Form of Government: Constitutional monarchy
Area: 377 971 sq km
Population: 126 706 000 inhab. (estimate 2017)
Density: 335.23 inhab./sq km
Coordinates: lat. 46° - 21° N; long. 122° - 146° E
Capital: Tōkyō (capital) 9 272 740 inhab. (2015); Greater Tōkyō 36 923 000 inhab. (2010), metropolitan area; Greater Tōkyō 13 724 000 inhab. (2017), urban agglomeration
Currency: yen (100 sen)
Human development index: 0.903 (rank: 17)
Sovereign: Emperor Akihito, since 7 January 1989
Prime Minister: Shinzō Abe (LDP), since 26 December 2012
House of Representatives: seats based on the elections of 22 October 2017: LDP (Liberal Democratic Party, conservative), 284; CDP (Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, centre-left), 55; Party of Hope (conservative), 50; Kōmeitō (Buddhist), 29; JCP (Japanese Communist Party), 12; independents, 22; others, 13
Internet: (Statistics Bureau)
Member of APEC, Council of Europe observer, EBRD, OAS observer, OECD, UN, WTO


Nihon, Nippon, Nihon-koku, Nippon-koku
Useful information

International license plate code J
International dialling code 0081
Travel vaccinations requirement none
Electricity (Voltage) 100
Driving side left
Internet code .jp

GMT  +9
DST  not applied
Annual average temperature (°C) Tōkyō 17.2; Sapporo 6.8
Average temperature in January/July (°C) Tōkyō 3/24.5; Sapporo -7/19
Daily sunshine hours in June/December (average) Tōkyō 5/5; Sapporo 7/3
Annual average precipitation (mm) Tōkyō 1475; Sapporo 1125
Days of rainfall (annual average) Tōkyō 117; Sapporo 140

Politics and current affairs

Taking advantage of the consensus obtained during the crisis with North Korea, on 25 September 2017, Prime Minister Abe called for early elections for the House of Representatives. The Democratic Party partly merged with the Party of Hope, while the progressive branch founded the Constitutional Democratic Party. The division in the opposition favoured the Liberal Democratic Party, which earned an absolute majority. Between June and July 2018, serious floods due to heavy rainfall led to more than 200 deaths and extensive damage in the southern part of the country.

Japan extends for most of the Japanese archipelago, lying off the coasts of Russia, China and Korea, marking the edge of the Sea of Japan and facing the Pacific Ocean to the east. It includes 4 main islands, Hokkaidō, Honshū, Kyūshū and Shikoku, forming a large arch open towards the north-west and accompanied by approximately one thousand minor islands and rocky outcrops.
The geological make-up of the country is marked by a succession of folds and slips, by intense volcanic and seismic activity, and by the erosive action of watercourses. 75% of the country is mountainous. High areas are made up of a series of chains that form the longitudinal backbone of the whole island arch, and there is also the chain of the so-called Japanese Alps in the central part of the island of Honshū. The Japanese Alps consist of three mountain ranges arranged in north-south direction and include peaks of over 3000 m (the cone of Mount Fuji with its 3776 m is the highest mountain in the country). There are four volcanic belts in the archipelago with around 110 active cones. Seismic activity is very intense and can generate tsunami waves. Except for the central plains on the island of Honshū, between the bays of Ise and Wakasa, the only low-lying plains are those in narrow coastal areas, for the most part formed by flood deposits. The largest one (Kantō) is the area around the lower part of the River Tone, to the north of Tōkyō. The coastline is broken and uneven on the side facing the Pacific Ocean, where there are large ports. The rivers are generally short; the longest one, the Shinano (Honshū), is 367 km long.
The climate is varied. In general, the side facing the Pacific Ocean is warmer and less foggy than the side of the country facing towards the rest of the Asian continent. June and July are particularly rainy, while August and September experience many typhoons. The southern coastal areas enjoy a mild climate in all seasons, but on the island of Hokkaidō and in the northern sector of the island of Honshū, the winter months have average temperatures below zero.
Japan lays claim to four of the Kuril Islands (Shikotan, Habomai, Iturup and Kunashir), occupied by Japan in 1875 and taken back by the USSR in 1945. It also lays claim to the Takeshima Islands, against claims from South Korea (where they are known as the Dokdo Islands), and the Senkaku Islands, against claims from China (where they are known as the Diayou Islands).


Japan was once at the centre of a colonial empire that stretched from Manchuria to Korea and to south-eastern Asia (Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines). The country was occupied in 1945 by the USA, which administered it until 1951, imposing disarmament. The USA encouraged the reconstruction of the country which soon became an economic powerhouse. The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) governed the country, except for brief interruptions, from 1950. Japan is a constitutional monarchy. On the basis of the Constitution of 3 November 1946, the Emperor (“symbol of the state and the unity of the people”) performs functions that are largely representative. The Diet (Kokkai) is made up of two Chambers both elected by direct suffrage and with a mixed (first-past-the-post and proportional) system: the Chamber of Counsellors, or Upper Chamber (Sangi-in, 242 members elected for six years, with half renewed every three years), and the House of Representatives, or Lower Chamber (Shūgi-in, 465 members elected for four years). The Diet exercises legislative power and political control of government activity. The government is headed by a Prime Minister formally appointed by the Emperor after being designated by the Diet.

After defeat in 1945, Japan was required to add an article to the Constitution to renounce war and the upkeep of armed forces. In actual face, known as “Self-Defense Forces” (Jieitai), the country boasts a sizeable military apparatus. A reinterpretation of the Constitution in 2015 allows direct military intervention abroad to defend the country or its allies. On the island of Okinawa there are several military bases with 50 thousand US soldiers.

The judicial system draws inspiration from continental European civil law, with Anglo-Saxon influences.

Air force19.1%2015
Crimes864.7per 100 000 pop.2015
Homicides0.7per 100 000 pop.2015

Administrative division

Administrative divisions
Tōkyō9 272 740inhab.2015
Yokohama3 724 844inhab.2015
Urban agglomerations
Greater Tōkyō (metropolitan area)36 923 000inhab.2010
Greater Tōkyō13 724 000inhab.2017


Population by age and gender (% - 2017)

Average life expectancy and the population percentage of the elderly are among the highest in the world.
There are several small of autochthonous ethnic groups, such as the Ainu on the island of Hokkaidō, continually discriminated against and only officially recognized by Parliament on 12 June 2008.

Demographic statistics
Birth rate7.82016
Death rate10.52016
Foreigners, total2 382 822units2016
Chinese748 290units2016
Ethnic groups


Population by selected age groups
0-14 years12.8%2017
15-29 years14.6%2017



Economic situation.
Prime Minister Abe’s programme to boost economic growth is based on an expansive monetary policy, accompanied in 2016-17 by negative interest rates, tax breaks and hefty public investment. This proved beneficial to exports but also raised inflation, hence labour costs went up, sparking difficulties for certain sectors such as construction. In 2014, value-added tax was raised from 5% to 8% to increase state proceeds and lower the high deficit. A further increase (up to 10%) was postponed until 2019 in order not to depress growth even more, but the very high public debt (about 235% of the GDP), the highest in the world, weighs on the country’s future.

Economy - General data
Agricultural prod. index (2004-06=100)92.1index2016
Balance of trade26 210M US$2017
Economy - Employment
Active population66 427 585units2017
Active population, Females43.2%2017
Economy - Unemployment
Unemployment rate2.8%2017
Unemployment rate, Females40.9%2017
Economy - State budget
Expenses103 573 276M LCU2014
Revenues103 925 748M LCU2014
Employment by economic activity
GDP by economic activity
Financial data
Currency in circulation111 508.2BN LCU2017
International reserves1 264 141M US$2017


Primary sector
Agriculture and forests.
Areas that may be cultivated are limited. Notwithstanding the employment of advanced agronomical techniques, the country is not able to satisfy its nutritional requirements. The main crop is rice, which alone takes up more than a half of cultivated areas in the country; other important food crops are sugar beet and sugar cane, wheat, potatoes and sweet potatoes. Japanese tea is renowned, grown in particular on the mountain slopes of the islands of Kyūshū, Shikoku and southern Honshū. Citrus fruits and apples are among the most important fruit crops. A relatively high production of timber comes from the forested areas which account for approximately 68% of the country.
Livestock and fishing.
Cattle-farming concerns, above all, cows and pigs. The breeding of silkworms is still practiced. Japan is among the top countries in the world in terms of the quantity of fish caught (above all sardines, mackerel and salmon).
The main fishing ports are Wakkanai, Abashiri, Kushiro, Hakodate and Otaru (on the island of Hokkaidō); Hachinohe, Miyako, Shiogama, Choshi, Tsukiji, Misaki, Shimizu, Yaizu, Muroto, Niigata, Sakai and Shimonoseki (Honshū); Fukuoka, Nagasaki and Makurakazi (Kyūshū). Aquaculture is developed (especially seaweeds and molluscs).
Despite the international moratorium on whale-hunting, Japan continues to hunt whales with the pretext of doing so for “scientific purposes”. Coral and pearls are extracted on the southern coasts of Shikoku and Kyūshū (natural pearls in the Bay of Ōmura, near Nagasaki and cultivated pearls in the pearl-beds on the island of Kyūshū and in the prefectures of Ehime and Mie).

Land use
arable land12.33%2015
Agriculture - products - Cereals
barley170.41000 t2016
cereals, total9 034.5971000 t2016
Agriculture - products - Roots and tubers
potatoes2 1581000 t2016
roots and tubers, total3 396.5261000 t2016
Agriculture - products - Vegetables
asparagus29.1241000 t2016
cabbages1 4461000 t2016
Agriculture - products - Pulses
beans, dry35.11000 t2016
beans, green45.3751000 t2011
Agriculture - products - Grape
grapes179.21000 t2016
Agriculture - products - Oilcrops
groundnuts15.51000 t2016
rapeseed3.651000 t2016
Agriculture - products - Aromatics
ginger62.2441000 t2016
tea80.21000 t2016
Agriculture - products - Industrial crops
hops0.6891000 t2016
sugar beet3 1891000 t2016
Agriculture - products - Fiber plants
hemp tow waste0.0011000 t2016
jute01000 t2014
Agriculture - products - Fruits
apples7651000 t2016
apricots92.71000 t2016
Agriculture - products - Citrus fruits
citrus fruits871.3721000 t2016
citrus fruits, nes42.5081000 t2016
Agriculture - products - Tropical fruits
bananas0.0321000 t2016
mangoes3.2241000 t2016
Agriculture - products - Others
mushrooms65.5791000 t2016
Agriculture - areas harvested - Cereals
barley61.391000 ha2016
maize0.0651000 ha2016
Agriculture - areas harvested - Roots and tubers
potatoes69.1781000 ha2016
sweet potatoes361000 ha2016
Agriculture - areas harvested - Vegetables
cabbages33.6571000 ha2016
carrots and turnips16.3521000 ha2016
Agriculture - areas harvested - Pulses
beans, dry29.81000 ha2016
beans, green6.4111000 ha2011
Agriculture - areas harvested - Grape
grape171000 ha2016
Agriculture - areas harvested - Oilcrops
groundnuts6.551000 ha2016
rapeseed1.981000 ha2016
Agriculture - areas harvested - Aromatics
ginger2.0291000 ha2016
tea44.0781000 ha2016
Agriculture - areas harvested - Industrial crops
hops0.3311000 ha2016
sugar beet59.71000 ha2016
Agriculture - areas harvested - Fiber plants
hemp tow waste0.0011000 ha2016
jute01000 ha2014
Agriculture - areas harvested - Fruits
apples36.81000 ha2016
apricots15.61000 ha2016
Agriculture - areas harvested - Citrus fruits
citrus fruits45.8721000 ha2016
citrus fruits, nes2.3361000 ha2016
Agriculture - areas harvested - Tropical fruits
bananas0.011000 ha2016
mangoes0.4471000 ha2016


timber21 324 8242016
Livestock - Cattle
cattle3 8241000 heads2016
cattle and buffaloes3 8241000 heads2016
Livestock - Pigs
pigs9 3131000 heads2016
Livestock - Sheep
sheep14.3151000 heads2016
Livestock - Goats
goats15.5071000 heads2016
Livestock - Equines
equines, total14.9591000 heads2016
horses14.9591000 heads2016
Livestock - Poultry
birds310 1301000 heads2016
Livestock - Beekeeping
honey2.5781000 t2014
Livestock - Silk farming
silk, raw0.251000 t2014
Livestock - Livestock products
butter60.7621000 t2014
cheese131.8521000 t2014
crustaceans and molluscs860 607t2016


Secondary sector
Japan is lacking in mining resources, of which it is a major importer. Hydrocarbon production is limited: the main oilfields (almost always linked to gas deposits) are situated in Akita, Yamagata and Niigata (Northeast Honshū) and in the southern part of the island of Hokkaidō; natural gas is extracted in the Kantō region and in Nagaoka (on the island of Honshū).
Iron, lead, silver and zinc deposits are scarce or practically depleted. Small deposits of gold are mined in Kagoshima (on the island of Kyūshū). Mining from the seabed is being developed. There are substantial reserves of dolomite, limestone, iodine (Chiba, Niigata and Miyazaki), siliceous and pyrophyllite sand (Nagasaki, Okayama and Hiroshima).
In order to reduce dependence on energy from abroad, Japan has developed its own electro-nuclear sector. The main power stations (42 reactors, with another 2 currently being built) are at Hamaoka, Genkai, Ikata, Mihama, Sendai, Takahama, Tokai, Tomari, Tsuruga, Kashiwazaki, Ōi and Fukushima (severely damaged by the 2011 earthquake); following the incident at the latter, all of the reactors were shut down, but seven of them were reactivated.
Large steelworks are located in the regional centres of Kitakyūshū, Hanshin-Keihin, Kamaishi and Muroran (Hokkaidō). Aluminium production has also reached remarkably high levels, using imported minerals (plants are mainly concentrated in Shizuoka Prefecture). Cadmium, cobalt (at Niihama), indium, magnesium (at Hyūga and Takehara), nickel (at Hachinohoe, Hyūga, Matsusaka, Miyazu, Niihama), lead (at Chigirishima, Harima, Hida, Hosokura, Kosaka, Takehara), copper (at Hitachi, Kosaka, Naoshima, Iwaki, Saganoseki, Tamano), titanium (Iwaki, Okayama, Yokkaichi) and zinc production (at Annaka, Hachinohoe, Harima, Hida, Hikoshima, Iijima) are also considerable.
The main refineries are located at Chiba, Kurashiki, Yokohama, Kawasaki, Yokkaichi, Sakai, Nagoya, Sendai, Ōita, Wakayama, Iwakuni, Yamaguchi, Imabari, Ōsaka.
Among the main chemical plants are: for sulfuric acid, Hitachi, Saganoseki, Ōsaka, Besshi, Shimonoseki, Ōmuta and Wakayama; for caustic soda, Makiyama, Tokuyama, Yokkaichi, Ube, Ōji and Toyama, Nagaoka, Amagasaki, Kokura, Yokohama, Nobeoka and Okayama; for ammonium sulfate, Shimonoseki, Ōmuta, Sunakawa, Kawasaki, Niihama, Hachinohe, Yokohama, Toyama, Minamata and Nagoya; for superphosphates, Hakodate, Nagoya, Yokohama, Beppu, Ōsaka and Yokkaichi; for colourings, Ōmuta, Ōji, Kurosaki and Koriyama. The synthetic rubber industry has its main plants in the cities of Kōbe, Tōkyō and Ōsaka.
The cement industry is well-developed in Hakodate, Onoda, Ube, Kawara, Tagawa, Kanda and Hindoe.
The mechanic and transport sectors are highly developed in all sectors. The car industry is of an international level, with plants on the island of Honshū; the large car companies (Mitsubishi, Honda, Nissan and Toyota) have set up numerous production and assembly plants in other countries in eastern Asia, in Latin America, in the USA and in Europe. The motorcycle and bicycle industries are flourishing (in Tōkyō, Ōsaka and Aichi). For ship-building the main shipyards are those at Kōbe, Nagasaki, Tamano, Aioi, Tsurumi, Yokohama, Hiroshima and Uraga.
A modest aeronautical (Mitsubishi) and aerospace industry is present with two launch pads at Kagoshima and Tanegashima. Precision mechanics, electronics, micro-electronics and computer science have achieved high competitive levels: the main centres are at Dochu, Hakodate, Aomori, Misuzawa-Hanamaki, Akita, Yamagata, Sendai, Koriyama, Shinanogawa, Nagaoka, Toyama, Asama, Kōfu, Utsunomiya, Hamamatsu, Nishi, Kibi-Kogen, Kagawa, Matsuyama, Hiroshima-Chuo, Ube, Kunisaki, Kurume, Tosu, Ōmura, Kumamoto, Kokubu and Miyazaki.
In the textile area, a traditional sector is silk, contributing to exports. The main centre for cotton is Ōsaka. Artificial fibres are worked at Hiroshima, Yamaguchi, Shiga, Ehime, Miyazaki, Tokushima and Kumamoto; synthetic fibres at Kurashiki, Okayama, Amagasaki, Sakoshi, Yodogawa, Ōgaki, Aichi, Nagoya, Iwakuni, Nobeoka and Inagawa.
The paper industry is concentrated on the region of Tōkyō and Ōsaka; the largest paper mill in the country is at Tomakomai (Hokkaidō). The glass industry has its main centres at Amagasaki, Makiyama, Tsurumi, Yokkaichi, Wakamatsu and Maizuru (for glass sheets); at Tōkyō, Ōsaka, Fukuoka and Aichi (for bottles); for optic glass there are laboratories in Tōkyō, Ōsaka, Kanagawa and Shizuoka. Porcelain is highly renowned: an ancient ceramic centre is at Seto (near Nagoya), known for its statuettes; at Nagoya tableware is produced along with insulators and industrial articles.

Mineral resources - Energy minerals
coal1 388.51000 t2017
coal, total1 388.51000 t2017
Mineral resources - Metal ores
lead0.81000 t2006
molybdenum0.81000 t2015
Mineral resources - Non-metal ores
bentonite4201000 t2015
clay1101000 t2015
Mineral resources - Rocks
diatomite1001000 t2017
dolomite3 3661000 t2015
Mineral resources - Precious metals and stones
gold7 700kg2015
silver4 616kg2015
Mineral resources - Other minerals
iodine10 600t2017


Electric energy - Generated
- thermal804 241.44M kWh2015
- hydro84 845M kWh2015
Electric energy - Installed capacity
- thermal191 5351000 kW2015
- other renew.40 3001000 kW2015
Electric energy - Total production and capacity
total net generation978 247.44M kWh2015
total installed capacity322 1591000 kW2015


Industry - Iron and Steel, Metallurgy
aluminium188.41000 t2014
aluminium, primary451000 t2016
Industry - Machinery and transport equipment
bikes898 095no.2015
cars8 347 836no.2017
Industry - Precision and optical instruments
cameras4 513 472no.2015
watches and clocks6 825 000no.2015
Industry - Electrical and electronics
air conditioners9 615 512no.2015
camcorders121 354no.2015
Industry - Petrochemicals
bitumen3 2641000 t2015
petrol58 879.11000 t2014
Industry - Chemicals
ammonia9621000 t2015
artificial yarn27.31000 t2015
Industry - Textiles
carpets56 495.71000 m²2015
cotton fabrics130.5M m²2015
Industry - Clothing and footwear
footwear28 978 022pairs2015
Industry - Food and beverages
beer of barley2 9501000 t2014
cottonseed oil41000 t2014
Industry - Tobacco
cigarettes119 433M units2015
cigars and cigarettes119 433M units2015
Industry - Paper and wood products
chemical pulp8 0591000 t2016
chemi-mechanical pulp8 6431000 t2016
Industry - Glass and other non-metallic mineral products
cement53 0001000 t2017
Industry - Various
chemicals production139 856.9M US$2012
food, beverages and tobacco production157 814.9M US$2012


Tertiary sector
Foreign trade.
The country still maintains its position as one of the most important players in international trade, especially for the export of high added value goods. After the US withdrawal, in 2017 the country was among the signatories of the new Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), while in 2018 a free trade agreement was signed with the EU (JEFTA).

Main exports (M US$ - 2017) machinery 138 414, cars 93 372, electrical and electronic equipment 70 461, vehicles and parts thereof 52 856, optical and electro-medical appliances 39 830, iron and steel 37 791, chemicals 32 824, electronic integrated circuits and microassemblies 26 677, plastics 25 145, ships and boats 12 250, petroleum products 10 769, gold 8 434, refined copper 7 419, jewels and precious stones 6 763, telephones 4 971, tyres 4 850, dyes and paints 4 684, pharmaceuticals 4 557, photographic goods 4 476, aircraft and parts thereof 4 245, tools and implements 3 892, cosmetics 3 612, miscellaneous manufactured articles 3 574, telecommunications equipment 3 461, synthetic and artificial fibres and yarns 3 302, glass 3 096, rubber products 2 966, paper and paperboard 2 673, soap and detergents 2 660, toys and sports equipment 2 602

Finance and banking.

The Bank of Japan (Nippon Ginkō) carries out its functions as a central bank. In 2007, the privatization of the Japanese postal system was completed, the most important financial institution of the country. The Tōkyō Stock Exchange is one of the busiest in the world.

Composition of goods exports
manufactures88.539% of goods exports2016
ores and metals2.387% of goods exports2016
International trade by country - Merchandise Export
United States135 060M US$2017
China132 786M US$2017
International trade by country - Merchandise Import
China164 479M US$2017
United States73 833M US$2017
Merchandise Export
2017698 130.533M US$ -
2016644 899.697M US$ -
Merchandise Import
2017671 920.750M US$ -
2016607 602.355M US$ -


Tourism. Tourist flows mainly come from China, South Korea, Taiwan and the United States.

International Tourism
Expenditures25 783M US$2016
Number of arrivals24 040 000units2016


The road network absorbs over 90% of commercial traffic and 65% of passenger traffic. Since 1988 the railway tunnel, Seikan (53.85 km), connecting the islands of Honshū and Hokkaidō has been in function.
In 1998, Akashi-Kaikyō (3910 m) viaduct, connecting Kōbe to the island of Awaji was opened to traffic. The Shinkansen high-speed lines, operating since 1964, have steadily been extended to reach all the country’s major cities with a network of approximately 2800 km. In 2015 work began on the magnetic levitation railway between Tōkyō and Nagoya.

Media and telecommunication.
The public radio and television service depend on the Nippon Hōsō Kyōkai; commercial television channels are numerous.

Communication - Transport
Civil aviation, km flown838 400 000km flown2004
Civil aviation, passengers carried123 8981000 units2017
Communication - Media and telecommunication
Broadband subscribers316.828per 1000 pop.2017
Computers676per 1000 pop.2005

Social and welfare

Education, culture
& research.

The Japanese school system is based on nine years of compulsory school attendance, from 6 to 15 years of age, divided into six years of elementary school (Shogakko) and three years of middle school (Chugakko); secondary education includes three types of courses: full-time (for three years), part-time and correspondence (four years).

Social security and health.
The pension system is made up of two elements: a national pension system for all citizens (funded by compulsory contributions) and a work pension (with contributions funded half by the workers and half by the companies). Private insurance schemes are very widespread.

Social statistics - Education
Expected years of schooling15.2years2015
Gradautes, percentage50.5%2016
Social statistics - Students and Teachers by level
Teachers, primary level410 355units2015
Teachers, secondary level634 117units2016
Social statistics - Social protection
Social protection spending41.8% of total expenses2016
Social protection spending23.1% of GDP2013
Social statistics - Health
Hospital beds13.1per 1000 pop.2016
Physicians2.4per 1000 pop.2016
Social statistics - Diseases
HIV-0.1% of adults2011
Tuberculosis16per 100 000 pop.2016
Museums1 262units2011
Museums, visitors122 831 000units2011
Research and development spending3.15% of GDP2016
Other social indicators
Access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking100%2016
Access to electricity100%2016
Household consumption expenditure
clothing, footwear4.1%2014