History of Japan
before 14,000 BC
300 BC – 250 AD
Heisei (平成?) is the current era in Japan. The Heisei era started on 8 January 1989, the first day after the death of the reigning Emperor, Hirohito. His son, Akihito, succeeded to the throne. In accordance with Japanese customs, Hirohito was posthumously renamed"Emperor Shōwa" on 31 January. On 7 January 1989, at 07:55 JST, the grand steward of Japan's Imperial Household Agency, Shōichi Fujimori, announced Emperor Shōwa's death, and revealed details about his cancer for the first time. Shortly after the death of the Emperor, Keizō Obuchi, then Chief Cabinet Secretary and later Prime Minister of Japan, announced the end of the Shōwa era, and heralded the new era name "Heisei" for the new incoming Emperor, and explained the meaning of the name. According to Obuchi, the name "Heisei" was taken from two Chinese history and philosophy books, namely Records of the Grand Historian (史記 Shiji) and the Classic of History (書経 Shujing). In the Shiji, the sentence "内平外成" (nèi píng wài chéng;Kanbun: 内平かに外成る Uchi tairaka ni soto naru) appears in a section honoring the wise rule of the legendary Chinese Emperor Shun. In the Shujing, the sentence "地平天成" (dì píng tiān chéng; Kanbun: 地平かに天成る Chi tairaka ni ten naru) appears. By combining both meanings, Heisei is intended to mean "peace everywhere". The Heisei era went into effect immediately after the announcement of the new emperor on 8 January 1989.
The Shōwa period (昭和時代 Shōwa jidai?), or Shōwa era, is the period of Japanese history corresponding to the reign of the Shōwa Emperor, Hirohito, from December 25, 1926, through January 7, 1989. The Shōwa period was longer than the reign of any previous Japanese emperor. During the pre-1945 period, Japan moved into politicaltotalitarianism, ultranationalism and fascism culminating in Japan's invasion of China in 1937. This was part of an overall global period of social upheavals and conflicts such as the Great Depression and the Second World War. Defeat in the Second World War brought about radical change to Japan. For the first and only time in its history, Japan was occupied by foreign powers; this occupation lasted seven years. Allied occupation brought forth sweeping democratic reforms. It led to the end of the emperor's status as a living god and the transformation of Japan into a democracy with a constitutional monarch. In 1952, with the Treaty of San Francisco, Japan became a sovereign nation once more. The post-war Shōwa period also led to the Japanese economic miracle. In these ways, the pre-1945 and post-war periods regard completely different states: the pre-1945 Shōwa period (1926–1945) concerns the Empire of Japan, while post-1945 Shōwa period (1945–1989) was a part of the State of Japan.