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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".or Nihon-koku, meaning "State of Japan") is a sovereign island nation in East Asia.Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies off the eastern coast of the Asian mainland and stretches from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and China in the southwest.This name may have its origin in a letter sent in 607 and recorded in the official history of the Sui dynasty.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.Buddhism was introduced to Japan from Baekje, Korea and was promoted by Prince Shōtoku, but the subsequent development of Japanese Buddhism was primarily influenced by China.The Nara period (710–784) marked an emergence of the centralized Japanese state centered on the Imperial Court in Heijō-kyō (modern Nara).
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, victories in the First Sino-Japanese War, the Russo-Japanese War and World War I allowed Japan to expand its empire during a period of increasing militarism.
Its population enjoys the highest life expectancy and the third lowest infant mortality rate in the world.
Japan is well-known internationally for its major contributions to science and modern-day technology.
The four largest are Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku, which make up about ninety-seven percent of Japan's land area and often are referred to as home islands.
The country is divided into 47 prefectures in eight regions, with Hokkaido being the northernmost prefecture and Okinawa being the southernmost one.
The population of 127 million is the world's tenth largest.