Map Japan
Maps copyright Hammond World Atlas Corp.

Flag of 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 severely strained its capacity to deal with the humanitarian disaster.
Location: Eastern Asia, island chain between the North Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Japan, east of the Korean Peninsula
Area land: 364,485 sq km
Area water: 13,430 sq km
Coastline: 29,751 km
Country name conventional long form: none
Country name conventional short form: Japan
Country name former: none
Population: 126,475,664 (July 2011 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 13.1% (male 8,521,571/female 8,076,173); 15-64 years: 64% (male 40,815,840/female 40,128,235); 65 years and over: 22.9% (male 12,275,829/female 16,658,016) (2011 est.);
Population growth rate: -0.278% (2011 est.)
Birth rate: 7.31 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Death rate: 10.09 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 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 (2011 est.);
Infant mortality rate: total: 2.78 deaths/1,000 live births; male: 2.98 deaths/1,000 live births; female: 2.58 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.);
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 82.25 years; male: 78.96 years; female: 85.72 years (2011 est.);
Total fertility rate: 1.21 children born/woman (2011 est.);
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: less than 0.1% (2009 est.);
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 8,100 (2009 est.);
HIV/AIDS - deaths: fewer than 100 (2009 est.);
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)

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)

Languages: Japanese;
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write; total population: 99%; male: 99%; female: 99% (2002);
GDP (purchasing power parity): $4.338 trillion (2010 est.); $4.211 trillion (2009 est.); $4.442 trillion (2008 est.);
note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate): $5.391 trillion (2010 est.);
GDP - real growth rate: 3% (2010 est.); -5.2% (2009 est.); -1.2% (2008 est.);
GDP - per capita (PPP): $34,200 (2010 est.); $33,100 (2009 est.); $34,900 (2008 est.);
note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 1.1%; industry: 23%; services: 75.9% (2010 est.);
Population below poverty line: 15.7% (2007);
note: Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) press release, 20 October 2009

Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 1.9%; highest 10%: 27.5% (2008);
Labor force: 65.7 million (2010 est.);
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 3.9%; industry: 26.2%; services: 69.8% (2010 est.);
Unemployment rate: 5.1% (2010 est.); 5.1% (2009 est.);
Budget: revenues: $1.638 trillion; expenditures: $2.16 trillion (2010 est.);
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: 15.5% (2010 est.);
Electricity - production: 956.5 billion kWh (2009 est.);
Electricity - consumption: 858.5 billion kWh (2009 est.);
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2009 est.);
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2009 est.);

Statistics: CIA World Factbook.


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(Left wing, Communist Party), Tokyo

Asahi Shimbun, The

(Center-Left), Tokyo

Chugoku Shimbun

(Independent), Hiroshima

Chunichi Shimbun

(Regional), Nagano City

Japan Times, The

(Independent centrist, English-language), Tokyo

Kyodo News Service

(Independent news agency), Tokyo

Nihon Keizai Shimbun

(Centrist, business), Tokyo

Japan in the News

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Displaying 9 to 12 of 35 items.

Weakening Economies Worldwide

Comment and analysis from Australia, United Kingdom, Iceland, Japan, France, China, Egypt, and Russia

Speculation Over Agenda as Koizumi Wins Mandate

In a highly charged yet carefully orchestrated media campaign, Koizumi captured the imagination of the voting public by handpicking celebrity candidates to stand against the ex-L.D.P. rebels who voted with the Opposition against the government’s postal reforms.

Koizumi Risks All in Snap Poll

By calling a surprise early election last week, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has challenged elements within his party opposed to his economic reforms and in doing so, placed both his and his party’s political future on the line.

Japanese P.M. Apologizes for Wartime Aggression

Following weeks of bitter protests by Chinese demonstrators remonstrating against Japanese wartime atrocities, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has moved to heal the rift between the two nations by apologizing for Japan’s World War II record in a speech at the Asia-Africa leaders summit held last week in Jakarta, Indonesia.