ABOUT JAPAN
HOME > ABOUT JAPAN
 The Country
 Population
 Largest Cities
 Economy
 Structure of the Government of Japan
Foreign Relations
 Sports
 Investing and Touring Information

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The Country

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Japan is an island country in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of China, Korea, and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea in the south. The characters that make up Japan's name literally mean "Sun's Origin", thus Japan is also sometimes known as the self-identified "The Land of the Rising Sun", a name that comes from the country's eastward position relative to China.

Basic Date Comparison between Japan and the US
@ Japan USA
Area 145,883 sq mi  3,718,695 sq mi 
Population
and Density
127,716,000 300,467,897
873/sq mi 80/sq mi
Largest City
and its population
Tokyo New York
12,678,395 8,213,839

At 377,872 square kilometers (145,898 sq.mi), Japan is the sixty-second largest country by area. It encompasses over 3,000 islands, the largest of which are Honshū, Hokkaidō, Kyūshū and Shikoku. Most of Japan's islands are mountainous, and many are volcanic, including the highest peak, Mount Fuji. It has the world's 10th largest population, with nearly 128 million people. The Tokyo Area, with over 30 million residents, is the largest metropolitan area in the world.

For more information about Japan's geography, click here.

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Population

Japan's population is estimated at around 127,716,000 as of August 2006.  

Japan has one of the highest life expectancy in the world, at 81.25 years of age as of 2006. However, the Japanese population is rapidly aging, the effect of a postwar baby boom followed by a decrease in births in the latter part of the 20th century. In 2004, about 19.5% of the population was over the age of 65. The changes in the demographic structure have created a number of social issues, particularly a potential decline in the workforce population and increases in the cost of social security benefits such as the public pension plan. If its birth and death rates remain at the current levels, Japan's population has passed its peak and its population will continue to decline.

For more information about Japan's population statistics, click here.

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Largest Cities

Japan has dozens of major cities, which play an important role in Japan culture, heritage, and economy. Those in the list of the ten most populous below are all prefecture capitals and Government Ordinance Cities.

No. City Prefecture Population
1 Tokyo's special wards Tokyo 8,390,967
2 Yokohama Kanagawa   3,579,133
3 Osaka Osaka 2,640,097
4 Nagoya Aichi 2,214,958
5 Sapporo Hokkaidō 1,882,424
6 Kobe Hyōgo 1,525,389
7 Kyoto Kyoto 1,474,764
8 Fukuoka Fukuoka 1,400,621
9 Kawasaki Kanagawa 1,317,862
10 Saitama Saitama 1,185,030
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Economy 

Japan is the second largest economy in the world in terms of nominal GDP placed behind United States. It is the largest Asian economy by nominal GDP.  

GDP (nominal) ranking            @
Rank Country GDP (millions of USD)
1 United States 12,455,825
2 Japan 4,567,441
3 Germany 2,791,737
4 China 2,234,133
5 United Kingdom 2,229,472
6 France 2,126,719
7 Italy 1,765,537
8 Canada 1,132,436
9 Spain 1,126,565
10 Brazil 795,666
2005 IMF data

Close government-industry cooperation, a strong work ethic, mastery of high technology, and a comparatively small defense allocation have helped Japan advance with extraordinary speed to become the second largest economy in the world. From the 1960s to the 1980s, overall real economic growth was spectacular: a 10% average in the 1960s, a 5% average in the 1970s, and a 4% average in the 1980s. After 1991, Japan had experienced its worst economic depression in the postwar era (negative economic growth, major bankruptcies and deflation etc.) and this depression longed almost for 10 years, which is called "the lost decade" in Japan's economic history. However, the economy saw signs of strong recovery in 2005. GDP growth for the year was 2.8%, with an annualized fourth quarter expansion of 5.5%, surpassing the growth rates of the US and European Union during the same period.

The country has very limited natural resources to sustain economic development, since most of the islands are volcanic and mountainous. As a result it is dependent on other nations for most of its raw materials.

To see the Japan's overall economic stats, click here.

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Structure of the Government of Japan

 The Cabinet
 The Diet
 Judiciary
 
The Emperor

Same as the US, Japan is a country adopting independence of the three branches of government-legislative, administrative and judicial as is noted in the constitution of Japan.

To see the constitution of Japan, click here

The Cabinet

Executive power is vested in the Cabinet, which consists of the Prime Minister and not more than 17 Ministers of State (including Ministers without portfolio and the Chief Cabinet Secretary) and is collectively responsible to the Diet. The Cabinet has to resign en masse when the post of Prime Minister becomes vacant or when the first session of the Diet is convoked after a general election of members of the House of Representatives. If the House of Representatives passes a non-confidence resolution or rejects a confidence resolution the Cabinet shall resign en masse, unless the House of Representatives is dissolved within ten days. Prime Minister, who is designated from among the members of the Diet by a resolution of the Diet and appointed by the Emperor, must be a civilian. Prime Minister appoints the Ministers of States and may dismiss them as he chooses. The Prime Minister, representing the Cabinet, submits bills to the Diet, reports to the Diet on general national affairs and foreign relations, and exercises control and supervision over various administrative branches.  The Cabinet has the Cabinet Office and 10 Ministries, which are established by the respective Establishment Laws and are enumerated in the National Government Organization Law, as well as the Cabinet Secretariat, Cabinet Legislation Bureau, National Personnel Authority, Security Council of Japan, and more other Cabinet organs. There is the Board of Audit which is a constitutionally independent organization to audit the final accounts of the State and other public corporations and agencies. 

To see the government organization chart and information of ministries, click here.

The Diet

The National Diet, composed of two houses - the House of Representatives and the House of Councilors, is the highest organ of state power and the sole law-making organ of the State. The House of Representatives is composed of 480 members, of whom 300 are elected from the single-seat constituencies and 180 by the proportional representation system in which the nation is divided into 11 electoral blocs which according to size return between 6 and 30 members. Their term of office is 4 years, but shall be terminated, before the full term is up, if the House is dissolved. The total membership of the House of Councilors is 247, of whom 98 are elected by the proportional representation system from a single nationwide electoral district and 149 from 47 prefectural constituencies, each returning 2 to 8 members. Their term of office is 6 years, and a half of the members being elected every 3 years. Both Houses have the same power with some exceptional cases in which the decision of the House of Representatives precedes that of the House of Councilors. The Diet begins its 150 day ordinary session from January each year, which may be extended only once by the Diet. The Cabinet may determine to convoke extraordinary sessions whenever necessary. The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has been in power since 1955, except for a short-lived coalition government formed from its opposition parties in 1993; the largest opposition party is Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ).

Judiciary

The whole judicial power is vested in the Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as High Courts, District Courts, Family Courts and Summary courts. No extraordinary court can be established, nor can any organ of the Executive have final judicial power.  The judges of the Supreme Court except the Chief Judge, who is appointed by the Emperor, are appointed by the Cabinet. The judges of inferior courts are also appointed by the Cabinet but only from a list of persons nominated by the Supreme Court.

The Emperor

The Emperor is the symbol of Japan and of the unity of the people, performs the following acts in matters of state, with the advice and approval of the Cabinet, such as the promulgation of amendments of the Constitution, laws, cabinet orders and treaties, the convocation of the Diet, the dissolution of the House of Representatives, the proclamation of general election of members of the Diet, the attestation of the appointment and dismissal of Ministers of State and other officials as provided by laws, and of full powers and credentials of Ambassadors and Ministers, the awarding of honors, the attestation of instruments of ratification and other diplomatic documents as provided by laws, receiving foreign Ambassadors and Ministers and the performance of ceremonial functions, while he has no powers related to the government. He also appoints the Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court as designated by the Diet and the Cabinet respectively. In this respect, the position of the Emperor in postwar Japan differs from that in power days when the Emperor was the source of sovereign power. The Imperial Throne is dynastic and succeeded from father to son.

To get more information about the Japan's emperor, visit the Imperial Household Agency website.

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Foreign Relations

Japan is a close ally of the US in the Pacific area. Japan maintains close economic and military relations with its key ally the United States; therefore the US-Japan security alliance serves as the cornerstone of its foreign policy. Japan is a member state of the United Nations and currently serving as a non-permanent Security Council member. Japan is currently seeking permanent membership in the Security Council.

Japan is a member of the G8. As member of the G8 Japan maintains cordial relations with most countries as a key business and political partner.

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Sports

Baseball is the most popular sports in Japan; the professional baseball league in Japan was established in 1937. Ichiro Suzuki (Seattle Mariners), Hideki Matsui (New York Yankees) and Daisuke Matsuzaka (Boston Red Sox) are Japan's most famous baseball players, all of them are currently playing in major league baseball. Japan won the championship in World Baseball Classic held in March 2006. Concerning football, the professional soccer league in Japan was established in 1992 and is gradually getting popularity since then. Japan hosted the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Golf is popular in Japan, as is auto racing, Formula Nippon as well as F1. Sumo and Judo have their origins in Japan and are designated as Japan's national sports.

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Investing and Touring Information

Japan's government is trying to attract more and more people who want to invest in or visit Japan. The campaigns named "Invest Japan" and "Visit Japan" were launched with this context. Click the logos of these campaigns to get detailed information. 

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Sources of reference: Government of Japan, Wikipedia

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