National Anthem: ¡°Kimigayo¡± (¡°The Reign of Our Emperor¡±)
Monetary unit: Japanese Yen
Area: 145,200 sq. miles.
Estimated Population: 124,959,000
Official Language: Japanese
Major Exports: Machinery, vehicles, ships, electronic equipment, steel, chemicals, and textiles.
Japan is located off the east coast of China in eastern Asia. This country is an island, which is evident when viewed on a map. Japan is made of five different states that are primarily large islands. The biggest is Honshu, then Hokkaido, then Kyushu, then Shikoku, and finally Okinawa. The largest island Honshu also hosts the nation¡¯s capital city of Tokyo. Japan primarily is made of mountains and flat plains, of which mountains make a greater portion. The flat plains are not abundant, and one of the biggest ones surrounds Tokyo. Japan¡¯s most economically beneficially river is the Shinano River and the most important harbors are located in Yokohama, Kobe, and Nagoya. The Japanese climate is affected by two different factors. It is affected by the Siberian winds that flow from the northwest, and the south Pacific currents that flow from the south. The Siberian winds are referred to as the Kuril Current (Oyashio), and the Pacific winds are called Japan Current (Kuroshio). The average temperatures run from 48¡ãF to 63¡ãF, with the colder temperatures in the north and milder temperatures in the south.
The Japanese economy is one of the world¡¯s largest, second to only the US economy. It is the most advanced economy in all of Asia, and most of the Asian economy depends on the functionality of the Japanese economy. The economy is varied in different areas of industries from developing vehicles to ships, and working with machinery, steel, and textiles. However, since Japan does not have many natural resources, it depends on raw materials such as cotton, wool, rubber, and most importantly petroleum. In exchange for these imports, the Japanese use their exports of several manufactured goods. Beginning in 1973, the Japanese economy suffered because of an oil crisis, which made its economy face a major recession that lasted for several years. Hence, the Japanese improved themselves by increasing the amounts of exports and limiting the number of imports. Consequently, the country started generating higher revenue yet again. They exported their goods to Canada, France, US, and other major countries in the world. Another great contribution for the Japanese are its citizens. Its citizens save large amounts of money to invest in their own future, combined with an efficient economy, promises an even greater and better future for the Japanese. In order to grow even further, the Japanese government is passing laws that will privatize some industries to increase economic competition. It may result in a higher unemployment rate, but the government will experience higher economic growth, which can produce more companies to again lower the unemployment rates. This was because economists around the world had agreed that the Japanese economy is controlled and it is not up to par with the modern world economy. Thus, it has to either change to advance to the future, or be left behind in history.
of the Nation
Early Japanese society consisted of several territories divided among feudal lords who, during times of peace, would trade among themselves t o some extent. They also had contact with the continent, trading occasionally with Korea, and through Korea, with China. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to land in Japan, introducing firearms and more modern warfare in the mid 1500¡¯s, also opening up trading routes with the continent and surrounding pacific islands, not to mention Europe. In the early 1600¡¯s, the Tokugawa shogunate consolidated all of Japan under one rule, making trade with other countries more effective and lucrative for Japan. While the Japanese welcomed foreign trade, the government was concerned about the influence on their culture the foreigners would have, and did restrict contact with other nations. There was a time of peace in which agricultural production increased and the population grew steadily, and thus Japan¡¯s economy flourished, yet trade was still restricted, causing some to resent the government. In 1854, Japan signed two trade agreements with the U.S., creating unique trading opportunities but angering many who felt that there was too much foreign influence on Japan. This lead to a civil war, and the Tokugawa shogunate was replaced by a regime claiming the restoration of imperial Japan in the 1870¡¯s. Ironically, the new government put an even greater emphasis on modernizing Japan, and thus the industrial revolution arrived in Japan and would lead to a dramatic change in Japanese culture.
The new regime concentrated on bringing Japan up to speed with the rest of the world and, after winning the Sino-Japanese war in 1895 and the Russo-Japanese war in 1905, they gained respect from the European nations and expended their empire. Trading tariffs against Japan ended in 1910, allowing increased trade in goods to and from the islands. Japan entered WWI on the allied side, and this brought economic prosperity to the nation as they exported military supplies and goods to entrenched Europe. The Great depression hit Japan as hard as it hit the rest of the world, and desperate extremists took control of the government, assassinating the prime minister in 1932 and embarking on a military campaign that would lead to the Pacific conflict in WWII. With Japan¡¯s defeat, the U.S. imposed numerous political and social reforms, returning the nation to the state of democracy it had enjoyed before the Great Depression, and the Japanese people for the most part were pleased with the changes. The Cold War brought about very strong bonds between the U.S. and Japan, due to its location being close to both Russia and China, and the U.S. strengthened trading ties even further to ensure that Japan remained allied with the capitalist democracies. This lead to intense economic growth for Japan, and its economy today is the second largest in the world next to the U.S. Japan is fully industrialized and fully globalized, its biggest trading partners being the U.S., nearby Asian nations, Germany, and England. Japan imports raw materials, food, and manufactured goods, and exports include machinery, automobiles, chemicals, and textiles.
Japan, having a bustling economy with over a $3 trillion Gross Domestic Profit, has a government that is a constitutional monarchy in conjunction with Parliamentary democracy. It¡¯s also home to a huge trade regime that focuses on high-end technology and industrial production (i.e. cars and video games). Over the last 40 years (after World War II), Japan¡¯s primary governmental control has focused on a democratic style as the main party has been the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).
Japan¡¯s growth rate over the recent few years has vastly slowed down. In the 1980¡¯s it was at nearly 10% and is now currently under 1%. On top of the slowdown, other factors are leading economists to look badly upon Japan¡¯s future. One thing widely critiqued is the overinvestment of research in the 1980¡¯s by Japans governmental body. This, by many economists¡¯ standards, has widely slowed down the rate of growth of Japan. On top of that, Japan¡¯s population is aging quickly.
Nonetheless, the Japanese government is trying to secure it¡¯s place on the world marketplace. It is part of the World Trade Organization and has realized its reliance on its neighboring countries. One of the major moves for Japan in showing this was its sponsorship of China into the World Trade Organization.
International political relations of Japan with other countries has also taken a swing in the positive direction lately. Visits by Japanese leaders to Korea has ensued in talks and discussions between the two about war crimes committed during WWII and reflections onto what can be done about that. Japan has also recently served as an intermediary between Korea and the US, trying to advocate the Atomic non-proliferation act signed in accordance with the United nations. Like the United State¡¯s growing economy, Japan has also increased its efforts to help developing nations and countries in the Middle East.
Future and Beyond
Japan has also been a rather successful economic body in the past several years, not to mention that their free market economy is the second-largest in the world. It stands as a worthy competitor in terms of international trade, but lacks strength in services, distribution and agriculture. The population is well-educated in economics and well-industrialized. They possess a substantial amount of savings and actively promote the expansion of industrial efficiency. Japan holds no stress for the future success of their economy, but they are currently in their worst state of economic growth after World War II. With a steady growth of about 4% each year, they have recently been growing only 1-2%. However, it is noteworthy that they are not in a state of decline; growth is still produced. Japan lacks natural resources, but their efficient trade allows them to obtain the raw materials needed. Japan¡¯s weakness of relying on imported energy has attracted their attention to diversification of their sources. Even though Japan may be in their worst state of economic growth, they remain strong and continues to play an important role in Asian and global trade.
Did you know?
Until the Iraq conflict, Japanese soldiers had not been deployed in combat since World War II
The major religions in Japan are Shintoism, Buddhism, and Christianity
65% of Japan's labor force is in services
Tokyo is the world's biggest city, with over 31 million citizens in the metro area
Only 12% of Japan's land is arable
Japan's total landmass is approximately the size of Montana
About 47 of 120 million Japanese use the Internet