The Geopolitics That Shaped Japan Essay

Any country in today’s world has gone through many changes to get where it is in our present time. Countries are highly influence by the geography of the land around it. Most countries today turned out the way they were because of geopolitics, or the study of geography and how it effects on politics (Dictionary). For instance, some may have won a war for independence, or another country may have cut connections from the mother land. These things could have only been done if the geography did not work on their side. Japan has been transformed into the country that exists today because of the geography that shaped it, turning it into the great country it is today. Japan is in the position it is today because of geography, plate tectonics, wind patterns, climate, and its recent war history.

Since the borders of Japan are defined by the islands that Japan sits on, geography and plate tectonics played a large role in how they were formed. The islands of Japan are really the tops of summits of a huge chain of undersea mountains (Encarta). These undersea mountains were created when the colliding of the Eurasion and Pacific tectonic plates lifted and warped the earth’s crust (Plate). This violent reaction caused volcanic eruptions granite that pushed the mountains above the surface of the sea.

This is why Japan’s very mountainous, around 75 percent. The forces that created the islands are still at work today because the Island sits on the ring of fire. Earthquakes still occur regularly in Japan, and about 40 of the country’s 188 volcanoes are active (Encarta). This represents 10 percent of the world current active volcanoes (Encarta). Four great islands were created that make up 95 perent of the total area of Japan, while over 3,000 more islands exist making up the rest.
Climate also played an important role in shaping the Japan of today. Because Japan is centered on the 35th Parallel, Japan lies on the northeast tip of the Asian Monsoon Zone that encompasses India, China, Korea, and the Southeast Asian countries (LC). The weather is usually mild and humid with drastic changes from north to south, and across the central mountain ranges from east to the west (LC). Japan has four distinct seasons and feature three periods of heavy precipitation. The first heavy precipitation happens durings the winter where the predominate westerly winds in the northern hemisphere push wind up against the westward facing mountains of Japan (LC). As a result orthographic lifting occurs, this causes the mountains to receive heavy snow throughout the winter. The next rainy season occurs in the early summer. The Japanese call this tsuyu, which essentially means the rainy season. This is causes by the monsoon winds which carry moister from the ocean to Japan where orthographic lifing once again helps the production of precipitation. The last heavy precipitation period occurs in the fall, where typhoons batter mostly the southern part of Japan. Some typhoons can be catastrophic and cause many deaths and millions of dollars in damage. The combination of these three rainy season, make the average annual precipitation more than double that of the world average (LC).
Since winds play an important role in how the climate of Japan, winds are causes by differences in temperature which causes changes in pressure and air to flow from one area to another. Although it should be noted that winds do not blow in a straight line. This is known as the Coriolis Effect and it bends every wind on Earth, resulting in a distinct pattern of winds around the world caused by the rotation of the Earth. The Coriolis Effect makes the wind blow mainly from the east north of the equator, which explains the westerly winds during Japan’s winter precipitation season.
One would think that because the precipitation Japan receives is double that of the world average, that Japan would have relatively little water shortage problems. However this is not the case. Because Japan’s population is so dense the per capita precipition is only 1/6th that of the world average. The Rivers of Japan area so erratic that it is hard to capture water from them too. Because of this situation the Japanese have move near the edges of rivers and as a result are prone to flooding each year (LC). Because of Japans mild climate and abundance of precipitaton and volcanic ground, the soil of Japan is very fertile. Agriculture is very popular in Japan as it takes up around the same amount of area as all the other space occupied by the Japanese (LC).
A large history encompasis Japan, because its island based roots. It is estimated human beings inhabited the island as long as 200,000 years ago (Encarta). It is thought that because of the Ice Age during this time there was a land bridge from the Korean Penisula to Japan. So peoples from the mainland of asia were easily able to travel to the current island of Japan. However, at the time these people were disorganized and had no organization or any political system. The first organization of a political system happened around 57 A.D. when the King of the Wo tribe first made contact with China. It was documented the Chinese that around the 3rd Century, the Wo had formed several countries. While these countries were the first step to organization the rulers were not monarchies, but sort of advisors that had managers that took care of the individual regions of the countries.
Around five centuries later in the 8th century took a new direction in government. It borrowed from the Chinese. As a result Japan’s new imperial state became highly centralized. Appointed officials, organized into eight hierarchical ranks, were administered the government. The country was divided into provinces managed by governors who were dispatched from the capital (Encarta). The economic system was also taken from Chinese and used by the Japanese. The Japanese also took a Census every 6 years in order to get an accurate population estimate (Encarta). They took this data and redistributed land every 6 years; this ensured that everyone had enough land to live off of. Japan also maintained good relations with the empires around it for trading (Encarta).
Japan fell into a period of Civil war for 5 years that ended 1185. The uprising was led by Minamoto Yoritomo, who turned the Japanese government into a warrior based government. Because of the changes, Japan would be able to hold off two invasions by the battle harded Mongols because of its new warrior class system. During this Warrior class era, the Japanese also made contact with the west for the first time in 1549 with Jesuit Missionary, Francis Xavier. This Warrior class system lasted from the 12th Century to the late 19th Century (Encarta).
In the 1880’s the emergence of the Japan that exists today starts to occur. A new type of emperor-centered state developed. This was done because of their contacts with the west. They learned that a more civilized state had a consitition and conforming the western ideals. This would strengthen Japan as a whole too (Encarta). Japan also made the effort to become industrialized in the 1870’s and became a fully industrialized country in the 1890’s. Following the model layed down by “civilized” countries such as France and England, Japan also sought to acqure colonies and thus its empire. They acquired colonies by taken over other countries and as a result of winning over Germany’s colonies that it lost in World War I.
During the period of World War II, Japan was once again seeking to expand its political and economic power in Asia. However, the United States frowned upon anymore violence during this time. As a result the United States placed an embargo on Japan and eventually a complete trade block. Rather than be humiliated Japan by the United States, Japan attack Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The Japanese took a gamble and thought the American people would not have the heart to battle to the end. However, they were wrong in there assumption and were attacked with Nuclear bomb, while at the same time Russian declared war on them. The Japanese surrendered as a result.
After the surrender the United States transformed Japan from an aggressor nation, into the peaceful democratic nation that exists today. The Americans help rebuilded Japan and put it back as an economic superpower. Japan became economically weathly again, after the Korean war where the United Nations used Japan as an operated base to ship supplies and command the war. As a result fast urbanization occurred and in 30 years Japan became the 3rd largest economy in the world. This had a downlside though, because now Japan had to deal with overcrowding and cramped living condition that one sees today.
The history of Japan has been a dramatic and eventful one. Japan was transformed into the country that exists today because of the geography that shaped it, turning it into the great country it is today. Japan is in the position it is today because of geography, plate tectonics, wind patterns, climate, and its recent war history.

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