Nippon or Nihon, known to foreigners as Wa, Yamatai, Jipon, Zipangu (plus a thousand spelling variants of that) and (most commonly nowdays) Japan is a country. It is a series of several thousand islands, the exact number of which depends both on the definition of "island" (minimum size) and if you ask them or the Russians. Despite the many islands, most of the population is centered on four main ones. It is nominally an Empire, but of the past thousand years an Emperor has held power beyond figurehead for less than 80 of them. Samurai, Ninja, Oni, Tengu, and Kitsune originate here. The most common religions (and those most likely to have analogs in a fantasy setting) are Shinto, various types of Buddhism and a Christian minority. Unlike many countries, the two major religions aren't entirely mutually exclusive, though no one would outright list their religion as "multiple". It is often said that the Japanese are born Shinto, marry Christian, and die Buddhist. Native systems include Maid RPG, Record of Lodoss War, Queen's Blade, and Zettai Reido as well as the CCGs Yu-Gi-Oh and Fire Emblem Cipher. The most popular game within the country however is, of all things, Call of Cthulhu. The manga Quick Start!! is also worth a mention.
Japan's history geographically spans several million years and thousands nationally/culturally, but most fiction (even native stuff) and /tg/ only care about the following periods starting at the fairly late 1467
- Sengoku Period - A succession crisis over who will become the next shogun, the man who really held power in Japan. Eventually devolves into everyone wanting the pie for himself. While this era lasted for almost 250 years, most only care about the last 40 (1560 onward) or so, when defacto unifier Oda Nobunaga began his rise to power and enough Europeans visited to document the happenings as a neutral enough third party. Everything before this is regarded as a bunch of stalemates for the most part. Gun spam was popular at the last part of this era, leading to the country having more guns per capita than anywhere else in the world at the time and the development of tactics that would last up till the introduction of the metallic cartridge. Near the end of the conflict one of the largest powers led an invasion of the Korean peninsula which ended in a stalemate and withdrawal (since these forces had more important things to do back home). Both sides are still bullhurt about it to this day, especially thanks to the repeat during World War II.
- Edo Period - After the reunification of the land a long period of peace ensued. A few decades into this however a brief Christian rebellion led to the expulsion of foreigners and began the sakoku ("closed state") dictate where minimal outside trade occurred. This seclusion would last till July 8th 1853 when an American fleet led by Commodore Matthew Perry arrived in Edo to forcibly reopen trade. This set off a widespread division and panic in the government on what to do.
- Meiji Period - In 1868-1869 the boy who would become known as Emperor Meiji took advantage of this panic to seize power back from the shogunate in a relatively short and bloodless war. Under his rule the country would refuse to bend over and become a colony like many primitive nations at the time had. It quickly modernized, abolished the caste system, replacing the samurai with a conscript army, and became a world power onto itself. In 1894-95 Japan would crush China in the Sino-Japanese war and establish itself as the dominant power in Asia. 1904-1905 they would crush Russia in a totally unexpected victory, something that really got them noticed. The era ended with Meiji's death in 1912.
- Taishō Period - The rule of his son till 1926. Largely seen as a period of stability following the rapid change of the Meiji era. The country's entry into World War I is the main thing of note here. During the war the Japanese navy dominated the pacific. This showed the victory in the Russo-Japanese war wasn't a fluke scared the shit out of the rest of the world.
- Shōwa Period - The rule of his son. Best known for the country's role in World War II. While this era would last up till the Emperor's death in 1989, the Emperor was reduced to a figurehead after the country's defeat in 1945 (and it's debatable if he was more than a puppet for the past several years before that).
- Post-War Shōwa, Heisei and Reiwa periods - Beyond this Japan is just another first-world country for /tg/ purposes. Very little non-native fiction has modern Japan as it's primary setting, though it is a stock foreign destination. Japan is however a relatively high priority country for games set in the "real world but..." to explain the differences from reality of. The exception is the Cyberpunk genre, where Japan dominates the world culturally and financially since at the time of the genre's origins it was believed that Japan would achieve economic conquest of the world in the future and despite the Lost Decade and other economic setbacks it remains as a tradition of the genre.
Self Defense Force
After World War II, Japan was hated and feared by the allied powers, and unlike West Germany it was not seen as a critical barrier to Soviet invasion. As such Japan was forced to adopt a constitution that prohibited an army, navy or air force and renounced the right to belligerency. As the Cold War heated up, NATO realized Japan was critical to preventing Communist dominance of the Pacific. Accordingly Japan was able to exploit a loophole and create a "self defense force" that was an army in all but name.
While not the latest tech, the JSDF's equipment is absolutely modern and contains plenty of armored vehicles. Their main rifle is the Type 89, a pretty straightforward AR-18 variant that uses STANAG (M16) magazines. Unlike the British AR-18 variant, the Type 89 actually works since 1: They had the original AR-18 specs (Howa was previously subcontractor for manufacturing the AR-18) instead of a crude copy by people who never used a firearm before 2: It wasn't built by workers who knew they were going to be fired immediately afterwards. Improvements like freefloating and optics mounting are considered, but budgetary concerns prevent adoption.
By the number, the Maritime Self Defense Force is at worst a match for the Russian Federation's pacific fleet, though would be heavily outnumbered if the arctic fleet or Baltic fleet reinforced them (reinforcements from the black fleet however are unlikely). While it has no aircraft carriers (Not too surprising since only the US, French, Italian, British, Spanish, Russian, Chinese and Indian navies have them. The Chinese and Indians bought them from the Soviets when they went bust. Italy with 2 and the US with 11 are the only ones with more than one.), the JMSDF has a pair of "helicopter destroyers" that were quite clearly designed with a conversion or variant that carries fixed wing aircraft in mind. The obviously intended conversion of one of these into a proper aircraft carrier was announced in December of 2018 and caused more than a bit of butt-hurt in Korea.
By the same post-war Constitution, Japan is expressly forbidden from having nuclear weapons, and their history with them makes the vast majority of the population OK with that. They do however have a large nuclear power industry and a space program, so there's no doubt they could easily make some and ICBMs to go with it if they wanted to.
Japan Analogs in Fantasy
- Nippon of Warhammer Fantasy
- The Tau Empire of Warhammer 40000
- Kozakura and Wa of Kara-Tur
- Jinin, The Forest of Spirits and Minkai of Golarion. Less direct analogs in the setting include Shokuro, Shenmen, and Chu Ye.
- Kamigawa of Magic the Gathering
- Rokugan from Legend of the Five Rings, though while culturally Japanese it takes great influence from many other Asian cultures.
Why living in Japan sucks
Despite what Weeaboos would have you believe, living in Japan stinks. Not only do they still treat minorities like shit, but their police force is also worse than any western nation you can name and are utterly corrupt. A 99%+ conviction rate is impossible without at least a quarter of that being false testimonies. In Japan everything is expensive and just about everyone is underpaid, as this is what happens when you fetishize a business culture and without a bunch of crappy books written as fetish fuel by some Russian whore.
Like Meat? Love Taco Bell or Hamburgers? Too bad, it costs way too much. Want to buy mecha models, figures or BluRay discs from your favorite anime? That too, is overpriced. Remember when we said that people are underpaid? Well, your favorite mango and animu artists are as well and are working themselves to death, for what barely counts as minimum wage. The idiots over 50 in the Diet and elsewhere than wonder why their birthrate is falling. The obvious answer is that if young people don't have money to own a home, they're not going to give a flying shit about making babies.
Additionally they were never 'deimperialed' the same way the Germans were 'denazified' following the second world war, which goes some way to explain why the Chinese and both Koreas still hold grudges from the second way war (despite the South Koreans and Japan sharing a
sugar daddy powerful ally in the form of the United States), in a way that the Germany and Israel do not. If you have an older family member over the age of 50, they may still hold a grudge about this as well. Oddly enough, Taiwan does not care that as much since it would rather focus its hate against the mainland communists and many have good memories of the island's modernization under Japan.
And on top of all that is the fact that you are one of two nations that tend to get a front-row seat to the nuclear saber-rattling between the North Koreans and the Americans. Indeed, due to World War II grudges, those sabers are often rattled at you. Additionally having so many US bases means that if something ever does start between the US and China, you are going to have a front row seat to that "World War III push here to start button" even if you rather not. (Doesn't help that China hates your guts more than anyone else out there and will gladly send the nukes your way first due to the countless wars and atrocities between you two, regardless of whether or not the U.S maintains a presence on your islands)
Overall: Japan has issues, not insurmountable ones nor one totally unique to it, but they are perhaps more exacerbated then most other developed nations and certainly not helped by the Geopolitics of the region.