General information: Having preserved its age-old culture, Japan quickly adopted Western technologies in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. After a crushing defeat in World War II, Japan was rebuilt as the world’s second largest economic power and a staunch ally of the United States. While the emperor retains his throne as a symbol of the unity of the nation, the real power is held by factions of politicians, bureaucrats and entrepreneurs. Economy in the 1990s experienced a significant slowdown following three decades of unprecedented growth.
Location: East Asia, a chain of islands between the North Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Japan, east of the Korean Peninsula.
Geographic coordinates: 36° 00′ N. latitude, 138° 00′ E
Reference map: Asia.
Area: total: 377,835 km2; land surface area: 374,744 km2; area of water resources: 3,091 km2; note: includes Bonin (Ogasawa-ra), Daito, Minamitori, Okinotori, Ryukyu (Nan-sei), Volkano (Kazan) islands.
Comparative area: slightly smaller than the state of California.
Land borders: 0 km.
Coastline: 29,751 km.
Maritime claims: exclusive economic zone: 200 nautical miles; territorial waters: 12 nautical miles; from 3 to 12 nautical miles in the international straits of La Perouse, Tsugaru, Osumi, Western and Eastern passages of the Korea (Tsushima) Strait.
Climate: varies from tropical in the south to moderately cool in the north.
Relief: mostly rugged and mountainous.
Maximum and minimum heights: lowest point: Hashiri-gata -4 m; highest point: Fujiyama volcano 3,776 m.
Natural resources: minor mineral resources, fish.
Land use: arable land: 11%; cultivated land: 1%; l. pastures: 2%; forests and plantations: 67%; others: 19% (1993 est.).
Irrigated lands: 27,820 sq. km. (1993 est.).
Natural hazards: many dormant and few active volcanoes; about 1,500 seismic events (mostly tremors) per year; tsunami. Current environmental issues: air pollution from power plant emissions, which is the cause of acid rain; acid poisoning of lakes and reservoirs, deteriorating water quality and threatening aquatic life forms; Japan is one of the largest consumers of fish and rainforest, contributing to the depletion of these resources in Asia and elsewhere.
Current environmental issues:
International agreements on environmental protection: party to: Antarctica – Environmental Protection Protocol, Antarctic seals, Conservation of marine life in Antarctica, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate change, Desertification, Endangered species, Environmental change, Hazardous waste, Law of the sea, Marine pollution, Nuclear test ban, Ozone layer protection, Ship pollution, Tropical timber 1983, Tropical timber 1994, Wetlands, Whaling; signed but not ratified: Kyoto Protocol.
Note to the section “Geography”: strategic position in Northeast Asia.
Population: 126,771,662 (July 2001 est.).
Age structure: under 14: 14.64% (male 9,510,296; female 9,043,074); 15 to 64 years: 67.83% (male 43,202,513; female 42,790,187); over 65: 17.53% (male 9,351,340; female 12,874,252) (2001 est.).
Population growth: 0.17% (2001 est.).
Birth rate: 10.04 newborns / 1,000 people. (2001 est.).
Mortality: 8.34 deaths / 1,000 people. (2001 est.).
Migration: 0 people/1,000 people (2001 est.).
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male/female; under 15: 1.05 male/female; 15 to 64 years old: 1.01 male/female; over 65: 0.73 male/female; for the general population: 0.96 male/female (2001 est.);
Child mortality: 3.88 deaths/1,000 live births (2001 est.).
Life expectancy: for the general population: 80.8 years; men: 77.62 years; women: 84.15 years (2001 est.).
General birth rate: 1.41 children/wives. (2001 est.).
Proportion of adults infected with HIV: 0.02% (1999 est.).
Number of people infected with HIV: 10,000 (1999 est.).
AIDS deaths: 150 (1999 est.).
Nationality: noun: Japanese; adjective: Japanese.
Ethnic groups: Japanese 99.4%, Korean 0.6% (1999).
Believers: professing Shinto and Buddhism 84%, other 16% (including Christians 0.7%).
Literacy: definition: persons aged 15 and over who can read and write; for the general population: 99% (1970 est.); men: no data; women: no data.
Common long form: no;
Common short form: Japan.
State structure: constitutional monarchy. See a2zgov.com to know more about Japan government and politics.
Administrative divisions: 47 prefectures: Aichi, Akita, Aomori, Wakayama, Gifu, Gunma, Ibaraki, Iwate, Ishikawa, Kagawa, Kagoshima, Ka-nagawa, Kyoto, Kochi, Kumamoto, Mie, Miyagi, Miyazaki, Nagano, Nagasaki, Nara, Niigata, Oita, Okayama, Okinawa, Osaka, Saga, Saitama, Shiga, Shizuoka, Shimane, Chiba, Tokyo, Tokushima, To-chigi, Tottori, Toyama, Fukui, Fukuoka, Fukushi-ma, Hyogo, Hiroshima, Hokkaido, Ehime, Yamaga-ta, Yamaguchi, Yamanashi.
Independence: from 660 BC e. (according to tradition).
National holiday: Emperor’s birthday, December 23 (1933).
Constitution: adopted May 3, 1947
Legal system: European civil law system with Anglo-American influence; Acts of Parliament can be considered in court; subject to the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice.
Suffrage: from the age of 20, universal.
chief of state: Emperor AKIHITO (AKIHI-TO) (since 7 January 1989);
head of government: Prime Minister Junichiro KOIZUMI (since 24 April 2001);
government: the cabinet is appointed by the prime minister; elections: no; hereditary monarchy; parliament appoints the prime minister; the constitution requires the prime minister to lead a parliamentary majority, so after elections to parliament, the leader of the majority party or the leader of the coalition with the majority of seats in the House of Representatives usually becomes the prime minister; note: Following the resignation of Prime Minister Yoshro MORI, Junichiro KOIZUMI was elected as the new Chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party and Prime Minister.
Legislature: bicameral parliament (Kokkai) consists of the House of Councilors (Sangi-in) (252 seats; half of the members are re-elected every three years, with 76 of them elected in 47 prefectures in multi-member constituencies, and 50 on a national list by voting for parties; members of the house are elected at 6 years) and the House of Representatives (Shugi-in) (480 seats, 180 members are elected in 11 regions under the proportional representation system, and 300 in 300 single-member constituencies; members of the house are elected by popular vote for 4 years); elections: House of Councilors – last held 12 July 1998 (next to be held July 2001); House of Representatives – last held 25 June 2000 (next to be held June 2004); election results: House of Councilors: distribution of votes between parties: NA; distribution of seats among parties: LDP 102, DPJ 47, JCP 23, Komeito 22, SDP 13, LP 12, independent 26, others 7; note – distribution of seats in February 2001: LDP 112, DPJ 58, Komeito 24, JCP 23, SDP 13, LP 5, independents 7, others 10; House of Representatives: distribution of votes between parties: no data; distribution of seats among parties: LDP 233, DPJ 127, Komeito 31, LP 22, JCP 20, SDP 19, others 28; note – distribution of seats in February 2001: LDP 239, DPJ 129, Komeito 31, LP 22, JCP 20, SDP 19, other 20.
Judiciary: The Supreme Court, the President of the Court is approved by the monarch after agreement with the members of the Cabinet, the remaining judges are appointed by the Cabinet of Ministers.
Political parties and leaders: Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) (Yukio HATOYAMA, leader, Naoto KAN, general secretary); Japanese Communist Party (JCP) Kazuo SHII, chairman, Tadaaki ICHIDA, general secretary); Komeito (KANZAKI Takenori, President, Tetsuzo FUYUSHIBA, General Secretary); Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) (Junichiro KOIZUMI, President, Taku YAMASAKI, General Secretary); Liberal Party (Ichiro OZAWA, President, Hirohisa FUJII, Secretary General); New Conservative Party (Chikage OGI, President, Takeshi NODA, Secretary General); Social Democratic party (SDP) (Takako DOI, Chairman, Sadao FUCHI-GAMI,
Political influence groups and their leaders:
Participation in international organizations: AGOV, ARES, ARF (dialogue partner), AsDB, ASEAN (dialogue partner), Australia Group, BIS, CCC, CE (observer), CERN (observer), CP, EBRD, ESCAP, FAO.G- 5,G- 7,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, NAM (guest), NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE (partner), PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNDOF, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNITAR, UNRWA, UNU, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO, ZC.
Diplomatic representation in the USA: Head of Mission: Ambassador Shunji YANAI; office: 2520 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008; phone:  (202) 238-6700; fax: [\] (202) 328-2187; consulates general: Anchorage, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Hagatna (Guam Island), Honolulu, Houston, Kansas City (Missouri), Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Portland (Oregon), San Francisco, Seattle; Consulate: Saipan (Northern Mariana Islands).
US Mission: Head of Mission: Ambassador Howard BAKER Jr. (Howard H. BAKER, Jr.); Embassy: 10-5, Akasaka 1-chome, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-8420; mailing address: Unit 45004, Box 205, APO AP 96337-5004; phone:  (3) 3224-5000; fax:  (3) 3224-5856; consulates general: Naha (Okinawa), Osaka-Kobe, Sapporo; Consulates: Fukuoka, Nagoya.
Flag Description: White with a large red disk (representing the sun without rays) in the center.