Timeline of Japanese history

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This is a timeline of Japanese history, comprising important legal, territorial and cultural changes and political events in Japan and its predecessor states. To read about the background to these events, see History of Japan. See also the list of Emperors of Japan and Prime Ministers of Japan and the list of years in Japan.

2nd century[edit]

Year Date Event
180 Civil war of Wa ends, bringing shaman queen Himiko to power somewhere in Western Japan

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3rd century[edit]

Year Date Event

4th century[edit]

Year Date Event
350 Unification of Yamato Province

5th century[edit]

Year Date Event
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6th century[edit]

Year Date Event
527 With the suppression of Iwai Rebellion, the Yamato polity is firmly entrenched in Tsukushi Province, Kyushu
538 Introduction of Buddhism in Japan by Seong of Baekje
538 Asuka period starts. Yamato polity achieve de facto political dominance.
593 Soga clan takes control of Japan with the installation of Empress Suiko on throne

7th century[edit]

Year Date Event
607 The first embassy under the command of Ono no Imoko is sent to China
646 Hakuhō period

8th century[edit]

Year Date Event
701 Taihō Code legal system is accepted and remain in force until 1868
710 Nara period starts after Empress Genmei moved the capital to Heijō-kyō.
712 The Kojiki was completed.
713 The provinces were ordered to compile cultural and geographical records, known as fudoki.
718 Fujiwara no Fuhito compiled the Yōrō Code (the update of Taihō Code) to be accepted in 757
720 The Nihon Shoki was completed.
724 Emperor Shōmu was enthroned.
735 Genbō and Kibi no Makibi returned from China.
735 Heavy smallpox epidemic has spread from Kyushu, resulting in 10 years of social instability and 3 transfers of the capital.
741 Shōmu established the provincial temples.
751 The Kaifūsō poetry anthology was completed.
752 The Great Buddha of Nara at Tōdai-ji was completed.
754 Priest Ganjin arrived from China.
757 Fujiwara no Nakamaro defeated an attempt by Tachibana no Naramaro to seize power.
764 Fujiwara and Emperor Junnin launched a plot against the retired Empress Kōken and the monk Dōkyō (which failed)
781 The Emperor Kammu was enthroned.
784 The capital moved to Nagaoka-kyō.
788 Saichō built Enryaku-ji.
794 Heian period starts after Emperor Kammu moved the capital to Heian-kyō.

9th century[edit]

Year Date Event
839 Last envoy to Tang China sent (some later embassies were cancelled)
858 Fujiwara clan solidify their rule over Japan with the installation of Emperor Seiwa
894 Sugawara no Michizane advocates for stopping sending embassies to China

10th century[edit]

Year Date Event
907 Several severe epidemics, resulting in reduction of contacts with the foreign countries
939 Rebellion of Taira no Masakado in Hitachi Province - the first of many rebellions lead by professional warriors (samurai)

11th century[edit]

Year Date Event
1008 The Tale of Genji is written
1068 The dominance of Fujiwara clan ends with the ascension of Emperor Go-Sanjō to the throne

12th century[edit]

Year Date Event
1156 Hōgen Rebellion has marked the rise of samurai class
1159 Taira clan under control of Taira no Kiyomori is dominating the government of Japan - the first example of samurai rule
1180 Genpei War starts. As result, the Imperial capital is briefly moved to Fukuhara-kyō (modern Kobe)
1185 Kamakura period starts after Genpei War ends with the defeat of Taira clan, resulting in establishment of Kamakura shogunate

13th century[edit]

Year Date Event
1221 Jōkyū War - an attempt of Imperial family to regain independence from Kamakura shogunate
1232 Goseibai Shikimoku code accepted and used until Edo period, marking militarization of legal system
1274 1st Mongol invasion in Japan
1281 2nd Mongol invasion in Japan

14th century[edit]

Year Date Event
1331 Emperor Go-Daigo initiates Genkō War
1333 Short-lived Kemmu restoration starts with the destruction of Kamakura shogunate in Siege of Kamakura (1333)
1336 Muromachi period starts with the establishment of Ashikaga shogunate. Daimyo system is established.

15th century[edit]

Year Date Event
1467 Ōnin War starts, marking the beginning of Sengoku period - during which violence and power struggle has become the norm

16th century[edit]

Year Date Event
1543 First Europeans arrive to Japan, opening Nanban trade period.
1560 Battle of Okehazama: Oda Nobunaga emerged victorious.
1573 The Japanese society began to stabilize, starting Azuchi–Momoyama period under ruling of Oda Nobunaga and later Toyotomi Hideyoshi
1582 Incident at Honnō-ji: Akechi Mitsuhide, an Oda general, betrayed Nobunaga at Honnō-ji and forced him to commit seppuku.
1592 Toyotomi Hideyoshi, acting as kampaku (regent) in lieu of Oda Nobukatsu, invaded Korea.

17th century[edit]

Year Date Events
1603 Edo period starts after Tokugawa Ieyasu received from Emperor Go-Yōzei the title of shogun.
1605 Ieyasu abdicated from office in favor of his third son and heir, Tokugawa Hidetada.
1609 Invasion of Ryukyu
1614 Siege of Osaka: Ieyasu ended Toyotomi opposition by successfully defending Osaka Castle.
1623 Hidetada resigned his office to his eldest son and heir, Tokugawa Iemitsu.
1635 The Sakoku Edict of 1635 was issued, barring Japanese from leaving Japan and barring Europeans from entering, on pain of death. It instituted strict penalties for the practice of Catholicism and severely restricted foreign trade.
The policy of Sankin kōtai was established, which subjected the daimyo to the will of the shogun.
1637 17 December Shimabara Rebellion: A rebellion began against the daimyo Matsukura Katsuie over his persecution of Christianity and onerous tax code.
1638 15 April Shimabara Rebellion: The last of the rebels were defeated in their fortress at Shimabara.
1651 24 April Iemitsu died, leaving his office to the ten-year-old Tokugawa Ietsuna.
Keian Uprising: A coup d'état attempted by several ronin and masterminded by Yui Shōsetsu and Marubashi Chūya failed.
1680 Ietsuna died and was succeeded by his younger brother, Tokugawa Tsunayoshi.

18th century[edit]

Year Date Event
1703 20 March ChūshinguraForty-seven ronin were ordered to commit seppuku by the shogun.
1709 19 February Tsunayoshi died. His nephew Tokugawa Ienobu succeeded him as shogun.
1712 12 November Ienobu died and was succeeded by his five-year-old son, Tokugawa Ietsugu, under the regency of the shogun's adviser Arai Hakuseki.
1714 24 April The currency system and trade rules were reformed.
1716 19 June Ietsugu died. Tokugawa Yoshimune, a great-grandson of Tokugawa Ieyasu, became shogun.
1745 Yoshimune retired, leaving his public office to his eldest son Tokugawa Ieshige, although he maintained some influence in the affairs of state.
1760 Ieshige retired, leaving his office to his eldest son Tokugawa Ieharu.

19th century[edit]

Year Date Event
1853 14 July Mathew C. Perry arrives off the coast of Japan in four ships. Perry orders harbor buildings to be shelled to force negotiations for a letter President Millard Fillmore sent to the ruler of Japan. This incident was coined as the "Arrival of the Black Ships" in Japanese History.
1854 February Second Visit. Mathew C. Perry returns to Japan with eight Black Ships and finds that the Shogunate had prepared a treaty accepting virtually all demands from President Millard Fillmore.
1854 March Mathew C. Perry signs the Convention of Kanagawa. Within five years, Japan signs similar treaties with other western countries, thus ending an isolation period of more than 200 years known as Sakoku (鎖国?), whereby the Dutch and Chinese ships had limited trade exclusivity.
1862 14 September Namamugi Incident: Four British subjects were attacked by guards on the Tōkaidō for failing to pay proper respect to a daimyo. One, a merchant named Charles Lennox Richardson, was killed.
1863 2 July Representatives of the Satsuma Province refused to turn over Richardson's killers or pay an indemnity for his death.
15 August Bombardment of Kagoshima: Britain seized three Japanese warships to put pressure on the Satsuma Province. The Satsuma fired in anger on the British, who responded by shelling the city for several days.
1868 3 January Chōshū and Satsuma forces occupied the Imperial household at Kyoto and persuaded Emperor Meiji to declare his restoration to full power.
24 January Tokugawa Yoshinobu assembled an army to capture Kyoto and obtain the rescindment of the imperial restoration.
1873 Seikanron: The government debated the invasion of Korea.

20th century[edit]

Year Date Event
1904 8 February Russo-Japanese War: Japan launched a surprise torpedo attack on the Russian navy at Port Arthur.
1905 5 September Russo-Japanese War: The Treaty of Portsmouth was signed, ceding some Russian property and territory to Japan and ending the war.
1910 Japan annexed Korea.
1927 Shōwa financial crisis
1931 18 September Japan invaded Manchuria.
1937 7 July Japan launched the full-scale invasion of China.
1938 29 July Battle of Lake Khasan: The armed forces of Japanese Manchukuo attacked the Soviet military at Lake Khasan.
31 August Battle of Lake Khasan: The battle ended in a Japanese defeat.
1941 13 April Soviet-Japanese Border Wars: A Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact was signed.
7 December World War II: The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and thrust the United States into the war.
1945 6 August Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: The bombings began.
9 August Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: The bombings ended.
16 August Soviet invasion of Manchuria: Soviet armed forces landed on Sakhalin.
18 August Soviet invasion of Manchuria: Soviet amphibious forces landed in Korea.
20 August Soviet invasion of Manchuria: The Soviet Union captured Changchun, the capital of Manchukuo.
25 August Soviet invasion of Manchuria: The Soviet Union captured Sakhalin's capital.
1946 3 May International Military Tribunal for the Far East: The prosecution began of Japanese leaders for war crimes.
1964 10 October 1964 Summer Olympics: Tokyo hosted the Olympics, marking the first time the Games were held in Asia.
24 October 1964 Summer Olympics: The Games ended.
1968 Japan surpassed West Germany to become the second largest economic power in the world.
1969 18 January Student protests against the Vietnam War and American use of bases on Japanese soil culminated in a short-lived takeover of Tokyo University.
1974 Prime Minister Eisaku Satō, the first Asian to do so, accepted the Nobel Peace Prize.
1989 29 December The Tokyo Stock Market index, Nikkei 225, hits its peak at 38,957 before closing at 38,916 for the day
1991 Lost Decade (Japan): The Japanese asset price bubble popped.

21st century[edit]

Year Date Event
2003 9 November Japanese general election, 2003: The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) gained forty seats in the House of Representatives. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) remained a plurality, but was forced to maintain its coalition with the New Komeito Party (NKP) and the New Conservative Party.
19 November The Diet reelected the incumbent Prime Minister, Junichiro Koizumi of the LDP.
2005 8 August The House of Councillors voted down a bill to break up and privatize Japan Post.
Koizumi dissolved the House of Representatives and called new elections for September 11.
11 September Japanese general election, 2005: The LDP coalition acquired a two-thirds majority in the House of Representatives, enabling it to pass bills without the consent of the House of Councillors.
2011 11 March 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami: An 8.9 earthquake and accompanying tsunami caused an estimated ¥25 trillion in material damage.
Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster: The earthquake and tsunami caused a nuclear disaster in Fukushima.

See also[edit]

Cities in Japan

Further reading[edit]

Published in the 19th century
Published in the 20th century
Published in the 21st century

External links[edit]