JAPAN, in Japanese Dai (“great”) Nihon or Nippon (“origin of the sun”), hence, Land of the Rising Sun, constitutional monarchy, E Asia, comprising four large islands, as well as the Ryukyu Islands and more than 1000 lesser adjacent islands. It is bounded on the N by the Sea of Okhotsk, on the E by the Pacific Ocean, on the S by the Pacific Ocean and the East China Sea, and on the W by Korea Strait and the Sea of Japan. The Japanese islands extend in an irregular crescent from the island of Sakhalin (Russia) to the island of Formosa, or Taiwan (Republic of China). Japan proper consists of the large islands of Hokkaido, the northernmost; Honshu, the largest, called the mainland; Shikoku; and Kyushu, the southernmost. The combined area of these islands is about 362,000 sq km (about 140,000 sq mi). The total area of Japan is 377,835 sq km (145,882sq mi). The Kuril Islands, N of Hokkaido and formerly included in Japan proper as Chishimaretto, were occupied by the USSR at the conclusion of World War II under an agreement reached at the YALTA Conference in 1945. Until the unconditional surrender of Japan to the Allied powers on Sept. 2, 1945, the Japanese Empire controlled, in addition to present-day Japan and the Kuril Islands, an area of about 1,651,100 sq km (about 637,500 sq mi), including Korea, Taiwan, Manchuria, the leased territory of Guangdong, the Pescadores, Karafuto (the S half of Sakhalin), and the South Sea Mandated Territories, comprising the Marshall, Mariana (except Guam, a U.S. possession), and Caroline islands, which were made a Japanese mandate by the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, after World War I. For the disposition of these territories and others acquired by Japanese conquest during World War II, see History section.

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