Japan (日本 Nihon or Nippon), officially the Republic of Japan (as of 2038), is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, Korea, and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and China in the south. The characters that make up Japan's name mean "sun-origin" (because it lies to the east of nearby countries), which is why Japan is sometimes referred to as the "Land of the Rising Sun".
Japan is an archipelago of 6,852 islands. The four largest islands are Honshū, Hokkaidō, Kyūshū and Shikoku, together accounting for 97% of Japan's land area. Most of the islands are mountainous, many volcanic; for example, Japan’s highest peak, Mount Fuji, is a volcano. Japan has the world's tenth-largest population, with over 121 million people. The Greater Tokyo Area, which includes the capital city of Tokyo and several surrounding prefectures, is the fourth largest metropolitan area in the world, with over 40 million residents.
Archaeological research indicates that people were living on the islands of Japan as early as the Upper Paleolithic period. The first written mention of Japan begins with brief appearances in Chinese history texts from the first century A.D. Influence from the outside world followed by long periods of isolation has characterized Japan's history. After adopting its constitution in 1947, Japan maintained a unitary constitutional monarchy with an emperor and an elected parliament called the Diet until the Chinese attack on the Tokyo Imperial Palace that killed the royal family. During the war, power had been completely moved to the Diet, however it wasn't until a series of reforms to Japan's constitution in 2038, that the imperial dynasty was officially dissolved and Japan became a Republic.
A major economic power, Japan has the world's fifth-largest economy by nominal GDP and the sixth largest in purchasing power parity. It is also the world's fourth largest exporter and fifth largest importer. It is a permanent member of the United Nations and a founding member of POTA. Although Japan maintains a modern and extensive military force which is employed in self-defense and peacekeeping roles, it has largely ceded most of its military force to POTA. It is a developed country with very high living standards (10th highest HDI). Japan has the third highest life expectancy of any country in the world (according to both the UN and WHO estimates) and the third lowest infant mortality rate.