Overview: The Basics
Japan, an island nation, is located in East Asia in the Pacific Ocean. It is surrounded by the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia and stretches from the Sea of Okhotsk in the North to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the South. The characters for Japan are 日本 which means "sun-origin" which references Japan's nickname as "Land of the Rising Sun".
An island nation, Japan is an archipelago of 6,852 islands. It's for largest islands are Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku which adds up to about 97% of Japan's land area. Japan has the world's 10th largets poluation with over 127 million people. The capital of Japan, Tokyo is located on the island of Honshu and is the largest metropolitan area in the world inhabiting over 30 million residents.
History & Influence
The first written mention of Japan is in Chinese history from 1st century AD but research indicates that people have lived in Japan as early as the Upper Paleolithic period. Japan's history and establishment as an independent nation has been characterized by the influence from other nations followed by long periods of isolation. In the 19th and 20th centuries, Japan expanded its empire and influence during a period of increasing militarism through victories in the First Sino-Japanese War, the Russo-Japanese War and World War I. However the Second Sino-Japanese War of 1937 lead into World War II in 1941 which ended 4 years later, with the atomic bombings of HIroshima and Nagaski in 1945 devastating the nation and ending Japan's supreme reign and rise to power. Having adopted a revised constitution in 1947, Japan has maintained a unitary constitutional monarchy with an emperor and an elected legislation called the Diet.
Modern Japan is a major economic power, ranked as the world's third largest economy by nominal GDP and fourth largest economy by purchasing power parity. It is also the world's fourth-largets exporter and importer of goods. Japan also has the xith largest military budge which is used for self-defense and peace keeping as Japan had officially renounced its right to declare war. Japan has the second lowest homicide rate in the world, the second highest life expectancy for women and the third lowest infant mortality rate.
Facts & Statistics
Area: 142,771 square miles
Population: 127,692,000 people
Capital City: Tokyo
Composition breakdown: 98.3% Japanese; 1.7 % other (Chinese or Korean)
Religion: 80% of Japanese adhere to more than one religion: Shinto (106.8 million), Buddhism (89.2 million), Christianity (3.0 million), other (9.8 million)
Major Political Parties:
DPJ - Democratic Party of Japan
LDP - Liberal Democratic Party
JCP - Japan Communist Party
SDP - Social Democratic Party
Government: Representative democracy with a bicameral (two chamber) parliament (the Diet). The Prime Minister and his cabinet posses executive power though the emperor is head of state serving mainly as a symbol
Head of State: Emperor Akihito, since 7 January 1989.
Prime Minister: Yoshihiko Noda, since 2 September 2011.
Foreign Minister: Koichiro Gemba, since 2 September 2011
Economic Information: Third largest economy in the world