+81 is the dialing code for Japan.
In Japan, ancient cultural expressions coincide with the very latest modern, traditional craftsmanship with world-class high-tech production. The ancient emperor country of Japan, which for centuries avoided contact with the outside world, emerged during the 20th century as a modern industrial nation. Its political power ambitions, with a conquest of war across much of East Asia, reached an abrupt end with the atomic bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, which set the stage for the Second World War. Then the country was forced into a pacifist constitution. Since the end of the war, Japan has devoted itself to building one of the world’s strongest economies. In recent years, however, the country has struggled with sluggish economic growth and growing tensions in East Asia.
- Abbreviationfinder: Brief profiles of Japan, including geography, history, politics, economics as well as common acronyms about this country.
Geography and climate
Japan is on the surface slightly larger than Norway. The country consists of the large islands of Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu as well as thousands of smaller islands that form an over 300 km long, narrow arch from north to south. The northern end is at the same latitude as Northern Italy, while the southern Ryukyu Islands (with Okinawa) extend down to Taiwan. The four main islands make up about 99 percent of the land area. The biggest is Honshu, which is almost as big as Norrland. The shortest connection to mainland Asia goes over the 19 km wide Korea Strait.
The islands are dominated by heavily forested forests and mountains. Nearly two-thirds of the land area is covered by forest, and less than one-fifth is habitable and cultivable. The geologically young area has plenty of hot springs and some eighty active volcanoes, more than any other country. The highest mountain Fuji is a sleeping volcano. During the islands several crustal plates collapse, causing recurrent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Every year, a few thousand light earthquakes are recorded, while more severe earthquakes occur on average every five years.
|Cultivated land||12.5 %|
|Land area||377915 km 2|
Population and health
|Population development||-0.16 ‰|
|Urban population (Urbanization)||93.5 %|
|Death rate||9.15 per 1000 residents|
|Life expectancy: Women||88.26 years|
|Life expectancy: Men||81.4 years|
|Birth rate||7.93 births per 1000 residents|
|Infant mortality||2.08 deaths / 1000 births|
Population Graph Source: Countryaah.com
|Electricity, production||966400 million kWh|
|Energy consumption per inhabitant||3559.7 kg. oil per resident|
|Natural gas, production||4728 million cubic meters|
|Crude oil, production||million tons|
|Internet users||86.0 per 100 residents|
|Mobile subscriptions||120 per 100 residents|
|Passenger cars||591 per 1000 residents|
Business and economics
|Unemployment||3.3% of the workforce|
|GDP||38100 per resident|
|Primary occupations||3.9 %|
|Secondary profession||26.2 %|
|Tertiary professions||69.8 %|
The giant quake that hit the city of Kobe in 1995 was measured at 7.2 on the Richter scale and required over 6,400 casualties. Several strong earthquakes shook the region around the west coast city of Niigata in 2004. The strongest earthquake in modern history struck northeastern Japan in March 2011 (see triple disaster).
Japan has a temperate monsoon climate with four distinctly distinct seasons. The summers are usually warm and humid while the winters are relatively mild, but the differences between different country ends are large. In the north, winter can be severe and windy. In the summer, the southernmost tropical climate prevails. In the winter, when cold northwesterly monsoon winds blow from the mainland, the clouds are hoping along the islands’ west sides and a lot of snow falls. On the east sides the climate is clearer, drier and sunny.
In the summer, warm, humid winds blow in all over the country from the southeast. Japan has two rainy seasons, one in early summer and one in the fall. Almost everywhere, the annual rainfall exceeds 1,000 mm / year. In the late summer and autumn, typhoons often sweep over mainly southern and central Japan, causing major damage.
FACTS – GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE
377,835 km2 (2018)
Swedish + 8 hours
Capital with number of residents
Tokyo 8,900,000 (Sources: Allcitypopulation.com)
Other major cities
Yokohama 3.7 million, Osaka 2.7 million, Nagoya 2.3 million, Sapporo 1.9 million, Kobe 1.5 million, Kyoto 1.5 million, Fukuoka 1.5 million (Census 2010)
Volcano Fuji / Fujisan (3776 m asl)
Average Precipitation / month
Tokyo 220 mm (Oct), 48 mm (Jan)
Average / day
Tokyo 27 °C (Aug), 4 °C (Jan) 1
- Hokkaido 18 °C (Aug), -10 °C (Jan)Sources
Historical agreement with South Korea is being torn down
South Korea’s President Moon Jae-In orders a review of the historic settlement of compensation for women who were used as sex slaves during the Japanese occupation of Korea 1910-1945 (see December 2015). A South Korean report has stated that the settlement does not take into account victims’ views. Moon now wants to see “follow-up measures” but does not specify what that means. It is thus unclear whether South Korea wants to renegotiate the agreement or scrap it altogether.
Defense appropriations are increasing again
Japan increases its defense budget for 2018 to a record level of $ 46 billion, with the justification that it is needed to strengthen its defense against the military threat from North Korea. It is the sixth consecutive year that the Japanese defense budget is growing. The total state budget for 2018 is $ 860 billion.
Japan faces new sanctions on North Korea
The Japanese government is exerting additional pressure on North Korea to stop the development of nuclear weapons. Assets in the country belonging to some 20 people and companies with ties to North Korea are frozen. These are transport companies, banks and companies that trade in coal and minerals.
Hotline between China and Japan
At a meeting in Shanghai in early December, the governments of China and Japan will agree to launch a direct communication channel between Japan’s self-defense forces and China’s military PLA. The purpose is to avoid events that may trigger a military conflict in the East China Sea. Ten years ago, countries discussed the possibility of establishing such a channel, but the issue was put on ice at the beginning of the 2010s after the conflict over the Senkaku / Diaoyu archipelago worsened.
MPs visit Yasukuni
About a dozen parliamentarians visit the controversial temple, which honors the memory of the millions of Japanese who died in war. Among these are also militants who were convicted of war crimes after World War II. The temple visits over the years have led to protests from China and South Korea, which they believe glorify Japan’s military past and forget the violations committed by Japan.
The emperor will abdicate in April 2019
Prime Minister Abe announces that Emperor Akihito will abdicate on April 30, 2019. Crown Prince Naruhito is expected to take over the so-called Chrysanthemum throne the following day.
Thawing between Japan and China
A meeting between Japan’s Prime Minister Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping in connection with the APEC summit in Vietnam will improve relations between the countries. Both leaders must have exchanged visits to the countries and decided to cooperate on the North Korea conflict.
Koike resigns as leader of Hope’s party
The failure of the newly formed party in the elections lies behind Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike’s decision to release the party leadership. One of the reasons why Hope’s party did not receive the voting support that its supporters, and many judges, had believed, was Koike’s decision not to stand as a candidate for the party in the election. This led to uncertainty among the voters about who could lead a government.
Grand victory for Abe
Government parties LDP and New Komeito win the election to the lower house with over 313 of the 465 seats, according to preliminary results. This means that Abe is now able to fulfill his goal of changing the constitution so that the Japanese self-defense forces are formally recognized.
DP politicians form new party
Following the decision that the Democratic Party should not stand in the election with its own candidates, a liberal breakaway party led by DP politician Yukio Edano forms a new party, the Constitutional Democratic Party (CDP). The party’s supporters are, among other things, opposed to the country’s self-defense forces taking on a stronger role, unlike the Tokyo Governor Koike Hope’s party. After the formation of the Hope Party and the CDP, the Democratic Party is in effect dissolved.
DP stands behind the new Hope party
The largest opposition party DPJ decides not to stand with any candidates in the upcoming elections. Party members should instead apply to represent Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike’s newly formed Hope Party. According to DPJ leader Seiji Maehara, the decision is an attempt to prevent the LDP government under Abe from being re-elected.
Abe announces choices
Prime Minister Abe dissolves the lower house and announces that elections will be held on October 22. For Abe, this is considered a good opportunity for an election given that his opinion figures have gone up in the wake of the North Korean crisis during the summer, while the opposition party DPJ has continued problems in attracting voters. But shortly after the details of the election, popular Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike announces that she will challenge Abe at the head of the newly formed Hope Party.
Missile defense is activated at Hokkaido
Missile defense PAC-3 is set up on the southern part of the island of Hokkaido. According to local data, it has already been prepared for the northern part of Hokkaido. North Korea has threatened to “lower” Japan.
Abe wants to strengthen the defense
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to improve opportunities to defend himself against the threat posed by North Korea. Speaking to some of the country’s top military, he says the government will “take all necessary steps” to deal with North Korean missiles over Japan. Abe has asked Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera to draw up guidelines for a defense strategy for the next few years. There are also plans to acquire a land-based version of the US missile defense system Aegis, which is found on Japanese warships in the Japanese sea.
New missile over Japan
North Korea is testing another mid-range robot landing in the Pacific after crossing Japan. The Japanese government condemns North Korea, saying it can never tolerate dictatorship’s “dangerous provocation that threatens world peace”.
The Democratic Party appoints new party leader
Seiji Maehara, who was a party leader for a short period of ten years ago and who has also been Foreign Minister, replaces Renho in the post. The former model and TV profile Renho took office as the party’s first female leader in September 2016 but resigned in July.
North Korea fires missiles over Japan
North Korea tests a missile, which travels over the island of Hokkaido in Japan before crashing into the sea. It is the first North Korean missile test over Japan since 2009. Reactions are going strong in Japan, where a nationwide crisis alarm is issued. The missile test is seen as a reaction to the US and Japan having just held a joint military exercise in Hokkaido.
Statistics show that the economy grew by 1 percent during the period April to June. It is the sixth consecutive quarter that GDP increases and the longest coherent period of growth of over ten years.
Missile defense systems are in readiness
12th of August
After North Korea threatened to strike the US territory of Guam, the government begins to set up the Patriot missile defense system in areas of western Japan. North Korea has said the missiles may be traveling above these areas.
Abe conducts government reform
Shinzo Abe makes several changes in his government. It is seen as a way for Abe to try to regain confidence among voters following a number of scandals and accusations that he has in various ways used his power to favor his friends. Itsunori Onodera is appointed new Minister of Defense after Tomomi Inada. Tomomi Inada left her post in July after accusations that she had withheld information to Parliament about the risks of Japanese soldiers participating in the UN operation. Nuclear power opponent Taro Kono becomes new foreign minister after Fumio Kishida, who is considered a possible successor to Abe as prime minister. Only two ministers in the new government are women.
New Minister of Defense
Tomomi Inada resigns as Minister of Defense and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida takes over as Acting Secretary of Defense.
Defeat for Abe in Tokyo
In the election to the Legislative Assembly in Tokyo, a new party, Tomin First, won by the popular mayor of the capital, Yuriko Koike, wins. The new party gets a clear majority in the new assembly, Abe’s own party LDP strongly backs to only about 20 seats and the opposition party DP gets only five seats. The election results show a dissatisfaction with Abe and LDP, but also with Yuriko Koike’s great popularity. Koike previously belonged to the LDP, including as Minister of Defense, but left the party in 2016 when she did not receive her support to run for office in the mayoral elections in Tokyo.
A new terrorist act is adopted
The upper house votes yes to a controversial law that will stop terrorism. The law has been criticized by human rights activists and academics, among others, for threatening the privacy of citizens by giving the police great powers to intercept mobile calls and data monitoring. However, the government has argued that the law is necessary for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The law makes it possible to punish up to five years in prison for planning serious crimes.
The government adopts abdication proposals
The government approves the bill that will allow Emperor Akihito to abdicate. The proposal will now be presented to Parliament.
Controversial temple visit
Nearly one hundred MPs, as well as Interior Minister Sanae Takaichi, visit the Yasukuni Temple, which honors the memory of Japanese who died in war. China and South Korea object to the temple visit, which is said to be reminiscent of Japanese war crimes.
The United States provides a security guarantee
US Vice President Mike Pence explains during a visit to Tokyo that the United States does not shy away from guaranteeing Japan’s security. The tense situation in the region and North Korea’s repeated missile tests in the spring, where three ended up in Japanese ocean areas, have led to growing concern in Japan.
LDP extends party leader time limit
The party leader will henceforth be allowed to sit for three consecutive three-year periods, instead of two. This means that Abe can be re-elected in September 2018 for a third term.
Ambassador to South Korea sent home
It happens after South Korean activists erected a statue outside the Japanese consulate in the city of Busan. The statue represents a young woman sitting in a chair. It is reminiscent of the women who were forced to work as sex slaves for Japanese soldiers during the Second World War. Japan believes that the statue, which also stands outside the Japanese embassy in Seoul for a few years, is contrary to the agreement reached by the countries a year ago where Japan apologized and donated a billion yen to a fund for the South Korean women affected. In accordance with this agreement, the issue would be decided, in Japan’s view. However, activists are critical of the agreement because no victims have been consulted and the victims also receive no direct compensation.