• Japan is an archipelago made of almost 7,000
• Most people live on the 4 largest islands,
• There is not much arable land, so farmers built
terraces into hillsides and drained swamps.
Terraced farm land
• Japan is part of the Ring of Fire and
experiences much earthquake and volcanic
• Seismographs measure movements in the
crust to record the thousands of earthquakes
each year. 2011 Tsunami
• Japan’s climate varies by latitude
– cold winter/cool summer in the North
– hot summer/mild winter in the South
• Japan experiences monsoons and typhoons,
causing floods and landslides.
• Japan is one of the most densely populated
countries in the world.
• Cities are crowded and land/housing prices
• Japan recycles 50% of its solid waste to
combat pollution and waste disposal.
• Japan is 99% homogenous, meaning most
people share a common language and
• Shintoism and Buddhism are major religions.
• Modernization and education has created a
very large middle class.
Modern Japanese History
• Fearing loss of culture and domination by
European powers, Japan closed its doors to
the West in 1639.
• In 1853, the U.S. forced Japan to reopen with
unfair trade agreements.
• 1868 – Meiji government began industrializing
Japan and ended the unequal treaties by
Opening Edo Bay, 1853
• Japan waged war against China and Russia to secure
much needed natural resources in the early 1900s.
• 1910 – Japan annexed Korea.
• Worldwide depression of 1929 led Japan to seek new
markets and resources overseas.
• The new leaders promoted militarism, the glorification
of military power.
• During WWII, Japan allied with Nazi Germany.
– Surprise attacked the U.S. at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (1941)
– U.S. drops 2 atomic bombs in 1945 and Japan surrendered.
Hiroshima, Japan 1945
• Following WWII, the U.S. occupied Japan until
• Japan began democratic reforms, but was not
allowed to create an offensive military force.
• After WWII, Japan had the fastest growing
economy in the world.
– Imported raw materials and exported finished
North Korea is a communist.
South Korea is not
But they share a common history and culture
• After WWII, the Soviet Union took charge of
North Korea and established a Communist
• The U.S. supervised South Korea. Elections were
held and the U.S. withdrew in 1949.
• 1950 – North Korea attacked the South to create
a single Communist Korea.
• United Nations forces (U.S. included) helped
• 1953 – a cease-fire stopped the fighting.
• A demilitarized zone, an area with no troops or
weapons allowed, was created to separate the
• North Korea has rich natural resources.
• North Korea uses its rivers for hydroelectric
• South Korea has warmer climate and better
• South Korea has twice the population of the
• South Korea is densely populated with 25% of
its people living in the capital city, Seoul.
• Communist countries traded with North Korea.
• North Korea has frequent power outages and has
experienced severe flooding, famine, and
• The United States and Japan are major trading
partners with South Korea.
• South Korea has built industry and nuclear power