagasaki)
1650: with peace, there evolved a new kind of noble, literate warrior according to bushido ("way of the warrior")
1700: kabuki and ukiyo-e become popular
1707: Mount Fuji erupts
1790: Neo-Confucianism becomes the official state philosophy
1820: China and India account for about half of the world's GDP
1845: Masahiro Abe becomes the most influential politicians of the shogunate
1851: Hisashige Tanaka builds the Mannendokei or "eternal clock"
1854: the USA forces Japan to sign a trade agreement ("treaty of Kanagawa") which reopens Japan to foreigners after two centuries
1855: Russia and Japan establish diplomatic relations
1855: Masayoshi Horta replaces Abe Masahiro
1861: The domain of Choshu urges the emperor in Kyoto to expand foreign policy
1862: The domain of Satsuma urges the union of emperor (Kyoto) and shogunate (Edo/Tokyo)
1863: The domain of Choshu demands from the shogunate the expulsion of all foreigners, but the domain of Satsuma stages a coup and removes Choshu influence from the imperial court
1863: Japan builds its first steamship
1864: British, French, Dutch and American warships bomb Choshu and open more Japanese ports for foreigners
1865: Samurai of humble origins (led by Takayoshi Kido) win the civil war in Choshu
1866: Takamori Saigo of Satsuma and Takayoshi Kido of Choshu form a secret alliance in Kyoto
1867: Keiki Tokugawa/ Yoshinobu ascends to the shogunate in Kyoto while emperor Komei dies and is succeeded by the 14-year old son Mutsuhito
1868: Choshu and Satsuma force the shogun Yoshinobu to resign, the Tokugawa dynasty ends, and the emperor (or "mikado") Meiji is restored, but with capital in Edo/Tokyo and divine attributes
1869: Shigenobu Okuma becomes vice-minister of finance
1869: The government begins colonization of Hokkaido
1869: Yukichi Fukuzawa's "Conditions in the West" launches the wave of Westernization
Mar 1869: Chushu, Satsuma, Hizen and Tosa voluntarily offer their territories to the emperor
1869: The Confucian school of Edo becomes a Western-style university (later renamed University of Tokyo)
1869: The first telegraph connects Tokyo and Yokohama
1870: Meiji dismantles the feudal system and forbids the lords from retaining private armies
1870: The first newspaper
1870: Yataro Iwasaki founds a shipping firm that would become Mitsubishi
1871: The yen debuts
1871: The revolutionary government dismantles the feudal system and forbids the lords from retaining private armies
1872: the first railway line between Tokyo and Yokohama is inaugurated
1872: Western dress is prescribed for official ceremonies
1873: Japan grants religious freedom and adopts the Gregorian calendar
1873: Saihei Hirose, chief of Sumitomo, introduces Western mining techniques and expands the business in Osaka
1873: Japan adopts conscription so that the central government can have an army of its own
1873: Shigenobu Okuma becomes minister of finance
1873: Japan revokes the ban on Christianity
1874: Taisuke Itagaki founds the first party of Japan, the "Aikoku Koto/ Public Party of Patriots"
1874: Aritomo Yamagata becomes army minister
1875: Russia exchanges with Japan the Kurile Islands for the island of Sakhalin
1875: Hisashige Tanaka founds Tanaka Seizojo or Seisakusho to manufacture telegraph equipment
1876: Japan forces Korea to sign the treaty of Kanghwa
1877: The samurai revolt (led by Saigo) against the emperor who has forbidden them to carry swords, but are defeated by the regular army and Saigo is killed
1877: Kido dies of tuberculosis
1878: Toshimichi Okubo of Satsuma is assassinated
1879: Japan holds regional elections, the first democratic elections outside of the West
1879: Japan annexes the island of Okinawa, 550 kms southwest of mainland Japan
1880: Eiichi Shibusawa founds the Osaka Spinning Mill
1881: Masayoshi Matsukata becomes finance minister
1881: Seiko is founded
1881: Taisuke Itagaki founds the "Jiyuto/ Liberal Party"
1882: Shigenobu Okuma founds the "Rikken Kaishinto/ Constitutional Progressive Party"
1882: China sends troops to defend the Korean government and Japan sends troops to defend its delegation after a mob attacks it
1884: Peasants in the mountains north of Tokyo stage a revolt
1885: Anarchists led by Mushanokoji Saneatsu found the "Atarashiki Mura/ New Village Movement" that creates communes
1885: China and Japan agree to pull out their troops from Korea
1885: Prince Hirobumi Ito becomes Japan's first prime minister
1889: Emperor Meiji promulgates a parliamentary constitution, but only 460,000 people are entitled to vote out of a population of 50 million in the first parliamentary election
1889: Fusajiro Yamauchi founds a company of playing cards, Nintendo
1889: Aritomo Yamagata becomes the prime minister of Japan
1889: Nintendo is founded by Fusajiro Yamauchi to make hanafuda cards
1890: Shoichi Miyoshi and Fujioka Ichisuke found Hakunetsusha to manufacture electric lamps (later renamed Tokyo Denki)
1891: Yamagata resigns and Masayoshi Matsukata becomes prime minister
1891: The government founds the Yawata Iron Works
1892: Matsukata resigns and Hirobumi Ito becomes prime minister
1894: China sends troops into Korea and Japan invades China (first sino-japanese war)
1895: Japan defeats China and China is forced to cede Taiwan and recognize Japanese supremacy over Korea at the treaty of Shimonoseki
1895: Sumitomo establishes a bank
1896: the European powers force Japan to surrender the Liaotung peninsula of China
1896: Ito makes Itagaki home minister, thus creating a coalition which is opposed by the Progressives of Okuma (now renamed "Shimpoto") but the coalition fails and Ito resigns in favor of Matsukata
1896: A law code based on the German one is adopted
1897: Torakusu Yamaha founds Nippon Gakki (later renamed Yamaha) to sell keyboard instruments
1898: Matsukata resigns and Shigenobu Okuma becomes prime minister
1899: Nippon Electric Corporation (NEC) is founded specializing in communications, the first joint venture with foreign capital (USA's Western Electric)
1899: Yamagata becomes prime minister again
1900: Yamagata resigns and Ito becomes prime minister again, this time leading the new "Rikken Seiyukai" party
1900: The population of Japan is 44 million
1901: Ito resigns and Choshu general Taro Katsura becomes prime minister, the first who does not belong to the original oligarchs of the Meiji Restoration
1902: Japan signs the London treaty with Britain that recognizes Japan's rights in Korea and Britain's rights in China
Feb 1904: Japan attacks Russia in Manchuria, destroying the Russian fleet at Port Arthur, and invades Korea
1904: Tanaka Seisakusho is renamed Shibaura Seisakusho
1905: at the battle of Mukden between Japan and Russia over 100,000 soldiers die
1905: in the naval Battle of the Tsushima Straits, Japan destroys the Russian fleet
1905: after Japan destroys the Russian fleet at the battle of Tsushima, Russia withdraws from Manchuria, loses Sakhalin, and recognizes a Japanese protectorate over Korea (treaty of Portsmouth), the first time that a non-European country defeats a European power (but the Japanese lose 100,000 lives)
1905: An eight-year economic boom begins
1906: Taro Katsura resigns and prince Kimmochi Saionji of Ito's party becomes prime minister
1909: Japan's politician Ito Hirobumi is assassinated in Manchuria by a Korean nationalist
1910: Japan annexes Korea and thereby terminates the Choson dynasty
1910: Yoshisuke Aikawa starts the Tobata Casting Company
1910: Namihei Odaira starts the electrical repair shop Hitachi in Japan
1910: Umetaro Suzuki discovers the first vitamin, thiamine (vitamin B1)
1911: Marxist movements are wiped out after the discovery of a plot to assassinate the emperor
1911: Masujiro Hashimoto, an engineer trained in the USA, forms Kwaishinsha Jidosha Kojo to manufacture cars in Tokyo
1912: emperor Mutsuhito dies and new emperor Taisho shifts more power to the parliament ("Taisho democracy")
1913: Katsura founds a political party, the Doshikai (later renamed Kenseikai and then Minseito)
1914: World War I breaks out in the Balkans, pitting Britain, France, Italy, Russia, Serbia, USA and Japan against Austria, Germany and Turkey
1914: Shigenobu Okuma becomes prime minister again
1914: Takashi Hara or "Kei" becomes the leader of the Rikken Seiyukai
1914: Hashimoto's Kwaishinsha introduces a car named DAT after the initials of his three investors Den Kenjiro, Aoyama Rokuro and Takeuchi Meitaro
1915: Second economic boom
1915: The Doshikai wins national elections, the first defeat of the Seiyukai since its formation
1916: Okuma resigns and is succeeded by Yamagata's protege general Terauchi
1917: Nikon is founded
1917: The Seiyukai wins national elections
1918: Hara of the Seiyukai becomes prime minister
1918: The United Nations assigns the Mariana Islands to Japan
1918: Konosuke Matsushita founds an electrical company (later renamed Panasonic)
1919: Makoto Saito is appointed governor of Korea
1919: Osaka Hokko Kaisha is founded (later Sumitomo)
Mar 1920: Prices collapse and a long stagnation begins
1920: Toyo Cork Kogyo (Mazda) is founded
1921: Hara of the Seiyukai is assassinated by a nationalist
Nov 1921: The USA, Britain and Japan agree to reduce their navies at the Washington Conference
1922: The Japanese Communist Party is founded
1922: Yamagata dies, terminating the rule of the original oligarchs
1923: the great Kanto earthquake devastates Tokyo
1923: Furukawa Electric Company and Germany's Siemens start a joint venture called Fuji
1924: the US Congress approves the Exclusion Act, that prohibits further immigration from Japan
1924: Takaaki Kato "Komei" of the Kenseikai becomes prime minister
1925: Japan introduces universal male suffrage, increasing the number of voters from 3 to 12 million, but becomes de facto a military dictatorship under nominal imperial rule
1925: After the death of its master, the dog Hachiko for eleven years keeps waking to the station waiting for his master
Jan 1926: Kato Komei dies and is succeeded by Wakatsuki of the Kenseikai/Minseito party
1926: Hashimoto's Kwaishinsha (based in Tokyo) merges with Jitsuyo Jidosha (based in Osaka) and becomes DAT Jidosha Seizo
Dec 1926: Emperor Taisho dies (end of the "Taisho democracy") and is succeeded by the Showa emperor Hirohito
1927: Collapse of the banking system
1927: general Guchi Tanaka of Seiyukai becomes prime minister
1928: Japan's population is 65 million
1928: The Japanese Kwantung army kills the Manchurian warlord before he can ally with Chiang Kaishek
1928: Yoshisuke Ayukawa founds Nihon Sangyo
1928: Tobata starts making parts for automobiles and Aikawa Yoshisuke founds the holding company Nihon Sangyo
1929: Hamaguchi of Minseito becomes prime minister
1930: Britain, Japan, France, Italy and the USA sign the London Naval Treaty, an agreement to reduce naval warfare
1930: Four zaibatsu ("money cliques") dominate Japan's economy: Mitsui, Mitsubishi, Furukawa and Sumitomo
1930: Yogoro Kato and Takeshi Takei discover the magnetic material ferrite
Sep 1931: The Japanese army provokes an incident and invades Manchuria without consulting with the Wakatsuki government
1931: Tsuyoshi Inukai of Seiyukai becomes prime minister and lets the yen devalue
1931: DAT becomes a subsidiary of Tobata and introduces a car named Datsun
Dec 1931: The pro-war general Araki Sadao is appointed Ministry of War
1931: Right-wing groups plot coups against the government
May 1932: Makoto Saito is appointed prime minister
1932: Following a devaluation of the currency, the Japanese economy begins to recover ahead of Western economies
May 1932: Nationalist military officers assassinate prime minister Inukai, attack banks and police stations
1932: the Japanese army institutes the first "comfort houses" during the battle of Shanghai
Mar 1932: Japan declares Manchuria independent as the puppet state of Manchukuo under the last Qing
1932: Mass arrests of socialists
Sep 1932: War minister Araki Sadao promulgates the "Kodoha/ The Imperial Way" ideology of nationalism and expansion
1933: the Japanese army invades Hebei
1933: Kiichiro Toyoda's company opens a motor vehicle division to manufacture trucks
1933: following the condemnation of Japan's occupation of Manchuria, Japan Leaves the League of Nations
1933: Nihon Sangyo, later renamed Nissan, absorbs a car manufacturer to produce Datsun cars in Yokohama
1934: the Japanese install former Manchu emperor Puyj as head of the puppet state of Manchukuo
Jul 1934: Makoto Saito resigns and is succeeded by admiral Keisuke Okada
1935: the Fuji Electric corporation spins off Fujitsu, specializing in telecommunications
1935: TDK is founded to manufacture the magnetic material ferrite invented by Yogoro Kato and Takeshi Takei
1935: The Soviet Union declares that the fascist states of Germany and Japan are the enemies
Feb 1936: National elections are won by Minseito using pro-fascism slogans
Feb 1936: Troops led by young nationalist officers attempt a coup in Tokyo
1936: General Motors and Ford share almost 90% of the Japanese market
Mar 1936: Keisuke Okada resigns and is succeeded by Koki Hirota
Dec 1936: Germany and Japan sign the Anti-Comintern Pact (de facto, an anti-Soviet pact)
Feb 1937: The nationalist general Senjuro Hayashi becomes prime minister for four months
Apr 1937: The two bigger parties Minseito and Seiyukai won the vast majority of votes, a humiliating defeat for the right-wing nationalists and Hayashi has to resign
Jun 1937: The aristocratic Fumimaro Konoe, a protege of Saionji, becomes prime minister trying to bridge the gap between government and parties
1937: Japan begins a secret program of naval construction
1937: Canon is founded
1937: Kiichiro Toyoda founds Toyota to manufacture trucks
Jul 1937: A clash between Chinese and Japanese troops ("Marco Polo Incident") lead to a general war
Dec 1937: Japan captures Nanjing (350,000 Chinese are killed and 100,000 women are raped during the "rape of Nanking")
Dec 1937: Japan sinks the "Panay" ship of the USA
1938: Japan opens the first wartime facility for "sexual comfort" in Nanjing
1938: Fukuin Shokai Denki Seisakusho (later renamed Pioneer) is founded by Nozomu Matsumoto
Oct 1938: Japan captures Canton
Nov 1938: Prime minister Konoe announces the "New Order" in Asia
1939: Japan establishes the "Unit 731" research laboratory for biological warfare in Harbin, China, and tests biological weapons on war prisoners (10,000 die)
1939: The Japanese government orders Nissan to shift from cars to trucks
1939: The Japanese government shuts down Ford's and GM's operations in Japan
Aug 1939: The Soviet Union and Japan fight a border war at Nomonhan that leaves 18 thousand Japanese dead
See the timeline for World War II
May 1939: Japan fights a battle against Soviet troops at Nomonhan on the Mongolian-Manchurian border
1939: Toshiba is founded to produce home appliances from the fusion of Shibaura Seisakusho and Tokyo Denki
Mar 1940: Japan creates a puppet government in Nanjing
Sep 1940: Italy, Germany and Japan sign the pact of the "axis"
1940: The population of Japan is 73 million and the population of Tokyo is 6.8 million
1940: Japan inherits French Indochina (Vietnam) from France (Vichy government) and announces the intention of creating a "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere"
1940: Japan bombs the Chinese city of Ningbo with fleas carrying the bubonic plague
Apr 1941: Japan signs a neutrality pact with the Soviet Union
Jun 1941: Germany attacks the Soviet Union, embarrassing Japan, and Japan decides to honor its neutrality pact
Jul 1941: Japan invades French Indochina and the USA places an embargo on oil exports to Japan
1941: Japan invades the Philippines and Thailand
Oct 1941: Japanese general Hideki Tojo becomes prime minister
Dec 1941: Japan attacks the USA fleet at Pearl Harbour
1941: Japan shifts military production from motor vehicles to aircrafts
1942: Japan captures Burma
1942: Japan invades the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) and British India
1944: the USA drops 22,885 tons of bombs on the Tokyo-Kawasaki-Yokohama area
Jul 1944: Prime minister Hideki Tojo resigns and is succeeded by Kuniaki Koiso
Apr 1945: The USA lands in Okinawa and Koiso resigns, replaced by Kantaro Suzuki
May 1945: Germany surrenders to the USA, Britain and the Soviet Union
Aug 1945: the USA drops two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and emperor Hirohito surrenders, World War II ends and Japan is forced to retreat from the land it occupied
Apr 1946: Shigeru Yoshida of the Seiyukai or Liberal Party becomes prime minister
1946: Akio Morita and Masaru Ibuka found TTK (later Sony)
1947: Japan ratifies a new democratic constitution, drafted by the USA, and the emperor remains a mere figurehead
1947: The Liberal Party narrowly wins elections ahead of the Minseito or Democratic Party and the Socialist Party
1947: The socialist Tetsu Katayama becomes prime minister with help from the Democrats
1948: Soichiro Honda founds a motorcycle manufaturing company
1948: Sadamichi Hirasawa poisons to death the workers of a bank ("Teigin Incident")
Dec 1948: Tojo and others are hanged
1949: The Liberal Party wins the absolute majority in national elections and Yoshida becomes the most influential politician
1949: Kihachiro Onitsuka founds the running shoes company Onitsuka Tiger
1949: Hiroshi Yamauchi becomes president of Nintendo, a card-making company
1949: The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) is created
1950: William Edwards Deming begins to consult for Japanese companies teaching them how to improve design and quality
1950: Japanese car manufacturers produce 2000 cars
1951: Japan's GNP is US$14.2 billion, 4.2% of the USA's GNP, half of West Germany's, one third less than Britain's
1951: Osamu Tezuka publishes the comic strip "Mighty Atom", later renamed "Astro Boy"
Sep 1951: Japan and the USA sign a military alliance
1952: the government launches NTT (Nippon Telegraph and Telephone)
1952: TDK begins producing magnetic tapes
Apr 1952: the USA returns Japan to independence
1952: Japanese companies license the technology of the transistor from the USA
1952: Sumitomo Shoji is established as a trading house (a keiretsu) for a number of affiliated companies
1953: Taiichi Ohno invents "lean manufacturing" at Japan's Toyota
Dec 1954: Yoshida resigns from prime minister, while the economy grows at an average rate of 11%, and is replaced by Ichiro Hatoyama
1954: Fujitsu enters the computer market
1954: Fuji Heavy Industries of Japan begins making cars with the Subaru 1500
Aug 1955: Japanese electronic company TTK (later Sony) introduces its first transistor radio
1955: Japan produces 69,000 cars
1955: Japan has 89 million people
Oct 1955: The socialists unite in the JSP while the Liberal and the Democratic party merge into the LDP, that wins 63% of the vote
1956: the first Japanese car is sold in the USA
1958: NEC builds the Japan's first electronic computer, the NEAC 1101
1958: Taiji Yabushita directs the first "anime", "Hakujaden/ The Tale of the White Serpent"
1959: Tatsumi Hijikata's "Forbidden Colours" invents "butoh" dance
1959: Hitachi builds its first transistor computer
1959: Japan's Honda is the world's largest motorcycle manufacturer
Jul 1960: Former MITI and Finance minister Hayato Ikeda becomes prime minister of Japan and launches a plan to double national income by 1970
1961: Shigeru Sahashi becomes director of the Enterprises Bureau at the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI)
1963: Junichi Nishizawa at Tohoku University proposes the use of optical fibers for communications
1963: Japan's Honda introduces its first car
1964: Eisaku Sato becomes prime minister
1964: The Tokyo Monorail opens
1964: the Shinkansen (bullet train) is inaugurated
1965: Japan has 98 million people
1966: TDK begins selling compact cassette tapes
1967: Seiko introduces the first quartz wristwatch
1968: Kawabata becomes the first Japanese to win a Nobel prize
1968: Japan produces 4.1 million cars
1968: Japan's Toyota introduces the Corolla in the USA
1969: Annual GDP growth averages 10.4% during the 1960s
1969: Japan creates the National Space Development Agency
1969: Boom of "shojo manga" in Japan, comics drawn by female artists for an audience of girls
1970: Japan is the third economic power in the world (after the USA and the Soviet Union), having overtaken all European economies
1970: Japanese car manufacturers produce 5 million cars
Dec 1970: The USA has a trade deficit of $1.2 billion with Japan and one dollar is worth 360 yens
1971: The USA pulls out of the Bretton Woods agreement of fixed exchange rates and forces the yen to rise
1971: Japanese musician Daisuke Inoue builds the first karaoke machine in Kobe
1971: Riyoko Ikeda debuts the shojo manga "Berusaiyu no Bara/ The Rose of Versailles)"
1972: the Japanese Red Army carries out a terrorist attack in Israel
1972: Fujitsu spins off Fujitsu-Fanuc or Fanuc, specializing in robots
Sep 1972: Japanese prime minister Kakuei Tanaka meets with Chinese premier Zhou Enlai
Dec 1972: The USA has a trade deficit of $4.1 billion with Japan and one dollar is worth 302 yens
1973: worldwide oil crisis
1973: Canon introduces the first color photocopier
1974: Isao Takahata creates the animated tv series "Heidi, Girl of the Alps"
1974: Leiji Matsumoto creates the tv space-opera anime "Uchu Senkan Yamato/ Space Battleship Yamato"
1974: Hitachi produces its first IBM-compatible mainframe computer
1975: Six economic powers meet in Paris (USA, Japan, Germany, France, Britain and Italy) forming the G6
1975: Japan has 112 million people
1977: Nintendo introduces its first videogame console, the Color TV-Game
1977: The anime series "Araiguma Rasukaru" becomes so popular that Japanese families start importing raccoons from North America
1978: Japan and China sign a peace treaty
1979: Sony launches the "Walkman" portable stereo
1979: Yoshiyuki Tomino creates the tv space-opera anime "Kido Senshi Gandamu/ Mobile Suit Gundam", the first "Real-robot anime"
1980: Japan's GDP of $1040 billion is about 40% of the USA's GDP and the third largest in the world after the Soviet Union
1980: The largest semiconductor manufacturers in the world are: Texas Instruments, National, Motorola, Philips (Europe), Intel, NEC (Japan), Fairchild, Hitachi (Japan) and Toshiba (Japan).
1981: The Honda Accord is the first car with a navigation system
1981: Rumiko Takahashi creates the manga "Urusei Yatsura"
1981: Sony introduces the first 3 1/2" floppy diskettes
1981: Toshiba enters the market for laptop computers
1982: Sony launches the compact disc
1982: Hayao Miyazaki creates the anime "No Nausicaa"
1982: Honda is the first Japanese company to manufacture cars in the USA
1983: Nintendo introduces the videogame console "Famicom" or Nintendo Entertainment System
1984: Canon demonstrates first electronic camera
1984: Katsuhiro Otomo creates the cyberpunk anime "Akira"
1985: Japan signs the Plaza Accord that lowers the value of the dollar and increases the value of the yen
1985: Nintendo releases the first Super Mario Bros videogame
1985: NTT is privatized
Jan 1985: One USA dollar is worth 251 yen
1986: Shigechiyo Izumi dies at 120, the oldest man in the world
1986: Japan has 116,000 industrial robots compared with the USA's 25,000
1987: In just two years the yen has double in value since the Plaza Accord
1987: The largest semiconductor manufacturers in the world are Japan's NEC, Japan's Toshiba and Japan's Hitachi
1988: 8 out the 10 largest companies by market capitalization are based in Japan
1988: The Seikan tunnel connecting the Honshu and the Hokkaido islands opens
1988: Sharp introduces the first commercial LCD television
1988: Fujitsu introduces the first digital camera, the DS-1P
Jan 1989: One USA dollar is worth 125 yen
1989: On the last day of the year, the Japanese NIKKEI stock market (the largest stock market in the world) reaches an all-time high of 38,915
1989: the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is founded to bring together the USA, Japan, Australia, Chile, etc
1989: Japan's Mitsubishi purchases the Rockefeller Center in the USA
1989: Japan owns half of the world's shipbuilding market
1989: The market capitalization of Japanese companies represents 42% of all stocks in the world and the value of land is the highest in the world
1990: The Japanese "bubble economy" bursts, with stock prices declining for 13 years, erasing some trillions of dollars in wealth, and with land prices declining 80% in 13 years
1990: Matsushita buys MCA
1992: By year-end the Japanese stock market has fallen 55% from its peak
1992: Fujitsu introduces the world's first full-color plasma display
1995: members of the Aum Shinrikyo religious cult uses nerve gas to kill innocents in the Tokyo subway
1995: The Fortune Global 500 lists 141 firms from Japan, more than any other country
Oct 1995: Following the rape of a girl by US soldiers, that follows many similar incidents over the years, Japanese in Okinawa stage the largest protect rally since the end of the war
1995: Yoshiyuki Sadamoto creates the manga "Neon Genesis Evangelion"
1995: 36 million cars are manufactured in the world, of which 7.6 million in Japan and 6.3 million in the USA, although 8.6 million cars are sold in the USA alone
1995: an earthquake kills 6,500 people in Kobe
1995: terrorists belonging to a religious sect use chemicals in the Tokyo subway
1996: The first DVD player is introduced by Toshiba
1996: Sumitomo Bank loses $2.6 billion dollars because of unauthorized trades by one of its employees, Yasuo Hamanaka
1997: the economic crisis intensifies
1997: Toyota introduces the Prius, the world's first commercially mass-produced hybrid automobile
1997: most countries of the world agree on reducing the level of greenhouse-gas emissions in order to avoid climate changes such as global warming, (Kyoto Protocol)
1998: 38 million vehicles sold worldwide (4.5 million workers and revenues of 1.5 billion dollars)
1998: The Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge linking Shikoku with Honshu opens, becoming the largest suspension bridge in the world
1999: French car-maker Renault buys Nissan
2001: reformist Junichiro Koizumi is nominated prime minister by the ruling coalition in an attempt to fight the 10-year old stagnation
2001: Mamoru Takuma kills eight children in a primary school in Osaka
2002: Japan and South Korea combined deliver 75% of the world's shipbuilding
2003: the Japanese NIKKEI stock market average bottoms up at 7699 after falling 80% from its 1989 peak, and skyrockets 41% from april to october
2003: Sony introduces a Blu-Ray disc player
2003: 34,427 people commit suicide in Japan, the highest yearly number recorded so far
2003: Kamato Hongo, Japan's oldest person, dies at 116
2003: An earthquake of magnitude 8.0 rocks the northern island of Hokkaido
2003: Suicides in Japan peak at 34,500 in one year
2004: for the first time since the end of WW II, Japan sends troops to a warzone (Iraq)
2004: India becomes the largest recipient of Japanese aid
2005: the Kyoto protocol (to reduce the level of greenhouse-gas emissions in order to avoid climate changes such as global warming) is adopted by 141 countries of the world but not the USA, China, India and Australia
2005: Real-estate prices have fallen 75% from their 1990 peak
2005: Japan's population starts to decline
2005: a foreigner, Howard Stringer, is appointed head of Sony
2005: the unemployment rate falls to 4.4% from a peak of 5.4%
2005: Japan's prime minister Junichiro Koizumi stages a landslide victory in elections, boosting support for his economic reform
2006: Shinzo Abe succeeds Koizumi as Japan's prime minister
2006: Japan imposes tough sanctions against North Korea following North Korea's nuclear test
2006: China becomes Japan's largest trading partner
Dec 2006: The USA has a trade deficit of $90 billion with Japan and one dollar is worth 119 yens
2007: World stock markets collapse
2007: Toyota passes General Motors as the world's largest car manufacturer
2007: a Japanese cabinet minister hangs himself over a corruption scandal, the first cabinet minister to kill himself since the end of World War II
2007: crash of the stock markets worldwide, triggered by the crisis of USA sub-prime mortgage lenders, with the Nikkei's worst downfall since september 2001
2007: Shinzo Abe resigns and is succeeded by Yasuo Fukuda
2007: Japan signs a free-trade agreement with ASEAN
2007: The world's largest vendors of personal computers are HP, Dell, Taiwan's Acer, China's Lenovo and Japan's Toshiba
2008: Honda unveils the first mass-market hydrogen-propelled vehicle, the "FCX Clarity"
2008: Mitsubishi ships the first-ever laser TV set
2008: Yasuo Fukuda resigns and is succeeded by Taro Aso, the fourth prime minister in two years
sep 2008: Crash of the stock markets worldwide, triggered by the collapse of USA banks
oct 2008: Japan's stock market plunges 9.4% in one day and then 9.6% a few days later, the biggest one-day drops since the 1987 market crash, as the economy enters its longest recession since World War II
dec 2008: Toyota announces the first loss in 71 years
dec 2008: Japan's GDP shrinks 12.7% in the last quarter, the steepest decline since 1974, with industrial production plunging at the steepest pace in 55 years
2009: Japan's Toyota overtakes General Motors to become the largest car maker in the world
jan 2009: Japan's exports fall more than 45% in january and 49% in february to the lowest figure ever recorded
jan 2009: One USA dollar is worth 90 yen
aug 2009: Japan's recession ends but exports fall 36% compared with a year earlier and unemployment reaches a record 5.7%
aug 2009: Yukio Hatoyama of the Democratic Party wins the election and becomes the new prime minister
jul 2009: none of the 10 largest companies by market capitalization is based in Japan
jun 2010: Yukio Hatoyama resigns after failing to close the USA military base at Okinawa and is succeeded by Naoto Kan as prime minister
sep 2010: The government discovers that more than 230,000 Japanese who are listed as being aged 100 or over are dead
Dec 2010: China (GDP of $5.75 trillion) overtakes Japan (GDP of $5.39 trillion) as the world's second largest economy after the USA, although China's GDP per head ($4,500) is only 11% of Japan's ($40,000)
Dec 2010: 30% of Japan's electricity is nuclear generated
2010: Between 2001 and 2010 Japan's economy grows at 0.7%, less than half the pace of the USA's, but its GDP per capita outperformed the USA's
Mar 2011: An earthquake and a tsunami kill 18,800 people and cause a nuclear disaster in Fukushima
2011: The USA has 413 billionaires, China has 115 billionaires, Russia 101, India 55, Germany 52, Britain 32, Brazil 30, and Japan 26
Aug 2011: Japan's prime minister Naoto Kan resigns after being widely criticized for his response to the earthquake and nuclear disaster, and is succeeded by finance minister Yoshihiko Noda of the Democratic Party (DPJ)
Oct 2011: Protests against the financial world spread from the USA to Sydney, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Athens, Berlin, Rome and London
2011: Japan posts its first trade deficit since 1963
2011: Japan's debt is 211% of its GDP
Sep 2012: Osaka's mayor Toru Hashimoto founds the Japan Restoration Party
Dec 2012: Shinzo Abe is reappointed as prime minister
2013: Japan's economy recovers
Jun 2013: The oldest person in the world, 116-year-old Japanese man Jiroemon Kimura, dies and Japanese woman Misao Okawa, 115 years old, becomes the new record holder
May 2014: Japan's inflation rate hits a 23-year high of 3.2 percent
Jun 2014: Japan revises its constitution to allow for military aid to allies
Nov 2014: Japan enters a recession
Nov 2015: Japan enters another recession
Jul 2016: 26-year-old Satoshi Uematsu kills 19 people at a centre for mental disabilities in Sagamihara
Aug 2017: North Korea shoots a long-range missile over Japan
2017: Suicides among Japanese high-school students hits a 30-year high
Jul 2018: More than 100 people die in record rains
Jul 2018: Japan and the European Union sign a trade treaty which creates the world's largest bilateral free-trade area
Aug 2018: Japan's unemployment rate is 2.4%
Jan 2019: A trade deal with the European Union goes into effect, the world's biggest trade deal, covering nearly a third of global GDP
Jul 2019: Shinji Aoba sets Kyoto Animation studio on fire and kills 34 people, the second largest death toll since World War II
2020: Japan's population 65 years and older is 29% of the total population
Aug 2020: Abe resigns for health reasons and is replaced by Yoshihide Suga
Sep 2020: The 117-year-old Kane Tanaka becomes the third longest-living person ever
Oct 2020: More Japanese have died of suicide in one month (2,153) than of covid in the whole year (slightly more than 2,000)
Nov 2020: Fifteen countries of the Asia-Pacific (China, South Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and the ASEAN countries) sign the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world's largest trading bloc, covering almost a third of the world's economy
Sep 2021: Fumio Kishida is appointed prime minister by parliament


Jimmu (50 AD)
Koan (100 AD)
Kaika (200 AD)
Sujin (219-249)
Suinin (249-280)
Keiko (280-316)
Seimu (316-342)
Chuai (343-346
Oojin (346-395)
Nintoku (395-427)
Richu (427-432)
Hanzei (433-438)
Ingyo (438-453)
Anko (453-456)
Yuryaku (456-479)
Seinei (480-484)
Kenzo (485-487)
Ninken (488-498)
Buretsu (498-506)
Keitai (507-531)
Ankan (531-535)
Senka (535-539)
Kimmei (539-571)
Bidatsu (572-585)
Yomei (585-587)
Sushun (587-592)
Suiko (592-628)
Jomei (629-641)
Kogyoku (642-645)
Kotoku (645-654)
Saimei (655-661)
Tenji (662-671)
Kobun (671-672)
Kemmu (673-686)
Jito (690-697)
Mommu (697-707)
Gemmei (707-715)
Gensho (715-724)
Shomu (724-749)
Koken (749-758)
Junnin (758-764)
Shotoku (764-770)
Konin (770-781)
Kammu (781-806)
Heizei (806-824)
Saga (823-842)
Junna (833-840)
Nimmyo (833-850)
Montoku (850-858)
Seiwa (858-876)
Yozei (877-884)
Koko (884-887)
Uda (887-897)
Daigo (897-930)
Suzaku (930-946)
Murakami (946-967)
Reizei (967-969)
Enyu (969-984)
Kazan (984-986)
Ichijo (986-1011)
Sanjo (1011-1016)
Go-Ichijo (1016-1036)
Go-Suzaku (1036-1045)
Go-Reizei (1045-1068)
Go-Sanjo (1067-1072)
Shirakawa (1072-1086)
Horikawa (1086-1107)
Toba (1107-1123)
Sutoku (1123-1141)
Konoye (1141-1155)
Go-Shirakawa (1156-1158)
Nijo (1159-1165)
Rokujo (1166-1168)
Takakura (1169-1180)
Antoku (1181-1183)
Go-Toba (1184-1198)
Tsuchimikado (1199-1210)
Juntoku (1211-1221)
Chukyo (1221-1221)
Go-Horikawa (1222-1232)
Shijo (1233-1242)
Go-Saga (1243-1246)
Go-Fukakusa (1247-1259)
Kameyama (1260-1274)
Go-Uda (1275-1287)
Fushimi (1288-1298)
Go-Fushimi (1299-1301)
Go-Nijo (1302-1308)
Hanazono (1309-1318)
Go-Daigo (1319-1338)
Go-Murakami (1339-1368)
Chokei (1369-1372)
Go-Kameyama (1373-1392)
Go-Komatsu (1392-1412)
Shoko (1413-1428)
Go-Hanazono (1429-1464)
Go-Tsuchimikado (1465-1500)
Go-Kashiwabara (1501-1526)
Go-Nara (1527-1557)
Oogimachi (1558-1586)
Go-Yozei (1587-1611)
Go-Mi-no-o (1612-1629)
Meisho (1630-1643)
Go-Komyo (1644-1654)
Go-Saiin (1655-1662)
Reigen (1663-1686)
Higashi-yama (1687-1709)
Nakamikado (1710-1735)
Sakuramachi (1736-1746)
Momozono (1746-1762)
Go-Sakuramachi (1763-1770)
Go-Momozono (1771-1779)
Kokaku (1780-1816)
Ninko (1817-1846)
Komei (1847-1866)
Meiji (1868-1912)
Yoshihito (1912-1926)
Hirohito (1926-1989)
Akihito (1989-)

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