Japan Information

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Japan: Basic Facts

        → Japan Fact Sheet

Japan is a long, narrow chain of islands stretching 3,300 kilometres north to south. Its northernmost point is located at 45°33' north latitude, and its southernmost point is at 20°25' north latitude. Japan consists of four main islands: Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu, plus thousands for smaller islands. Their combined area is 377,873 square kilometres, 5.1 times larger than the UK. Administratively, the country is divided into 47 prefectures and the 5 largest cities are Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, Kyoto and Sapporo.

Japan's population was 126.3 million as of 2019. The annual growth rate fell below 1% in 1977 and further dropped to a record low of 0.16% in 1999. Japan has one of the highest average life expectancies in the world, and the ratio of people aged 65 and over to the whole population more than doubled from 7.07% in 1970 to 17.3% in 2000, a span of just 30 years. The number of people aged under 15 dropped to a new post-war record low of 18,470,000 as of 1 October 2000, a decrease of 272,000 from 1999. The proportion of those under 15 in the total population dropped to 14.6%

Japan lies in the temperate zone and the climate is generally mild, although winter in the north Japan (near the Japan Sea) can experience very heavy snowfall. There are four distinct seasons and also a rainy season (June) and a typhoon season in early Autumn. The average rainfall is quite high.

         Regions of Japan
         Flora and Fauna

Politics and Economy

Japan has a constitution that has not changed since its promulgation in 1946. The Constitution determines the democratic system of government, the symbolic role of the Emperor and the rights and duties of the people. The present Emperor, Naruhito, came to the throne in 2019 and the current era is called Reiwa, which means "Beautiful Harmony".

The Diet (parliament) is made up of two houses: the House of Representatives (Lower House), and the House of Councillors (Upper House). Both houses share these characteristics: elected by universal suffrage; voting age of 20; members are elected through a mixture of single seat districts and proportional representation. The term for the Lower House is 4 years (subject to dissolution) and candidates need to be 25 years of age or over to stand for election and they have a good history and introduction to the Diet. In the Upper House the fixed term is 6 years with half the seats coming up for election every 3 years to assure continuity and stability. Candidates are required to be 30 years of age.

The Prime Minister is a member of the Diet, and is elected by the Diet. Cabinet members are appointed by the Prime Minister. The current Prime Minister is Shinzo Abe of the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan.

        → Governmental Structure
        → The Constitution of Japan
        → Local Self-Government
        → National Anthem and Flag 

The Japanese economy is the third largest market economy in the world. In 2019 it recorded a gross domestic product (GDP) of $5.154 trillion. Gross national income in 2019 was 564586.40 JPY Billion. 

                Trade & Investment        
                → Energy & Resources


While Japan is renowned for its multifaceted culture and refined traditions, the country is also ranked in the highest category of the Human Development Index due to the levels of education and life expectancy enjoyed by the population.  

                → Education
                → Transportation
                → Employment
                → Social Security
                → Health Care
                → Environmental Conservation

Culture and Leisure

Art and Architecture
Various art forms began to flourish in Japan from the 6th century onwards and were inspired by the styles developed in China featuring Buddhist themes. Over time, uniquely Japanese forms emerged that changed depending on the artistic values favoured by the elites. 

                → Art
                → Architecture
                → Gardens

There is a rich history of Japanese literature, of which The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu and The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon are only two of the most famous examples. Modern Japanese literature has also won international acclaim with authors such as Mishima Yukio, Kawabata Yasunari, and Oe Kenzaburo enjoying great popularity in the West. Works of contemporary Japanese fiction are increasingly being translated into other languages and manga have become a global phenomenon.

                → Literature

The music listened to or played by the Japanese as part of their daily lives is extremely diverse. They enjoy various kinds of traditional Japanese music, Japanese popular songs, Western pop and classical music.

                → Music

Performing Arts
The main forms of traditional Japanese performing arts are represented by Kabuki, Noh, and Bunraku, which have been passed down through the ages. As highly refined art forms,they require years of specialist training in order to master the technically complex skills and movements.


Traditional Sports

Before the introduction of Western sports, Japan had made progress in traditional martial arts called budo, which were born in the twelfth century and flourished mainly among the warrior class. These include kendo (Japanese stick fencing), jujutsu (known today as judo) and kyudo (archery).

Sumo has a nearly 2000-year history and can boast of having professionals as far back as several hundred years ago. In each match, two wrestlers wearing only colourful mawashi (belly bands), fight on a dohyo (an elevated straw ring), pushing, throwing, and so on.

Western Sports
Baseball was introduced by an American in 1872 and during the 1870s, track and field events, rugby, soccer, and ice skating were also introduced.
In 2002, the FIFA World Cup was held in Japan in collaboration with Korea. The Rugby World Cup will be held in Japan in 2019.

                → Sports
                → Martial Arts

Food and Drink

If you visited a Japanese home for a traditional dinner, you would be served rice, perhaps a soup made from soybean paste (miso), pickles, and either fish or meat. Popular seasonings include shoyu (soy sauce), wasabi (green horseradish) and nori (toasted seaweed).

Although rice is the main staple of the Japanese diet, fish is also an important food source. A favourite dish, deep-fried seafood and vegetables (tempura), was introduced to Japan by 16th century Portuguese traders. Sashimi, thin strips of raw fish, and sushi, slices of raw fish on top of small portions of rice flavoured with vinegar, are Japanese foods that are well-known throughout the world.

Buckwheat noodles (soba) and wheat noodles (udon) are favourite substitutes for rice. These noodles are commonly served in a deep bowl of hot soup stock, topped with vegetables, fried bean curd, or tempura.

Green tea (ocha) is the best loved drink in Japan. It is served after meals and whenever people get together. Ocha is drunk hot, with nothing added to it. Other popular beverages include coffee, black tea (kocha), wines made from rice (sake) and liquors made from malted rice and other grains (shochu) or from fruits like plums. Cold teas are also served during the hot summer months.

                → Japanese Food Culture 

Further Links

                → Japanese Language
                → Religion
                → Annual Events
                → Popular Culture
                → Ikebana
                → Tea Ceremony
                → World Heritage List
                → Japan Related Links