The Japanese are an East Asian civilization in Age of Empires II. They are an infantry-based civilization, with their infantry possessing the fastest attack speed in the game. They are the descendants of the Yamato civilization, which inhabited the same island. The Japanese civilization is based on Feudal Japan which was dominated by the powerful regional families (daimyō) and the military rule of warlords (shōgun) from 1185 to 1868. The Samurai were the elite warrior class in Japanese society and required dozens of years of training. The Samurai were armed with a Katana, an extra-sharp, thin bladed longsword, a Wakizashi, a shorter version of the Katana, and sometimes a Tantō. These soldiers served the lord and fought for them based on the strict Bushido honor code. To reflect their high rank and prestige of the Japanese warrior class and their association with the ninja, a covert agent, Japanese infantry attack faster.
Japan is an island nation sea-reliant for most of its history, and as a result, the Japanese have extensive knowledge in maritime economy and warfare. To represent this, their Fishing Ships have double hit points and work more efficiently when advancing through the Ages, and the Japanese team's Galley line have a longer Line of Sight. Japan also possesses a number of volcanoes which create fertile lands for cultivation and ores for mining. To reflect this, the Japanese build Mills, Lumber Camps, and Mining Camps at a cheaper cost.
Throughout its medieval history, Japan was in constant conflicts of clan lords who constructed a large number of fortifications; each had many arrowslits (or yasama) to repel attackers. This is represented by the technology, Yasama, which increases the number of arrows shot by towers. Also, during Sengoku Jidai (or the Warring States period), the Japanese came into contact with the Portuguese and the Dutch, with whom the Japanese traded goods for firearms and modern siege technology. This is reflected by Kataparuto ("catapult" written in katakana to represent the European origin) that allows Trebuchets to pack, unpack, and fire faster.
The Japanese are an infantry civilization and command the strongest infantry of all civilizations with all technologies and upgrades available plus a speed boost for their attacks which results in a very high damage output. The Japanese also have superb archers (including Cavalry Archers) which they can also fully upgrade. Only their cavalry is weak and their siege weapons are underwhelming as well but their Trebuchets greatly benefit from Kataparuto meaning their sieging is still fairly effective. Their navy is excellent, only lacking the Heavy Demolition Ship, but with longer-sighted Galleons and all other improvements at their disposal. Their Monks are very good as well, only lacking Heresy. Their defensive structures and economy are below average, however.
When playing a random map game against the computer, the player may encounter any of the following Japanese AI characters:
Ashikaga Takauji (足利尊氏): A founder and first shogun of the Ashikaga shogunate. His rule began in 1338, beginning the Muromachi period of Japan, and ended with his death in 1358.
Date Masamune (伊達政宗): A regional strongman of Japan's Azuchi–Momoyama period through early Edō period. He ruled the southern Mutsu in the Tohoku region.
Gamou Ujisato (蒲生氏郷): A Japanese daimyō of the Sengoku and Azuchi-Momoyama periods.
Hojou Soun (北条早雲): A the first head of the Late Hōjō clan, one of the major powers in Japan's Sengoku period. He is well known for starting a rebellion against Horikoshi Kubo, the local ruler of the Kantō region of the Ashikaga clan, in 1495.
Hosokawa Katsumoto (細川勝元): A one of the Kanrei, the Deputies to the Shogun, during Japan's Muromachi period.
Kusonoki Masashige (楠木正成): A 14th-century samurai who fought for Emperor Go-Daigo in the Genkō War.
Minamoto Yorimoto (May 9, 1147 – February 9, 1199): The founder and the first shōgun of the Kamakura Shogunate of Japan. He ruled from 1192 until 1199. His Buddhist name was Ogosho Atsushi Dai Zenmon (武皇嘯厚大禅門).
Minamoto Yoshitsune (源義経): A nobleman and military commander of the Minamoto clan of Japan in the late Heian and early Kamakura periods.
Mouri Motonari (毛利元就): A prominent daimyō in the western Chūgoku region of Japan during the Sengoku period of the 16th century. Famous for starting and winning the Battle of Itsukushima (1555) against the superpower, which was Oouchi at that time.
Nitta Yoshihada: A head of the Nitta clan in the early fourteenth century, and supported the Southern Court of Emperor Go-Daigo in the Nanboku-chō period.
Oda Nobunaga (織田信長) (June 23, 1534 – June 21, 1582): A powerful daimyō of Japan in the late 16th century who attempted to unify Japan during the late Sengoku period. Nobunaga is regarded as one of three unifiers of Japan along with his retainers Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu. During his later life, Nobunaga was widely known for most brutal suppression of determined opponents, eliminating those who by principle refused to cooperate or yield to his demands. He was both a skilled ruler and keen businessman, economic reformer, strategizing at both the micro- and macroeconomic scales. He was killed when his retainer Akechi Mitsuhide rebelled against him at Honnō-ji.
Saito Dousan (斎藤道三): Also known as Saitō Toshimasa, was a Japanese samurai during the Sengoku period. He is famous for his cunning tactics and starting a rebellion and banishing his own lord, Toki Yoriaki, after which he became the ruler of the Mino Province.
Sanada Yukimura (真田幸村): Actual name: Sanada Nobushige, was a Japanese samurai warrior of the Sengoku period. He was especially known as the leading general on the defending side of the Siege of Osaka.
Tairano Kiyomori (平清盛): A military leader of the late Heian period of Japan. He established the first samurai-dominated administrative government in the history of Japan.
Takeda Shingen (武田信玄): A pre-eminent daimyō in feudal Japan with exceptional military prestige in the late stage of the Sengoku period. Based on the Kai Province, he was famous for his 'invincible' Takeda cavalry squad, but accidentally died on his way to Kyoto in 1573. He is nicknamed Tiger of Kai (甲斐の虎) in Japan.
Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川家康): A founder and first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan, which effectively ruled Japan from the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 until the Meiji Restoration in 1868.
Uesugi Kenshin (上杉謙信): A daimyō born in Nagao Kagetora, he was one of the most powerful daimyōs of the Sengoku period and he ruled the Echigo Province. He was famed for his honorable conduct as he made numerous campaigns to restore order in the Kantō region. He died in the same province of esophageal cancer. He is nicknamed God of Military (軍神) or Dragon of Echigo (越後の龍) in Japan.