East & Southeast Asia :: Japan
page last updated on August 3, 2010
Flag of Japan
Map of Japan
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 January 2009, Japan assumed a nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2009-10 term.
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: 377,915 sq km
country comparison to the world: 61
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:
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
Current Weather
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
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: 11.64%
permanent crops: 0.9%
other: 87.46% (2005)
Irrigated land:
25,920 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources:
430 cu km (1999)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 88.43 cu km/yr (20%/18%/62%)
per capita: 690 cu m/yr (2000)
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
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note:
strategic location in northeast Asia
People ::Japan
126,804,433 (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 10
Age structure:
0-14 years: 13.3% (male 8,665,440/female 8,212,680)
15-64 years: 64.1% (male 40,969,829/female 40,291,648)
65 years and over: 22.6% (male 12,163,028/female 16,501,808) (2010 est.)
Median age:
total: 44.6 years
male: 42.9 years
female: 46.5 years (2010 est.)
Population growth rate:
-0.242% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 216
Birth rate:
7.41 births/1,000 population (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 222
Death rate:
9.83 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 64
Net migration rate:
urban population: 66% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 0.2% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.056 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.74 male(s)/female
total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2010 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 2.79 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 220
male: 2.98 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 2.58 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 82.17 years
country comparison to the world: 5
male: 78.87 years
female: 85.66 years (2010 est.)
Total fertility rate:
1.2 children born/woman (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 219
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
less than 0.1% (2003 est.)
country comparison to the world: 150
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
9,600 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 107
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
fewer than 100 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 141
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)
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)
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 (2006)
Education expenditures:
3.5% of GDP (2005)
country comparison to the world: 128
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:
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)
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 date of the founding of the nation by Emperor JIMMU; first recognized by Emperor Meiji in 1873)
National holiday:
Birthday of Emperor AKIHITO, 23 December (1933)
3 May 1947
Legal system:
modeled after European civil law systems 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 Naoto KAN (since 4 June 2010)
cabinet: Cabinet is appointed by the prime minister
(For more information visit the World Leaders website Opens in New Window)
elections: Diet 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; 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 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 11 July 2010 (next to be held in July 2013); House of Representatives - last held on 30 August 2009 (next to be held by August 2013)
election results: House of Councillors - percent of vote by party - DPJ 31.6%, LDP 24.1%, YP 13.6%, NKP 13.1%, JCP 6.1%, SDP 3.8%, others 7.7%; seats by party - DPJ 106, LDP 84, NKP 19, YP 11, JCP 6, SDP 4, others 12
House of Representatives - percent of vote by party (by proportional representation) - DPJ 42.4%, LDP 26.7%, New Komeito 11.5%, JCP 7.0%, SDP 4.3%, others 8.1%; seats by party - DPJ 308, LDP 119, New Komeito 21, JCP 9, SDP 7, others 16 (2009)
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 [Naoto KAN]; Japan Communist Party or JCP [Kazuo SHII]; Liberal Democratic Party or LDP [Sadakazu TANIGAKI]; New Komeito Party or NKP [Natsuo YAMAGUCHI]; New People's Party or NPP [Shizuka KAMEI]; Social Democratic Party or SDP [Mizuho FUKUSHIMA]; Your Party or YP [Yoshimi WATANABE]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
other: business groups; trade unions
International organization participation:
ADB, AfDB (nonregional member), APEC, APT, ARF, ASEAN (dialogue partner), Australia Group, BIS, CE (observer), CERN (observer), CICA (observer), CP, EAS, EBRD, FAO, FATF, G-20, G-5, G-7, G-8, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, 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, UNMIS, UNRWA, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Ichiro FUJISAKI
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, New York, Portland (Oregon), San Francisco, Seattle
consulate(s): Anchorage, Nashville
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador John V. ROOS
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
Economy ::Japan
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. Today, measured on a purchasing power parity basis, Japan is the third-largest economy in the world after the US and China; measured by official exchange rates, however, Japan is the second largest economy in the world behind the US. 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 tiny agricultural sector is highly subsidized and protected, with crop yields among the highest in the world. Usually self sufficient in rice, Japan imports 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 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. In October 2007 Japan's longest post-war period of economic expansion ended after 69 months and Japan entered into recession in 2008, with 2009 marking a return to near 0% interest rates. The Japanese financial sector was not heavily exposed to sub-prime mortgages or their derivative instruments and weathered the initial effect of the global credit crunch, but a sharp downturn in business investment and global demand for Japan's exports in late 2008 pushed Japan further into a recession. The 10-year privatization of Japan Post, which has functioned not only as the national postal delivery system but also, through its banking and insurance facilities, as Japan's largest financial institution, began in October 2007, marking a major milestone in the process of structural reform; however, in December 2009, the Democratic Party of Japan-led government passed a law to freeze future sales of Japan Post shares, halting the privatization process begun by Liberal Democratic Party governments. Debate continues on the role of and effects of reform in restructuring the economy and funding to stimulate consumption in the face of a tight fiscal situation. Japan's huge government debt, estimated to have reached 192% of GDP in 2009, and an aging and shrinking population are two major long-run problems.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$4.137 trillion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 4
$4.368 trillion (2008 est.)
$4.422 trillion (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate):
$5.108 trillion (2009 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
-5.3% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 193
-1.2% (2008 est.)
2.3% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$32,600 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 41
$34,300 (2008 est.)
$34,700 (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 1.6%
industry: 21.9%
services: 76.5% (2009 est.)
Labor force:
65.93 million (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 9
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 4%
industry: 28%
services: 68% (2009 est.)
Unemployment rate:
5.1% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 47
4% (2008 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:
38.1 (2002)
country comparison to the world: 74
24.9 (1993)
Investment (gross fixed):
20.6% of GDP (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 86
revenues: $1.756 trillion
expenditures: $2.135 trillion (2009 est.)
Public debt:
189.3% of GDP (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 2
172.1% of GDP (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
-1.4% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 4
1.4% (2008 est.)
Central bank discount rate:
0.3% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 135
0.75% (31 December 2007)
Commercial bank prime lending rate:
1.91% (31 December 2008)
Stock of money:
$5.417 trillion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 2
$4.367 trillion (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money:
$6.16 trillion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 2
$4.779 trillion (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit:
$12.34 trillion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 3
$9.653 trillion (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares:
$NA (31 December 2009)
country comparison to the world: 3
$3.22 trillion (31 December 2008)
$4.453 trillion (31 December 2007)
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:
-17% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 159
Electricity - production:
957.9 billion kWh (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 5
Electricity - consumption:
925.5 billion kWh (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 5
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2008 est.)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2008 est.)
Oil - production:
132,700 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 49
Oil - consumption:
4.363 million bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 4
Oil - exports:
268,300 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 44
Oil - imports:
5.263 million bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 3
Oil - proved reserves:
44.12 million bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 78
Natural gas - production:
3.539 billion cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 50
Natural gas - consumption:
94.67 billion cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 6
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 84
Natural gas - imports:
90.29 billion cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 3
Natural gas - proved reserves:
20.9 billion cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 76
Current account balance:
$140.6 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 2
$156.6 billion (2008 est.)
$542.3 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 5
$746.5 billion (2008 est.)
Exports - commodities:
transport equipment, motor vehicles, semiconductors, electrical machinery, chemicals
Exports - partners:
China 18.88%, US 16.42%, South Korea 8.13%, Taiwan 6.27%, Hong Kong 5.49% (2009)
$499.7 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 6
$708.3 billion (2008 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and equipment, fuels, foodstuffs, chemicals, textiles, raw materials
Imports - partners:
China 22.2%, US 10.96%, Australia 6.29%, Saudi Arabia 5.29%, UAE 4.12%, South Korea 3.98%, Indonesia 3.95% (2009)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$1.024 trillion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 2
$1.011 trillion (31 December 2008 est.)
Debt - external:
$2.132 trillion (30 June 2009)
country comparison to the world: 8
$2.231 trillion (31 December 2008)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:
$151.5 billion (31 September 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 25
$135.4 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:
$747.1 billion (31 September 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 8
$663.9 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Exchange rates:
yen (JPY) per US dollar - 94.5 (2009), 103.58 (2008), 117.99 (2007), 116.18 (2006), 110.22 (2005)
Communications ::Japan
Telephones - main lines in use:
47.579 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 4
Telephones - mobile cellular:
110.395 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 7
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; 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), 3 Inmarsat (Pacific and Indian Ocean regions), and 8 SkyPerfect JSAT (2008)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 215 (plus 370 repeaters), FM 89 (plus 485 repeaters), shortwave 21 (2001)
Television broadcast stations:
211; note - in addition, US Forces are served by 3 TV stations and 2 TV cable services (1999)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
47.249 million (2009)
country comparison to the world: 2
Internet users:
90.91 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 3
Transportation ::Japan
176 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 34
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 144
over 3,047 m: 7
2,438 to 3,047 m: 42
1,524 to 2,437 m: 40
914 to 1,523 m: 28
under 914 m: 27 (2009)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 32
914 to 1,523 m: 4
under 914 m: 28 (2009)
15 (2009)
gas 3,879 km; oil 167 km; oil/gas/water 53 km (2009)
total: 26,435 km
country comparison to the world: 11
standard gauge: 3,978 km 1.435-m gauge (3,978 km electrified)
narrow gauge: 96 km 1.372-m gauge (96 km electrified); 22,313 km 1.067-m gauge (15,235 km electrified); 48 km 0.762-m gauge (48 km electrified) (2009)
total: 1,203,777 km
country comparison to the world: 5
paved: 961,366 km (includes 7,560 km of expressways)
unpaved: 242,411 km (2008)
1,770 km (seagoing vessels use inland seas) (2007)
country comparison to the world: 47
Merchant marine:
total: 683
country comparison to the world: 16
by type: bulk carrier 136, cargo 30, carrier 3, chemical tanker 27, container 11, liquefied gas 59, passenger 12, passenger/cargo 135, petroleum tanker 156, refrigerated cargo 2, roll on/roll off 51, vehicle carrier 61
registered in other countries: 3,074 (Australia 1, Bahamas 87, Belize 8, Bermuda 2, Burma 1, Cambodia 1, Cayman Islands 13, China 2, Cyprus 21, France 1, Honduras 4, Hong Kong 111, Indonesia 6, Isle of Man 6, Italy 1, South Korea 20, Liberia 116, Malaysia 4, Malta 8, Marshall Islands 17, Nigeria 1, Norway 29, Panama 2335, Philippines 81, Portugal 15, Saint Kitts and Nevis 3, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 3, Singapore 131, Thailand 4, UK 4, US 7, Vanuatu 29, Vietnam 1, unknown 1) (2008)
Ports and terminals:
Chiba, Kawasaki, Kobe, Mizushima, Moji, Nagoya, Osaka, Tokyo, Tomakomai, Yohohama
Military ::Japan
Military branches:
Japanese Ministry of Defense (MOD): Ground Self-Defense Force (Rikujou Jietai, GSDF), Maritime Self-Defense Force (Kaijou Jietai, MSDF), Air Self-Defense Force (Koku Jieitai, ASDF) (2009)
Military service age and obligation:
18 years of age for voluntary military service (2001)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 27,461,338
females age 16-49: 26,478,466 (2010 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 22,564,075
females age 16-49: 21,720,375 (2010 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 626,115
female: 593,905 (2010 est.)
Military expenditures:
0.8% of GDP (2006)
country comparison to the world: 149
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/Dokdo) 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

Source: The World Factbook (CIA)