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Japan (Japanese: 日本, [ɲihoɴ] , Nippon or Nihon, and formally 日本国, Nippon-koku or Nihon-koku) is an island country in East Asia. It is in the northwest Pacific Ocean and is bordered on the west by the Sea of Japan, extending from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north toward the East China Sea, Philippine Sea, and Taiwan in the south. Japan is a part of the Ring of Fire, and spans an archipelago of 14,125 islands, with the five main islands being Hokkaido, Honshu (the "mainland"), Shikoku, Kyushu, and Okinawa. Tokyo is the country's capital and largest city, followed by Yokohama, Osaka, Nagoya, Sapporo, Fukuoka, Kobe, and Kyoto.

Japan has over 125 million inhabitants and is the 11th most populous country in the world, as well as one of the most densely populated. About three-fourths of the country's terrain is mountainous, concentrating its highly urbanized population on narrow coastal plains. Japan is divided into 47 administrative prefectures and eight traditional regions. The Greater Tokyo Area is the most populous metropolitan area in the world. Japan has the world's highest life expectancy, although it is experiencing a population decline due to its very low birth rate.

Japan has been inhabited since the Upper Paleolithic period (30,000 BC). Between the fourth and ninth centuries, the kingdoms of Japan became unified under an emperor and the imperial court based in Heian-kyō. Beginning in the 12th century, political power was held by a series of military dictators (shōgun) and feudal lords (daimyō), and enforced by a class of warrior nobility (samurai). After a century-long period of civil war, the country was reunified in 1603 under the Tokugawa shogunate, which enacted an isolationist foreign policy. In 1854, a United States fleet forced Japan to open trade to the West, which led to the end of the shogunate and the restoration of imperial power in 1868. In the Meiji period, the Empire of Japan adopted a Western-modeled constitution, and pursued a program of industrialization and modernization. Amidst a rise in militarism and overseas colonization, Japan invaded China in 1937 and entered World War II as an Axis power in 1941. After suffering defeat in the Pacific War and two atomic bombings, Japan surrendered in 1945 and came under a seven-year Allied occupation, during which it adopted a new constitution.

Under the 1947 constitution, Japan has maintained a unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy with a bicameral legislature, the National Diet. Japan is a developed country and a great power, with one of the largest economies by nominal GDP. Japan has renounced its right to declare war, though it maintains a Self-Defense Force that ranks as one of the world's strongest militaries. A global leader in the automotive, robotics, and electronics industries, the country has made significant contributions to science and technology, and is one of the world's largest exporters and importers. It is part of multiple major international and intergovernmental institutions. (Full article...)

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Ōkami is an action-adventure video game developed by Clover Studio and published by Capcom. It was released for Sony's PlayStation 2 video game console in 2006 in Japan and North America, and 2007 in Europe and Australia. Despite the closure of Clover Studio a few months after the game's initial release, a version for Nintendo's Wii console was developed and produced by Ready at Dawn and Capcom, which was released in North America on 15 April 2008, in Europe in June 2008, and will be released in Japan on 15 October 2009. Set sometime in classical Japanese history, Ōkami combines several Japanese myths, legends and folklore to tell the story of how the land was saved from darkness by the Shinto sun goddess, named Amaterasu, who took the form of a white wolf. It features a distinct sumi-e-inspired cel-shaded visual style and the Celestial Brush, a gesture-system to perform miracles. Ōkami was one of the last PlayStation 2 games selected for release prior to the release of the PlayStation 3. Although it suffered from poor sales, Ōkami earned high acclaim from reviewers and earned, among other awards, the title of IGN's 2006 Game of the Year. The Wii version has earned similar praise though the motion control scheme has received mixed reviews from both critics and gamers. A sequel, Ōkamiden: Chīsaki Taiyō, has been announced by Capcom for release in 2010 on the Nintendo DS. (Full article...)

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January 26:

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In the news

25 January 2024 – Kyoto Animation arson attack
A court in Japan sentences Shinji Aoba to death for a 2019 arson attack on a Kyoto Animation studio in Fushimi-ku, Kyoto, which killed 36 people. (CNA)
19 January 2024 – Korean conflict, North Korea and weapons of mass destruction
North Korea announces that it has tested a nuclear weapon delivered by an unmanned underwater drone system in the Sea of Japan. (Reuters)
19 January 2024 – 2023–2024 Japanese slush fund scandal
Several Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers are indicted in a scandal involving misuse of campaign funds, including incumbent lawmakers Yasutada Ōno and Yaichi Tanigawa, both of whom resign from the party following their indictments. (Kyodo News)
The Seiwa Seisaku Kenkyūkai, Kōchikai, and Shisuikai factions of the Liberal Democratic Party all announce their intention to dissolve as a result of the scandal. (Nikkei Asia)
19 January 2024 –
The JAXA lunar probe SLIM achieves the first-ever lunar soft landing of a Japanese spacecraft. (BBC News)
12 January 2024 – 2024 Noto earthquake
The death toll from the magnitude 7.6 earthquake in the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan, on January 1, increases to 215 people, with 28 others still missing. (NHK)

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Kurosaki at Anime Expo 2011 in Los Angeles

Maon Kurosaki (黒崎 真音, Kurosaki Maon, January 13, 1988 – February 16, 2023) was a Japanese singer and songwriter signed to NBCUniversal Entertainment Japan. After being discovered while working as a performer in Akihabara, Tokyo, she made her major debut in 2010, performing ending themes to the anime television series Highschool of the Dead. She released her debut album H.O.T.D. in September 2010, which features the ending themes from Highschool of the Dead. Her first two singles were used as ending themes to the anime television series A Certain Magical Index II.

Kurosaki's music was influenced by her love of anime and lolita fashion. Her songs have been featured in various anime series such as Jormungand, Tokyo Ravens, and The Fruit of Grisaia. She collaborated with artists such as Mami Kawada, Kotoko, and Trustrick for her music releases. She performed twice at Anime Expo 2011 in Los Angeles, California, and was a regular performer at Japanese anime events such as LisAni, Animelo Summer Live, and Animax Musix. She also appeared at Anime Festival Asia, Bangkok Comic Con, and CharaExpo. From 2011 to 2016, she was singer of the synthpop band Altima, together with Motsu of the band Move. (Full article...)

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Flag of Tokyo
Tokyo, officially Tokyo Metropolis, is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan and located on the eastern side of the main island Honshū. The twenty-three special wards of Tokyo, each governed as a city, cover the area that was once the city of Tokyo in the eastern part of the prefecture, and total over 8 million people. The population of the prefecture exceeds 12 million. Tokyo is the seat of the Japanese government and the Imperial Palace, and the home of the Japanese Imperial Family. Tokyo was originally known as Edo, meaning estuary. Its name was changed to Tokyo (Tōkyō: (east) + kyō (capital)) when it became the imperial capital in 1868. During the early Meiji period, the city was also called "Tōkei", an alternative pronunciation for the same Chinese characters representing "Tokyo". Some surviving official English documents use the spelling "Tokei". This pronunciation is now obsolete. Tokyo was originally a small fishing village named Edo. In 1457, Ōta Dōkan built Edo Castle. In 1590, Tokugawa Ieyasu made Edo his base and when he became shōgun in 1603, the town became the center of his nationwide military government. During the subsequent Edo period, Edo grew into one of the largest cities in the world with a population topping one million by the 18th century. It became the de facto capital of Japan even while the emperor lived in Kyoto, the imperial capital. After about 263 years, the shogunate was overthrown under the banner of restoring imperial rule.

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Kaba class destroyer

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