Photoatlas Free interactive atlas with photos, facts, links and maps from around the world

  Flag of Japan  Information on Japan
Country Listing
Submit your own photo
Chat around the globe
Country Facts
Map of Japan


Location: 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: Asia

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)

Area—comparative: slightly smaller than California

Land boundaries: 0 km

Coastline: 29,751 km

Maritime claims:
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm; 3 nm in the international straits—La Perouse or Soya, Tsugaru, Osumi, and Eastern and Western Channels of the Korea or Tsushima Strait

Climate: varies from tropical in south to cool temperate in north

Terrain: 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: 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

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's appetite for fish and tropical timber is contributing to the depletion of these resources in Asia and elsewhere

Environment—international agreements:
party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, 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
signed, but not ratified: Desertification

Geography—note: strategic location in northeast Asia


[Top of Page]

Population: 125,931,533 (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 15% (male 9,802,921; female 9,342,254)
15-64 years: 69% (male 43,486,840; female 43,135,979)
65 years and over: 16% (male 8,388,242; female 11,775,297) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 0.2% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 10.26 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 7.94 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Net migration rate: -0.36 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1998 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: 0.71 male(s)/female (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 4.1 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 80 years
male: 76.91 years
female: 83.25 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 1.46 children born/woman (1998 est.)

noun: Japanese (singular and plural)
adjective: Japanese

Ethnic groups: Japanese 99.4%, other 0.6% (mostly Korean)

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

Languages: Japanese

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99% (1970 est.)
male: NA%
female: NA%


[Top of Page]

Country name:
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Japan

Data code: JA

Government type: constitutional monarchy

National capital: Tokyo

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

Independence: 660 BC (traditional founding by Emperor Jimmu)

National holiday: Birthday of the Emperor, 23 December (1933)

Constitution: 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

Suffrage: 20 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: Emperor AKIHITO (since 7 January 1989)
head of government: Prime Minister Ryutaro HASHIMOTO (since 11 January 1996); note—an acting prime minister—determined upon a rotational basis—serves when Prime Minister HASHIMOTO is out of the country
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the prime minister
elections: none; the emperor is a constitutional monarch; 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

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 with voters casting ballots by party; members elected by popular vote to serve six-year terms) and the House of Representatives or Shugi-in (500 seats—200 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 23 July 1995 (next to be held NA July 1998); House of Representatives—last held 20 October 1996 (next to be held by October 2000)
election results: House of Councillors—percent of vote by party—NA; seats by party - LDP 110, NFP 56, SDP 38, JCP 14, Sakigake 3, others 19, independents 12; note—the distribution of seats as of April 1998 is as follows—LDP 118, DPJ 41, Komei 24, SDP 21, JCP 14, Liberal Party 12, Sakigake 3, Reform Club 3, others 14, vacancies 2; House of Representatives—percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party—LDP 240, NFP 142, DPJ 52, JCP 26, SDP 15, Sun Party 10, others 15; note—the distribution of seats as of April 1998 is as follows - LDP 261, DPJ 93, Liberal Party 40, New Peace Party 37, JCP 26, SDP 15, Reform Club 9, Sakigake 2, others 17

Judicial branch: Supreme Court, chief justice is appointed by the emperor after designation by the cabinet, all other justices are appointed by the cabinet

Political parties and leaders: Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Ryutaro HASHIMOTO, president, Koichi KATO, secretary general; Social Democratic Party (SDP), Takako DOI, chairperson, Tadatoshi AKIBA, secretary general; Sakigake (Harbinger), Akiko DOMOTO, chairperson, Hiroyuki SONODA, secretary general; Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), Naoto KAN, leader, Tsutomu HATA, secretary general; Japan Communist Party (JCP), Tetsuzo FUWA, chairman, Kazuo SHII, secretary general; Komei, Toshiko HAMAYOTSU, chief; Liberal Party, Ichiro OZAWA, president, Takeshi NODA, secretary general; New Peace Party, Takenori KANZAKI, leader, Tetsuzo FUYUBASHI, secretary general; Reform Club, Tatsuo OZAWA, leader, Katsuyuki ISHIDA, secretary general
note: subsequent to the last legislative elections, the New Frontier Party (NFP) disbanded; the Sun Party was formed by former NFP members, but later disbanded; the DPJ was formed by former members of the SDP and Sakigake and, in April 1998, was joined by three additional parties which had formed after the NFP disbanded; Reform Club, New Peace Party, and Liberal Party were formed in January 1998 after the NFP disbanded

International organization participation: AfDB, AG (observer), APEC, AsDB, Australia Group, BIS, CCC, CE (observer), CP, EBRD, ESCAP, FAO, G- 2, G- 5, G- 7, G- 8, 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, MTCR, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OSCE (partner), PCA, UN, UN Security Council (temporary), 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 Kunihiko SAITO
chancery: 2520 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 939-6700
FAX: [1] (202) 328-2187
consulate(s) general: Agana (Guam), Anchorage, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, 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 Thomas S. FOLEY
embassy: 10-5, Akasaka 1-chome, Minato-ku (107), Tokyo
mailing address: Unit 45004, Box 258, APO AP 96337-0001
telephone: [81] (3) 3224-5000
FAX: [81] (3) 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


[Top of Page]

Economy—overview: Government-industry cooperation, a strong work ethic, mastery of high technology, and a comparatively small defense allocation (roughly 1% of GDP) have helped Japan advance with extraordinary rapidity to the rank of second most powerful economy in the world. 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; this guarantee is 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 1992-95 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. Growth picked up to 3.9% in 1996, largely a reflection of stimulative fiscal and monetary policies as well as low rates of inflation. But in 1997 growth fell back to 1%. As a result of the expansionary fiscal policies and declining tax revenues due to the recession, Japan has one of the largest budget deficits as a percent of GDP among the industrialized countries. The crowding of habitable land area and the aging of the population are two other major long-run problems.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$3.08 trillion (1997 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 0.9% (1997 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$24,500 (1997 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 2%
industry: 41.5%
services: 56.5% (1995)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 1.7% (1997)

Labor force:
total: 67.23 million (March 1997)
by occupation: trade and services 50%, manufacturing, mining, and construction 33%, utilities and communication 7%, agriculture, forestry, and fishing 6%, government 3% (1994)

Unemployment rate: 3.4% (1997)

revenues: $497 billion
expenditures: $621 billion, including capital expenditures (public works only) of about $72 billion (FY98/99 est.)

Industries: among world's largest and technologically advanced producers of steel and nonferrous metallurgy, heavy electrical equipment, construction and mining equipment, motor vehicles and parts, electronic and telecommunication equipment, machine tools, automated production systems, locomotives and railroad rolling stock, ships, chemicals; textiles, processed foods

Industrial production growth rate: 4.3% (1997)

Electricity—capacity: 199.878 million kW (1995)

Electricity—production: 930.55 billion kWh (1995)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 7,414 kWh (1995)

Agriculture—products: rice, sugar beets, vegetables, fruit; pork, poultry, dairy products, eggs; world's largest fish catch of 10 million metric tons in 1991

total value: $421 billion (f.o.b., 1997)
commodities: manufactures 96% (including machinery 50%, motor vehicles 19%, consumer electronics 3%)
partners: US 27%, Southeast Asia 17%, EU 15%, China 5%

total value: $339 billion (c.i.f., 1997)
commodities: manufactures 54%, foodstuffs and raw materials 28%, fossil fuels 16%
partners: US 22%, Southeast Asia 15%, EU 14%, China 12%

Debt—external: $NA

Economic aid:
donor: ODA, $8.3 billion (1998 est.)
note: ODA and OOF commitments (1970-94), $174 billion

Currency: yen (¥)

Exchange rates: yen (¥) per US$1—129.45 (January 1998), 120.99 (1997), 108.78 (1996), 94.06 (1995), 102.21 (1994), 111.20 (1993)

Fiscal year: 1 April—31 March


[Top of Page]

Telephones: 64 million (1987 est.)

Telephone system: excellent domestic and international service
domestic: NA
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)

Radio broadcast stations: AM 318, FM 58, shortwave 0

Radios: 97 million (1993 est.)

Television broadcast stations: 12,350 (1 kW or greater 196)

Televisions: 100 million (1993 est.)


[Top of Page]

total: 23,670.7 km
standard gauge: 2,893.1 km 1.435-m gauge (entirely electrified)
narrow gauge: 89.8 km 1.372-m gauge (89.8 km electrified); 20,656.8 km 1.067-m gauge (10,383.6 km electrified); 31 km 0.762-m gauge (3.6 km electrified) (1994)

total: 1.16 million km
paved: 859,560 km (including 6,070 km of expressways)
unpaved: 300,440 km (1996 est.)

Waterways: about 1,770 km; seagoing craft ply all coastal inland seas

Pipelines: 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: 738 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 14,323,766 GRT/20,709,738 DWT
ships by type: bulk 169, cargo 55, chemical tanker 6, combination bulk 11, combination ore/oil 6, container 32, liquefied gas tanker 39, oil tanker 244, passenger 7, passenger-cargo 2, refrigerated cargo 34, roll-on/roll-off cargo 46, short-sea passenger 16, specialized tanker 1, vehicle carrier 70
note: Japan owns an additional 1,534 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 54,985,374 DWT operating under the registries of The Bahamas, Burma, Cayman Islands, Cyprus, Hong Kong, Honduras, Liberia, Marshall Islands, Norway, Panama, Philippines, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Singapore, and Vanuatu (1997 est.)

Airports: 167 (1997 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:
total: 137
over 3,047 m: 7
2,438 to 3,047 m: 32
1,524 to 2,437 m: 38
914 to 1,523 m: 29
under 914 m: 31 (1997 est.)

Airports—with unpaved runways:
total: 30
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 28 (1997 est.)

Heliports: 14 (1997 est.)




Click Here To Order National Geographic: The Photographs