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In 1603 A.D., a Tokugawa shogunate (military dictatorship) ushered in a long period of isolation from foreign influence in order to secure its power. For more than two centuries this policy enabled Japan to enjoy stability and a flowering of its indigenous culture. Following the Treaty of Kanagawa with the US in 1854 A.D., Japan opened its ports and began to intensively modernize and industrialize. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Japan became a regional power that was able to defeat the forces of both China and Russia. It occupied Korea, Formosa (Taiwan), and southern Sakhalin Island. In 1931 A.D.-1932 A.D. Japan occupied Manchuria, and in 1937 A.D. it launched a full-scale invasion of China. Japan attacked US forces in 1941 A.D. - triggering America's entry into World War II - and soon occupied much of East and Southeast Asia. After its defeat in World War II, Japan recovered to become an economic power and a staunch ally of the US. While the emperor retains his throne as a symbol of national unity, actual power rests in networks of powerful politicians, bureaucrats, and business executives. The economy experienced a major slowdown starting in the 1990s following three decades of unprecedented growth, but Japan still remains a major economic power, both in Asia and globally. The language spoken in Japan is Japanese.

Ja*pan", n. Etym: [From Japan, the country.]

Defn: Work varnished and figured in the Japanese manner; also, the varnish or lacquer used in japanning.

japan Ja*pan", a.

Defn: Of or pertaining to Japan, or to the lacquered work of that country; as, Japan ware. Japan allspice (Bot.), a spiny shrub from Japan (Chimonanthus fragrans), related to the Carolina allspice.

-- Japan black (Chem.), a quickly drying black lacquer or varnish,

consisting essentially of asphaltum dissolved in naphtha or turpentine, and used for coating ironwork; -- called also Brunswick black, Japan lacquer, or simply Japan.

-- Japan camphor, ordinary camphor brought from China or Japan, as

distinguished from the rare variety called borneol or Borneo camphor.

-- Japan clover, or Japan pea (Bot.), a cloverlike plant (Lespedeza

striata) from Eastern Asia, useful for fodder, first noticed in the Southern United States about 1860, but now become very common. During the Civil War it was called variously Yankee clover and Rebel clover.

-- Japan earth. See Catechu.
-- Japan ink, a kind of writing ink, of a deep, glossy black when


-- Japan varnish, a varnish prepared from the milky juice of the

Rhus vernix, a small Japanese tree related to the poison sumac.

japan Ja*pan", v. t. [imp. & p. p. Japanned; p. pr. & vb. n. Japanning.]

1. To cover with a coat of hard, brilliant varnish, in the manner of the Japanese; to lacquer.

2. To give a glossy black to, as shoes. [R.] Gay.

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