Axis tank development began in 1911, when Oberleutenant Gunther Burstyn drew up plans for the first German tank. The tank was never actually built, however, due to lack of interest. It wasnt until 1916 that Germany constructed its first AFVs, the Marienwagen I and II. They were seldom used, however, and by the end of World War I, Germany had less than 100 tanks in its military, whereas England and France both boasted several thousand.
When Germany entered World War II, however, they stepped up their tank capabilities and devoted a great deal of time and technology to their development of such Panzers. At the onset of the war, German tanks were far superior to Allied tanks, and were well-built and wildly successful in battle. Tanks were a critical asset to the famed Blitzkrieg attacks, which allowed the Nazis to conquer Poland in a mere five weeks.
Japan entered tank warfare considerably late. Their AFVs tended to be smaller, poorly designed, and without proper armament. Half were built by the Mitsubishi company, and did not fare well in battle. Not all was bad, though, and the Japanese were the first to develop a diesel engine in AFVs.
For more information and pictures on Axis tank develop, see the links below:
Images from http://www.military.cz/panzer/index_en.htm