Introduction ::Japan

    In 1603, after decades of civil warfare, the Tokugawa shogunate (a military-led, dynastic government) ushered in a long period of relative political stability and isolation from foreign influence. For more than two centuries this policy enabled Japan to enjoy a flowering of its indigenous culture. Japan opened its ports after signing the Treaty of Kanagawa with the US in 1854 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 an ally of the US. While the emperor retains his throne as a symbol of national unity, elected politicians hold actual decision-making power. Following three decades of unprecedented growth, Japan's economy experienced a major slowdown starting in the 1990s, but the country remains a major economic power. In March 2011, Japan's strongest-ever earthquake, and an accompanying tsunami, devastated the northeast part of Honshu island, killing thousands and damaging several nuclear power plants. The catastrophe hobbled the country's economy and its energy infrastructure, and tested its ability to deal with humanitarian disasters.

Geography ::Japan

    Eastern Asia, island chain between the North Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Japan, east of the Korean Peninsula
    36 00 N, 138 00 E
    total: 377,915 sq km
    country comparison to the world: 62
    land: 364,485 sq km
    water: 13,430 sq km
    note: includes Bonin Islands (Ogasawara-gunto), Daito-shoto, Minami-jima, Okino-tori-shima, Ryukyu Islands (Nansei-shoto), and Volcano Islands (Kazan-retto)
    slightly smaller than California
    0 km
    29,751 km
    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
    lowest point: Hachiro-gata -4 m
    highest point: Fujiyama 3,776 m
    negligible mineral resources, fish
    note: with virtually no energy natural resources, Japan is the world's largest importer of coal and liquefied natural gas, as well as the second largest importer of oil
    arable land: 11.26%
    permanent crops: 0.81%
    other: 87.93% (2011)
    25,000 sq km (2010)
    430 cu km (2011)
    total: 90.04 cu km/yr (20%/18%/62%)
    per capita: 714.3 cu m/yr (2007)
    many dormant and some active volcanoes; about 1,500 seismic occurrences (mostly tremors but occasional severe earthquakes) every year; tsunamis; typhoons
    volcanism: both Unzen (elev. 1,500 m) and Sakura-jima (elev. 1,117 m), which lies near the densely populated city of Kagoshima, have been deemed "Decade Volcanoes" by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior, worthy of study due to their explosive history and close proximity to human populations; other notable historically active volcanoes include Asama, Honshu Island's most active volcano, Aso, Bandai, Fuji, Iwo-Jima, Kikai, Kirishima, Komaga-take, Oshima, Suwanosejima, Tokachi, Yake-dake, and Usu
    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
    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
    signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
    strategic location in northeast Asia

People and Society ::Japan

Government ::Japan

    conventional long form: none
    conventional short form: Japan
    local long form: Nihon-koku/Nippon-koku
    local short form: Nihon/Nippon
    a parliamentary government with a constitutional monarchy
    name: Tokyo
    geographic coordinates: 35 41 N, 139 45 E
    time difference: UTC+9 (14 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
    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
    3 May 1947 (current constitution adopted as amendment to Meiji Constitution); notable earlier dates: 660 B.C. (traditional date of the founding of the nation by Emperor JIMMU); 29 November 1890 (Meiji Constitution provides for constitutional monarchy)
    Birthday of Emperor AKIHITO, 23 December (1933)
    3 May 1947
    civil law system based on German model; system also reflects Anglo-American influence and Japanese traditions; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court
    accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
    20 years of age; universal
    chief of state: Emperor AKIHITO (since 7 January 1989)
    head of government: Prime Minister Shinzo ABE (since 26 December 2012); Deputy Prime Minister Taro ASO (since 26 December 2012)
    cabinet: Cabinet is appointed by the prime minister
    (For more information visit the World Leaders website Opens in New Window)
    elections: Diet, the bicameral legislature, designates the prime minister; constitution requires that the prime minister commands parliamentary majority; following legislative elections, the leader of majority party or leader of majority coalition in House of Representatives usually becomes prime minister; the monarchy is hereditary
    bicameral Diet or Kokkai consists of the House of Councillors or Sangi-in (242 seats - members elected for fixed six-year terms; 146 members in multi-seat constituencies and 96 by proportional representation) half elected every three years; and the House of Representatives or Shugi-in (480 seats - members elected for maximum four-year terms; 300 in single-seat constituencies; 180 members by proportional representation in 11 regional blocs); the prime minister has the right to dissolve the House of Representatives at any time with the concurrence of the cabinet
    elections: House of Councillors - last held on 21 July 2013 (next to be held in July 2016); House of Representatives - last held on 16 December 2012 (next to be held by 15 December 2016)
    election results: House of Councillors - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - LPD 115, DPJ 59, New Komeito 20, Your Party 18, JCP 11, JRP 9, SDP 3, others 4, independents 3
    House of Representatives - percent of vote by party (by proportional representation) - LDP 31.6%, DPJ 16.6%, JRP 22.2%, New Komeito 12.2%, Your Party 7.7%, JCP 4.4%, TRP 3.9%, others 1.4%; seats by party LDP 294, DPJ 57, JRP 54, New Komeito 31, Your Party 18, TPJ 9, JCP 8, others 4, independents 5
    highest court(s): Supreme Court or Saiko saibansho (consists of the chief justice and 14 associate justices)
    note - the Supreme Court has jurisdiction in constitutional issues
    judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court chief justice designated by the Cabinet and appointed by the monarch; associate justices appointed by the Cabinet and confirmed by the monarch; all justices are reviewed in a popular referendum at the first general election of the House of Representatives following each judge's appointment and every 10 years afterward
    subordinate courts: 8 High Courts (Koto-saiban-sho), each with a Family Court (Katei-saiban-sho); 50 District Courts (Chiho saibansho), with 203 additional branches; 438 Summary Courts (Kani saibansho)
    Democratic Party of Japan or DPJ [Banri KAIEDA]
    Japan Communist Party or JCP [Kazuo SHII]
    Japan Restoration Party or JRP [Shintaro ISHIHARA]
    Liberal Democratic Party or LDP [Shinzo ABE]
    New Komeito or NK [Natsuo YAMAGUCHI]
    People's Life Party or PF [Ichiro OZAWA]
    Social Democratic Party or SDP [Mizuho FUKUSHIMA]
    Tomorrow Party of Japan or TPJ [Tomoko ABE]
    Your Party or YP [Yoshimi WATANABE]
    other: business groups; trade unions
    ADB, AfDB (nonregional member), APEC, ARF, ASEAN (dialogue partner), Australia Group, BIS, CD, CE (observer), CERN (observer), CICA (observer), CP, EAS, EBRD, EITI (implementing country), FAO, FATF, G-20, G-5, G-7, G-8, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IGAD (partners), IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), LAIA (observer), MIGA, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE (partner), Paris Club, PCA, PIF (partner), SAARC (observer), SELEC (observer), SICA (observer), UN, UNCTAD, UNDOF, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNMISS, UNRWA, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
    chief of mission: Ambassador Kenichiro SASAE
    chancery: 2520 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
    telephone: [1] (202) 238-6700
    FAX: [1] (202) 328-2187
    consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Agana (Guam), Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville (TN), New York, Portland (OR), San Francisco, Seattle
    consulate(s): Anchorage (AK), Saipan (Northern Mariana Islands)
    chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Kurt TONG
    embassy: 1-10-5 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-8420
    mailing address: Unit 9800, Box 300, APO AP 96303-0300
    telephone: [81] (03) 3224-5000
    FAX: [81] (03) 3505-1862
    consulate(s) general: Naha (Okinawa), Osaka-Kobe, Sapporo
    consulate(s): Fukuoka, Nagoya
    white with a large red disk (representing the sun without rays) in the center
    red sun disc; chrysanthemum
    name: "Kimigayo" (The Emperor"s Reign)

    lyrics/music: unknown/Hiromori HAYASHI
    note: adopted 1999; in use as unofficial national anthem since 1883; oldest anthem lyrics in the world, dating to the 10th century or earlier; there is some opposition to the anthem because of its association with militarism and worship of the emperor

Economy ::Japan

    In the years following World War II, government-industry cooperation, a strong work ethic, mastery of high technology, and a comparatively small defense allocation (1% of GDP) helped Japan develop a technologically advanced economy. Two notable characteristics of the post-war economy were the close interlocking structures of manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors, known as keiretsu, and the guarantee of lifetime employment for a substantial portion of the urban labor force. Both features are now eroding under the dual pressures of global competition and domestic demographic change. Japan's industrial sector is heavily dependent on imported raw materials and fuels. A small agricultural sector is highly subsidized and protected, with crop yields among the highest in the world. While self-sufficient in rice production, Japan imports about 60% of its food on a caloric basis. 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 inefficient investment and an asset price bubble in the late 1980s that required a protracted period of time for firms to reduce excess debt, capital, and labor. Modest economic growth continued after 2000, but the economy has fallen into recession three times since 2008. A sharp downturn in business investment and global demand for Japan's exports in late 2008 pushed Japan into recession. Government stimulus spending helped the economy recover in late 2009 and 2010, but the economy contracted again in 2011 as the massive 9.0 magnitude earthquake and the ensuing tsunami in March disrupted manufacturing. The economy has largely recovered in the two years since the disaster, but reconstruction in the Tohoku region has been uneven. Newly-elected Prime Minister Shinzo ABE has declared the economy his government's top priority; he has pledged to reconsider his predecessor's plan to permanently close nuclear power plants and is pursuing an economic revitalization agenda of fiscal stimulus and regulatory reform and has said he will press the Bank of Japan to loosen monetary policy. Measured on a purchasing power parity (PPP) basis that adjusts for price differences, Japan in 2012 stood as the fourth-largest economy in the world after second-place China, which surpassed Japan in 2001, and third-place India, which edged out Japan in 2012. The new government will continue a longstanding debate on restructuring the economy and reining in Japan's huge government debt, which exceeds 200% of GDP. Persistent deflation, reliance on exports to drive growth, and an aging and shrinking population are other major long-term challenges for the economy.
    $4.704 trillion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 5
    $4.612 trillion (2011 est.)
    $4.638 trillion (2010 est.)
    note: data are in 2012 US dollars
    $5.964 trillion (2012 est.)
    2% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 136
    -0.6% (2011 est.)
    4.7% (2010 est.)
    $36,900 (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 38
    $36,100 (2011 est.)
    $36,200 (2010 est.)
    note: data are in 2012 US dollars
    21.6% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 64
    22% of GDP (2011 est.)
    23.5% of GDP (2010 est.)
    household consumption: 60.9%
    government consumption: 20.5%
    investment in fixed capital: 21.2%
    investment in inventories: -0.6%
    exports of goods and services: 14.7%
    imports of goods and services: -16.6%
    (2012 est.)
    agriculture: 1.1%
    industry: 26.3%
    services: 72.5% (2012 est.)
    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
    2% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 100
    65.55 million (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 9
    agriculture: 3.9%
    industry: 26.2%
    services: 69.8% (2010 est.)
    4.4% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 37
    4.6% (2011 est.)
    16% (2010)
    lowest 10%: 1.9%
    highest 10%: 27.5% (2008)
    37.6 (2008)
    country comparison to the world: 76
    24.9 (1993)
    revenues: $2.001 trillion
    expenditures: $2.591 trillion (2012 est.)
    33.5% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 73
    -9.9% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 201
    214.3% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 1
    205.3% of GDP (2011 est.)
    1 April - 31 March
    0% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 4
    -0.3% (2011 est.)
    0.1% (31 December 2012)
    country comparison to the world: 140
    0.3% (31 December 2009)
    1.48% (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 181
    1.48% (31 December 2011 est.)
    $6.176 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 2
    $6.636 trillion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $13.12 trillion (31 December 2011 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 2
    $13.41 trillion (31 December 2010 est.)
    $13.64 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 3
    $14.82 trillion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $4.011 trillion (31 December 2012)
    country comparison to the world: 3
    $3.541 trillion (31 December 2011)
    $4.1 trillion (31 December 2010)
    $84.7 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 4
    $119.1 billion (2011 est.)
    $773.9 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 5
    $789.9 billion (2011 est.)
    motor vehicles 13.6%; semiconductors 6.2%; iron and steel products 5.5%; auto parts 4.6%; plastic materials 3.5%; power generating machinery 3.5%
    China 18%, US 17.7%, South Korea 7.7%, Thailand 5.5%, Hong Kong 5.1% (2012)
    $830.6 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 5
    $794.4 billion (2011 est.)
    petroleum 15.5%; liquid natural gas 5.7%; clothing 3.9%; semiconductors 3.5%; coal 3.5%; audio and visual apparatus 2.7% (2011 est.)
    China 21.3%, US 8.8%, Australia 6.4%, Saudi Arabia 6.2%, UAE 5%, South Korea 4.6%, Qatar 4% (2012)
    $1.268 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 2
    $1.296 trillion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $3.024 trillion (31 December 2012)
    country comparison to the world: 6
    $3.115 trillion (31 December 2011)
    $202.8 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 25
    $160.9 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $1.049 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 6
    $927.8 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    yen (JPY) per US dollar -
    79.79 (2012 est.)
    79.81 (2011 est.)
    87.78 (2010 est.)
    93.57 (2009)
    103.58 (2008)

Energy ::Japan

Communications ::Japan

    64.668 million (2011)
    country comparison to the world: 3
    132.76 million (2011)
    country comparison to the world: 7
    general assessment: excellent domestic and international service
    domestic: high level of modern technology and excellent service of every kind
    international: country code - 81; numerous submarine cables provide links throughout Asia, Australia, the Middle East, Europe, and US; satellite earth stations - 7 Intelsat (Pacific and Indian Oceans), 1 Intersputnik (Indian Ocean region), 2 Inmarsat (Pacific and Indian Ocean regions), and 8 SkyPerfect JSAT (2012)
    a mixture of public and commercial broadcast TV and radio stations; 6 national terrestrial TV networks including 1 public broadcaster; the large number of radio and TV stations available provide a wide range of choices; satellite and cable services provide access to international channels (2012)
    64.453 million (2012)
    country comparison to the world: 2
    99.182 million (2009)
    country comparison to the world: 3

Transportation ::Japan

    175 (2013)
    country comparison to the world: 33
    total: 142
    over 3,047 m: 6
    2,438 to 3,047 m: 45
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 38
    914 to 1,523 m: 28
    under 914 m: 25 (2013)
    total: 33
    914 to 1,523 m: 5
    under 914 m:
    28 (2013)
    16 (2013)
    gas 4,456 km; oil 174 km; oil/gas/water 104 km (2013)
    total: 27,182 km
    country comparison to the world: 11
    standard gauge: 4,251 km 1.435-m gauge (4,251 km electrified)
    dual gauge: 486 km 1.435-1.067-m gauge (486 km electrified)
    narrow gauge: 96 km 1.372-m gauge (96 km electrified); 22,301 km 1.067-m gauge (15,222 km electrified); 48 km 0.762-m gauge (48 km electrified) (2009)
    total: 1,210,251 km
    country comparison to the world: 5
    paved: 973,234 km (includes 7,803 km of expressways)
    unpaved: 237,017 km (2008)
    1,770 km (seagoing vessels use inland seas) (2010)
    country comparison to the world: 45
    total: 684
    country comparison to the world: 16
    by type: bulk carrier 168, cargo 34, carrier 3, chemical tanker 29, container 2, liquefied gas 58, passenger 11, passenger/cargo 117, petroleum tanker 152, refrigerated cargo 4, roll on/roll off 52, vehicle carrier 54
    registered in other countries: 3,122 (Bahamas 88, Bermuda 2, Burma 1, Cambodia 1, Cayman Islands 23, China 2, Cyprus 16, Honduras 4, Hong Kong 79, Indonesia 8, Isle of Man 19, Liberia 110, Luxembourg 3, Malaysia 2, Malta 5, Marshall Islands 59, Mongolia 2, Netherlands 1, Panama 2372, Philippines 77, Portugal 9, Saint Kitts and Nevis 2, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 3, Sierra Leone 4, Singapore 164, South Korea 14, Tanzania 1, UK 5, Vanuatu 39, unknown 7) (2010)
    Chiba, Kawasaki, Kobe, Mizushima, Moji, Nagoya, Osaka, Tokyo, Tomakomai, Yokohama

Military ::Japan

Transnational Issues ::Japan

    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
    stateless persons: 1,100 (2012)