Japan (i /dʒəˈpæn/; Japanese: 日本Nihon or Nippon, officially 日本国 Nippon-koku or Nihon-koku) is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south. The characters that make up Japan's name mean "sun-origin", which is why Japan is sometimes referred to as the "Land of the Rising Sun".
Japan is an archipelago of 6,852 islands. The four largest islands are Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku, together accounting for ninety-seven percent of Japan's land area. Japan has the world's tenth-largest population, with over 127 million people. The Greater Tokyo Area, which includes the de facto capital city of Tokyo and several surrounding prefectures, is the largest metropolitan area in the world, with over 30 million residents.
Archaeological research indicates that people lived in Japan as early as the Upper Paleolithic period. The first written mention of Japan is in Chinese history texts from the 1st century AD. Influence from other nations followed by long periods of isolation has characterized Japan's history. Since adopting its revised constitution in 1947, Japan has maintained a unitary constitutional monarchy with an emperor and an elected parliament called the Diet.
A major economic power, Japan has the world's third-largest economy by nominal GDP and by purchasing power parity. It is also the world's fourth largest exporter and fourth largest importer. Although Japan has officially renounced its right to declare war, it maintains an extensive modern military force in self-defense and peacekeeping roles. After Singapore, Japan has the lowest homicide (including attempted homicide) rate in the world.According to both UN and WHO estimates, Japan has the longest life expectancy of any country in the world. According to the UN, it has the third lowestinfant mortality rate.
Main article: Names of JapanThe English word Japan is an exonym. The Japanese names for Japan are Nippon (にっぽん?)  listen (help·info) and Nihon (にほん?)  listen (help·info); both names are written using the kanji 日本. The Japanese name Nippon is used for most official purposes, including on Japanese yen, postage stamps, and for many international sporting events. Nihon is a more casual term and is used in contemporary speech. Japanese people refer to themselves asNihonjin (日本人?) and to their language as Nihongo (日本語?). Both Nippon and Nihon mean "sun-origin" and are often translated as Land of the Rising Sun. This nomenclature comes from Japanese missions to Imperial China and refers to Japan's eastward position relative to China. Before Nihon came into official use, Japan was known as Wa (倭?) or Wakoku (倭国?).
The English word for Japan came to the West via early trade routes. The early Mandarin or possibly Wu Chinese (吳語) word for Japan was recorded byMarco Polo as Cipangu. In modern Shanghainese, a Wu dialect, the pronunciation of characters 日本'Japan' is Zeppen [zəʔpən]. The old Malay word for Japan, Jepang, was borrowed from a Chinese language, and this Malay word was encountered by Portuguese traders in Malacca in the 16th century. It is thought the Portuguese traders were the first to bring the word to Europe. It was first recorded in English in a 1565 letter, spelled Giapan.
Main article: History of Japan===Prehistory and ancient history=== An example of Jōmon pottery, 3000-2000 BCA Paleolithic culture around 30,000 BC constitutes the first known habitation of Japan. This was followed from around 14,000 BC (the start of the Jōmon period) by a Mesolithic to Neolithic semi-sedentary hunter-gathererculture, who include ancestors of both the contemporary Ainu people and Yamato people, characterized by pit dwelling and rudimentary agriculture. Decorated clay vessels from this period are some of the oldest surviving examples of pottery in the world. Around 300 BC, the Yayoi people began to enter the Japanese islands, intermingling with the Jōmon. The Yayoi period, starting around 500 BC, saw the introduction of practices likewet-rice farming, a new style of pottery, and metallurgy, introduced from China and Korea.
The Japanese first appear in written history in the Chinese Book of Han. According to the Records of Three Kingdoms, the most powerful kingdom on the archipelago during the 3rd century was called Yamataikoku. Buddhism was first introduced to Japan from Baekje, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, but the subsequent development of Japanese Buddhism was primarily influenced by China. Despite early resistance, Buddhism was promoted by the ruling class and gained widespread acceptance beginning in the Asuka period.
The Nara period of the 8th century marked the emergence of a strong Japanese state, centered on an imperial court in Heijō-kyō (modern Nara). In addition to the continuing adoption of Chinese administrative practices, the Nara period is characterized by the appearance of a nascent literature with the completion of the Kojiki (712) andNihon Shoki (720). The smallpox epidemic of 735–737 is believed to have killed as much as one-third of Japan's population. In 784, Emperor Kammu moved the capital from Nara to Nagaoka-kyō before relocating it to Heian-kyō (modern Kyoto) in 794. This marked the beginning of the Heian period, during which a distinctly indigenous Japanese culture emerged, noted for its art, poetry and literature. Lady Murasaki's The Tale of Genji and the lyrics of Japan's national anthem Kimigayo were written during this time.
The Mongol invasions in 1274 and 1281 were successfully repelledJapan's feudal era was characterized by the emergence and dominance of a ruling class of warriors, the samurai. In 1185, following the defeat of the Taira clan, samurai Minamoto no Yoritomo was appointed shogun and established a base of power in Kamakura. After Yoritomo's death, the Hōjō clan came to power as regents for the shoguns. The Zen school of Buddhism was introduced from China in the Kamakura period (1185–1333) and became popular among the samurai class. The Kamakura shogunate repelled Mongol invasions in 1274 and 1281, but was eventually overthrown by Emperor Go-Daigo. Go-Daigo was himself defeated by Ashikaga Takauji in 1336. The succeeding Ashikaga shogunate failed to control the feudal warlords (daimyo), and a civil war (theŌnin War) began in 1467, opening the century-long Sengoku period ("Warring States").
During the 16th century, traders and Jesuit missionaries from Portugal reached Japan for the first time, initiating direct commercial and cultural exchange between Japan and the West (Nanban trade). Oda Nobunaga conquered many other daimyo using European technology and firearms; after he was assassinated in 1582, his successor Toyotomi Hideyoshi unified the nation in 1590. Hideyoshi invaded Korea twice, but following defeats by Korean andMing Chinese forces and Hideyoshi's death, Japanese troops were withdrawn in 1598.
Tokugawa Ieyasu served as regent for Hideyoshi's son Toyotomi Hideyori, using his position to gain political and military support. When open war broke out, he defeated rival clans in the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600. Ieyasu was appointed shogun in 1603 and established the Tokugawa shogunate at Edo (modern Tokyo). The Tokugawa shogunate enacted measures like buke shohatto as a code of conduct to control the autonomous daimyo. In 1639, the shogunate began the isolationist sakoku ("closed country") policy that spanned the two and a half centuries of tenuous political unity known as the Edo period. The study of Western sciences, known as rangaku, continued during this period through contact with the Dutch enclave at Dejima in Nagasaki. The Edo period also gave rise to kokugaku ("national studies"), the study of Japan by the Japanese.
The Meiji EmperorOn March 31, 1854, Commodore Matthew Perry and the "Black Ships" of the United States Navy forced the opening of Japan to the outside world with the Convention of Kanagawa. Subsequent similar treaties with Western countries in the Bakumatsu period brought economic and political crises. The resignation of the shogun led to the Boshin War and the establishment of a centralized state nominally unified under the Emperor (the Meiji Restoration). Adopting Western political, judicial and military institutions, the Cabinet organized the Privy Council, introduced the Meiji Constitution, and assembled the Imperial Diet. The Meiji Restoration transformed the Empire of Japan into an industrialized world power that pursued military conflict to expand its sphere of influence. After victories in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894–1895) and the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905), Japan gained control of Taiwan, Korea, and the southern half of Sakhalin. Japan's population grew from 35 million in 1873 to 70 million in 1935.
The early 20th century saw a brief period of "Taishō democracy" overshadowed by increasing expansionism and militarization. World War I enabled Japan, which joined the side of the victorious Allies, to widen its influence and territorial holdings. It continued its expansionist policy by occupying Manchuria in 1931; as a result of international condemnation of this occupation, Japan resigned from the League of Nations two years later. In 1936, Japan signed the Anti-Comintern Pact with Nazi Germany, and the 1940 Tripartite Pact made it one of the Axis Powers. In 1941, Japan negotiated the Soviet–Japanese Neutrality Pact.
The Empire of Japan invaded other parts of China in 1937, precipitating the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945). In 1940, the Empire then invaded French Indochina, after which the United States placed an oil embargo on Japan. On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked the US naval base at Pearl Harbor and declared war on the United States, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. This act brought the US into World War II and, on December 8, those three countries declared war on Japan. After the Soviet invasion of Manchuria and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, Japan agreed to an unconditional surrenderon August 15. The war cost Japan and the rest of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere millions of lives and left much of the nation's industry and infrastructure destroyed. The Allies (led by the US) repatriated millions of ethnic Japanese from colonies and military camps throughout Asia, largely eliminating the Japanese empire and restoring the independence of its conquered territories. The Allies also convened the International Military Tribunal for the Far East on May 3, 1946 to prosecute some Japanese leaders for war crimes. However, the bacteriological research units and members of the imperial family involved in the war were exonerated from criminal prosecutions by the Supreme Allied Commander despite calls for trials for both groups.
In 1947, Japan adopted a new constitution emphasizing liberal democratic practices. The Allied occupation ended with the Treaty of San Francisco in 1952 and Japan was granted membership in the United Nations in 1956. Japan later achieved rapid growth to become the second-largest economy in the world. This ended in the mid-1990s when Japan suffered a major recession. In the beginning of the 21st century, positive growth has signaled a gradual economic recovery.
On March 11, 2011, Japan suffered the strongest earthquake in its recorded history. It had a magnitude of 9.0 and was aggravated by a tsunami, affecting the northeast area of Honshu, including Tokyo.
Main articles: Geography of Japan and Geology of JapanTopographic mapJapan has a total of 6,852 islands extending along the Pacific coast of Asia. The country, including all of the islands it controls, lies between latitudes 24° and 46°N, and longitudes 122° and 146°E. The main islands, from north to south, are Hokkaido, Honshū, Shikoku and Kyūshū. The Ryukyu Islands, including Okinawa, are a chain of islands south of Kyushū. Together they are often known as the Japanese Archipelago. About 73 percent of Japan is forested, mountainous, and unsuitable for agricultural, industrial, or residential use. As a result, the habitable zones, mainly located in coastal areas, have extremely high population densities. Japan is one of the most densely populated countries in the world.
The islands of Japan are located in a volcanic zone on the Pacific Ring of Fire. They are primarily the result of large oceanic movements occurring over hundreds of millions of years from the mid-Silurian to the Pleistocene as a result of the subduction of the Philippine Sea Plate beneath the continentalAmurian Plate and Okinawa Plate to the south, and subduction of the Pacific Plate under the Okhotsk Plate to the north. Japan was originally attached to the eastern coast of the Eurasian continent. The subducting plates pulled Japan eastward, opening the Sea of Japan around 15 million years ago. Japan has 108 active volcanoes. Destructive earthquakes, often resulting in tsunamis, occur several times each century. The 1923 Tokyo earthquake killed over 140,000 people. The most recent major quakes are the 2004 Chūetsu earthquake and the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake, a 9.0-magnitude quake which hit Japan on March 11, 2011, and triggered a tsunami.
Main article: Climate of JapanThe climate of Japan is predominantly temperate, but varies greatly from north to south. Japan's geographical features divide it into six principal climatic zones: Hokkaido, Sea of Japan, Central Highland, Seto Inland Sea, Pacific Ocean, and Ryukyu Islands. The northernmost zone, Hokkaido, has a temperate climate with long, cold winters and cool summers. Precipitation is not heavy, but the islands usually develop deep snowbanks in the winter. In the Sea of Japan zone on Honshū's west coast, northwest winter winds bring heavy snowfall. In the summer, the region is cooler than the Pacific area, though it sometimes experiences extremely hot temperatures because of the foehn wind. The Central Highland has a typical inland climate, with large temperature differences between summer and winter, and between day and night; precipitation is light. The mountains of the Chūgoku and Shikoku regions shelter the Seto Inland Sea from seasonal winds, bringing mild weather year-round. The Pacific coast experiences cold winters with little snowfall and hot, humid summers because of the southeast seasonal wind. The Ryukyu Islands have a subtropical climate, with warm winters and hot summers. Precipitation is very heavy, especially during the rainy season.
The average winter temperature in Japan is 5.1 °C (41.2 °F) and the average summer temperature is 25.2 °C (77.4 °F). The highest temperature ever measured in Japan—40.9 °C (105.6 °F)—was recorded on August 16, 2007. The main rainy season begins in early May in Okinawa, and the rain front gradually moves north until reaching Hokkaido in late July. In most of Honshū, the rainy season begins before the middle of June and lasts about six weeks. In late summer and early autumn, typhoons often bring heavy rain.
Sakura (Cherry blossom)Japan has nine forest ecoregions which reflect the climate and geography of the islands. They range from subtropical moist broadleaf forests in the Ryūkyū and Bonin islands, to temperate broadleaf and mixed forests in the mild climate regions of the main islands, to temperate coniferous forests in the cold, winter portions of the northern islands. Japan has over 90,000 species of wildlife, including the brown bear, the Japanese macaque, the raccoon dog, and the Japanese giant salamander.
Main article: Environmental issues in JapanIn the period of rapid economic growth after World War II, environmental policies were downplayed by the government and industrial corporations; as a result,environmental pollution was widespread in the 1950s and 1960s. Responding to rising concern about the problem, the government introduced several environmental protection laws in 1970. The oil crisis in 1973 also encouraged the efficient use of energy due to Japan's lack of natural resources. Current environmental issues include urban air pollution (NOx, suspended particulate matter, and toxics), waste management, water eutrophication, nature conservation, climate change, chemical management and international co-operation for conservation.
Japan is one of the world's leaders in the development of new environment-friendly technologies, and is ranked 20th best in the world in the 2010 Environmental Performance Index. As a signatory of the Kyoto Protocol, and host of the 1997 conference which created it, Japan is under treaty obligation to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions and to take other steps to curb climate change.
Main articles: Politics of Japan and Government of JapanEmperor Akihito and Empress MichikoJapan is a constitutional monarchy where the power of the Emperor is very limited. As a ceremonial figurehead, he is defined by the constitution as "the symbol of the state and of the unity of the people". Power is held chiefly by the Prime Minister of Japan and other elected members of the Diet, while sovereignty is vested in the Japanese people. Akihito is the current Emperor of Japan; Naruhito, Crown Prince of Japan, stands as next in line to the throne.
Japan's legislative organ is the National Diet, a bicameral parliament. The Diet consists of a House of Representatives with 480 seats, elected by popular vote every four years or when dissolved, and a House of Councillors of 242 seats, whose popularly-elected members serve six-year terms. There is universal suffrage for adults over 20 years of age, with a secret ballot for all elected offices. In 2009, the social liberal Democratic Party of Japan took power after 54 years of the liberal conservative Liberal Democratic Party's rule.
The Prime Minister of Japan is the head of government. The Prime Minister is appointed by the Emperor after being designated by the Diet from among its members, and must maintain the confidence of the House of Representatives to remain in office. The Prime Minister is the head of the Cabinet and appoints and dismisses theMinisters of State, a majority of whom must be Diet members. Naoto Kan was designated by the Diet to replace Yukio Hatoyama as the Prime Minister of Japan on June 2, 2010. Although the Prime Minister is formally appointed by the Emperor, the Constitution of Japan explicitly requires the Emperor to appoint whoever is designated by the Diet. Emperor Akihito formally appointed Kan as the country's 94th Prime Minister on June 8.
Historically influenced by Chinese law, the Japanese legal system developed independently during the Edo period through texts such as Kujikata Osadamegaki. However, since the late 19th century the judicial system has been largely based on the civil law of Europe, notably Germany. For example, in 1896, the Japanese government established a civil code based on a draft of the German Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch; with post–World War II modifications, the code remains in effect. Statutory law originates in Japan's legislature and has the rubber stamp of the Emperor. The Constitution requires that the Emperor promulgate legislation passed by the Diet, without specifically giving him the power to oppose legislation. Japan's court system is divided into four basic tiers: the Supreme Court and three levels of lower courts. The main body of Japanese statutory law is called the Six Codes.
Main articles: Prefectures of Japan, Regions of Japan, Cities of Japan, Towns of Japan, and Villages of JapanJapan consists of forty-seven prefectures, each overseen by an elected governor, legislature and administrative bureaucracy. Each prefecture is further divided into cities, towns and villages. The nation is currently undergoing administrative reorganization by merging many of the cities, towns and villages with each other. This process will reduce the number of sub-prefecture administrative regions and is expected to cut administrative costs. In the following, the 47 prefectures are listed according to their regions.
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Main article: Foreign relations of JapanJapan is a member of the G8, APEC, and "ASEAN Plus Three", and is a participant in the East Asia Summit. Japan signed a security pact with Australia in March 2007 and with India in October 2008. It is the world's third largest donor of official development assistance after the United States and France, donating US$9.48 billion in 2009.
Japan has close economic and military relations with the United States; the US-Japan security alliance acts as the cornerstone of the nation's foreign policy. A member state of the United Nations since 1956, Japan has served as a non-permanent Security Council member for a total of 19 years, most recently for 2009 and 2010. It is one of the G4 nations seeking permanent membership in the Security Council. JDS Kongō (DDG-173)launching a Standard Missile 3anti-ballistic missileJapan is engaged in several territorial disputes with its neighbors: with Russia over the South Kuril Islands, with South Korea over the Liancourt Rocks, with China and Taiwan over the Senkaku Islands, and with China over the EEZ around Okinotorishima. Japan also faces an ongoing dispute with North Korea over the latter'sabduction of Japanese citizens and its nuclear weapons and missile program (see also Six-party talks).
Main articles: Japan Self-Defense Forces and Ministry of Defense (Japan)Japan maintains one of the largest military budgets of any country in the world. Japan contributed non-combatant troops to the Iraq War but subsequently withdrew its forces. The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force is a regular participant in RIMPAC maritime exercises.
Japan's military is restricted by Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, which renounces Japan's right to declare war or use military force in international disputes. Japan's military is governed by the Ministry of Defense, and primarily consists of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF), the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force(JMSDF) and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF). The forces have been recently used in peacekeeping operations; the deployment of troops to Iraq marked the first overseas use of Japan's military since World War II. Nippon Keidanren has called on the government to lift the ban on arms exports so that Japan can join multinational projects such as the Joint Strike Fighter.
Main article: Economy of JapanThe Tokyo Stock ExchangeFrom 1868, the Meiji period launched economic expansion in Japan as Meiji rulers embraced the market economy. Many of today's enterprises were founded at the time, and Japan emerged as the most developed nation in Asia. The period of overall real economic growth from the 1960s to the 1980s has been called a "Japanese miracle": it averaged 7.5 percent in the 1960s and 1970s, and 3.2 percent in the 1980s and early 1990s. Growth slowed markedly in the 1990s during what the Japanese call the Lost Decade, largely because of the after-effects of the Japanese asset price bubble and domestic policies intended to wring speculative excesses from the stock and real estate markets. Government efforts to revive economic growth met with little success and were further hampered by the global slowdown in 2000. The economy showed strong signs of recovery after 2005; GDP growth for that year was 2.8 percent, surpassing the growth rates of the US and European Unionduring the same period.
As of 2010, Japan is the third largest national economy in the world, after the United States and China, in terms of both nominal GDP and purchasing power parity.As of January 2011, Japan's public debt was more than 200 percent of its annual gross domestic product, the largest of any nation in the world. The service sectoraccounts for three quarters of the gross domestic product. Japan has a large industrial capacity, and is home to some of the largest and most technologically advanced producers of motor vehicles, electronics, machine tools, steel and nonferrous metals, ships, chemical substances, textiles, and processed foods. Agricultural businesses in Japan often utilize a system of terrace farming, and crop yields are high; 13 percent of Japan's land is cultivated. Japan accounts for nearly 15 percent of the global fish catch, second only to China.
As of 2010, Japan's labor force consisted of some 65.9 million workers. Japan has a low unemployment rate of around four percent. Almost one in six Japanese, or 20 million people, lived in poverty in 2007. Housing in Japan is characterized by limited land supply in urban areas; more than half of all Japanese live in suburbs or more rural areas, where detached houses are the dominant housing type. Toyota, one of the world's largest automakers. Japan is the second-largest producer of automobiles in the world.Japan's exports amounted to US$4,210 per capita in 2005. Japan's main export markets are China (18.88 percent), the United States (16.42 percent), South Korea (8.13 percent), Taiwan (6.27 percent) and Hong Kong (5.49 percent) as of 2009. Its main exports are transportation equipment, motor vehicles, electronics, electrical machinery and chemicals. Japan's main import markets as of 2009 are China (22.2 percent), the US (10.96 percent), Australia (6.29 percent), Saudi Arabia (5.29 percent), United Arab Emirates (4.12 percent), South Korea (3.98 percent) and Indonesia (3.95 percent). Its main imports are machinery and equipment, fossil fuels, foodstuffs (in particular beef), chemicals, textiles and raw materials for its industries. By market share measures, domestic markets are the least open of any OECD country. Junichiro Koizumi's administration began some pro-competition reforms, and foreign investment in Japan has soared.
Japan ranks 12th of 178 countries in the 2008 Ease of Doing Business Index and has one of the smallest tax revenues of the developed world. The Japanese variant of capitalism has many distinct features: keiretsu enterprises are influential, and lifetime employment and seniority-based career advancement are relatively common in the Japanese work environment. Japanese companies are known for management methods like "The Toyota Way", and shareholder activism is rare. Some of the largest enterprises in Japan include Toyota, Nintendo, NTT DoCoMo, Canon, Honda, Takeda Pharmaceutical, Sony, Panasonic, Toshiba,Sharp, Nippon Steel, Nippon Oil, and Seven & I Holdings Co. It has some of the world's largest banks, and the Tokyo Stock Exchange (known for its Nikkei 225and Topix indices) stands as the second largest in the world by market capitalization. Japan is home to 326 companies from the Forbes Global 2000 or 16.3 percent (as of 2006).
Science and technologyEdit
Main article: Science and technology in JapanJapan is a leading nation in scientific research, particularly technology, machinery and biomedical research. Nearly 700,000 researchers share a US$130 billion research and development budget, the third largest in the world. Japan is a world leader in fundamental scientific research, having produced fifteen Nobel laureates in either physics, chemistry or medicine, three Fields medalists, and one Gauss Prize laureate. Some of Japan's more prominent technological contributions are in the fields of electronics, automobiles, machinery, earthquake engineering,industrial robotics, optics, chemicals, semiconductors and metals. Japan leads the world in robotics production and use, possessing more than half (402,200 of 742,500) of the world's industrial robots.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is Japan's space agency; it conducts space, planetary, and aviation research, and leads development of rockets and satellites. It is a participant in the International Space Station: the Japanese Experiment Module (Kibo) was added to the station during Space Shuttle assembly flights in 2008. Japan's plans in space exploration include: launching a space probe to Venus, Akatsuki; developing the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter to be launched in 2013; and building a moon base by 2030. On September 14, 2007, it launched lunar explorer "SELENE" (Selenological and Engineering Explorer) on an H-IIA (Model H2A2022) carrier rocket from Tanegashima Space Center. SELENE is also known as Kaguya, after the lunar princess of The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter. Kaguya is the largest lunar mission since the Apollo program. Its purpose is to gather data on the moon's origin and evolution. It entered a lunar orbit on October 4, flying at an altitude of about 100 km (62 mi). The probe's mission was ended when it was deliberately crashed by JAXA into the Moon on 11 June 2009.
Main articles: Energy in Japan and Transport in JapanShinkansen or Bullet trains are a popular form of transport in Japan.As of 2008, 46.4 percent of energy in Japan is produced from petroleum, 21.4 percent from coal, 16.7 percent from natural gas, 9.7 percent from nuclear power, and 2.9 percent from hydro power. Nuclear power produces 22.5 percent of Japan's electricity. Given its heavy dependence on imported energy, Japan has aimed to diversify its sources and maintain high levels of energy efficiency.
Japan's road spending has been extensive. Its 1.2 million kilometers of paved road are the main means of transportation. A single network of high-speed, divided, limited-access toll roads connects major cities and is operated by toll-collecting enterprises. New and used cars are inexpensive; car ownership fees and fuel levies are used to promote energy efficiency. However, at just 50 percent of all distance traveled, car usage is the lowest of all G8 countries.
Dozens of Japanese railway companies compete in regional and local passenger transportation markets; major companies include seven JR enterprises,Kintetsu Corporation, Seibu Railway and Keio Corporation. Some 250 high-speed Shinkansen trains connect major cities. Japanese trains are known for their punctuality. There are 173 airports in Japan; the largest domestic airport, Haneda Airport, is Asia's second-busiest airport. The largest international gateways are Narita International Airport, Kansai International Airport and Chūbu Centrair International Airport. Nagoya Port is the country's largest and busiest port, accounting for 10 percent of Japan's trade value.
Main articles: Demographics of Japan, Japanese people, and Racial issues in JapanJapan's population is estimated at around 127.3 million. Japanese society is linguistically and culturally homogeneous with small populations of foreign workers. Zainichi Koreans, Zainichi Chinese, Filipinos, Japanese Brazilians, and Japanese Peruvians are among the small minority groups in Japan. In 2003, there were about 136,000 Western expatriates. The most dominant native ethnic group is the Yamato people; primary minority groups include the indigenous Ainu and Ryukyuan peoples, as well as social minority groups like the burakumin.
Japan has the highest life expectancy rate in the world. The Japanese population is rapidly aging as a result of a post–World War II baby boom followed by a decrease in birth rates. In 2009, about 22.7 percent of the population was over 65, by 2050 almost 40 percent of the population will be aged 65 and over, as projected in December 2006. The changes in demographic structure have created a number of social issues, particularly a potential decline in workforce population and increase in the cost of social security benefits like the public pension plan. A growing number of younger Japanese are preferring not to marry or have families. Japan's population is expected to drop to 95 million by 2050, demographers and government planners are currently in a heated debate over how to cope with this problem. Immigration and birth incentives are sometimes suggested as a solution to provide younger workers to support the nation's aging population.Japan has a steady flow of about 15,000 immigrants per year. According to the UNHCR, in 2007 Japan accepted just 41 refugees for resettlement, while the US took in 50,000.
|view · talk · editview · talk · editLargest cities of Japan
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Main article: Religion in JapanShinto Itsukushima Shrine UNESCO World Heritage SiteThe highest estimates suggest that 84–96 percent of the Japanese population are Buddhists or Shintoists, including a large number of believers in asyncretism of both religions. However, these estimates are based on people associated with a temple, rather than the number of people truly following the religion. Professor Robert Kisala (Nanzan University) suggests that only 30 percent of the population identify themselves as belonging to a religion.Taoism and Confucianism from China have also influenced Japanese beliefs and customs. Religion in Japan tends to be syncretic in nature. According to the CIA World Factbook, two percent of Japanese are Christian (2.4 million). In addition, since the mid-19th century numerous religious sects (Shinshūkyō) have emerged in Japan.
Main article: Japanese languageMore than 99 percent of the population speaks Japanese as their first language. It is an agglutinative language distinguished by a system of honorificsreflecting the hierarchical nature of Japanese society, with verb forms and particular vocabulary indicating the relative status of speaker and listener.Japanese writing uses kanji (Chinese characters) and two sets of kana (syllabaries based on simplified Chinese characters), as well as the Latin alphabetand Arabic numerals.
Besides Japanese, the Ryukyuan languages, also part of the Japonic language family, are spoken in Okinawa; however, few children learn these languages. The Ainu language, which is unrelated to Japanese or any other known language, is moribund, with only a few elderly native speakers remaining in Hokkaido. Most public and private schools require students to take courses in both Japanese and English.
Main articles: Education in Japan and Health care in JapanThe Yasuda Auditorium of University of TokyoPrimary schools, secondary schools and universities were introduced in 1872 as a result of the Meiji Restoration. Since 1947, compulsory education in Japan comprises elementary and middle school, which together last for nine years (from age 6 to age 15). Almost all children continue their education at a three-year senior high school, and, according to the MEXT, as of 2005 about 75.9 percent of high school graduates attend a university, junior college, trade school, or other higher education institution.
Japan's education system is very competitive, especially for entrance to institutions of higher education. The two top-ranking universities in Japan are theUniversity of Tokyo and Kyoto University. The Programme for International Student Assessment coordinated by the OECD currently ranks the overall knowledge and skills of Japanese 15-year-olds as sixth best in the world.
In Japan, health care is provided by national and local governments. Payment for personal medical services is offered through a universal health insurance system that provides relative equality of access, with fees set by a government committee. People without insurance through employers can participate in a national health insurance program administered by local governments. Since 1973, all elderly persons have been covered by government-sponsored insurance. Patients are free to select the physicians or facilities of their choice.
The Temple of the Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji)Main article: Culture of JapanJapanese culture has evolved greatly from the country's original Jōmon arts to its contemporary culture, which combines influences from Asia, Europe and North America. Traditional Japanese arts include crafts (ikebana, origami, dolls, lacquerware, pottery, ceramics), folklore, performances (bunraku, dance, kabuki, noh,rakugo), and traditions (games, tea ceremony, Budō, architecture, gardens, katana).
Main articles: Japanese art and Japanese aestheticsThe Great Wave off Kanagawa, by HokusaiJapanese painting is one of the oldest of the Japanese arts, with early figurative paintings dating back to at least 300 BC. The history of Japanese painting exhibits synthesis and competition between native Japanese aesthetics and adaptation of imported ideas. The interaction between Japanese and European art has been significant: for example ukiyo-e prints, which began to be exported in the 19th century in a movement known as Japonism, had a significant influence on the development of modern art in the West, most notably on post-Impressionism. Famous ukiyo-e artists included Hokusai and Hiroshige. The fusion of traditionalwoodblock printing and Western art led to the creation of manga, a comic book format that is now popular within and outside Japan. Manga-influenced animation for television and film is called anime. Japanese-made video game consoles have been popular since the 1980s.
Main article: Music of JapanJapanese music is eclectic and diverse. Many instruments, such as the koto, were introduced in the 9th and 10th centuries. The accompanied recitative of the Nohdrama dates from the 14th century and the popular folk music, with the guitar-like shamisen, from the sixteenth. Western classical music, introduced in the late 19th century, now forms an integral part of Japanese culture. The imperial court ensemble Gagaku has influenced the work of some modern Western composers. Notable classical composers from Japan include Toru Takemitsu and Rentaro Taki. Popular music in post-war Japan has been heavily influenced by American and European trends, which has led to the evolution of J-pop, or Japanese popular music. Karaoke is the most widely practiced cultural activity in Japan. A 1993 survey by the Cultural Affairs Agency found that more Japanese had sung karaoke that year than had participated in traditional pursuits such as flower arranging (ikebana) or tea ceremonies.
Main article: Japanese literatureA 12th century illustrated handscroll of The Tale of the GenjiThe earliest works of Japanese literature include the Kojiki and the Nihon Shoki, and the 8th-century poetry book Man'yōshū, all written in Chinese characters. In the early days of the Heian period, the system of transcription known as kana (Hiragana and Katakana) was created as phonograms. The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter is considered the oldest Japanese narrative. An account of Heian court life is given by The Pillow Book by Sei Shōnagon, while The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu is often described as the world's first novel.
During the Edo period, the chōnin ("townspeople") overtook the samurai aristocracy as producers and consumers of literature. The popularity of Yomihon, for example, reveals this change in readership and authorship. The Meiji era saw the decline of traditional literary forms, during which Japanese literature integrated Western influences. Natsume Sōseki and Mori Ōgai were the first "modern" novelists of Japan, followed by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, Jun'ichirō Tanizaki, Yasunari Kawabata, Yukio Mishima and, more recently, Haruki Murakami. Japan has two Nobel Prize-winning authors—Yasunari Kawabata (1968) and Kenzaburo Oe(1994). A traditional Japanese breakfast===Cuisine=== Main article: Japanese cuisineHistorically, the primary ingredient of Japanese cuisine has been Japanese rice. In the early modern era ingredients such as red meats that had previously not been widely used in Japan were introduced. Japanese cuisine offers a vast array of regional specialties, known as kyōdo ryōri (郷土料理), many originating from dishes prepared using traditional recipes with local ingredients. The Michelin Guide has awarded Japanese cities more Michelin stars than the rest of the world combined.
Main article: Sport in JapanSumo wrestlers competing in TokyoTraditionally, sumo is considered Japan's national sport. Japanese martial arts such as judo, karate and kendo are also widely practiced and enjoyed by spectators in the country. After the Meiji Restoration, many Western sports were introduced in Japan and began to spread through the education system.Japan hosted the Summer Olympics in Tokyo in 1964. Japan has hosted the Winter Olympics twice: Nagano in 1998 and Sapporo in 1972.
The Japanese professional baseball league was established in 1936. Today baseball is the most popular spectator sport in the country. One of the most famous Japanese baseball players is Ichiro Suzuki, who plays for the Seattle Mariners. Sadaharu Oh was well-known outside Japan, having hit more home runs during his career in Japan than Hank Aaron in the US. Since the establishment of the Japan Professional Football League in 1992, association footballhas also gained a wide following. Japan was a venue of the Intercontinental Cup from 1981 to 2004 and co-hosted the 2002 FIFA World Cup with South Korea. Japan has one of the most successful football teams in Asia, winning the Asian Cup four times. Golf is also popular in Japan, as are forms of auto racing like the Super GT series and Formula Nippon.
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- Further reading
- De Mente, The Japanese Have a Word For It, McGraw-Hill, 1997 (ISBN 0-8442-8316-9)
- Flath, The Japanese Economy, Oxford University Press, 2000 (ISBN 0-19-877503-2)
- Henshall, A History of Japan, Palgrave Macmillan, 2001 (ISBN 0-312-23370-1)
- Ikegami, Bonds Of Civility: Aesthetic Networks And The Political Origins Of Japanese Culture, Cambridge University Press, 2005 (ISBN 0-521-60115-0)
- Iwabuchi, Recentering Globalization: Popular Culture and Japanese Transnationalism, Duke University Press, 2002 (ISBN 0-8223-2891-7)
- Jansen, The Making of Modern Japan, Belknap, 2000 (ISBN 0-674-00334-9)
- Kato et al., A History of Japanese Literature: From the Man'Yoshu to Modern Times, Japan Library, 1997 (ISBN 1-873410-48-4)
- Macwilliams, Japanese Visual Culture: Explorations in the World of Manga and Anime, M.E. Sharpe, 2007 (ISBN 0-7656-1602-5)
- McDonald, Reading a Japanese Film: Cinema in Context, University of Hawaii Press, 2005 (ISBN 0-8248-2993-X)
- Samuels, Securing Japan: Tokyo's Grand Strategy and the Future of East Asia, Cornell University Press, 2008 (ISBN 0-8014-7490-6)
- Silverberg, Erotic Grotesque Nonsense: The Mass Culture of Japanese Modern Times, University of California Press, 2007 (ISBN 0-520-22273-3)
- Shinoda, Koizumi Diplomacy: Japan’s Kantei Approach to Foreign and Defense Affairs, University of Washington Press, 2007 (ISBN 0-295-98699-9)
- Stevens, Japanese Popular Music: Culture, Authenticity and Power, Routledge, 2007 (ISBN 0-415-38057-X)
- Sugimoto et al., An Introduction to Japanese Society, Cambridge University Press, 2003 (ISBN 0-521-52925-5)
- Varley, Japanese Culture, University of Hawaii Press, 2000 (ISBN 0-8248-2152-1)
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- Kantei.go.jp, official prime ministerial and cabinet site
- Kunaicho.go.jp, official site of the Imperial House of Japan
- National Diet Library
- News media
- General information
- Japan from UCB Libraries GovPubs
- Japan at the Open Directory Project
- Energy Profile for Japan from the US Energy Information Administration
- Works by Government of Japan at Project Gutenberg containing the 1889 and 1946 Constitutions
- Japan: Land of the Rising Sun – slideshow by Life magazine
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