300 B.C. Jomon, an ancient hunting and fishing culture, begins to be displaced by Yayoi migration. Rice cultivation begins.
300 A.D. The Yamato state consolidates its power.
592. Prince Shotoku encourages the adoption of Chinese political and religious practices.
1543. First Europeans visit Japan in the form of Portuguese traders and Jesuit missionaries.
1573-1603. The Momoyama period begins as Oda Nobunaga assumes power.
1603-1867. The Edo period begins as Ieyasu establishes the Tokugawa shogunate, which closes Japan to foreign contact and expels European traders and missionaries. Rise of the merchant class in Osaka and Edo (Tokyo).
1853. Arrival of U.S. Commodore Matthew Perry in Japan leads to "opening" of Japan to the West after 2 centuries of relative isolation.
1868-1912. The Meiji period begins, initiating a period of Westernization. The power of the shoguns is curbed and the emperor is restored as a constitutional monarch.
1894-1895. Japan and China engage in Sino-Japanese War; Japan wins many decisive military victories.
1904-1905. Japan and Russia engage in Russo-Japanese War; Japan wins many decisive military victories.
1910. Japan annexes Korea and retains it as a colony until the end of World War II in 1945.
1912-1926. The Taisho period begins with accession of Emperor Yoshihito.
1923. The Great Kanto Earthquake levels much of Tokyo.
1926-1989. The Showa period begins with accession of Emperor Hirohito.
1931-1932. Japan invades Manchuria and annexes it to its empire as Manchukuo.
1937. Japan and China go to war.
1938. Military leaders in Japan call for "new order" in Asia, which leads to the Pacific War.
1941-1945. During World War II, Japan engages U.S., British, and other Allied troops in the Pacific, Philippines, and throughout Southeast Asia. The war ends with the American atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, forcing Japan's surrender. U.S. occupation continues through 1951.
1947. Japan adopts a postwar Constitution largely drafted by U.S. legal experts during the occupation period.
LATE 1940s. Japan begins the reconstruction of its industry and infrastructure, which were devastated during World War II.
1952. Japan regains full sovereignty upon signing a peace treaty with the United States and 45 other Allied nations.
1955. The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is formed by the merger of Japan's 2 main conservative parties, the Democratic Party and the Liberal Party.
1960s. Japan becomes a major global producer of electronics.
1973. The first oil crisis damages the Japanese economy and reduces GDP growth.
1979. The second oil crisis has a less drastic impact on Japan's economy than the first, in 1973.
1985. The yen appreciates against foreign currencies, increasing the cost of Japanese exports, and leading to the relocations of some manufacturing activities abroad.
1980s. Japan emerges as the world's second largest economy, and this era sees the beginning of the "bubble economy." Under foreign pressure, the Japanese government begins its economic liberalization program.
1989. Death of Showa Emperor (Hirohito). The Heisei period begins with the accession of Emperor Akihito.
1990s. The bubble economy ends with the intervention of the Japanese government, whose deflationary policy contributes to a period of economic decline and rising unemployment which lasts throughout the decade.
1995. In January, an earthquake kills more than 5,000 people in the Kobe area; in March, the Aum Shinrikyo cult attacks Tokyo's subway system with nerve gas.
1996. Prime Minister Murayama resigns and is succeeded by Ryutaro Hashimoto. Japan's economy experiences a significant growth rate (5.1 percent) after years of sluggish growth.
1998. Prime Minister Hashimoto resigns and is succeeded by Keizo Obuchi. The Financial Supervisory Agency is established.
2000. Prime Minister Obuchi suffers a fatal stroke and is succeeded by Yoshiro Mori.
2001. Prime Minister Mori resigns and is succeeded by Junichiro Koizumi.