Japan, constitutional monarchy in East Asia, comprising four large islands, as well as the Ryukyu Islands and more than 1,000 lesser adjacent islands. It is bounded on the north by the Sea of Okhotsk, on the east by the Pacific Ocean, on the south by the Pacific Ocean and the East China Sea, and on the west by the Korea Strait and the Sea of Japan (East Sea). In Japanese the country’s name is Dai (“great”) Nihon or Nippon (“origin of the Sun”), hence, Land of the Rising Sun. The Japanese islands extend in an irregular crescent from the island of Sakhalin (Russia) to the island of Taiwan (Formosa). Japan proper consists of the large islands of Hokkaido, the northernmost; Honshu, the largest, called the mainland; Shikoku; and Kyushu, the southernmost. The combined area of these islands is about 362,000 sq km (140,000 sq mi). The total area of Japan is 377,837 sq km (145,884 sq mi). Tokyo is Japan’s capital and largest city.
The Kuril Islands, north of Hokkaido and formerly included in Japan proper as Chishimaretto, were occupied by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) at the conclusion of World War II under an agreement reached at the Yalta Conference in 1945. However, Japan claims the southernmost part of the island chain.
Until the unconditional surrender of Japan to the Allied powers on September 2, 1945, the Japanese Empire controlled, in addition to present-day Japan and the Kuril Islands, an area of about 1,651,100 sq km (637,500 sq mi), including Korea, Formosa, Dongbei, the leased territory of Guangdong (Kwangtung), the Pescadores (now P'enghu Islands), Karafuto (the southern half of Sakhalin), and the South Sea Mandated Territories, comprising the Marshall, Mariana (except Guam, a United States possession), and Caroline islands, which were made a Japanese mandate by the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, after World War I. "Japan" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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