Japan

Japan

Background

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

Location:
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:
Asia

Area:
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)

Area – comparative:
Area comparison map:

Land boundaries:
0 km

Coastline:
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

Climate:
varies from tropical in south to cool temperate in north

Terrain:
mostly rugged and mountainous

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Hachiro-gata -4 m
highest point: Fujiyama 3,776 m

Natural resources:
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

Land use:

arable land: 11.26%
permanent crops: 0.81%
other: 87.93% (2011)

Irrigated land:
25,000 sq km (2010)

Total renewable water resources:
430 cu km (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 90.04 cu km/yr (20%/18%/62%)
per capita: 714.3 cu m/yr (2007)

Natural hazards:
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

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
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography – note:
strategic location in northeast Asia


People & Society

Nationality:
noun: Japanese (singular and plural)
adjective: Japanese

Ethnic groups:
Japanese 98.5%, Koreans 0.5%, Chinese 0.4%, other 0.6%
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)

Languages:
Japanese

Religions:
Shintoism 83.9%, Buddhism 71.4%, Christianity 2%, other 7.8%
note: total adherents exceeds 100% because many people belong to both Shintoism and Buddhism (2005)

Population:
127,103,388 (July 2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 11

Age structure:
0-14 years: 13.2% (male 8,681,728/female 8,132,809)
15-24 years: 9.7% (male 6,429,429/female 5,890,991)
25-54 years: 38.1% (male 23,953,643/female 24,449,655)
55-64 years: 25.8% (male 8,413,872/female 8,400,953)
65 years and over: 24.8% (male 14,218,655/female 18,531,653) (2014 est.)

Dependency ratios:
total dependency ratio: 63.3 %
youth dependency ratio: 21.2 %
elderly dependency ratio: 42.1 %
potential support ratio: 2.4 (2014 est.)

Median age:
total: 46.1 years
male: 44.8 years
female: 47.5 years (2014 est.)

Population growth rate:

-0.13% (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 210

Birth rate:

8.07 births/1,000 population (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 222

Death rate:
9.38 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 58

Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 93

Urbanization:
urban population: 91.3% of total population (2011)
rate of urbanization: 0.57% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas – population:
TOKYO (capital) 37.217 million; Osaka-Kobe 11.494 million; Nagoya 3.328 million; Fukuoka-Kitakyushu 2.868 million; Sapporo 2.742 million; Sendai 2.428 million (2011)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.09 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.94 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.76 male(s)/female
total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2014 est.)

Mother’s mean age at first birth:
30.3 (2012 est.)

Maternal mortality rate:

5 deaths/100,000 live births (2010)
country comparison to the world: 176

Infant mortality rate:
total: 2.13 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 223
male: 2.35 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 1.88 deaths/1,000 live births (2014 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 84.46 years
country comparison to the world: 3
male: 81.13 years
female: 87.99 years (2014 est.)

Total fertility rate:
1.4 children born/woman (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 208

Contraceptive prevalence rate:

54.3%
note: percent of women aged 20-49 (2005)

Health expenditures:
9.3% of GDP (2011)
country comparison to the world: 38

Physicians density:
2.14 physicians/1,000 population (2008)

Hospital bed density:
13.7 beds/1,000 population (2009)

Drinking water source:
improved:
urban: 100% of population
rural: 100% of population
total: 100% of population
unimproved:
urban: 0% of population
rural: 0% of population
total: 0% of population (2011 est.)

Sanitation facility access:
improved:
urban: 100% of population
rural: 100% of population
total: 100% of population
unimproved:
urban: 0% of population
rural: 0% of population
total: 0% of population (2011 est.)

HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate:

less than 0.1% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 120

HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS:
8,100 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 112

HIV/AIDS – deaths:
fewer than 100 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 121

Obesity – adult prevalence rate:
5% (2008)
country comparison to the world: 157

Education expenditures:

3.8% of GDP (2011)
country comparison to the world: 115

Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 99% (2002)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 15 years
male: 15 years
female: 15 years (2011)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24:
total: 7.9%
country comparison to the world: 123
male: 8.7%
female: 7.1% (2012)


Government

Country name:
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Japan
local long form: Nihon-koku/Nippon-koku
local short form: Nihon/Nippon

Government type:
a parliamentary government with a constitutional monarchy

Capital:
name: Tokyo
geographic coordinates: 35 41 N, 139 45 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

Independence:
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)

National holiday:
Birthday of Emperor AKIHITO, 23 December (1933)

Constitution:

previous 1890; latest approved 6 October 1946, adopted 3 November 1946, effective 3 May 1947 (2013)

Legal system:
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

International law organization participation:
accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

Suffrage:
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 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

Legislative branch:

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

Judicial branch:
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)

Political parties and leaders:
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 [Tadatomo YOSHIDA]
Tomorrow Party of Japan or TPJ [Tomoko ABE]
Your Party or YP [Yoshimi WATANABE]

Political pressure groups and leaders:
other: business groups; trade unions

International organization participation:
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), Pacific Alliance (observer), 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

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Kenichiro SASAE (since 19 November 2012)
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)

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Caroline Bouvier KENNEDY (since 19 November 2013)
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

Flag description:
white with a large red disk (representing the sun without rays) in the center

National symbol(s):
red sun disc; chrysanthemum

National anthem:
name: “Kimigayo” (The Emperor”s Reign)


Economy

Economy – overview:
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. Prime Minister Shinzo ABE has declared the economy his government’s top priority; he has overturned his predecessor’s plan to permanently close nuclear power plants and is pursuing an economic revitalization agenda of fiscal stimulus, monetary easing, and structural reform. Japan joined the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations in 2013, a pact that would open Japan’s economy to increased foreign competition and create new export opportunities for Japanese businesses. Measured on a purchasing power parity (PPP) basis that adjusts for price differences, Japan in 2013 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 is exceeding 230% of GDP. To help raise government revenue and reduce public debt, Japan decided in 2013 to gradually increase the consumption tax to a total of 10% by the year 2015. Japan is making progress on ending deflation due to a weaker yen and higher energy costs, but reliance on exports to drive growth and an aging, shrinking population pose other major long-term challenges for the economy.

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$4.729 trillion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 5
$4.638 trillion (2012 est.)
$4.549 trillion (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):
$5.007 trillion (2013 est.)

GDP – real growth rate:
2% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 144
2% (2012 est.)
-0.6% (2011 est.)

GDP – per capita (PPP):

$37,100 (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 36
$36,300 (2012 est.)
$35,600 (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars

Gross national saving:
22.1% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 69
21.6% of GDP (2012 est.)
22% of GDP (2011 est.)

GDP – composition, by end use:
household consumption: 61%
government consumption: 20.7%
investment in fixed capital: 21.6%
investment in inventories: -0.6%
exports of goods and services: 15.8%
imports of goods and services: -18.4%
(2013 est.)

GDP – composition, by sector of origin:
agriculture: 1.1%
industry: 25.6%
services: 73.2% (2013 est.)

Agriculture – products:

rice, sugar beets, vegetables, fruit; pork, poultry, dairy products, eggs; fish

Industries:
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:
1% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 145

Labor force:
65.62 million (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 9

Labor force – by occupation:
agriculture: 3.9%
industry: 26.2%
services: 69.8% (2010 est.)

Unemployment rate:
4.1% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 34
4.4% (2012 est.)

Population below poverty line:
16% (2010)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 1.9%
highest 10%: 27.5% (2008)

Distribution of family income – Gini index:
37.6 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 76
24.9 (1993)

Budget:
revenues: $1.739 trillion
expenditures: $2.149 trillion (2013 est.)

Taxes and other revenues:
34.7% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 69

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-):
-8.2% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 198

Public debt:
226.1% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 1
219.1% of GDP (2012 est.)

Fiscal year:
1 April – 31 March

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
0.2% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 13
0% (2012 est.)

Central bank discount rate:
0.1% (31 December 2012)
country comparison to the world: 139
0.3% (31 December 2009)

Commercial bank prime lending rate:
1.5% (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 175
1.48% (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of narrow money:
$5.604 trillion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 2
$6.176 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of broad money:
$13.12 trillion (31 December 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 2
$13.41 trillion (31 December 2010 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:
$12.39 trillion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 3
$13.72 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:
$3.681 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 3
$3.541 trillion (31 December 2011)
$NA (31 December 2010 est.)

Current account balance:

$56.6 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 10
$60.8 billion (2012 est.)

Exports:
$697 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 6
$776.6 billion (2012 est.)

Exports – commodities:
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%

Exports – partners:
China 18.1%, US 17.8%, South Korea 7.7%, Thailand 5.5%, Hong Kong 5.1% (2012)

Imports:
$766.6 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 6
$830.1 billion (2012 est.)

Imports – commodities:
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.)

Imports – partners:
China 21.3%, US 8.8%, Australia 6.4%, Saudi Arabia 6.2%, UAE 5%, South Korea 4.6%, Qatar 4% (2012)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$1.268 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 2
$1.296 trillion (31 December 2011 est.)

Debt – external:

$3.017 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 6
$3.115 trillion (31 December 2011)

Stock of direct foreign investment – at home:
$231.2 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 25
$222.2 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment – abroad:
$1.179 trillion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 8
$1.054 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)

Exchange rates:
yen (JPY) per US dollar –
97.44 (2013 est.)
79.79 (2012 est.)
87.78 (2010 est.)
93.57 (2009)
103.58 (2008)


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