Japan, Far East, Asia
Excerpted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Japan (Nippon or Nihon, literal meaning: "Origin
of Sun") is a country in Far East Asia, made up of a
chain of islands - located between the Pacific Ocean
and the Sea of Japan, east of the Korean peninsula.
Known as the Land of the Rising Sun, its 13 centuries
of recorded history have created a distinctive culture.
The Japanese name Nippon is used on stamps and for international
sporting events, while Nihon is used more often within
It is from the Chinese version of the name that the
English Japan was derived.
The early Mandarin Chinese word for Japan was recorded
by Marco Polo as Cipangu.
In Malay the Chinese word became Japang and was thus
encountered by Portuguese traders in Moluccas in the
It is thought the Portuguese traders were the first
to bring the word to Europe.
It was first recorded in English in 1577 spelled Giapan.
Official language; Japanese
Prime minister; Koizumi Junichiro
Area; 377,835 kmē
Time zone; UTC +9
National anthem; Kimi Ga Yo
Internet TLD; .JP
Phone Calling Code; 81
People who live in Japan are ancient descendants of
those who came from the Asian continent through Sakhalin,
Korea and China, especially around Beijing and Shanghai,
and from the South by marine route.
According to traditional Japanese history, Japan was
founded in the 7th century BC by the ancestral Emperor
During the 5th and 6th centuries, the Chinese writing
system and Buddhism were introduced with other Chinese
cultures via the Korean peninsula or directly from China.
The emperors were the nominal rulers, but actual power
was usually held by powerful court nobles, regents,
or shoguns (military governors).
Ancient political structure held that, once battles
between rivals were finished, the victoriuous Shogun
would emigrate to the capital Kyoto to rule under the
grace of the Emperor.
However, in the year 1185, general Minamoto known as
Yoritomo was the first to break this tradition, refusing
to relocate and subsequently holding power in Kamakura,
just south of present-day Yokohama.
While this Kamakura Shogunate was somewhat stable, Japan
soon fell into warring factions, and suffered through
what became known as the Warring States period.
In the year 1600, at the Battle of Sekigahara, Shogun
Tokugawa Ieyasu either co-opted or defeated his enemies,
and formed the Tokugawa Shogunate in the small fishing
village of Edo, what is now known as Tokyo (eastern
During the 16th century, traders from Portugal, the
Netherlands, England, and Spain arrived, as did Christian
During the early part of the 17th century, Japan's shogunate
suspected that they were actually forerunners of a military
conquest by European powers and ultimately barred all
relations with the outside world except for severely
restricted contacts with Dutch and Chinese merchants
at Nagasaki (Dejima).
This isolation lasted for 251 years, until Commodore
Matthew Perry forced the opening of Japan to the West
with the Convention of Kanagawa in 1854.
Within several years, renewed contact with the West
profoundly altered Japanese society.
The shogunate was forced to resign, and the emperor
was restored to power.
The Meiji Restoration of 1868 initiated many reforms.
The feudal system was abolished, and numerous Western
institutions were adopted, including a Western legal
system and government, along with other economic, social
and military reforms that transformed Japan into a world
As results of Sino-Japanese war and Russo-Japanese war,
Japan acquired Taiwan, Korea and other territories.
The early 20th century saw Japan come under increasing
influence of an expansionist military, leading to the
invasion of Manchuria, a second Sino-Japanese War (1937).
Japanese leaders felt it was necessary to attack on
the US naval base in Pearl Harbour (1941) to ensure
Japanese supremacy in the Pacific.
However, the entry of the United States into World War
II would slowly tilt the balance in the Pacific against
After a long Pacific campaign, Japan lost Okinawa and
was pushed back to the four main islands.
The United States made fierce attacks to Tokyo, Osaka
and other cities by strategic bombing, and Hiroshima
and Nagasaki with two atomic bombs.
Japan eventually agreed to an unconditional surrender
to the United States on August 15, 1945.
A defeated post-war Japan remained under US occupation
until 1952, where-after it embarked on a remarkable
economic recovery that returned prosperity to the islands.
Okinawa remained under US occupation until 1972 to stabilise
East Asia, and a major military presence remains there
to this day.
The Soviet Union seized 4 islands north of Hokkaido
at the end of WWII, and despite the collapse of the
Soviet state and friendly relations between countries,
Russia has refused to return these islands.
Japan is academically considered a constitutional monarchy
with a bicameral parliament, the Kokkai or Diet but
most of Japanese feel strange to the term monarchy and
quite a few scholars argue Japan is a republic.
Japan has a royal family led by an Emperor, but under
the current constitution he holds no power at all, not
even emergency reserve powers.
The executive branch is responsible to the Diet, consisting
of a cabinet composed of a prime minister and ministers
of state, all of whom must be civilians.
The prime minister must be a member of the Diet and
is designated by his colleagues.
The prime minister has the power to appoint and remove
ministers, a majority of whom must be Diet members.
Sovereignty, previously embodied in the emperor, is
vested by the constitution in the Japanese people, and
the Emperor is defined as the symbol of the state.
The legislative branch consists of a House of Representatives
(Shugi-in) of 480 seats, elected by popular vote every
four years, and a House of Councillors (Sangi-in) of
247 seats, whose popularly elected members serve six-year
Each house contains officials elected either directly
or proportionally by party.
There is universal adult suffrage with a secret ballot
for all elective offices.
Japan is subdivided into 47 prefectures.
The order of the 47 prefectures is from the north to
the south, which is commonly accepted in Japan.
Japan, a country of islands, extends along the eastern
or Pacific coast of Asia.
The main islands, running from north to south, are Karafuto
(Jap. 1679-1875), Hokkaido, Honshu (or the mainland),
Shikoku, and Kyushu.
Mairuppo in the Kuriru retto is over 800km to the northeast
of Hokkaido; Okinawa in the Ryukyu retto is over 600
km to the southwest of Kyushu.
About 3,000 smaller islands are included in the archipelago.
About 73% of the country is mountainous, with a chain
running through each of the main islands.
Japan's highest mountain is the famous Mount Fuji at
Oyakobayama, at the northern end of Kuriru retto, is
a beautifully formed snow-clad peak (2337m) rising directly
out of the sea.
Since so little flat area exists, many hills and mountainsides
are cultivated all the way to the summits.
As Japan is situated in a volcanic zone along the Pacific
deeps, frequent low intensity earth tremors and occasional
volcanic activity are felt throughout the islands.
Destructive earthquakes occur several times a century,
often resulting in tsunamis.
Hot springs are numerous and have been developed as
The Japanese Archipelago extends from north to south
along the eastern coast of Eurasia Continent or the
furthermost west of Pacific Ocean.
Japan belongs to the temperate zone with distinct four
seasons, but varies from cool temperate in north to
subtropical in south.
The climate is also affected by the seasonal winds blown
from the continent to the ocean in winters and vise
versa in summers.
Late June and early July are a rainy season except Hokkaido
as a seasonal rain front or baiu zensen stays above
In the late summer and early autumn typhoons, grown
from tropical depressions generated near the equator,
track from the south-west to the north-east and often
bring heavy rain.
Its varied geographical features divide Japan into six
principal climatic zones.
Hokkaido: Belonging to the cool temperate zone, Hokkaido
has long, cold winters and cool summers. Precipitation
is not large.
Sea of Japan: The northwest seasonal wind in winters
give heavy snowfalls. In summers it is less hot than
in the Pacific area but sometimes experiences extreme
hot temperature due to the Foehn wind phenomenon.
Chuo-kochi or Central highland: A typical inland climate
gives large temperature differences between summers
and winters and between days and nights. Precipitation
is not large throughout a year.
Setonaikai or Inland Sea: The mountains in Chugoku and
Shikoku regions block the seasonal winds and bring mild
climate and many fine days throughout a year.
Pacific Ocean): It experiences cold winters with little
snowfall and hot, humid summers due to the southeast
Nansei-shoto or Southwest Islands: It has a subtropical
climate with warm winters and hot summers. Precipitation
is very large especially affected by the rainy season
The Kuriru retto are fogbound. Attached to Nemuro, they
comprise 5 'gun': Kunashiri, Etorofu, Uruppu, Rakkoshima
Japan has ten regions. Those from north to south are
Hokkaido, Tohoku region, Hokuriku region, Kanto region,
Chubu region, Kinki region (commonly called Kansai),
Chugoku region, Shikoku region, Kyushu region, and Okinawa.
Government-industry cooperation, a strong work ethic,
mastery of high technology, and a comparatively small
defense allocation (1% of GDP) have helped Japan advance
with extraordinary rapidity to the rank of second largest
economy power in the world only next to the US.
Notable characteristics of the economy include the working
together of manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors
in closely-knit groups called keiretsu; the powerful
enterprise unions and shunto; and the guarantee of lifetime
employment for a substantial portion of the urban labour
Most of the these features are now eroding, however,
and the economy is currently characterised by stagnation.
Industry, the most important sector of the economy,
is heavily dependent on imported raw materials and fuels.
The much smaller agricultural sector is highly subsidised
and protected, with crop yields among the highest in
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 the 1990s largely because
of the after effects of over-investment during the late
1980s and contractionary domestic policies intended
to wring speculative excesses from the stock and real
Government efforts to revive economic growth have met
with little success and were further hampered in 2000-2001
by the slowing of the US and Asian economies.
Furthermore, the declining birth rate in Japan has led
to speculation that more skilled immigrants will be
required if Japan wishes to maintain its current level
The demand for cheap labour has created a boom in the
illegal employment market made up mostly of fake exchange
students from around the globe.
The crowding of habitable land area and the ageing of
the population are two major long-run problems.
Robotics constitutes a key long-term economic strength,
with Japan possessing 410,000 of the world's 720,000
Japanese society is ethnically and linguistically very
homogeneous, with small populations of primarily Koreans
and Chinese (including Taiwanese), as well as the indigenous
Ainu minority on Hokkaido.
99% of the population speaks Japanese as their first
Most Japanese people do not believe in any particular
Many people, especially those in younger generations,
are opposed to religions for historical reasons and
the development of science.
From the Meiji Era to World War II, Shinto was organised
by the government.
Many others are ambivalent to religions and use various
religions in their life.
One may visit a Shinto shrine on New Year's day for
the year's success and before school entrance exam to
pray to pass.
The same person may have a wedding at a Christian church
and have funeral at a Buddhist temple.
This information was updated & correct in December
2003 E. & O.E.
All text is available under the terms of the GNU
Free Documentation License
Copyrights for details).
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