Viewed as insular and anachronistic for much of its history, Japan has repeatedly astonished outsiders with its capacity to master emerging technologies and adapt to changing international climates while retaining its ancient culture and national character. The Empire of Japan suffered devastating losses in the First Scinfaxi War, and withdrew from many of its overseas territorial claims after the war to support the homeland restoration effort. During the initial space race of the 1960s and the first colonization efforts decades later, Japan advanced alone. The Empire even declined entry into the Alpha Centauri project, the only major nation to do so. Yet, not only was Japan able to secure its place in the Orion Arm, but the technologies and methods by which it did so were uniquely innovative and, as history would show, indicative of the paths that space travel and terraforming technology would take in the following era of colonization.
Japan is the smallest of the superpowers of Orion, with its colonies spread across only 8 separate systems. Yet, each of these systems are among the most highly developed in the entire Orion Arm, with robust infrastracture and efficient industrial design that rivals or even surpasses that of the German Reich. With over 7 billion citizens inhabiting its few worlds, it is one of the most densely populated regions of the Orion Arm.
The Japanese economy is primarily reliant on mega-conglomerate corporations whose disproportional representation in government has led to a quasi-fascist economic model. The high tech sector of the nation’s economy is particularly well regarded leading the Orion Arm in robotics, electronics and reactor design. Japanese-developed energy generation technology can be found at the heart of many colonial settlements, as well as powering anything from personal transports to luxury spaceliners.
Japanese culture has experienced numerous upheavals through its transition into an interstellar superpower, but the core characteristics of its national identity remain unchanged. The Emperor is treated with the utmost reverence as both the symbol of the state and the highest authority within Shinto, the state religion. The concept of Bushido, or “The Way of the Warrior” is often exploited to consolidate support for Japanese nationalism and the military. This ideology is also used to support the idea that Japan bears the responsibility of leading the Greater Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere as the head of a family of Asian nations.
Though Japan has largely retained its isolationist position in Orion politics, the Empire is able to secure trade agreements with other nations across the Orion Arm through its network of puppet governments in the Greater Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. Germany is Japan’s closest partner outside of the Sphere, yet considerable differences in recent years have strained the relationship far more than outsiders may believe. The Empire is largely hostile towards the Soviet Union and Democratic Federation: the historical rivals and perceived oppressors of Japan. In particular, the Empire has started an aggressive expansion program to extend its influence into the New Canaan Corridor, the likely focal point of any future Japanese-Federation conflict.