Empire of Japan

The Empire of Japan (大日本帝国; Dai-Nippon/-Nihon Teikoku) commonly refers to Japan from the Meiji Restoration until the end of World War II. Politically, it covers the period from the enforcement of establishing prefectures in place of feudal domains (廃藩置県; Hai-han Chi-ken) in July 14, 1871, through the expansion of Japan from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean, to the formal surrender in September 2, 1945 as the Instrument of Surrender was signed. Constitutionally, it refers to the period of November 29, 1890 up to May 3, 1947. The names "Japanese Empire" and "Imperial Japan" are commonly known and used, referring to the same entity, though the literal translation of the title in Japanese is the Empire of Great Japan.

The country had been called to the Empire of Japan since the feudal anti-shogunate domains, Satsuma and Chōshū formed the base of their new government in the Meiji Restoration, with their intention of letting it an empire.

Although it was in the 1889 Constitution of the Empire of Japan that the title Empire of Japan was officially used the first time, it was until 1936 that no proper official title of the country was legalized. Meanwhile, the names "Nippon" (日本; Japan), "Dai-Nippon" (大日本; Great Japan), "Dai-Nippon/-Nihon Koku" (大日本国; Nation of Great Japan), "Nihon Teikoku" (日本帝国; Empire of Japan) were all used officially.

In 1946, a year after the close of the war, Japan restructured as part of their defeat, and the country’s title was once revised to “The State of Japan” (日本国; Nihon Koku) in the draft in the 1946 Constitution of Japan.



Yamato period
---Kofun period
---Asuka period
Nara period
Heian period
Kamakura period
Muromachi period
Azuchi-Momoyama period
---Nanban period
Edo period
Meiji period
Taisho period
Showa period
---Japanese expansionism
---Occupied Japan
---Post-Occupation Japan

With the Great Depression, Japan, like some other countries, turned to what has debatably been termed Fascism. It was a unique political form (see detailed discussion at Japanese nationalism), though with some European parallels. Unlike the regimes of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, however, Japan had two economic goals in developing an empire.

First, as with its European counterparts, a tightly-controlled domestic military industry seems to have jump started the nation's economy in the midst of the depression. Also, due to the lack of natural resources on Japan's home islands, in order to maintain a strong industrial sector with strong growth, raw materials such as iron, oil, and coal largely had to be imported. Most of these materials came from the United States. So, for the sake of the military-industrial development scheme, and industrial growth on the whole, mercantilist theories prevailed, and the Japanese felt that resource-rich colonies were needed to compete with European powers. Korea (1910) and Formosa (Taiwan, 1895) had earlier been annexed as primarily agricultural colonies. Manchuria's iron and coal, Indochina's rubber, and China's vast resources were prime targets for industry.

Manchuria was invaded and successfully conquered in 1931, with little trouble. Ostensibly, Japan did this to liberate the Manchus from the Chinese, just as the annexation of Korea was supposedly an act of protection. As with Korea, a puppet government (Manchukuo) was installed. Jehol, a Chinese territory bordering Manchuria, was taken in 1933.

Japan invaded China in 1937, creating what was essentially a three-way war between Japan, Mao Zedong's communists, and Chiang Kai-shek's nationalists. Japan took control of much of China's coasts and port cities, but very carefully avoided European spheres of influence. In 1936 before the Chinese invasion, Japan signed an anti-communism treaty with Germany, and another with Italy in 1937.

See also: Imperialism in Asia


Expansion of the Japanese Empire
Expansion of the Japanese Empire


Emperors of the Empire of Japan

Temple name1 Posthumous name2 Given name3 Childhood name4 Period of Reigns Era name5
None Meiji Tennō
None Taishō Tennō
1912-1926 Taishō
None Shōwa Tennō
1 Unlike dynasties of China, Korea, and Vietnam, temple names were not adopted since supposedly no multiple dynasties existed.
2 Each posthumous name was given after the respective era names as Ming and Qing Dynasties of China.
3 The imperial family name is unknown.
4 For Meiji Emperor, Sachi-no-miya is his only given name until his coronation.
5 No multiple era names were given for each reign after Meiji Emperor.
6 Constitutionally.
7 Constitutionally. The reign of the Showa Emperor in fact continued until 1989 since he did not abdicate after WWII.

See also

This period is including Meiji Era, Taisho Era, and a part of Showa Era of Japanese History

< Edo period | History of Japan | Post-Occupation Japan >


zh:大日本帝国 ca:Imperi Japons es:Imperio del Japn


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