The Ryukyus became part of Japan in the nineteenth century.
Hokkaido was fully annexed in the nineteenth century.
It is an Altaic language and its nearest relative is Korean.
Migration has not been a significant feature of Japan's history.
The Japanese are a mixture of northeast Asians with others from the China coast, Southeast Asia, and Polynesia.
Kobe was devastated by an earthquake on January 17, 1995, which took over five thousand lives. While often destructive, these storms cause little loss of life.
The Japanese language is essentially spoken only in Japan.
Allied military forces (mostly American) occupied Japan (1945–52) and imposed sweeping reforms to promote democracy. Japan grew dramatically as an economic force beginning in the 1960s, and has enjoyed a high standard of living since that time.
Politically, Japan is a parliamentary democracy modeled on the British system.
Throughout Japan's history, the government has been dominated by emperors, whose authority has decreased in modern times.
During various historical periods, the Japanese government has been in the hands of the military (bakufu) , with power shifted to warriors (samurais).
Representatives are elected to the Diet, a parliament (government council) with two legislative chambers.
The majority party in the lower house, the House of Representatives, elects its Prime Minister, who forms a cabinet.
The population is overwhelmingly urban, drawn by jobs and city life. It has many active volcanoes and experiences frequent earthquakes.