Form of Government: Constitutional monarchy
Area: 377 971 sq km
Population: 126 167 000 inhab. (estimate 2019)
Density: 333.80 inhab./sq km
Coordinates: lat. 46° - 21° N; long. 122° - 146° E
Capital: Tōkyō (capital) 9 396 597 inhab. (2018); Greater Tōkyō 37 274 000 inhab. (2015), metropolitan area; Greater Tōkyō 13 921 000 inhab. (2019), urban agglomeration
Currency: yen (100 sen)
Human development index: 0.915 (rank: 19)
Sovereign: Emperor Naruhito, since 1 May 2019
Prime Minister: Yoshihide Suga (LDP), since 16 September 2020
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

The promptness of measures brought in by the government helped Japan to keep an effective handle on COVID-19. Nevertheless, the impact on the global economy has put the country into recession. The Olympic Games, scheduled for summer 2020 in Tōkyō, have been postponed.

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, Indochina 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, 245 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
Crimes722.2per 100 000 pop.2017
Homicides0.7per 100 000 pop.2017

Administrative division

Administrative divisions
Tōkyō9 396 597inhab.2018
Yokohama3 737 845inhab.2018
Urban agglomerations
Greater Tōkyō (metropolitan area)37 274 000inhab.2015
Greater Tōkyō13 921 000inhab.2019


Population by age and gender (% - 2018)

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 rate72019
Death rate11.22019
Foreigners, total2 731 093units2018
Chinese825 404units2018
Ethnic groups


Population by selected age groups
0-14 years12.7%2018
15-29 years14.5%2018



Economic situation.
With trade shrinking due to COVID-19, 2020 saw Japan slide into recession. This fits in with a narrative of economic deceleration, thanks largely to a tax increase on consumables in October 2019. Prime Minister Abe’s (who resigned in August 2020) programme to boost economic growth is based on an expansive monetary policy, accompanied by negative interest rates, fiscal stimulus and hefty public investment since 2016. This proved beneficial to exports but also raised inflation, hence labour costs went up, sparking difficulties for certain sectors such as construction. Added to this, is a chronic shortage of manpower; to find a solution, on 1 April 2019, a new immigration law was enacted that makes moving easier for some categories of foreign workers. In 2014, value-added tax was raised from 5% to 8%, up to 10% in 2019, to increase state proceeds and lower the high deficit. The public debt is very high (about 238% of the GDP).

Economy - General data
Agricultural prod. index (2004-06=100)92.1index2016
Balance of trade-15 209M US$2019
Economy - Employment
Active population68 863 340units2019
Active population, Females44.4%2019
Economy - Unemployment
Unemployment rate2.4%2019
Unemployment rate, Females40.7%2019
Economy - State budget
Expenses101 457 000M LCU2019
Revenues101 457 000M LCU2019
Employment by economic activity
GDP by economic activity
Financial data
Currency in circulation117 695.4BN LCU2019
International reserves1 322 443.3M US$2019


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). Since July 2019, Japan is no longer part of the International Whaling Commission and has once again begun hunting whales, though the country had nonetheless continued the practice with the pretext of doing so for “scientific purposes”. Coral and pearls are extracted on the southern coasts of Shikoku and Kyūshū (cultivated pearls in the Bay of Ōmura, near Nagasaki, and in the prefectures of Ehime and Mie).

Land use
arable land12.33%2015
Agriculture - products - Cereals
barley174.71000 t2018
cereals, total10 696.7461000 t2018
Agriculture - products - Roots and tubers
potatoes2 261.9451000 t2018
roots and tubers, total3 420.0381000 t2018
Agriculture - products - Vegetables
asparagus26.9371000 t2018
cabbages1 379.5451000 t2018
Agriculture - products - Pulses
beans, dry51.91000 t2018
beans, green45.3751000 t2011
Agriculture - products - Grape
grapes174.71000 t2018
Agriculture - products - Oilcrops
groundnuts15.61000 t2018
rapeseed3.121000 t2018
Agriculture - products - Aromatics
ginger47.0121000 t2018
tea83.0521000 t2018
Agriculture - products - Industrial crops
hops0.6831000 t2018
sugar beet3 6111000 t2018
Agriculture - products - Fiber plants
hemp tow waste0.0011000 t2018
jute01000 t2014
Agriculture - products - Fruits
apples756.11000 t2018
apricots112.41000 t2018
Agriculture - products - Citrus fruits
citrus fruits886.8641000 t2018
citrus fruits, nes69.031000 t2018
Agriculture - products - Tropical fruits
bananas0.0511000 t2018
mangoes3.3071000 t2018
Agriculture - products - Others
mushrooms65.7471000 t2018
Agriculture - areas harvested - Cereals
barley611000 ha2018
maize0.0621000 ha2018
Agriculture - areas harvested - Roots and tubers
potatoes73.2811000 ha2018
sweet potatoes35.71000 ha2018
Agriculture - areas harvested - Vegetables
cabbages35.1451000 ha2018
carrots and turnips18.1411000 ha2018
Agriculture - areas harvested - Pulses
beans, dry31.11000 ha2018
beans, green6.4111000 ha2011
Agriculture - areas harvested - Grape
grape16.71000 ha2018
Agriculture - areas harvested - Oilcrops
groundnuts6.371000 ha2018
rapeseed1.921000 ha2018
Agriculture - areas harvested - Aromatics
ginger1.7261000 ha2018
tea42.8581000 ha2018
Agriculture - areas harvested - Industrial crops
hops0.3251000 ha2018
sugar beet57.31000 ha2018
Agriculture - areas harvested - Fiber plants
hemp tow waste0.0011000 ha2018
jute01000 ha2014
Agriculture - areas harvested - Fruits
apples36.21000 ha2018
apricots14.81000 ha2018
Agriculture - areas harvested - Citrus fruits
citrus fruits47.4111000 ha2018
citrus fruits, nes3.8061000 ha2018
Agriculture - areas harvested - Tropical fruits
bananas0.0171000 ha2018
mangoes0.4631000 ha2018


timber29 424 0002018
Livestock - Cattle
cattle3 8421000 heads2018
cattle and buffaloes3 8421000 heads2018
Livestock - Pigs
pigs9 1891000 heads2018
Livestock - Sheep
sheep15.1611000 heads2018
Livestock - Goats
goats16.0091000 heads2018
Livestock - Equines
equines, total14.2491000 heads2018
horses14.2491000 heads2018
Livestock - Poultry
birds323 1281000 heads2018
Livestock - Beekeeping
honey2.8861000 t2018
Livestock - Silk farming
silk, raw0.251000 t2014
Livestock - Livestock products
butter601000 t2017
cheese1501000 t2017
crustaceans and molluscs885 096t2018


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 (33 reactors, with another 2 currently being built) are at Hamaoka, Genkai, Ikata, Mihama, Sendai, Takahama, Tokai, Tomari, Tsuruga, Kashiwazaki and Ōi.
Following the 2011 Fukushima accident, all of the reactors were gradually shut down or suspended from operation for mandatory safety checks and upgrades, leaving the country with no nuclear generation between September 2013 and August 2015; nine of them were later reactivated.
Large steelworks are located in the regional centres of Hanshin-Keihin, Kakogawa, Kamaishi, Kimitsu, Kitakyūshū and Muroran. 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.
There are numerous regasification plants (located especially in Chūbu, Kansai, Kantō and Kyūshū).
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
coal758.31000 t2019
coal, total758.31000 t2019
Mineral resources - Metal ores
molybdenum0.81000 t2015
Mineral resources - Non-metal ores
bentonite4201000 t2016
clay1101000 t2015
Mineral resources - Rocks
diatomite401000 t2019
dolomite3 2591000 t2019
Mineral resources - Precious metals and stones
gold6 372kg2017
silver5 076kg2016
Mineral resources - Other minerals
arsenic0.041000 t2019
iodine9 000t2019


Electric energy - Generated
- thermal689 140M kWh2018
- other renew.114 651M kWh2018
Electric energy - Installed capacity
- thermal193 5241000 kW2017
- other renew.63 2861000 kW2018
Electric energy - Total production and capacity
total net generation952 123M kWh2018
total installed capacity297 3851000 kW2017


Industry - Iron and Steel, Metallurgy
aluminium188.41000 t2014
aluminium, primary451000 t2016
Industry - Machinery and transport equipment
bikes884 078no.2019
cars8 328 756no.2019
Industry - Precision and optical instruments
cameras2 423 955no.2019
watches and clocks4 718 000no.2019
Industry - Electrical and electronics
air conditioners10 912 631no.2019
camcorders68 434no.2019
Industry - Petrochemicals
bitumen3 0511000 t2017
petrol58 879.11000 t2014
Industry - Chemicals
ammonia846.11000 t2019
artificial yarn22.11000 t2019
Industry - Textiles
carpets50 627.31000 m²2019
cotton fabrics109.2M m²2019
Industry - Clothing and footwear
footwear24 697 296pairs2019
Industry - Food and beverages
beer of barley2 9501000 t2014
cottonseed oil41000 t2014
Industry - Tobacco
cigarettes110 100M units2016
cigars and cigarettes110 100M units2016
Industry - Paper and wood products
chemical pulp8 0771000 t2018
chemi-mechanical pulp8 6381000 t2018
Industry - Glass and other non-metallic mineral products
cement54 0001000 t2019
Industry - Various
chemicals production116 842.9M US$2018
food, beverages and tobacco production134 728.8M US$2018


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); on 1 January 2019, a free trade agreement with the EU (JEFTA) entered into force.

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

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
manufactures87.969% of goods exports2018
ores and metals2.450% of goods exports2018
International trade by country - Merchandise Export
United States140 430M US$2019
China134 681M US$2019
International trade by country - Merchandise Import
China169 220M US$2019
United States81 252M US$2019
Merchandise Export
2019705 528M US$ -
2018738 143M US$ -
Merchandise Import
2019720 738M US$ -
2018748 488M US$ -


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

International Tourism
Expenditures28 096M US$2018
Number of arrivals31 192 000units2018


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 carried126 387.51000 units2018
Communication - Media and telecommunication
Broadband subscribers326.223per 1000 pop.2018
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 (Shōgakkō) and three years of middle school (Chūgakkō); secondary education (Kōtōgakkō) lasts three 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 schooling15.2years2016
Gradautes, percentage51.9%2018
Social statistics - Students and Teachers by level
Teachers, primary level417 071units2017
Teachers, secondary level637 889units2017
Social statistics - Social protection
Social protection spending41.9% of total expenses2018
Social protection spending21.9% of GDP2015
Social statistics - Health
Hospital beds12.98per 1000 pop.2018
Physicians2.49per 1000 pop.2018
Social statistics - Diseases
HIV-0.1% of adults2018
Tuberculosis14per 100 000 pop.2018
Museums1 286units2018
Museums, visitors142 456 000units2017
Research and development spending3.3% of GDP2018
Other social indicators
Access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking100%2016
Access to electricity100%2018
Household consumption expenditure
clothing, footwear3.6%2018