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Since entering the modern era, Japan seems to have faced a major turning point in its history once every 40 years. In 1868, with the start of the Meiji Restoration, Japan emerged from feudalism and began building a modern nation, racing toward a vision of prosperity and military might. In 1905, Japan won a war against Russia, becoming a global power and dramatically increasing its international status. The victory accelerated Japan's push to build its military strength and launched the nation on the path of militarism and conquest.
In 1945, Japan lost World War II. From the ashes of defeat, Japan changed direction yet again and began to focus on the pursuit of wealth, which resulted in phenomenal economic growth for the country. In 1985, Japan signed the Plaza Accord to devalue the American dollar in relation to the yen and alleviate the trade deficit, marking the peak of Japan's economic power The Plaza Accord was followed by the collapse of the bubble economy and a long-term recession.