Japan - Vev


Un article de Vev.

Jump to: navigation, search

Modèle:Pp-semi-vandalism Modèle:Featured article Modèle:Otheruses1 Modèle:Infobox Country Japan (日本 Nihon or Nippon ? </span>, officially 日本国 Modèle:Audio or Nihon-koku) is an island country in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of China, Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea in the south. The characters that make up Japan's name mean "sun-origin", which is why Japan is sometimes identified as the "Land of the Rising Sun".

Japan comprises over 3,000 islands,<ref> Nihon Rettō

. Daijirin / Yahoo Japan dictionary  


. Retrieved on 2007-05-07. </ref> the largest of which are Honshū, Hokkaidō, Kyūshū and Shikoku, together accounting for 97% of land area. Most of the islands are mountainous, many volcanic; for example, Japan’s highest peak, Mount Fuji, is a volcano. Japan has the world's tenth largest population, with about 128 million people. The Greater Tokyo Area, which includes the 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 were living on the islands of Japan as early as the Upper Paleolithic period. The first written mention of Japan begins with brief appearances in Chinese history texts from the first century AD.

Influence from the outside world followed by long periods of isolation has characterized Japan's history. Since adopting its constitution in 1947, Japan has maintained a unitary constitutional monarchy with an emperor and an elected parliament, the Diet.

A major economic power,<ref name="ciawfbjapan"/> Japan has the world's second largest economy by nominal GDP. It is a member of the United Nations, G8, G4 and APEC, with the world's fifth largest defense budget. It is also the world's fourth largest exporter and sixth largest importer and a world leader in technology and machinery.



Main article: History of Japan

The first signs of occupation on the Japanese archipelago appeared with a Paleolithic culture around 30,000 BC, followed from around 14,000 BC by the Jōmon period, a Mesolithic to Neolithic semi-sedentary hunter-gatherer culture of pit dwelling and a rudimentary form of agriculture. Decorated clay vessels from this period, often with plaited patterns, are some of the oldest surviving examples of pottery in the world.<ref>Habu Jinko, "Ancient Jomon of Japan", Cambridge Press, 2004.[1][2]</ref>

The Yayoi period, starting around the third century BC, introduced new practices, such as wet-rice farming, iron and bronze-making and a new style of pottery, brought by migrants from China or Korea. With the development of Yayoi culture, a predominantly agricultural society emerged in Japan.<ref> The Yayoi period (c.250 BC – c.AD 250)

. Encyclopædia Britannica 

. Retrieved on 2006-12-28. </ref><ref>Modèle:Cite journal</ref><ref> Pottery

. MSN Encarta  


. Retrieved on 2006-12-28. </ref><ref>Modèle:Cite book</ref>

The Japanese first appear in written history in China’s Book of Han. According to the Chinese Records of the Three Kingdoms, the most powerful kingdom on the archipelago during the third century was called Yamataikoku.

Japan was first introduced to Buddhism from Korea, but the subsequent development of Japanese Buddhism and Buddhist sculptures were primarily influenced by China.<ref>Modèle:Cite book</ref> Despite early resistance, Buddhism was promoted by the ruling class and eventually gained growing acceptance since the Asuka period.<ref>Modèle:Cite book</ref>

The Nara period of the eighth century marked the first emergence of a strong central Japanese state, centered around an imperial court in the city of Heijō-kyō, or modern day Nara. In addition to the continuing adoption of Chinese administrative practices, the Nara period is characterized by the appearance of a nascent written literature with the completion of the massive chronicles Kojiki (712) and Nihonshoki (720).<ref>Modèle:Cite book</ref>

In 784, Emperor Kammu moved the capital to Nagaokakyō for a brief ten-year period, before relocating it to Heian-kyō (modern day Kyoto) in 794, where it remained for more than a millennium.<ref>Modèle:Cite book</ref> This marked the beginning of the Heian period, during which time a distinctly indigenous Japanese culture emerged, noted for its art, poetry and literature. Lady Murasaki's The Tale of Genji and the lyrics of modern Japan's national anthem, Kimi ga Yo were written during this time.<ref>Modèle:Cite book</ref>

Japan's feudal era was characterized by the emergence of a ruling class of warriors, the samurai. In 1185, following the defeat of the rival Taira clan, Minamoto no Yoritomo was appointed Shogun and established a base of power in Kamakura. After Yoritomo's death, the Hōjō clan came to rule as regents for the shoguns. Zen Buddhism was introduced from China in the Kamakura period (1185–1333) and became popular among the samurai class. The Kamakura shogunate managed to repel Mongol invasions in 1274 and 1281, aided by a storm that the Japanese interpreted as a kamikaze, or Divine Wind. The Kamakura shogunate was eventually overthrown by Emperor Go-Daigo, who was soon himself defeated by Ashikaga Takauji in 1336.<ref>Modèle:Cite book</ref> The succeeding Ashikaga shogunate failed to control the feudal warlords (daimyo), and a civil war erupted (the Ōnin War) in 1467 which opened a century-long Sengoku period.<ref>Modèle:Cite book</ref>

During the sixteenth century, traders and Jesuit missionaries from Portugal reached Japan for the first time, initiating active commercial and cultural exchange between Japan and the West (Nanban trade).

Battle of Sekigahara

Oda Nobunaga conquered numerous other daimyo by using European technology and firearms and had almost unified the nation when he was assassinated in 1582. Toyotomi Hideyoshi succeeded Nobunaga and united the nation in 1590. Hideyoshi [[Japanese invasions of Korea (1592–159Image:Cool.gif|invaded Korea twice]], but following several defeats by Korean and Ming China forces and Hideyoshi's death, Japanese troops were withdrawn in 1598.<ref>Modèle:Cite book</ref>

After Hideyoshi's death, Tokugawa Ieyasu utilized his position as regent for Hideyoshi's son Toyotomi Hideyori 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 shōgun in 1603 and established the Tokugawa shogunate at Edo (modern Tokyo). The Tokugawa shogunate enacted a variety of measures such as Buke shohatto 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 contacts with the Dutch enclave at Dejima in Nagasaki. The Edo period also gave rise to kokugaku, or literally "national studies", the study of Japan by the Japanese themselves.<ref> Hooker , Richard

.    Japan Glossary; Kokugaku 
. Washington State University 

. Retrieved on 2006-12-28. </ref>

On 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 the Western countries in the late Tokugawa shogunate brought Japan into economic and political crises. The abundance of the prerogative and the resignation of the shogunate led to the Boshin War and the establishment of a centralized state unified under the name of the Emperor (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 embarked on a number of military conflicts to expand the nation's 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.<ref> Jesse Arnold

.    Japan: The Making of a World Superpower (Imperial Japan) 
. vt.edu/users/jearnol2 

. Retrieved on 2007-03-27. </ref>

The early twentieth century saw a brief period of "Taisho democracy" overshadowed by the rise of Japanese expansionism and militarization. World War I enabled Japan, which joined the side of the victorious Allies, to expand its influence and territorial holdings. Japan continued its expansionist policy by occupying Manchuria in 1931. As a result of international condemnation for this occupation, Japan resigned from the League of Nations two years later. In 1936, Japan signed the Anti-Comintern Pact with Nazi Germany, joining the Axis Powers in 1941.<ref> Kelley L. Ross

.    The Pearl Harbor Strike Force 
. friesian.com 

. Retrieved on 2007-03-27. </ref>

In 1937, Japan invaded other parts of China, precipitating the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945), after which the United States placed an oil embargo on Japan.<ref>Modèle:Cite book</ref> On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked the United States naval base in Pearl Harbor and declared war on the United States, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. This act brought the United States into World War II. After the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, along with the Soviet Union joining the war against it, Japan agreed to an unconditional surrender on August 15 (V-J Day).<ref> Japanese Instrument of Surrender

. educationworld.net  


. Retrieved on 2006-12-28. </ref> The war cost Japan millions of lives and left much of the country's industry and infrastructure destroyed. The International Military Tribunal for the Far East, was convened by the Allies (on May 3, 1946) to prosecute Japanese leaders for war crimes such as the Nanking Massacre.<ref> The Nanking Atrocities: The Postwar Judgment

. University of Missouri-Columbia  


. Retrieved on 2007-03-27. </ref>

In 1947, Japan adopted a new pacifist constitution emphasizing liberal democratic practices. The Allied occupation ended by the Treaty of San Francisco in 1952<ref> Joseph Coleman

.    '52 coup plot bid to rearm Japan: CIA 
. The Japan Times 

. Retrieved on 2007-04-03. </ref> and Japan was granted membership in the United Nations in 1956. Japan later achieved spectacular growth to become the second largest economy in the world, with an annual growth rate averaging 10% for four decades. This ended in the mid-1990s when Japan suffered a major recession. Positive growth in the early twenty-first century has signaled a gradual recovery.<ref> Japan scraps zero interest rates

. BBC News Online 

. Retrieved on 2006-12-28. </ref>

Government and politics

Image:Osaka07 Opening Akihito.jpg
Akihito is the current Emperor of Japan.

Japan 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.<ref name="Constitution"> The Constitution of Japan

. House of Councillors of the National Diet of Japan 

. Retrieved on 2007-03-10. </ref> The Emperor effectively acts as the head of state on diplomatic occasions. 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, containing 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,<ref name="ciawfbjapan"> World Factbook; Japan

. CIA 

. Retrieved on 2007-03-27. </ref> with a secret ballot for all elective offices.<ref name="Constitution"/> The liberal conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has been in power since 1955, except for a short-lived coalition government formed from opposition parties in 1993.<ref> A History of the Liberal Democratic Party

. Liberal Democratic Party of Japan  


. Retrieved on 2007-03-27. </ref> The largest opposition party is the social liberal Democratic Party of Japan.

The Prime Minister of Japan is the head of government. The position is appointed by the Emperor of Japan after being designated by the Diet from among its members and must enjoy the confidence of the House of Representatives to remain in office. The Prime Minister is the head of the Cabinet (the literal translation of his Japanese title is "Prime Minister of the Cabinet") and appoints and dismisses the Ministers of State, a majority of whom must be Diet members. Yasuo Fukuda currently serves as the Prime Minister of Japan.<ref> Prime Minister of Japan and his Cabinet

. Office of the Prime Minister of Japan  


. Retrieved on 2007-03-27. </ref>

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 nineteenth century, the judicial system has been largely based on the civil law of Europe, notably France and Germany. For example, in 1896, the Japanese government established a civil code based on the German model. With post-World War II modifications, the code remains in effect in present-day Japan.<ref name="civilcode"> "Japanese Civil Code"

. Encyclopædia Britannica 

. Retrieved on 2006-12-28. </ref> Statutory law originates in Japan's legislature, the National Diet of Japan, with the rubber-stamp approval of the Emperor. The current constitution requires that the Emperor promulgates legislation passed by the Diet, without specifically giving him the power to oppose the passing of the legislation.<ref name="Constitution"/> Japan's court system is divided into four basic tiers: the Supreme Court and three levels of lower courts.<ref> The Japanese Judicial System

. Office of the Prime Minister of Japan  


. Retrieved on 2007-03-27. </ref> The main body of Japanese statutory law is a collection called the Six Codes.<ref name="civilcode"/>

Foreign relations and military

Image:Fukuda meets Bush 16 November 2007.jpg
Yasuo Fukuda (left) and George W. Bush exchange handshakes following their joint statement at the White House.

Japan maintains close economic and military relations with its key ally the United States, with the US-Japan security alliance serving as the cornerstone of its foreign policy.<ref> Michael Green

.    Japan Is Back: Why Tokyo's New Assertiveness Is Good for Washington 
. Real Clear Politics 

. Retrieved on 2007-03-28. </ref> A member state of the United Nations since 1956, Japan has served as a non-permanent Security Council member for a total of 18 years, most recently in 2005–2006. It is also one of the G4 nations seeking permanent membership in the Security Council.<ref> UK backs Japan for UNSC bid

. Cenral Chronicle  


. Retrieved on 2007-03-28. </ref> As a member of the G8, the APEC, the "ASEAN Plus Three" and a participant in the East Asia Summit, Japan actively participates in international affairs. It is also the world's second-largest donor of official development assistance, donating US$8.86 bn in 2004.<ref>Modèle:PDFlink Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2005-04-11). Retrieved on 2006-12-28.</ref> Japan contributed non-combatant troops to the Iraq War but subsequently withdrew its forces from Iraq.<ref name="Iraq deployment"> Tokyo says it will bring troops home from Iraq

. International Herald Tribune 

. Retrieved on 2007-03-28. </ref>

Japan 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 the EEZ around Okinotorishima. Japan also faces an ongoing dispute with North Korea over its abduction of Japanese citizens and its nuclear weapons and missile program (see also Six-party talks).

Japan's military is restricted by the Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, which renounces Japan's right to declare war or use military force as a means of settling international disputes, although the conservatives are seeking to amend the Constitution via a referendum.<ref> Japan approves constitution steps

. BBC News  


. Retrieved on 2007-05-15. </ref> 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 and the deployment of Japanese troops to Iraq marked the first overseas use of its military since World War II.<ref name="Iraq deployment"/>

Administrative divisions

Image:Tokyo odaiba.jpg
Tokyo by night: the Rainbow Bridge and, behind it, Tokyo Tower.

While there exist eight commonly defined regions of Japan, administratively Japan consists of forty-seven prefectures, each overseen by an elected governor, legislature and administrative bureaucracy. The former city of Tokyo is further divided into twenty-three special wards, each with the same powers as cities.

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.<ref> Mabuchi , Masaru

     (May 2001)
.    Municipal Amalgamation in Japan (PDF) 
. World Bank 

. Retrieved on 2006-12-28. </ref>

Japan has dozens of major cities, which play an important role in Japan's culture, heritage and economy. The ten most populous cities are (in order of population): Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, Nagoya, Sapporo, Kobe, Kyoto, Fukuoka, Kawasaki, Saitama. Aside from Tokyo and Kawasaki, all of them are prefectural capitals and Government Ordinance Cities.

Geography and climate

Main article: Geography of Japan
Image:Miyako ikema bridge.JPG
Okinawa Islands are subtropical climate.
Image:Ice road in Hokkaido 001.JPG
Hokkaidō has a subarctic climate.

Japan is a country of over three thousand islands extending along the Pacific coast of Asia. The main islands, running from north to south, are Hokkaidō, Honshū (the main island), 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 70% to 80% of the country is forested, mountainous,<ref> "Japan"

. Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 

. Retrieved on 2006-12-28. </ref><ref> Japan Information—Page 1

. WorldInfoZone.com  


. Retrieved on 2006-12-28. </ref> and unsuitable for agricultural, industrial, or residential use. This is because of the generally steep elevations, climate and risk of landslides caused by earthquakes, soft ground and heavy rain. This has resulted in an extremely high population density in the habitable zones that are mainly located in coastal areas. Japan is the thirtieth most densely populated country in the world.<ref> World Population Prospects

. UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs  


. Retrieved on 2007-03-27. </ref>

Its location on the Pacific Ring of Fire, at the juncture of three tectonic plates, gives Japan frequent low-intensity tremors and occasional volcanic activity. Destructive earthquakes, often resulting in tsunamis, occur several times each century.<ref> Tectonics and Volcanoes of Japan

. Oregon State University  


. Retrieved on 2007-03-27. </ref> The most recent major quakes are the 2004 Chūetsu earthquake and the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995. Hot springs are numerous and have been developed as resorts.<ref> Attractions: Hot Springs

. JNTO  


. Retrieved on 2007-04-01. </ref>

The climate of Japan is predominantly temperate, but varies greatly from north to south.<ref name="climate"> Essential Info: Climate

. JNTO  


. Retrieved on 2007-04-01. </ref> Japan's geographical features divide it into six principal climatic zones:

  • Hokkaidō: The northernmost zone has a temperate climate with long, cold winters and cool summers. Precipitation is not heavy, but the islands usually develop deep snow banks in the winter.
  • Sea of Japan: On Honshū's west coast, the northwest wind in the wintertime brings heavy snowfall. In the summer, the region is cooler than the Pacific area, though it sometimes experiences extremely hot temperatures, because of the Föhn wind phenomenon.
  • Central Highland: A typical inland climate, with large temperature differences between summer and winter, and between day and night. Precipitation is light.
  • Seto Inland Sea: The mountains of the Chūgoku and Shikoku regions shelter the region from the seasonal winds, bringing mild weather throughout the year.
  • Pacific Ocean: The east coast experiences cold winters with little snowfall and hot, humid summers because of the southeast seasonal wind.
  • Ryukyu Islands: The Ryukyu Islands have a subtropical climate, with warm winters and hot summers. Precipitation is very heavy, especially during the rainy season. Typhoons are common.

The hottest temperature ever measured in Japan—40.9 degrees Celsius—was recorded on August 16, 2007.<ref> Gifu Prefecture sees highest temperature ever recorded in Japan - 40.9

. Japan News Review Society 

. Retrieved on 2007-08-16. </ref>

The main rainy season begins in early May in Okinawa, and the stationary rain front responsible for this gradually works its way north until it dissipates in northern Japan before reaching Hokkaidō 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.<ref name="climate"/>

Japan is home to 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.<ref> Flora and Fauna: Diversity and regional uniqueness

. Embassy of Japan in the USA  


. Retrieved on 2007-04-01. </ref>


Japan's environmental history and current policies reflect a tenuous balance between development and modernization on the one hand, and environmental protection on the other hand.

Japan is likely one of the world's leaders in the development of new environment-friendly technologies. Honda and Toyota were named to have the highest fuel economy and lowest emissions.<ref>Automaker Rankings 2007: The Environmental Performance of Car Companies, Union of Concerned Scientists, 10/15/07.</ref> This is due to the advance technology in hybrid systems, biofuels, use of lighter weight material and better engineering.

Japan also takes issues surrounding climate change and global warming seriously. As a signatory of the Kyoto Protocol, and host of the 1997 conference which created it, Japan is under treaty obligations to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions and to take other steps related to curbing climate change. The Cool biz campaign introduced under former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi was targeted at reducing energy use through the reduction of air conditioning use in government offices.

However, Japan also has a long history of sacrificing natural resources and destroying natural spaces in the name of progress. As early as the 18th century, Japan all but exhausted its natural supplies of gold and silver. Significant deforestation took place across the islands, leading to erosion and river pollution. Wetlands and other natural lands were reclaimed for agricultural use, and many species were driven nearly to extinction, such as the native species of wolf, which were seen as a threat<ref>Totman, Conrad. "Tokugawa Peasants: Win, Lose, or Draw?" Monumenta Nipponica 41:4 (Winter 1986), pp457-476.</ref>.

The massive nationwide rebuilding efforts in the aftermath of World War II, and the development of the following decades, led to even further urbanization and construction. The construction industry in Japan is one of its largest, and while Japan maintains a great many parks and other natural spaces, even in the hearts of its cities, there are few major restrictions on where and how construction can be undertaken. Alex Kerr, in his books "Lost Japan" and "Dogs & Demons"<ref>Lost Japan: ISBN 0-86442-370-5; Dogs & Demons: ISBN 0141010002</ref>, is one of a number of authors who focuses heavily on the environmental problems related to Japan's construction industry, and the industry's lobbying power preventing the introduction of stricter zoning laws and other environmental protection efforts.

In addition, overfishing has long been a problem within Japan; with the advent of the modern era, Japanese fishing fleets have come to pose a serious threat to maintaining sustainable populations of various fish and shellfish throughout the world.

Japan is ranked 30th best in the world in the Environmental Sustainability Index.<ref>2005 Environmental Sustainability Index Benchmarking National Environmental Stewardship, Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, Yale University and Center for International Earth Science Information Network, Columbia University, 2005.</ref>


Main article: Economy of Japan
The automobile industry is among the chief elements of the country's economy and exports.

Close government-industry cooperation, a strong work ethic, mastery of high technology, and a comparatively small defense allocation among others have helped Japan become the second largest economy in the world,<ref name="imf"> World Economic Outlook Database; country comparisons

. IMF 

. Retrieved on 2007-03-14. </ref> after the United States, at around US$4.5 trillion in terms of nominal GDP<ref name="imf"/> and third after the United States and China in terms of purchasing power parity.<ref> NationMaster; Economy Statistics

. NationMaster  


. Retrieved on 2007-03-26. </ref>

Banking, insurance, real estate, retailing, transportation and telecommunications are all major industries. Japan has a large industrial capacity and is home to some of the largest, leading and most technologically advanced producers of motor vehicles, electronic equipment, machine tools, steel and nonferrous metals, ships, chemicals, textiles and processed foods.<ref name="ciaecon"/> Construction has long been one of Japan's largest industries, with the help of multi-billion dollar government contracts in the civil sector. Distinguishing characteristics of the Japanese economy have included the cooperation of manufacturers, suppliers, distributors and banks in closely-knit groups called keiretsu and the guarantee of lifetime employment in big corporations.<ref> Japan's Economy: Free at last

. The Economist 

. Retrieved on 2007-03-29. </ref> Recently, Japanese companies have begun to abandon some of these norms in an attempt to increase profitability.<ref> Why Germany's economy will outshine Japan

. MoneyWeek 

. Retrieved on 2007-03-28. </ref>

Image:Tokyo stock exchange.jpg
Tokyo Stock Exchange, the second largest after NYSE by trading volume.

Japan is also home to some of the largest financial services companies, business groups and bank such as Sony, Sumitomo, Mitsubishi and Toyota. It is also home to the world's largest bank by asset, Japan Post Bank (US$3.2 trillion)<ref>Corporate Profile, Japan Post Bank Co., Ltd.</ref> and others such as Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (US$1.2 trillion<ref>Company Overview, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc.</ref>), Mizuho Financial Group (US$1.4 trillion<ref>Company Information, Mizuho Financial Group.</ref>) and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group (US$1.3 trillion<ref>Company Profile, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group.</ref>). The Tokyo Stock Exchange with a market capitalization of over 549.7 trillion Yen as of December 2006 stands as the second largest in the world.<ref>Market data. New York Stock Exchange (2006-01-31). Retrieved on 2007-08-11.</ref>

From the 1960s to the 1980s, overall real economic growth has been called a "miracle": a 10% average in the 1960s, a 5% average in the 1970s and a 4% average in the 1980s.<ref> Japan: Patterns of Development

. country-data.com 
 (January 1994)

. Retrieved on 2006-12-28. </ref> Growth slowed markedly in the 1990s, largely because of the after-effects of over-investment during the late 1980s 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 in 2000 to 2001 by the deceleration of the global economy.<ref name="ciaecon"> World Factbook; Japan—Economy

. CIA 

. Retrieved on 2006-12-28. </ref> However, the economy showed strong signs of recovery after 2005. GDP growth for that year was 2.8%, with an annualized fourth quarter expansion of 5.5%, surpassing the growth rates of the US and European Union during the same period.<ref>Masake, Hisane. A farewell to zero. Asia Times Online (2006-03-02). Retrieved on 2006-12-28.</ref>

Because only about 15% of Japan's land is suitable for cultivation,<ref>Kingshuk Roy. Modèle:PDFlink. College of Bioresource Sciences, Nihon University (2006). Retrieved on 2007-02-21.</ref> a system of terrace farming is used to build in small areas. This results in one of the world's highest levels of crop yields per unit area. However, Japan's small agricultural sector is also highly subsidized and protected. Japan must import about 50%<ref> Japan: Country Information

. Strategis  


. Retrieved on 2007-04-01. </ref> of its requirements of grain and fodder crops other than rice, and it relies on imports for most of its supply of meat. In fishing, Japan is ranked second in the world behind China in tonnage of fish caught. Japan maintains one of the world's largest fishing fleets and accounts for nearly 15% of the global catch.<ref name="ciaecon"/> Japan relies on foreign countries for almost all oil and food.

Transportation in Japan is highly developed. As of 2004, there are 1,177,278 km (731,683 miles) of paved roadways, 173 airports, and 23,577 km (14,653 miles) of railways.<ref name="ciaecon"/> Air transport is mostly operated by All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Japan Airlines (JAL). Railways are operated by Japan Railways Group among others. There are extensive international flights from many cities and countries to and from Japan.

Japan's main export partners are the United States 22.8%, China 14.3%, South Korea 7.8%, Taiwan 6.8% and Hong Kong 5.6% (for 2006). Japan's main exports are transport equipment, motor vehicles, electronics, electrical machinery and chemicals.<ref name="ciaecon"/> With very limited natural resources to sustain economic development, Japan depends on other nations for most of its raw materials; thus it imports a wide variety of goods. Its main import partners are China 20.5%, U.S. 12.0%, Saudi Arabia 6.4%, UAE 5.5%, Australia 4.8%, South Korea 4.7% and Indonesia 4.2% (for 2006). Japan's main imports are machinery and equipment, fossil fuels, foodstuffs (in particular beef), chemicals, textiles and raw materials for its industries. Overall, Japan's largest trading partner is China.<ref>Blustein, Paul. "China Passes U.S. In Trade With Japan: 2004 Figures Show Asian Giant's Muscle". The Washington Post (2005-01-27). Retrieved on 2006-12-28.</ref>

Science and technology

Image:Honda ASIMO Walking Stairs.JPG
Press release photo of the most recent ASIMO model.

Japan is one of the leading nations in the fields of scientific research, particularly technology, machinery and medical research. Nearly 700,000 researchers share a US$130 billion research and development budget, the third largest in the world.<ref>McDonald, Joe. "China to spend $136 billion on R&D." BusinessWeek (2006-12-04).</ref> For instance some of Japan's more prominent technological contributions are found in the fields of electronics, automobiles, machinery, 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 used for manufacturing.<ref>The Boom in Robot Investment Continues—900,000 Industrial Robots by 2003. and United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, Press release 2000-10-17. Retrieved on 2006-12-28.</ref> It also produced QRIO, ASIMO and Aibo. Japan is the world's largest producer of automobiles<ref> World Motor Vehichle Production by Country

. oica.net 

. Retrieved on 2007-07-30. </ref> and home to six of the world's fifteen largest automobile manufacturers and seven of the world's twenty largest semiconductor sales leaders as of today.

Japan has plans in space exploration, including building a moonbase by 2030.<ref> Japan Plans Moon Base by 2030

. MoonDaily 

. Retrieved on 2007-03-27. </ref> The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) conducts space and planetary research, aviation research, and development of rockets and satellites. It is a participant in the International Space Station and the Japanese Experiment Module (Kibo) module is slated to be added to the International Space Station during Space Shuttle assembly flights in 2008.<ref> Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency Homepage

. Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency 

. Retrieved on 2007-03-28. </ref>


Japan's population is estimated at around 127.4 million.<ref name="ciapeople"> World Factbook; Japan—People

. CIA 

. Retrieved on 2007-01-05. </ref> For the most part, Japanese society is linguistically and culturally homogeneous with small populations of foreign workers, Zainichi Koreans, Zainichi Chinese, Filipinos, Japanese Brazilians and others. The most dominant native ethnic group is the Yamato people; the primary minority groups include the indigenous Ainu and Ryūkyūans, as well as social minority groups like the burakumin.

Japan has one of the highest life expectancy rates in the world, at 81.25 years of age as of 2006.<ref> The World Factbook: Rank order—Life expectancy at birth

. CIA 

. Retrieved on 2006-12-28. </ref> However, the Japanese population is rapidly aging, the effect of a post-war baby boom followed by a decrease in births in the latter part of the twentieth century. In 2004, about 19.5% of the population was over the age of 65.<ref name="handbook"> Statistical Handbook of Japan: Chapter 2—Population

. Japan Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications  


. Retrieved on 2006-12-28. </ref>

The changes in the demographic structure have created a number of social issues, particularly a potential decline in the workforce population and increases in the cost of social security benefits such as the public pension plan. It is also noted that many Japanese youth are increasingly preferring not to marry or have families as adults.<ref name="Ogawa"/> Japan's population is expected to drop to 100 million by 2050 and to 64 million by 2100.<ref name="handbook"/> Demographers and government planners are currently in a heated debate over how to cope with this problem.<ref name="Ogawa">Ogawa, Naohiro."Demographic Trends and Their Implications for Japan's Future" The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Transcript of speech delivered on (7 March, 1997). Retrieved on 14 May 2006.</ref> Immigration and birth incentives are sometimes suggested as a solution to provide younger workers to support the nation's aging population.<ref> Hidenori Sakanaka

.    Japan Immigration Policy Institute: Director's message 
. Japan Immigration Policy Institute 

. Retrieved on 2007-01-05. </ref> Immigration, however, is not popular.<ref>French, Howard."Insular Japan Needs, but Resists, Immigration". "The New York Times" (2003-07-24). Retrieved on 2007-02-21.</ref>

Around 84% to 96% of Japanese people profess to believe both Shinto (the indigenous religion of Japan) and Mahayana Buddhism.<ref name="ciawfbjapan"/><ref> Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

.    International Religious Freedom Report 2006 
. U.S. Department of State 

. Retrieved on 2007-12-04. </ref> Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism from China have significantly influenced Japanese beliefs and mythology. Religion in Japan tends to be syncretic in nature, and this results in a variety of practices, such as parents and children celebrating Shinto rituals, students praying before exams, couples holding a wedding at a Christian church and funerals being held at Buddhist temples. A minority (0.7%) profess to Christianity.<ref name="ciapeople"/> In addition, since the mid-19th century, numerous religious sects (Shinshūkyō) have emerged in Japan.

About 99% of the population speaks Japanese as their first language.<ref name="ciapeople" /> It is an agglutinative language distinguished by a system of honorifics reflecting the hierarchical nature of Japanese society, with verb forms and particular vocabulary which indicate the relative status of speaker and listener. Japanese has borrowed or derived large amounts of vocabulary from Chinese and, since the end of World War II, English. The writing system uses kanji (Chinese characters) and two sets of kana (syllabaries based on simplified Chinese characters), as well as the Roman alphabet and Arabic numerals. The Ryūkyūan languages, also part of the Japonic language family to which Japanese belongs, are spoken in Okinawa, but few children learn these languages.<ref>言語学大辞典セレクション:日本列島の言語 (Selection from the Encyclopædia of Linguistics: The Languages of the Japanese Archipelago). "琉球列島の言語" (The Languages of the Ryukyu Islands). 三省堂 1997</ref> The Ainu language is moribund, with only a few elderly native speakers remaining in Hokkaidō.<ref> 15 families keep ancient language alive in Japan

. UN  


. Retrieved on 2007-03-27. </ref> Most public and private schools require students to take courses in both Japanese and English.<ref> Lucien Ellington

.    Japan Digest: Japanese Education 
. Indiana University 

. Retrieved on 2006-04-27. </ref>

Education and health

Image:Japanese classroom.jpg
A typical classroom.

Primary, secondary schools and universities were introduced into Japan in 1872 as a result of the Meiji Restoration.<ref> Lucien Ellington

.    Beyond the Rhetoric: Essential Questions About Japanese Education 
. Foreign Policy Research Institute 

. Retrieved on 2007-04-01. </ref> Since 1947, compulsory education in Japan consists of elementary school and middle school, which lasts 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, about 75.9% of high school graduates attend a university, junior college, trade school, or other post-secondary institution in 2005.<ref> School Education

. MEXT  


. Retrieved on 2007-03-10. </ref> Japan's education is very competitive,<ref> Kate Rossmanith

.    Rethinking Japanese education 
. The University of Sydney 

. Retrieved on 2007-04-01. </ref> especially for entrance to institutions of higher education. The two top-ranking universities in Japan are the University of Tokyo and Kyoto University.<ref> The Times Higher Education Supplement World University Rankings

. TSL Education Ltd. 

. Retrieved on 2007-03-27. </ref> The Programme for International Student Assessment coordinated by the OECD, currently ranks Japanese knowledge and skills of 15-year-olds as the 6th best in the world.<ref>OECD’s PISA survey shows some countries making significant gains in learning outcomes, OECD, 04/12/2007. Range of rank on the PISA 2006 science scale</ref>

In Japan, healthcare services are provided by national and local governments. Payment for personal medical services is offered through a universal health care 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.<ref> Victor Rodwin

.    Health Care in Japan 
. New York University 

. Retrieved on 2007-03-10. </ref> Patients are free to select physicians or facilities of their choice.<ref> Health Insurance: General Characteristics

. National Institute of Population and Social Security Research  


. Retrieved on 2007-03-28. </ref> Modèle:Clear

Culture and recreation

Main article: Culture of Japan

Japanese culture has evolved greatly over the years, from the country's original Jōmon culture to its contemporary culture, which combines influences from Asia, Europe and North America. Traditional Japanese arts include crafts (ikebana, origami, ukiyo-e, dolls, lacquerware, pottery), performances (bunraku, dance, kabuki, noh, rakugo), traditions (games, tea ceremony, budō, architecture, gardens, swords) and cuisine. The fusion of traditional woodblock printing and Western art led to the creation of manga, a typically Japanese comic book format that is now popular within and outside Japan.<ref> A History of Manga

. NMP International  


. Retrieved on 2007-03-27. </ref> Manga-influenced animation for television and film is called anime. Japanese-made video game consoles have prospered since the 1980s.<ref> Leonard Herman, Jer Horwitz, Steve Kent, and Skyler Miller

.    The History of Video Games 
. Gamespot 

. Retrieved on 2007-04-01. </ref>

Japanese music is eclectic, having borrowed instruments, scales and styles from neighboring cultures. Many instruments, such as the koto, were introduced in the ninth and tenth centuries. The accompanied recitative of the Noh drama dates from the fourteenth century and the popular folk music, with the guitar-like shamisen, from the sixteenth.<ref>Japanese Culture, The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia, 1983 edition, © Columbia University Press ISBN 0-380-63396-5</ref> Western music, introduced in the late nineteenth century, now forms an integral part of the culture. Post-war Japan has been heavily influenced by American and European modern music, which has led to the evolution of popular band music called J-Pop.<ref> J-Pop History

. The Observer  


. Retrieved on 2007-04-01. </ref> Karaoke is the most widely practiced cultural activity. A November 1993 survey by the Cultural Affairs Agency found that more Japanese had sung karaoke that year than had participated in traditional cultural pursuits such as flower arranging or tea ceremony.<ref>Kelly, Bill. (199Image:Cool.gif. "Japan's Empty Orchestras: Echoes of Japanese culture in the performance of karaoke", The Worlds of Japanese Popular Culture: Gender, Shifting Boundaries and Global Cultures, p. 76. Cambridge University Press.</ref>

The earliest works of Japanese literature include two history books the Kojiki and the Nihon Shoki and the eighth century poetry book Man'yōshū, all written in Chinese characters.<ref> Asian Studies Conference, Japan (2000)

. Meiji Gakuin University  


. Retrieved on 2007-04-01. </ref> 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.<ref name="ispmsu"> Windows on Asia—Literature : Antiquity to Middle Ages: Recent Past

. Michigan State University, Office of International Studies and Programs  


. Retrieved on 2006-12-28. </ref> An account of Heian court life is given by The Pillow Book written by Sei Shōnagon, while The Tale of Genji by Lady Murasaki is often described as the world's first novel. During the Edo Period, literature became not so much the field of the samurai aristocracy as that of the chōnin, the ordinary people. Yomihon, for example, became popular and reveals this profound change in the readership and authorship.<ref name="ispmsu"/> The Meiji era saw the decline of traditional literary forms, during which Japanese literature integrated Western influences. Natsume Sōseki and Mori Ogai were the first "modern" novelists of Japan, followed by Akutagawa Ryūnosuke, Tanizaki Jun'ichirō, Kawabata Yasunari, Mishima Yukio and, more recently, Murakami Haruki. Japan has two Nobel Prize-winning authors—Kawabata Yasunari (196Image:Cool.gif and Oe Kenzaburo (1994).<ref name="ispmsu"/>


Main article: Sport in Japan
Sumo, a traditional Japanese sport.

Traditionally, sumo is considered Japan's national sport and it is one of the most popular spectator sports in Japan.<ref> Sumo: East and West

. PBS  


. Retrieved on 2007-03-10. </ref> Martial arts such as judo, karate and kendō 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.<ref> Culture and Daily Life

. Embassy of Japan in the UK  


. Retrieved on 2007-03-27. </ref>

The professional baseball league in Japan was established in 1936.<ref>Modèle:Cite book</ref> Today baseball is the most popular spectator sport in the country. One of the most famous Japanese baseball players is Ichiro Suzuki, who, having won Japan's Most Valuable Player award in 1994, 1995 and 1996, now plays in North American major league baseball.

Since the establishment of the Japan Professional Football League in 1992, association football (soccer) has also gained a wide following.<ref> Soccer as a Popular Sport: Putting Down Roots in Japan

. The Japan Forum  


. Retrieved on 2007-04-01. </ref> Japan was a venue of the Intercontinental Cup from 1981 to 2004 and co-hosted the 2002 FIFA World Cup with South Korea. Japan is one of the most successful soccer teams in Asia, winning the Asian Cup three times.

Golf is also popular in Japan,<ref> Fred Varcoe

.    Japanese Golf Gets Friendly 
. Metropolis 

. Retrieved on 2007-04-01. </ref> as is auto racing, the Super GT sports car series and Formula Nippon formula racing.<ref> Len Clarke

.    Japanese Omnibus: Sports 
. Metropolis 

. Retrieved on 2007-04-01. </ref>


<references />

Further reading

External links



Modèle:Japan topics

Modèle:Template group Modèle:Template groupModèle:Link FA Modèle:Link FA Modèle:Link FA Modèle:Link FA Modèle:Link FA

af:Japan als:Japan ang:Iapan ar:اليابان an:Chapón arc:ܝܦܢ frp:J·apon ast:Xapón az:Yaponiya bn:জাপান zh-min-nan:Ji̍t-pún be:Японія be-x-old:Японія bar:Japan bo:ཇི་བེན bs:Japan br:Japan bg:Япония bxr:Жибэн ca:Japó cv:Япони ceb:Hapon cs:Japonsko cy:Japan da:Japan de:Japan dv:ޖަޕާނު dz:ཇ་པཱན་ mh:Japan et:Jaapan el:Ιαπωνία es:Japón eo:Japanio eu:Japonia fa:ژاپن fr:Japon fy:Japan ga:An tSeapáin gd:Iapan gl:Xapón - 日本 gu:જાપાન zh-classical:日本 hak:Ngit-pún xal:Японь ko:일본 hy:Ճապոնիա hi:जापान hsb:Japanska hr:Japan io:Japonia ilo:Japon bpy:জাপান id:Jepang ia:Japon iu:ᓃᑉᐊᓐ/niipan zu:IJapani is:Japan it:Giappone he:יפן pam:Hapon kn:ಜಪಾನ್ ka:იაპონია ks:जापान csb:Japòńskô kk:Жапония kw:Nihon sw:Japani ht:Japon ku:Japon lbe:Japan lo:ປະເທດຍີ່ປຸ່ນ la:Iaponia lv:Japāna lb:Japan lij:Giappon lt:Japonija li:Japan ln:Zapɔ́ jbo:pongu'e hu:Japán mk:Јапонија mg:Japana ml:ജപ്പാന്‍ mi:Nipono mr:जपान ms:Jepun cdo:Nĭk-buōng mn:Япон nah:Xapōn na:Djapan nl:Japan nds-nl:Japan new:जापान ja:日本 nap:Giappone no:Japan nn:Japan nrm:Japon nov:Japan oc:Japon or:ଜାପାନ uz:Yaponiya ps:جاپان km:ប្រទេសជប៉ុន pms:Giapon nds:Japan pl:Japonia pt:Japão ty:Tāpōnē ro:Japonia qu:Nihun ru:Япония se:Japána sm:Iapani sco:Japan sq:Japonia scn:Giappuni si:ජපානය simple:Japan ss:Japan sk:Japonsko sl:Japonska cu:пѡнї so:Jabaan sr:Јапан sh:Japan su:Jepang fi:Japani sv:Japan tl:Hapon (bansa) ta:ஜப்பான் te:జపాన్ th:ประเทศญี่ปุ่น vi:Nhật Bản ti:ጃፓን tg:Ҷопон tpi:Siapan chr:ᏣᏆᏂ tr:Japonya tk:Ýaponiýa udm:Япония uk:Японія ur:جاپان vec:Giapòn vo:Yapän war:Hapon wo:Sapoŋ wuu:日本 yi:יאפאן zh-yue:日本 cbk-zam:Japón diq:Japonya bat-smg:Japuonėjė zh:日本