From the 12th century until 1868, Japan was ruled by successive feudal military shōguns who ruled in the name of the Emperor.
Japan entered into a long period of isolation in the early 17th century, which was ended in 1853 when a United States fleet pressured Japan to open to the West.
Around 300 BC, the Yayoi people began to enter the Japanese islands, intermingling with the Jōmon.
According to the Records of the Three Kingdoms, the most powerful kingdom on the archipelago during the third century was called Yamataikoku.
After nearly two decades of internal conflict and insurrection, the Imperial Court regained its political power in 1868 through the help of several clans from Chōshū and Satsuma—and the Empire of Japan was established.
Prince Shōtoku, the Regent of Japan, sent a mission to China with a letter in which he called himself "the Emperor of the Land where the Sun rises" (日出處天子). is a homophone of Wo 倭 (pronounced "Wa" by the Japanese), which has been used by the Chinese as a designation for the Japanese as early as the third century Three Kingdoms period.
The Old Mandarin or possibly early Wu Chinese pronunciation of Japan was recorded by Marco Polo as Cipangu.
In modern Shanghainese, a Wu dialect, the pronunciation of characters is used as a formal modern-day equivalent with the meaning of "the State of Japan".
The earliest record of the name Nihon appears in the Chinese historical records of the Tang dynasty, the Old Book of Tang.
At the end of the seventh century, a delegation from Japan requested that Nihon be used as the name of their country.
Japan is a member of the UN, the OECD, the G7, the G8 and the G20—and is considered a great power.