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Japan Fast Facts

By CNN Library
March 25, 2014 -- Updated 1347 GMT (2147 HKT)

(CNN) -- Here's a look at what you need to know about Japan, a country of islands located off the eastern coast of Asia.

About Japan:
(from the CIA World Fact Book)
Area: 377,915 sq km

Population: 127,253,075 (July 2013 est.)

Median age: 45.8 years (2013 est.)

Capital: Tokyo

Ethnic groups: Japanese 98.5%, Koreans 0.5%, Chinese 0.4%, other 0.6%

Religion: Shintoism 83.9%, Buddhism 71.4%, Christianity 2%, other 7.8% (Some people practice both Shintoism and Buddhism)

GDP: $4.729 trillion (2013 est.)

GDP per capita: $37,100 (2013 est.)

Unemployment: 4.1% (2013 est.)

Other Facts:
Japan is a parliamentary democracy with a constitutional monarchy.

Four large islands: Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu, account for about 98% of the country's land area.

Japanese society dates back to the Joman period circa 300 BC

Following an economic boom after World War II, Japan has been stuck in stagnation and deflation since the 1980s.

Timeline:
1185-mid1800 - Japan is ruled under the feudal system of the shogun (military commanders); the emperors of Japan were figureheads.

1868 - The Meji Restoration, when Japan returns to the direct imperial rule that began circa 660 BC.

1868-1890 - The modernization of Japan, the formation of political parties, the national assembly, the cabinet and the constitution.

1894-1895 - China and Japan fight a short war, nine months. Japan wins, China gives up Taiwan.

1904 - Russia and Japan go to war. The war is over by 1905, Japan wins.

1914-1918 - During World War I Japan enters on the side of the allies and gains territory in the Pacific at the end of the war.

July 1937 - Japan invades China. The conflict continues through World War II, ending with the Japanese defeat in 1945.

December 7, 1941 - Japan attacks Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, hoping to destroy the U.S. Pacific fleet.

August 6, 1945 - The first atomic bomb is dropped on Hiroshima.

August 9, 1945 - A second atomic bomb is dropped on Nagasaki.

August 14, 1945 - V-J Day. Japan agrees to end the war.

September 2, 1945 - Japan signs the formal surrender aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.

1945-1952 - The Occupation of Japan. The country is under the control of the Allied nations, the United States, Great Britain, China and the Soviet Union.

1956 - Joins the United Nations.

January 7, 1989 - Akihito becomes emperor after the death of Hirohito.

January 1995 - The 6.9 magnitude Kobe earthquake, where 5,502 people were killed and 36,896 people were injured.

March 1995 - A religious cult spreads sarin, a nerve gas, in the Tokyo subway. Twelve people are killed and more than 5,000 are sickened.

2006 - The first defense ministry since World War II is approved by the parliament.

March 11, 2011 - A 9.0 magnitude earthquake takes place 231 miles northeast of Tokyo. The earthquake causes a tsunami with 30 ft waves that damage several nuclear reactors in the area. The confirmed death toll is 15,883 as of July 10, 2013.

September 15, 2013 - Japan's only operating nuclear reactor is shut down for maintenance. All 50 of the country's reactors are now offline. The government hasn't said when or if any of them will come back on.

2014 - South Korea and China are increasing the tension toward Japan regarding the sexual use of Korean women during World War II and the 1937 massacre of Chinese nationals in Nanking.

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