Japan: An Introduction

    Japan is a diverse island country, technologically advanced, but having many traditional rituals and aspects to their way of life.
     Japan is a major economic power, which started after World War II with hard work, the development of new technology, and the government. It is the third largest economy in the world right now, but it has a very high debt, 192% of their GDP. Japan relies on not only technology but also on agriculture and fishing, especially with big crops of rice. It has the largest fish market in the world (CIA World Factbook). Only 4% of Japan's industrious and well-educated labor force is in agriculture; however, it produces a large quantity of rice every year. Farmers often have part-time jobs in cities. Because of the promotion of development,free and foreign trade, and high savings, Japan has risen to become an economic power. (US Department of State)
    The Japanese government is a Constitutional Monarchy, with an Emperor as head of state, but elected politicians actually ruling the country in a parliamentary government. Its capital is Tokyo which has more than 12 million people, just in the city. The country is divided into 47 prefectures or regions.  Japan gained its independence from Britain on May 3rd, 1947, which was the day of constitution, and is now a national holiday. Because of British and European influence, laws are modeled after European laws (CIA World Factbook). It is also modelled after Roman laws. There are 6 political parties running in Japan: the Democratic party of Japan, Social Democratic Party, People's New Party, Liberal Democratic Party, New Clean Government Party, and the Japan Communist party. (US Department of State)

    The culture and language of the Japanese is not as internationally influenced as their government and technology. Although a few Korean (0.5%) and Chinese (0.4%), the overwhelming majority of the population is Japanese, and the main (and virutally only) language is Japanese. Their religions are constant to those which started from the beginning of Japan - Shintoism, Buddhism, and Christianity (CIA World Factbook). Shintoism is the worship of nature and natural gods, which started in the 16th century. After the Meji dynasty, state support was given to Shintoism. However, after World War II, the emperor himself disavowed his divinity. Today, it is more of a symbol of Japan's tradition, with a few scattered believers, and many tourists sight-seeing the ancient famous temples. Buddhism believes in reincarnation and an afterlife, and was first introduced to Japan in the 6th century. It is present in the everyday lives of the Japanese, from temples to funerals. It is more important today than shintoism.  Despite their differences, Shintoism and Buddhism coexist comfrotably, without any religious conflicts. Confucianism was introduced from the Chinese for a while, but it is considered more of a philosophy than a religion. Chirstianity was in introduced in 1549, abollished, then reintroduced in the 1800s, with more than 3 million Japanese believers today. (US Department of State)

    Japan is, as mentioned before, an island country, situated between the North Pacific and the Sea of Japan. It is slightly smaller than California. The climate ranges from Tropical to cool temperate from North to South. It has almost no energy resources, and is consequently the largest importer of coal and natural gas, and the second largest of oil. It relies on its mineral resources and fish for natural resources, as well as rice. The terrain of Japan is covered in Volcanoes, mostly dormant or active - many tremors occur every year. However, because of Japan's industrialization and the density of the population, there is a lot of air pollution, acid rain, and many endangered aquatic and land species (CIA World Factbook).
    There are 4 main islands that make up the country: Honshu, the mainland, Hokkaido, Shikoku, Kyushu. However, there are also more than 3000 other minor islands, the largest being Okinawa Island. The highest mountain in Japan is the renowned Mt. Fuji. However, although Japan relies on agriculture, 73% of the land is mountainous, which is not very good for farming. (US Department of State)