Flag of Japan








































While retaining its time-honored culture, Japan rapidly absorbed Western technology during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. After its devastating defeat in World War II, Japan recovered to become the second most powerful economy in the world and a staunch ally of the US. While the emperor retains his throne as a symbol of national unity, actual power rests in networks of powerful politicians, bureaucrats, and business executives. The economy experienced a major slowdown in the 1990s following three decades of unprecedented growth.







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:  377,835 sq km

land:  374,744 sq km

water:  3,091 sq km

note:  includes Bonin Islands (Ogasawara-gunto), Daito-shoto, Minami-jima, Okino-tori-shima, Ryukyu Islands (Nansei-shoto), and Volcano Islands (Kazan-retto)




Shinkansen 500 Series.

Now operating at 300km/h.

Currently being tested for operating speed 360km/h.



Area - comparative:

slightly larger than Norway


Land boundaries:

0 km



29,751 km


Maritime claims:

contiguous zone:  24 NM

exclusive economic zone:  200 NM

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



varies from tropical in south to cool temperate in north



mostly rugged and mountainous


Elevation extremes:

lowest point:  Hachiro-gata -4 m

highest point:  Mt. Fuji 3,776 m








Natural resources:

negligible mineral resources, fish



Land use:

arable land:  11%

permanent crops:  1%

permanent pastures:  2%

forests and woodland:  67%

other:  19% (1993 est.) 


Irrigated land:

27,820 sq km (1993 est.)


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, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling

signed, but not ratified:  Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol


Geography - note:

strategic location in northeast Asia







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126,771,662 (July 2001 est.)


Age structure:

0-14 years:  14.64% (male 9,510,296; female 9,043,074)

15-64 years:  67.83% (male 43,202,513; female 42,790,187)

65 years and over:  17.53% (male 9,351,340; female 12,874,252) (2001 est.)


Population growth rate:

0.17% (2001 est.)


Birth rate:

10.04 births/1,000 population (2001 est.)


Death rate:

8.34 deaths/1,000 population (2001 est.)


Net migration rate:

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2001 est.)




Sex ratio:

at birth:  1.05 male(s)/female

under 15 years:  1.05 male(s)/female

15-64 years:  1.01 male(s)/female

65 years and over:  0.73 male(s)/female

total population:  0.96 male(s)/female (2001 est.)


Infant mortality rate:

3.88 deaths/1,000 live births (2001 est.)


Life expectancy at birth:

total population:  80.8 years

male:  77.62 years

female:  84.15 years (2001 est.)


Total fertility rate:

1.41 children born/woman (2001 est.)


HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

0.02% (1999 est.)


HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

10,000 (1999 est.)


HIV/AIDS - deaths:

150 (1999 est.)



noun:  Japanese (singular and plural)

adjective:  Japanese


Ethnic groups:

Japanese 99.4%, Korean 0.6% (1999)



observe both Shinto and Buddhist 84%, other 16% (including Christian 0.7%)







The Sapporo Snow Festival held in February every year.





definition:  age 15 and over can read and write

total population:  99% (1970 est.)

male:  NA%

female:  NA%




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Country name:

conventional long form:  none

conventional short form:  Japan


Government type:

constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary government





Administrative divisions:

47 prefectures; Aichi, Akita, Aomori, Chiba, Ehime, Fukui, Fukuoka, Fukushima, Gifu, Gumma, 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 BC (traditional founding by Emperor Jimmu)


National holiday:

Birthday of Emperor AKIHITO, 23 December (1933)



3 May 1947


Legal system:

modeled after European civil law system 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 Junichiro KOIZUMI (since 24 April 2001)

cabinet:  Cabinet appointed by the prime minister

elections:  none; the monarch is hereditary; the Diet designates the prime minister; the constitution requires that the prime minister must command a parliamentary majority, therefore, following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or leader of a majority coalition in the House of Representatives usually becomes prime minister

note:  following the resignation of Prime Minister Yoshiro MORI, Junichiro KOIZUMI was elected as the new president of the majority Liberal Democratic Party, and soon thereafter designated by the Diet to become the next prime minister


Legislative branch:

bicameral Diet or Kokkai consists of the House of Councillors or Sangi-in (252 seats; one-half of the members elected every three years - 76 seats of which are elected from the 47 multi-seat prefectural districts and 50 of which are elected from a single nationwide list; members elected by popular vote to serve six-year terms) and the House of Representatives or Shugi-in (480 seats - 180 of which are elected from 11 regional blocks on a proportional representation basis and 300 of which are elected from 300 single-seat districts; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)

elections:  House of Councillors - last held 12 July 1998 (next to be held NA July 2001); House of Representatives - last held 25 June 2000 (next to be held by June 2004)

election results:  House of Councillors - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - LDP 102, DPJ 47, JCP 23, Komeito 22, SDP 13, Liberal Party 12, independents 26, others 7; note - the distribution of seats as of February 2001 is as follows - LDP 112, DPJ 58, Komeito 24, JCP 23, SDP 13, Liberal Party 5, independents 7, others 10; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - LDP 233, DPJ 127, Komeito 31, Liberal Party 22, JCP 20, SDP 19, other 28; note - the distribution of seats as of February 2001 is as follows - LDP 239, DPJ 129, Komeito 31, Liberal Party 22, JCP 20, SDP 19, other 20


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 [Yukio HATOYAMA, leader, Naoto KAN, secretary general]; Japan Communist Party or JCP [Kazuo SHII, chairman, Tadaaki ICHIDA, secretary general]; Komeito [Takenori KANZAKI, president, Tetsuzo FUYUSHIBA, secretary general]; Liberal Democratic Party or LDP [Junichiro KOIZUMI, president, Taku YAMASAKI, secretary general]; Liberal Party [Ichiro OZAWA, president, Hirohisa FUJII, secretary general]; New Conservative Party [Chikage OGI, president, Takeshi NODA, secretary general]; Social Democratic Party or SDP [Takako DOI, chairperson, Sadao FUCHIGAMI, secretary general]






1923 September 1


Great Kanto Earthquake


Tokyo & Yokohama














International organization participation:

AfDB, APEC, ARF (dialogue partner), AsDB, ASEAN (dialogue partner), Australia Group, BIS, CCC, CE (observer), CERN (observer), CP, EBRD, ESCAP, FAO, G- 5, G- 7, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, NAM (guest), NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE (partner), PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNDOF, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNITAR, UNRWA, UNU, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO, ZC


Diplomatic representation in the US:

chief of mission:  Ambassador Shunji YANAI

chancery:  2520 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008

telephone:  [1] (202) 238-6700

FAX:  [1] (202) 328-2187

consulate(s) general:  Anchorage, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Hagatna (Guam), Honolulu, Houston, Kansas City (Missouri), Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Portland (Oregon), San Francisco, and Seattle

consulate(s):  Saipan (Northern Mariana Islands)





Diplomatic representation from the US:

chief of mission:  Ambassador Howard H. BAKER, Jr.

embassy:  1-10-5 Akasakae, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-8420

mailing address:  Unit 45004, Box 205, APO AP 96337-5004

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




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Economy - overview:

Government-industry cooperation, a strong work ethic, mastery of high technology, and a comparatively small defense allocation (1% of GDP) have helped Japan advance with extraordinary rapidity to the rank of second most technologically powerful economy in the world after the US and third largest economy in the world after the US and China. One notable characteristic of the economy is the working together of manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors in closely-knit groups called keiretsu. A second basic feature has been the guarantee of lifetime employment for a substantial portion of the urban labor force. Both features are now eroding. Industry, the most important sector of the economy, is heavily dependent on imported raw materials and fuels. The much smaller agricultural sector is highly subsidized and protected, with crop yields among the highest in the world. Usually self-sufficient in rice, Japan must import about 50% of its requirements of other grain and fodder crops. 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 largely because of the aftereffects of overinvestment during the late 1980s and contractionary domestic policies intended to wring speculative excesses from the stock and real estate markets. Government efforts to revive economic growth have met little success and were further hampered in late 2000 by the slowing of the US and Asian economies. The crowding of habitable land area and the aging of the population are two major long-run problems. Robotics constitutes a key long-term economic strength, with Japan possessing 410,000 of the world's 720,000 "working robots".



purchasing power parity - $3.15 trillion (2000 est.)


GDP - real growth rate:

1.3% (2000 est.)


GDP - per capita:

purchasing power parity - $24,900 (2000 est.)


GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture:  2%

industry:  35%

services:  63% (1999 est.)









Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%:  4.8%

highest 10%:  21.7% (1993)


Inflation rate (consumer prices):

-0.7% (2000 est.)


Labor force:

67.7 million (December 2000)


Labor force - by occupation:

services 65%, industry 30%, agriculture 5%


Unemployment rate:

4.7% (2000)



revenues:  $441 billion

expenditures:  $718 billion, including capital expenditures (public works only) of about $84 billion (FY01/02 est.)



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:

5.3% (2000 est.)


Electricity - production:

1.018 trillion kWh (1999)


Electricity - production by source:

fossil fuel:  58.91%

hydro:  8.35%

nuclear:  30.31%

other:  2.43% (1999)


Electricity - consumption:

947.038 billion kWh (1999)


Electricity - exports:

0 kWh (1999)


Electricity - imports:

0 kWh (1999)


Agriculture - products:

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



$450 billion (f.o.b., 2000)


Exports - commodities:

motor vehicles, semiconductors, office machinery, chemicals


Exports - partners:

US 30%, Taiwan 7%, South Korea 6.4%, China 6.2%, Hong Kong 5.6% (2000 est.)



$355 billion (c.i.f., 2000)


Imports - commodities:

fuels, foodstuffs, chemicals, textiles, office machinery


Imports - partners:

US 19%, China 14.5%, South Korea 5.4%, Taiwan 4.8%, Indonesia 4.3%, Australia 3.9% (2000 est.)


Debt - external:



Economic aid - donor:

ODA, $9.1 billion (1999)



yen (JPY)


Currency code:



Exchange rates:

yen per US dollar - 117.10 (January 2001), 107.77 (2000), 113.91 (1999), 130.91 (1998), 120.99 (1997), 108.78 (1996)


Fiscal year:

1 April - 31 March




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Telephones - main lines in use:

60.381 million (1997)


Telephones - mobile cellular:

63.88 million (2000)


Telephone system:

general assessment:  excellent domestic and international service

domestic:  high level of modern technology and excellent service of every kind

international:  satellite earth stations - 5 Intelsat (4 Pacific Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean), 1 Intersputnik (Indian Ocean region), and 1 Inmarsat (Pacific and Indian Ocean regions); submarine cables to China, Philippines, Russia, and US (via Guam) (1999)


Radio broadcast stations:

AM 190, FM 88, shortwave 24 (1999)



120.5 million (1997)


Television broadcast stations:

7,108 (plus 441 repeaters; note - in addition, US Forces are served by 3 TV stations and 2 TV cable services) (1999)



86.5 million (1997)







August 6, 1945  Hiroshima





August 9, 1945  Nagasaki






Internet country code:



Internet Service Providers (ISPs):

73 (2000)


Internet users:

27.06 million (2000)




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total:  23,654 km (15,895 km electrified)

standard gauge:  3,059 km 1.435-m gauge (entirely electrified)

narrow gauge:  77 km 1.372-m gauge (entirely electrified); 20,491 km 1.067-m gauge (12,732 km electrified); 27 km 0.762-m gauge (entirely electrified) (2000)



total:  1,152,207 km

paved:  863,003 km (including 6,114 km of expressways)

unpaved:  289,204 km (1997 est.)



1,770 km approximately

note:  seagoing craft ply all coastal inland seas



crude oil 84 km; petroleum products 322 km; natural gas 1,800 km


Ports and harbors:

Akita, Amagasaki, Chiba, Hachinohe, Hakodate, Higashi-Harima, Himeji, Hiroshima, Kawasaki, Kinuura, Kobe, Kushiro, Mizushima, Moji, Nagoya, Osaka, Sakai, Sakaide, Shimizu, Tokyo, Tomakomai


Merchant marine:

total:  630 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 11,691,174 GRT/15,484,848 DWT

ships by type:  bulk 137, cargo 51, chemical tanker 15, combination bulk 22, combination ore/oil 3, container 22, liquefied gas 49, passenger 9, passenger/cargo 2, petroleum tanker 194, refrigerated cargo 15, roll on/roll off 49, short-sea passenger 6, vehicle carrier 56 (2000 est.)








173 (2000 est.)


Airports - with paved runways:

total:  142

over 3,047 m:  8

2,438 to 3,047 m:  36

1,524 to 2,437 m:  38

914 to 1,523 m:  30

under 914 m:  30 (2000 est.)


Airports - with unpaved runways:

total:  31

914 to 1,523 m:  4

under 914 m:  27 (2000 est.)



16 (2000 est.)




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Military branches:

Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (Army), Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (Navy), Japan Air Self-Defense Force (Air Force)


Military manpower - military age:

18 years of age


Military manpower - availability:

males age 15-49:  29,926,614 (2001 est.)


Military manpower - fit for military service:

males age 15-49:  25,876,484 (2001 est.)


Military manpower - reaching military age annually:

males:  765,817 (2001 est.)


Military expenditures - dollar figure:

$43 billion (FY01)


Military expenditures - percent of GDP:

0.96% (FY01)



   Transnational Issues

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Disputes - international:

islands of Etorofu, Kunashiri, and Shikotan, and the Habomai group occupied by the Soviet Union in 1945, now administered by Russia, claimed by Japan; Liancourt Rocks (Takeshima/Tokdo) disputed with South Korea; Senkaku-shoto (Senkaku Islands) claimed by China and Taiwan