Map of Japan

While retaining its time-honored culture, Japan rapidly absorbed Western technology during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. After its defeat in World War II, Japan recovered to become an economic power and a staunch ally of the US. While the emperor retains his throne as a symbol of national unity, actual power rests in networks of powerful politicians, bureaucrats, and business executives. The economy experienced a major slowdown starting in the 1990s following three decades of unprecedented growth.

North Korea and South Korea dispute the name of the sea bordered by China, Japan, North Korea, Russia and South Korea. While Japan, as the map depicts, calls it the Sea of Japan, South Korea and North Korea maintain that its name is the East Sea and East Sea of Korea, respectively.