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Flag of Japan
Map of Japan
Introduction Japan
In 1603, a Tokugawa shogunate (military dictatorship) ushered in a long period of isolation from foreign influence in order to secure its power. For 250 years this policy enabled Japan to enjoy stability and a flowering of its indigenous culture. Following the Treaty of Kanagawa with the US in 1854, Japan opened its ports and began to intensively modernize and industrialize. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Japan became a regional power that was able to defeat the forces of both China and Russia. It occupied Korea, Formosa (Taiwan), and southern Sakhalin Island. In 1931-32 Japan occupied Manchuria, and in 1937 it launched a full-scale invasion of China. Japan attacked US forces in 1941 - triggering America's entry into World War II - and soon occupied much of East and Southeast Asia. After its defeat in World War II, Japan recovered to become an economic power and a staunch ally of the US. While the emperor retains his throne as a symbol of national unity, actual power rests in networks of powerful politicians, bureaucrats, and business executives. The economy experienced a major slowdown starting in the 1990s following three decades of unprecedented growth, but Japan still remains a major economic power, both in Asia and globally.
Geography Japan
Eastern Asia, island chain between the North Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Japan, east of the Korean Peninsula
Geographic coordinates:
36 00 N, 138 00 E
Map references:
total: 377,835 sq km
land: 374,744 sq km
water: 3,091 sq km
note: includes Bonin Islands (Ogasawara-gunto), Daito-shoto, Minami-jima, Okino-tori-shima, Ryukyu Islands (Nansei-shoto), and Volcano Islands (Kazan-retto)
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than California
Land boundaries:
0 km
29,751 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm; between 3 nm and 12 nm in the international straits - La Perouse or Soya, Tsugaru, Osumi, and Eastern and Western Channels of the Korea or Tsushima Strait
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
varies from tropical in south to cool temperate in north
mostly rugged and mountainous
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Hachiro-gata -4 m
highest point: Mount Fuji 3,776 m
Natural resources:
negligible mineral resources, fish
Land use:
arable land: 11.64%
permanent crops: 0.9%
other: 87.46% (2005)
Irrigated land:
25,920 sq km (2003)
Natural hazards:
many dormant and some active volcanoes; about 1,500 seismic occurrences (mostly tremors) every year; tsunamis; typhoons
Environment - current issues:
air pollution from power plant emissions results in acid rain; acidification of lakes and reservoirs degrading water quality and threatening aquatic life; Japan is one of the largest consumers of fish and tropical timber, contributing to the depletion of these resources in Asia and elsewhere
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
Geography - note:
strategic location in northeast Asia
People Japan
127,463,611 (July 2006 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 14.2% (male 9,309,524/female 8,849,476)
15-64 years: 65.7% (male 42,158,122/female 41,611,754)
65 years and over: 20% (male 10,762,585/female 14,772,150) (2006 est.)
Median age:
total: 42.9 years
male: 41.1 years
female: 44.7 years (2006 est.)
Population growth rate:
0.02% (2006 est.)
Birth rate:
9.37 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Death rate:
9.16 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.73 male(s)/female
total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2006 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 3.24 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 3.5 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 2.97 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 81.25 years
male: 77.96 years
female: 84.7 years (2006 est.)
Total fertility rate:
1.4 children born/woman (2006 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
less than 0.1% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
12,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
500 (2003 est.)
noun: Japanese (singular and plural)
adjective: Japanese
Ethnic groups:
Japanese 99%, others 1% (Korean 511,262, Chinese 244,241, Brazilian 182,232, Filipino 89,851, other 237,914)
note: up to 230,000 Brazilians of Japanese origin migrated to Japan in the 1990s to work in industries; some have returned to Brazil (2004)
observe both Shinto and Buddhist 84%, other 16% (including Christian 0.7%)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 99% (2002)
Government Japan
Country name:
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Japan
local long form: Nihon-koku/Nippon-koku
local short form: Nihon/Nippon
Government type:
constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary government
name: Tokyo
geographic coordinates: 35 42 N, 139 46 E
time difference: UTC+9 (14 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions:
47 prefectures; Aichi, Akita, Aomori, Chiba, Ehime, Fukui, Fukuoka, Fukushima, Gifu, Gunma, Hiroshima, Hokkaido, Hyogo, Ibaraki, Ishikawa, Iwate, Kagawa, Kagoshima, Kanagawa, Kochi, Kumamoto, Kyoto, Mie, Miyagi, Miyazaki, Nagano, Nagasaki, Nara, Niigata, Oita, Okayama, Okinawa, Osaka, Saga, Saitama, Shiga, Shimane, Shizuoka, Tochigi, Tokushima, Tokyo, Tottori, Toyama, Wakayama, Yamagata, Yamaguchi, Yamanashi
660 B.C. (traditional founding by Emperor JIMMU)
National holiday:
Birthday of Emperor AKIHITO, 23 December (1933)
3 May 1947
Legal system:
modeled after European civil law system with English-American influence; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations
20 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: Emperor AKIHITO (since 7 January 1989)
head of government: Prime Minister Shinzo ABE (since 26 September 2006)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the prime minister
elections: Diet designates prime minister; constitution requires that prime minister commands parliamentary majority; following legislative elections, leader of majority party or leader of majority coalition in House of Representatives usually becomes prime minister; monarch is hereditary
election results: ABE was elected prime minister with 339 of 476 votes cast in the House of Representatives and 136 of 240 votes cast in the House of Councilors.
Legislative branch:
bicameral Diet or Kokkai consists of the House of Councillors or Sangi-in (242 seats - members elected for six-year terms; half reelected every three years; 146 members in multi-seat constituencies and 96 by proportional representation) and the House of Representatives or Shugi-in (480 seats - members elected for four-year terms; 300 in single-seat constituencies; 180 members by proportional representation in 11 regional blocs)
elections: House of Councillors - last held 11 July 2004 (next to be held in July 2007); House of Representatives - last held 11 September 2005 (next election by September 2009)
election results: House of Councillors - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - LDP 115, DPJ 82, Komeito 24, JCP 9, SDP 5, others 7; distribution of seats as of December 2006 - LDP 111, DPJ 82, Komeito 24, JCP 9, SDP 6, others 10
: House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - LDP 47.8%, DPJ 36.4%, others 15.8%; seats by party - LDP 296, DPJ 113, Komeito 31, JCP 9, SDP 7, others 24; distribution of seats as of December 2006 - LDP 305, DPJ 113, Komeito 31, JCP 9, SDP 7, others 15 (2006)
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court (chief justice is appointed by the monarch after designation by the cabinet; all other justices are appointed by the cabinet)
Political parties and leaders:
Democratic Party of Japan or DPJ [Ichiro OZAWA]; Japan Communist Party or JCP [Kazuo SHII]; Komeito [Akihoro OTA]; Liberal Democratic Party or LDP [Shinzo ABE]; Social Democratic Party or SDP [Mizuho FUKUSHIMA]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
International organization participation:
AfDB, APEC, APT, ARF, AsDB, ASEAN (dialogue partner), Australia Group, BIS, CE (observer), CERN (observer), CP, EAS, EBRD, FAO, G-5, G-7, G-8, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITU, ITUC, LAIA, MIGA, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE (partner), Paris Club, PCA, PIF (partner), SAARC (observer), SECI (observer), UN, UN Security Council (temporary), UNCTAD, UNDOF, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNITAR, UNMOVIC, UNRWA, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Ryozo KATO
chancery: 2520 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 238-6700
FAX: [1] (202) 328-2187
consulate(s) general: Anchorage, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Agana (Guam), Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Portland (Oregon), San Francisco, Seattle
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador J. Thomas SCHIEFFER
embassy: 1-10-5 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-8420
mailing address: Unit 45004, Box 258, APO AP 96337-5004
telephone: [81] (03) 3224-5000
FAX: [81] (03) 3505-1862
consulate(s) general: Naha (Okinawa), Osaka-Kobe, Sapporo
consulate(s): Fukuoka, Nagoya
Flag description:
white with a large red disk (representing the sun without rays) in the center
Economy Japan
Economy - overview:
Government-industry cooperation, a strong work ethic, mastery of high technology, and a comparatively small defense allocation (1% of GDP) helped Japan advance with extraordinary rapidity to the rank of second most technologically powerful economy in the world after the US and the third-largest economy in the world after the US and China, measured on a purchasing power parity (PPP) basis. One notable characteristic of the economy is how manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors work together in closely-knit groups called keiretsu. A second basic feature has been the guarantee of lifetime employment for a substantial portion of the urban labor force. Both features are now eroding. Japan's industrial sector is heavily dependent on imported raw materials and fuels. The tiny agricultural sector is highly subsidized and protected, with crop yields among the highest in the world. Usually self sufficient in rice, Japan must import about 60% of its food on a caloric basis. Japan maintains one of the world's largest fishing fleets and accounts for nearly 15% of the global catch. For three decades, overall real economic growth had been spectacular - a 10% average in the 1960s, a 5% average in the 1970s, and a 4% average in the 1980s. Growth slowed markedly in the 1990s, averaging just 1.7%, largely because of the after effects of overinvestment during the late 1980s and contractionary domestic policies intended to wring speculative excesses from the stock and real estate markets and to force a restructuring of the economy. From 2000 to 2003, government efforts to revive economic growth met with little success and were further hampered by the slowing of the US, European, and Asian economies. In 2004-06, growth improved and the lingering fears of deflation in prices and economic activity lessened. Japan's huge government debt, which totals 175% of GDP, and the aging of the population are two major long-run problems. Some fear that a rise in taxes could endanger the current economic recovery. Internal conflict over the proper way to reform the financial system will continue as Japan Post's banking, insurance, and delivery services undergo privatization between 2007 and 2017.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$4.22 trillion (2006 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
$4.911 trillion (2006 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
2.8% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$33,100 (2006 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 1.6%
industry: 25.3%
services: 73.1% (2006 est.)
Labor force:
66.44 million (2006 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 4.6%
industry: 27.8%
services: 67.7% (2004)
Unemployment rate:
4.1% (2006 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 4.8%
highest 10%: 21.7% (1993)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
38.12 (2002)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
0.4% (2006 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):
23.7% of GDP (2006 est.)
revenues: $1.411 trillion
expenditures: $1.639 trillion; including capital expenditures (public works only) of about $71 billion (2006 est.)
Public debt:
175.5% of GDP (2006 est.)
Agriculture - products:
rice, sugar beets, vegetables, fruit; pork, poultry, dairy products, eggs; fish
among world's largest and technologically advanced producers of motor vehicles, electronic equipment, machine tools, steel and nonferrous metals, ships, chemicals, textiles, processed foods
Industrial production growth rate:
3.3% (2006 est.)
Electricity - production:
974.4 billion kWh (2004)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 60%
hydro: 8.4%
nuclear: 29.8%
other: 1.8% (2001)
Electricity - consumption:
906.2 billion kWh (2004)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2004)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2004)
Oil - production:
120,600 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - consumption:
5.353 million bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - exports:
93,360 bbl/day (2001)
Oil - imports:
5.449 million bbl/day (2001)
Oil - proved reserves:
29.29 million bbl (1 January 2002)
Natural gas - production:
2.957 billion cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
83.55 billion cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
81.23 billion cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
39.64 billion cu m (1 January 2005 est.)
Current account balance:
$174.4 billion (2006 est.)
$590.3 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)
Exports - commodities:
transport equipment, motor vehicles, semiconductors, electrical machinery, chemicals
Exports - partners:
US 22.9%, China 13.4%, South Korea 7.8%, Taiwan 7.3%, Hong Kong 6.1% (2005)
$524.1 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and equipment, fuels, foodstuffs, chemicals, textiles, raw materials (2001)
Imports - partners:
China 21%, US 12.7%, Saudi Arabia 5.5%, UAE 4.9%, Australia 4.7%, South Korea 4.7%, Indonesia 4% (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$864.7 billion (August 2006 est.)
Debt - external:
$1.547 trillion (30 June 2006)
Economic aid - donor:
ODA, $8.9 billion (2004)
Currency (code):
yen (JPY)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
yen per US dollar - 116.175 (2006), 110.22 (2005), 108.19 (2004), 115.93 (2003), 125.39 (2002)
Fiscal year:
1 April - 31 March
Communications Japan
Telephones - main lines in use:
58.78 million (2005)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
94.745 million (2005)
Telephone system:
general assessment: excellent domestic and international service
domestic: high level of modern technology and excellent service of every kind
international: country code - 81; satellite earth stations - 5 Intelsat (4 Pacific Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean), 1 Intersputnik (Indian Ocean region), and 1 Inmarsat (Pacific and Indian Ocean regions); submarine cables to China, Philippines, Russia, and US (via Guam) (1999)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 215 plus 370 repeaters, FM 89 plus 485 repeaters, shortwave 21 (2001)
120.5 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
211 plus 7,341 repeaters
note: in addition, US Forces are served by 3 TV stations and 2 TV cable services (1999)
86.5 million (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
28,321,846 (2006)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
73 (2000)
Internet users:
86.3 million (2005)
Transportation Japan
175 (2006)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 145
over 3,047 m: 7
2,438 to 3,047 m: 41
1,524 to 2,437 m: 39
914 to 1,523 m: 28
under 914 m: 30 (2006)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 30
914 to 1,523 m: 4
under 914 m: 26 (2006)
15 (2006)
gas 8,015 km; oil 170 km; oil/gas/water 60 km (2006)
total: 23,556 km
standard gauge: 3,204 km 1.435-m gauge (3,204 km electrified)
narrow gauge: 77 km 1.372-m gauge (77 km electrified); 20,264 km 1.067-m gauge (13,280 km electrified); 11 km 0.762-m gauge (11 km electrified) (2005)
total: 1.183 million km
paved: 925,000 km (including 6,946 km of expressways)
unpaved: 258,000 km (2003)
1,770 km (seagoing vessels use inland seas) (2006)
Merchant marine:
total: 683 ships (1000 GRT or over) 10,415,892 GRT/11,765,038 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 134, cargo 30, chemical tanker 20, container 11, liquefied gas 59, passenger 14, passenger/cargo 149, petroleum tanker 156, refrigerated cargo 3, roll on/roll off 51, vehicle carrier 56
registered in other countries: 2,459 (Australia 1, Bahamas 51, Belize 2, Burma 4, Cambodia 4, Cayman Islands 1, China 3, Cyprus 17, French Southern and Antarctic Lands 4, Honduras 4, Hong Kong 67, Indonesia 3, Isle of Man 4, South Korea 1, Liberia 102, Malaysia 4, Malta 1, Marshall Islands 7, Mongolia 1, Norway 1, Panama 2007, Philippines 26, Portugal 9, Singapore 100, Sweden 2, Thailand 4, Vanuatu 28, unknown 1) (2006)
Ports and terminals:
Chiba, Kawasaki, Kiire, Kisarazu, Kobe, Mizushima, Nagoya, Osaka, Tokyo, Yohohama
Military Japan
Military branches:
Japanese Defense Agency (JDA): Ground Self-Defense Force (Rikujou Jietai, GSDF), Maritime Self-Defense Force (Kaijou Jietai, MSDF), Air Self-Defense Force (Nihon Koku-Jieitai, ASDF) (2006)
Military service age and obligation:
18 years of age for voluntary military service (2001)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 18-49: 27,003,112
females age 18-49: 26,153,482 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 18-49: 22,234,663
females age 18-49: 21,494,947 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually:
males age 18-49: 683,147
females age 18-49: 650,157 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$44.31 billion (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
1% (2005 est.)
Transnational Issues Japan
Disputes - international:
the sovereignty dispute over the islands of Etorofu, Kunashiri, and Shikotan, and the Habomai group, known in Japan as the "Northern Territories" and in Russia as the "Southern Kuril Islands," occupied by the Soviet Union in 1945, now administered by Russia and claimed by Japan, remains the primary sticking point to signing a peace treaty formally ending World War II hostilities; Japan and South Korea claim Liancourt Rocks (Take-shima/Tok-do) occupied by South Korea since 1954; China and Taiwan dispute both Japan's claims to the uninhabited islands of the Senkaku-shoto (Diaoyu Tai) and Japan's unilaterally declared exclusive economic zone in the East China Sea, the site of intensive hydrocarbon prospecting

This page was last updated on 18 January, 2007