Country List | World Factbook Home
CIA Seal  World Factbook Seal Japan
Flag of Japan
Map of Japan
Introduction 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.
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: 377,835 sq km
note: includes Bonin Islands (Ogasawara-gunto), Daito-shoto, Minami-jima, Okino-tori-shima, Ryukyu Islands (Nansei-shoto), and Volcano Islands (Kazan-retto)
water: 3,091 sq km
land: 374,744 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than California
Land boundaries:
0 km
29,751 km
Maritime claims:
contiguous zone: 24 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
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
varies from tropical in south to cool temperate in north
mostly rugged and mountainous
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Hachiro-gata -4 m
highest point: Fujiyama 3,776 m
Natural resources:
negligible mineral resources, fish
Land use:
arable land: 12.13%
permanent crops: 1.01%
other: 86.86% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
26,790 sq km (1998 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
People Japan
126,974,628 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 14.5% (male 9,465,282; female 8,999,888)
15-64 years: 67.5% (male 43,027,320; female 42,586,112)
65 years and over: 18% (male 9,664,112; female 13,231,914) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate:
0.15% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
10.03 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
8.53 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 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 (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
3.84 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 80.91 years
female: 84.25 years (2002 est.)
male: 77.73 years
Total fertility rate:
1.42 children born/woman (2002 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%, others 1% (Korean 511,262, Chinese 244,241, Brazilian 182,232, Filipino 89,851, other 237,914) (2000)
observe both Shinto and Buddhist 84%, other 16% (including Christian 0.7%)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99% (1970 est.)
male: NA%
female: NA%
Government Japan
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)
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
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
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the prime minister
head of government: Prime Minister Junichiro KOIZUMI (since 24 April 2001)
Legislative branch:
bicameral Diet or Kokkai consists of the House of Councillors or Sangi-in (247 seats - formerly 252; one-half of the members elected every three years - 73 seats of which are elected from the 47 multi-seat prefectural districts and 48 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)
election results: House of Councillors - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - LDP 110, DPJ 59, Komeito 23, JCP 20, SDP 8, Liberal Party 8, Conservative Party 5, independents 14; note - the distribution of seats as of January 2002 is: LDP 115, DPJ 60, Komeito 24, JCP 20, SDP 8, Liberal Party 8, independents 6, others 6; 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 January 2002 is: LDP 242, DPJ 126, Komeito 31, Liberal Party 22, JCP 20, SDP 19, NCP 7, other 13
elections: House of Councillors - last held 29 July 2001 (next to be held NA July 2004); House of Representatives - last held 25 June 2000 (next must be held by June 2004, but may occur sooner)
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 [Tetsuzo FUWA, chairman, Tadayeshi 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 or NCP [Takeshi NODA, president, Toshihiro NIKAI, secretary general]; Social Democratic Party or SDP [Takako DOI, chairperson, Mizuho FUKUSHIMA, secretary general]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
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- 8, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, NAM (guest), NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE (partner), PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNDOF, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNITAR, UNMOVIC, UNRWA, UNU, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO, ZC
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Ryozo KATO
FAX: [1] (202) 328-2187
consulate(s): Saipan (Northern Mariana Islands)
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
chancery: 2520 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 238-6700
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Howard H. BAKER, Jr.
embassy: 1-10-5 Akasaka, 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
Economy Japan
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 with little success and were further hampered in 2000-02 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". Internal conflict over the proper means to reform the ailing banking system will continue in 2003.
purchasing power parity - $3.55 trillion (2002 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
-0.3% (2002 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $28,000 (2002 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 1%
industry: 31%
services: 68% (2001 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 5%
highest 10%: 22% (1993)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
25 (1993)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
-0.9% (2002 est.)
Labor force:
67.7 million (December 2000 )
Labor force - by occupation:
services 70%, industry 25%, agriculture 5% (2002 est.)
Unemployment rate:
5.4% (2002)
revenues: $441 billion
expenditures: $718 billion, including capital expenditures (public works only) of about $84 billion
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:
-1.4% (2002 est.)
Electricity - production:
1.015 trillion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 61%
hydro: 9%
other: 2% (2000)
nuclear: 29%
Electricity - consumption:
943.71 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
rice, sugar beets, vegetables, fruit; pork, poultry, dairy products, eggs; fish
$383.8 billion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Exports - commodities:
motor vehicles, semiconductors, office machinery, chemicals
Exports - partners:
US 30.1%, China 7.7%, South Korea 6.3%, Taiwan 6.0%, Hong Kong 5.8% (2001)
$292.1 billion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and equipment, fuels, foodstuffs, chemicals, textiles (2001)
Imports - partners:
US 18.1%, China 16.6%, South Korea 4.9%, Taiwan 4.1%, Indonesia 4.3% (2001 est.)
Debt - external:
Economic aid - donor:
ODA, $9.1 billion (1999) (1999)
yen (JPY)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
yen per US dollar - 132.66 (January 2002), 121.53 (2001), 107.77 (2000), 113.91 (1999), 130.91 (1998), 120.99 (1997)
Fiscal year:
1 April - 31 March
Communications Japan
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 215 plus 370 repeaters, FM 89 plus 485 repeaters, shortwave 21 (2001)
120.5 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
211 plus 7,341 repeaters
note: in addition, US Forces are served by 3 TV stations and 2 TV cable services (1999)
86.5 million (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
73 (2000)
Internet users:
56 million (2002)
Transportation Japan
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: 615 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 10,995,839 GRT/14,405,159 DWT
note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: China 1, Panama 1, Singapore 1 (2002 est.)
ships by type: bulk 133, cargo 48, chemical tanker 17, combination bulk 24, combination ore/oil 3, container 19, liquefied gas 50, passenger 9, passenger/cargo 2, petroleum tanker 189, refrigerated cargo 13, roll on/roll off 48, short-sea passenger 6, vehicle carrier 54
173 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 141
over 3,047 m: 7
2,438 to 3,047 m: 37
914 to 1,523 m: 27
under 914 m: 32 (2002)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 38
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 31 31
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 1
914 to 1,523 m: 3
under 914 m: 1 27 (2002)
15 (2002)
Military Japan
Military branches:
Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (Army), Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (Navy), Japan Air Self-Defense Force (Air Force), Japanese Coast Guard
Military manpower - military age:
18 years of age (2002 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 29,644,498 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 25,637,387 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 765,817 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$40,774.3 million (FY01)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
1% (FY01)
Transnational Issues Japan
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 Islands (Diaoyu Tai) claimed by China and Taiwan

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003