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© 1996-2006
Bob Starkgraf


Country name:
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Japan
Government type:
constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary government
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
660 BC (traditional founding by Emperor Jimmu)
National holiday:
Birthday of Emperor AKIHITO, 23 December (1933)
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
20 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: Emperor AKIHITO (since 7 January 1989)
note: following the resignation of Prime Minister Yoshiro MORI, Junichiro KOIZUMI was elected as the new president of the majority Liberal Democratic Party, and soon thereafter designated by the Diet to become the next prime minister
elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; 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
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the prime minister
head of government: Prime Minister Junichiro KOIZUMI (since 24 April 2001)
Legislative branch:
bicameral Diet or Kokkai consists of the House of Councillors or Sangi-in (247 seats - formerly 252; one-half of the members elected every three years - 73 seats of which are elected from the 47 multi-seat prefectural districts and 48 of which are elected from a single nationwide list; members elected by popular vote to serve six-year terms) and the House of Representatives or Shugi-in (480 seats - 180 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)
election results: House of Councillors - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - LDP 110, DPJ 59, Komeito 23, JCP 20, SDP 8, Liberal Party 8, Conservative Party 5, independents 14; note - the distribution of seats as of January 2002 is: LDP 115, DPJ 60, Komeito 24, JCP 20, SDP 8, Liberal Party 8, independents 6, others 6; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - LDP 233, DPJ 127, Komeito 31, Liberal Party 22, JCP 20, SDP 19, other 28; note - the distribution of seats as of January 2002 is: LDP 242, DPJ 126, Komeito 31, Liberal Party 22, JCP 20, SDP 19, NCP 7, other 13
elections: House of Councillors - last held 29 July 2001 (next to be held NA July 2004); House of Representatives - last held 25 June 2000 (next must be held by June 2004, but may occur sooner)
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court (chief justice is appointed by the monarch after designation by the cabinet; all other justices are appointed by the cabinet)
Political parties and leaders:
Democratic Party of Japan or DPJ [Yukio HATOYAMA, leader, Naoto KAN, secretary general]; Japan Communist Party or JCP [Tetsuzo FUWA, chairman, Tadayeshi ICHIDA, secretary general]; Komeito [Takenori KANZAKI, president, Tetsuzo FUYUSHIBA, secretary general]; Liberal Democratic Party or LDP [Junichiro KOIZUMI, president, Taku YAMASAKI, secretary general]; Liberal Party [Ichiro OZAWA, president, Hirohisa FUJII, secretary general]; New Conservative Party or NCP [Takeshi NODA, president, Toshihiro NIKAI, secretary general]; Social Democratic Party or SDP [Takako DOI, chairperson, Mizuho FUKUSHIMA, secretary general]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
International organization participation:
AfDB, APEC, ARF (dialogue partner), AsDB, ASEAN (dialogue partner), Australia Group, BIS, CCC, CE (observer), CERN (observer), CP, EBRD, ESCAP, FAO, G- 5, G- 7, G- 8, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, NAM (guest), NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE (partner), PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNDOF, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNITAR, UNMOVIC, UNRWA, UNU, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO, ZC
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Ryozo KATO
FAX: [1] (202) 328-2187
consulate(s): Saipan (Northern Mariana Islands)
consulate(s) general: Anchorage, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Hagatna (Guam), Honolulu, Houston, Kansas City (Missouri), Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Portland (Oregon), San Francisco, and Seattle
chancery: 2520 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 238-6700
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Howard H. BAKER, Jr.
embassy: 1-10-5 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-8420
mailing address: Unit 45004, Box 205, APO AP 96337-5004
telephone: [81] (03) 3224-5000
FAX: [81] (03) 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


Economy - overview:
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 most technologically powerful economy in the world after the US and third largest economy in the world after the US and China. 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. Both features are now 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 the 1990s 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. Government efforts to revive economic growth have met with little success and were further hampered in 2000-02 by the slowing of the US and Asian economies. The crowding of habitable land area and the aging 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 "working robots". Internal conflict over the proper means to reform the ailing banking system will continue in 2003.
purchasing power parity - $3.55 trillion (2002 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
-0.3% (2002 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $28,000 (2002 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 1%
industry: 31%
services: 68% (2001 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 5%
highest 10%: 22% (1993)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
25 (1993)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
-0.9% (2002 est.)
Labor force:
67.7 million (December 2000 )
Labor force - by occupation:
services 70%, industry 25%, agriculture 5% (2002 est.)
Unemployment rate:
5.4% (2002)
revenues: $441 billion
expenditures: $718 billion, including capital expenditures (public works only) of about $84 billion
among world's largest and technologically advanced producers of motor vehicles, electronic equipment, machine tools, steel and nonferrous metals, ships, chemicals; textiles, processed foods
Industrial production growth rate:
-1.4% (2002 est.)
Electricity - production:
1.015 trillion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 61%
hydro: 9%
other: 2% (2000)
nuclear: 29%
Electricity - consumption:
943.71 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
rice, sugar beets, vegetables, fruit; pork, poultry, dairy products, eggs; fish
$383.8 billion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Exports - commodities:
motor vehicles, semiconductors, office machinery, chemicals
Exports - partners:
US 30.1%, China 7.7%, South Korea 6.3%, Taiwan 6.0%, Hong Kong 5.8% (2001)
$292.1 billion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and equipment, fuels, foodstuffs, chemicals, textiles (2001)
Imports - partners:
US 18.1%, China 16.6%, South Korea 4.9%, Taiwan 4.1%, Indonesia 4.3% (2001 est.)
Debt - external:
Economic aid - donor:
ODA, $9.1 billion (1999) (1999)
yen (JPY)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
yen per US dollar - 132.66 (January 2002), 121.53 (2001), 107.77 (2000), 113.91 (1999), 130.91 (1998), 120.99 (1997)
Fiscal year:
1 April - 31 March