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Japan’s Capital from Meiji to the Modern Age

With the Meiji Restoration of 1868, Edo was renamed Tokyo, the Eastern Capital, and the fever-pitch modernization of the city began in earnest. Twice the great metropolis was leveled, first by the 1923 Great Kantō Earthquake and later by the fire bombings of World War II, yet both times it rose again from the ashes of devastation. With every rejuvenation, however, the city remained true to the Edo blueprint left by Tokugawa Ieyasu.

Growth of a Great City from the Seeds of Ieyasu’s Edo

Four centuries ago, Tokyo was a small village perched on a narrow strip of land bordering an inlet from the bay. The city has been nearly wiped out several times only to revive with greater vigor than before. A look at Tokyo’s history reveals clues as to how it became the great metropolitan center that it is today.

Hiroshima Historian Mori Shigeaki Heads for America

Over more than four decades, Mori Shigeaki investigated 12 US servicemen who died in the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima, contacting all of their families to let them know their fate. In May 2018 he makes his first-ever trip to the United States, where he will meet with surviving relatives to comfort them and share his wishes for peace.

The Life of Japan’s “Last Samurai” Saigō Takamori

Known for his failed rebellion against the Meiji government he helped bring to power, Saigō Takamori is seen as a tragic figure in Japan. From obscure origins in southwestern Japan, he rose to the center of the Japanese establishment before turning against it.

South Korea Unveils Secret Talks on Comfort Women Accord with Japan (News)

Seoul, Dec. 27 (Jiji Press)—A South Korean task force released on Wednesday a report elaborating on the contents of secret high-level talks between the South Korean and Japanese governments on the bilateral accord to resolve the issue of so-called comfort women. The accord, announced on December 28, 2015, was wrapped up largely in the secret talks, the task force of the Foreign Ministry said, a…

Nakasone Attempted to Broker China-South Korea Rapprochement (News)

Tokyo, Dec. 20 (Jiji Press)—Then Japanese Prime Minister Nakasone Yasuhiro attempted to mediate the normalization of diplomatic ties between China and South Korea when he met in 1986 with Hu Yaobang, the Communist Party of China's leader at the time, according to Japanese diplomatic documents released on Wednesday. But Hu showed a negative attitude toward the proposed rapprochement with Seoul d…

The Secret Alliance with Japan Shattered by the Russian RevolutionVassili Molodiakov

The Russian Revolution of 1917 changed the world. One of its little-known consequences was the destruction of a newly minted alliance with Japan, which could have changed the balance of power in Asia. It was also the closest diplomatic relationship the two countries had ever enjoyed. This article, first written for the centenary of the July 1916 treaty, looks at how it came to be signed.

Shedding Light on “Formosa’s Betrayal”: Kabira Chōsei on George Kerr and Taiwanese History

Soon after World War II ended, the February 28 Incident rocked the island of Taiwan. The diplomat and scholar George Kerr explored this bloody chapter in Taiwanese history in his book Formosa Betrayed. We spoke with Kabira Chōsei, an Okinawan broadcaster raised in Taiwan under Japanese rule, about George Kerr—who taught him English in his school days—and his take on Taiwan’s past and present.

Sakamoto Ryōma: The Samurai Who Dreamed of a Modern Japan

Sakamoto Ryōma is one of Japan’s favorite historical figures and was a central mover in efforts to overthrow the shogunate 150 years ago. He was killed at the age of 31, however, and so did not live to see his efforts to modernize the country bear fruit. In this article we look at the life and enduring popular appeal of a low-ranking samurai who became influential at the highest level.

Hideyoshi’s Rare Letter to Concubine Chacha Found in Hyōgo (News)

Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture, July 7 (Jiji Press)—A rare letter that Japanese warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537–98) wrote to his concubine Chacha, or Yodo-dono, has been found in Toyooka, Hyōgo Prefecture. The letter written by Hideyoshi himself to Chacha is on display at Hyōgo Prefectural Museum in Himeji. (© Jiji) The letter shows Hideyoshi's concern for Chacha, who had run a high temperature,…

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