Under the last Feudal rule of the Tokugawa, a period that lasted 250 years, the archipelago faced isolation due to the sakoku or “locked country” policy that banned foreigners from Japan. In 1854 Matthew Perry landed on the harbors of Japan with a fleet of ships, forcing the island to open up to the West with the convention of Kanagawa. This and subsequent economic and political treaties led to economic and political crisis and led to the fall of the Tokugawa period, and the restoration of Imperial rule. The Meiji emperor ruled after the Shogunate changing the capital to Tokyo.
During WWI, Japan fought alongside the United States. However, during WWII the Japanese Imperial army attacked Pearl Harbor in an attempt to prevent the US Pacific fleet intervening in Japanese military action in South East Asia. The attack spurred US entry into WWII and led to the United States bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in the first ever nuclear attacks. From 1945 to 1952, the Allied forces altered Japan’s form of government from military to parliamentary democracy stripping the Island nation of its militant identity. In what has been hailed as an ‘economic miracle’, strong economic policies and positive impacts from the cold war have led to Japan going from strength to strength and today, it has the world’s third largest economy.