Countryaah, Japan's financial crisis of 1997 harmed even more
victims among politicians and officials during the year. In
January, Finance Minister Hiroshi Mitsuzuka resigned
following a scandal in his ministry, where over 110
employees were later punished for inappropriate contact with
banks and companies. In March, the head of the central bank
was replaced for similar reasons. A new state control agency
was set up in June to monitor the financial world. Another
tug prompted prosecutors to raid Japan's Defense Bureau (Defense
Department) in September, where officials were suspected of
having been bribed to overlook the overpriced electronics
giant NEC charged for military supplies. The deal forced
both NEC Chairman Tadahiro Sekimoto and Defense Chief
Fukushiro Nukaga to resign.
The weak economy consisted of a record unemployment rate
of over 4% in the spring. In April, the "big bang", the
government's restructuring of the financial market, was
launched, with free currency exchange. Financial support
measures did not prevent Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto's
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) from losing the July 12
parliamentary election. The LDP fell from 118 to 103 seats
out of 252, the party's lowest figure ever. Keizo Obuchi
took over as LDP leader and prime minister.
In October, the LDP and parts of the opposition agreed on
a banking reform with the temporary nationalization of the
major bank LTCB - a first step towards clean-up among the
problem banks. Subsequently, the Obuchi government presented
Japan's largest stimulus package to date, equivalent to SEK
1,500 billion. vouchers for families with children and the
elderly increase consumption. Through an alliance with the
Liberal Party, the LDP secured Parliament's approval.
Russian-Japanese summits in Japan in April and in Russia
in November provided environmental agreements but no
solution to the dispute over four disputed islands that
Soviet troops conquered at the end of the Second World War.
Obuchi and President Boris Yeltsin, however, stuck to the
plans for a peace treaty by 2000.
War memories also overshadowed other high-profile visits:
by South Korean President Kim Dae Jung in October and
China's President Jiang Zemin a month later. Both apologized
for Japan's aggressive past, and Kim got in writing on Obuchi's
"deep regrets" over the occupation of Korea in 1910-45.
Jiang was given the same word about Japan's actions in China
1937-45 and oral apology but demanded total formal prayer.
However, there was no such thing, and neither Jiang nor
Obuchi signed the summit text. US President Bill Clinton
visited Tokyo in November.
The Paleolithic period - also called the Precambrian
period - dates back to the history of 10-30,000 years. It
was followed by the Neolithic Jomon culture, which lasted
until 2-300 BCE and extended to the entire archipelago. It
was a hunter and gatherer who developed a refined pottery
and manufactured tools of stone and bone. The Jomon culture
was changed by the yayoi, who probably joined the
archipelago from the continent as a land link still
existed over Korea, Tsushima, Soya and Tsugaru Straits.
Yayoi introduced the horse and cow, rice cultivation,
pottery, weaving and iron tools. Over the years, the two
According to the Chinese chroniclers, the Wo region - in
Japanese, Wa - at the beginning of our era was divided into
over 100 states, which during the Himito's reign was reduced
to about 30. Wa people were divided into classes and paid
taxes, the building art was well-developed, existed large
markets and a significant exchange of goods took place with
The Wa people lived in the period 266-413 completely
isolated - from the end of the civil war to the
consolidation of Yamato as emperor. This was the condition
of the unification of the nation, a condition of external
expansion, and this was a reality in the late 4th century.
In the year 369, Yamato subdued the Korean kingdoms of
Paekche, Kaya and Sila and established a basis for dominion
over the region. Yamato's rule quickly collapsed again.
Partly because of the opposition of the Korean subjects, and
partly because of internal contradictions at the court.
During this period, 538-552, Buddhism penetrated the
country. Initially as an object of curiosity and admiration,
for the grandeur of its temples, and because of the magical
powers it was accorded.
The imprint of Chinese culture on Japan extends back 1500
years. The most important characteristic is the square
division of the earth that still exists today, the
scriptural language and the Buddhist religion, which is also
influenced by its development in Central Asia, China and
Korea. This cultural legacy was characterized by numerous
successive adaptations to the climate, the language and the
local customs - a kind of Japanization. This was especially
true in the 17th and 18th centuries. The phenomenon was
especially evident in the architecture and language, which
originated from a number of very different local tribes.
The country's first stable capital, Nara, was founded in
710. In the 9th century, tribal chiefs were replaced by a
succession court. The aristocracy made Buddhism a dominant
force, reinforcing the power of the state. After a series of
conflicts, Kammu (781-806) restored imperial independence
and moved the capital to Heian (Kyoto). In the new capital,
the Fujiwara family consolidated its power and installed in
the 9th century a ruler who stood over the emperor himself.
With the support of the emperor, in Heian two new Buddhist
sects - Tendai and Shingon - developed closer to Japanese
culture and made it possible to dispense with Nara's
The former system of imperial ownership of the land
increasingly disintegrated and the land gradually passed
into private hands. The members of the aristocracy and
religious institutions acquired large tracts of land for
which no tax was payable - the sho. The nobles
organized their private armies and a new class of rural
warriors emerged - the samurai.
Originally local leaders, the Taira and Minamoto clans
clashed militarily on numerous occasions in their struggle
for power. Taira ruled from 1156 until he was defeated in
the Gempei War (1180-85). Shogun - general -
Minamoto Yoritomo created the shogunate Kamakura, the first
of the military regimes that ruled Japan until 1868.
Kamakura was put to a severe test during the Mongol
invasions of 1274 and 1281. The Japanese got help from the
great storms - the so-called kamikazes, divine
winds - and defeated the aggressors. In the same period, new
Buddhist sects emerged such as the pure earth Buddhism, the
real pure earth, and loto.
In the early 14th century, the shogunate Kamakura was
destroyed. Ruler Go-Daigo asserted his authority - the
so-called Kemmu restoration - but shortly after was thrown
out of Kyoto and replaced by a puppet ruler of the military
clans. Go-Daigo settled in Yoshino and for 56 years there
were two parallel imperial court.