Japan is an island country located in the northeast Pacific Ocean in East Asia. The state capital, Tokyo, is one of the most populated cities in the world and is situated in east-central Honshu Island with approximately 37 million people.
The state has become one of the most financially and technologically advanced countries globally since the 1950s.
Alongside this progress, complex and enduring cultural ways continue. For instance, contemporary constructions like high-rises and structures can be located close to ancient monuments like temples and shrines. Tōkaidō, the ancient trade route that connected Tokyo to Kyoto, is still actively used today other than motorways and high-speed rail lines.
The state creates and develops many technological devices and appliances used throughout the globe, and individuals continue to pass the knowledge and abilities to future generations.
Japanese culture and society are known for having a tie between the past and the future.
Kimigayo” (君が代, Japanese pronunciation: ‘kimiɡajo,’ “His Imperial Majesty’s Reign”) is the national anthem of Japan.
The present composition was chosen in 1880, replacing an unpopular tune created by John William Fenton eleven years earlier. The words originate from a waka poem written by an anonymous author in the Heian era (794-1185), and the current melody was chosen at that time.
Although “Kimigayo” is typically interpreted as “His Imperial Majesty’s Reign,” neither the title nor the lyrics’ official translation has been made legal under the law.
Japanese is the most extensively spoken language in Japan. It has numerous varieties, with the Tokyo dialect generally regarded as standard Japanese.
Politics and Government
The Emperor of Japan only has ceremonial authority because it is a unified state with a constitutional monarchy. The Japanese Prime Minister and his Cabinet, whose sovereignty is bestowed to the Japanese people, are in charge of exercising executive authority.
In 2019, the Emperor of Japan, Naruhito, replaced his father, Akihito, after ascending to the Chrysanthemum Throne.
The National Parliament, a bicameral parliament, is Japan’s legislative body. There are two houses, a lower House of Representatives with 465 seats chosen by the people every four years or when the body is abolished. The other is an Upper House of Councilors with 245 seats whose members are selected by the people and have six-year terms.
All individuals over 18 have the right to vote, and all elected posts are decided by secret ballot. The emperor appoints the Prime Minister after choosing him or her from among the House members, who serves as the Head of Government with the authority to choose and remove Ministers of State. Fumio Kishida is the current Prime Minister of Japan.
After winning the 2021 contest for the Liberal Democratic Party’s leadership, he gained office. Since the 1950s, the right-wing big-tent Liberal Democratic Party, sometimes known as the 1955 System, has dominated the nation.
Through works like Kujikata Osadamegaki, a rulebook for Japanese judicial bureaucrats historically affected by Chinese law, the Japanese legal system independently emerged throughout the Edo era. The legal system has been substantially based on European civil law, particularly German civil law, since the late 19th century.
A civil code based on the German Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch was formed in Japan in 1896 and is still in use today with amendments made after World War II. The oldest constitution of Japan in force was established in 1947.
The legislature creates statutory law. According to the constitution, the emperor must proclaim legislation approved by the Parliament without having the authority to veto it.
Japan’s judicial system is structured into four fundamental levels. The first is the Supreme Court, with three levels of lower courts. This is the central body of Japanese statute law.
Geography, Culture, and Social aspects
Japan is a string of Islands surrounded by waters such as the East China Sea, the Pacific Ocean, the Sea of Japan, the Philippine Sea, and the Korean Strait. 125.4 million people live in Japan, of whom 122.8 million are native Japanese. 92% of the Japanese people resided in cities as of 2019. Tokyo, the state’s capital, is home to 13.9 million people.
With 38,140,000 inhabitants, the Greater Tokyo Region is the world’s largest metropolitan area. Japan is a state with a 98.1% Japanese population, making it a culturally and ethnically homogenous country.
With 84.67 years, Japan has the second-highest life expectancy. This equates to 87.7 years for females, but for males, it is 81.5 years.
The native Ainu and Ryukyuan people are among the nation’s minor ethnic groups. Koreans from Zainich, Chinese, Peruvians, and Brazilians with a predominance of Japanese ancestry are also tiny minority groups in Japan. The Burakumin is a social minority.
The entire land area of the Japanese islands is around 142,000 square miles. Considering the small land of Japan, it is not suitable for either cultivation or habitation. It appears even more diminutive.
Although there are many distinct features of Japanese culture and society, it is sometimes characterized as uniform. Many people in Japan enjoy where they were born and the geographical variations across the country.
Nevertheless, there are recurring themes in Japanese culture that can be identified, such as a sense of self-identity based on one’s social group and place of birth, a courteous and modest manner of speaking, a practical approach to problems, and admiration and pleasure of artistic pursuits and kinds of entertainment.
Many Japanese cities’ architecture and urban planning still reflect their rich past. For instance, the historical layout of the castle towns at Kyoto and Nara, which served as the previous imperial capitals, has been largely preserved.
Mass urban migration resulted from the nation’s extensive industrialization after World War II. As a result, modern Japan is highly urbanized, with 91.8% of the nation’s population living in cities along the seashore or in the Kanto Plain.
Since just 12% of the land can be used for agriculture, most villages continue to conduct business with surrounding towns. Many people from rural regions relocate to metropolitan areas either temporarily or permanently for jobs and education, and some may do so on a weekly or seasonal basis.
Japan’s highly advanced and extensive communication and transportation networks make it easier to travel between regional and metropolitan locations. This links some of the country’s most isolated areas to the rest of it.
The extensive transportation network has facilitated regional tourism growth during the past few decades.
Japan is a democratic and highly developed state. The unemployment rate is accessible from 1953 through August 2022, updated monthly, and has an average rate of 2.50%.
Japan’s economy is a highly advanced free-market economy. By nominal GDP, it ranks third worldwide, while by purchasing power parity, it ranks fourth. Its developed economy is the second-largest in the world.
Both the G7 and the G20 include Japan as a member. The nation’s per capita GDP was $40,193, as reported by the World Bank in 2020. Japan’s GDP, expressed in dollars, is erratic due to a variable currency exchange rate.
Japan is anticipated to have a GDP per capita of about $39,048 after considering these variations using the Atlas technique.
Japan was the fourth-largest exporter and importer in the world in 2018.
Japan exports mainly to China, the US, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand. Japan imports mainly from Australia, China, the US, UAE, and Saudi Arabia.
The economic management system in Japan is perhaps unique in the entire globe. The government’s authority and influence on business are stronger and more extensive than in other states with market economies.
Although the private enterprise is primarily responsible for Japan’s economic growth, the government has actively aided the country’s growth.
Its $1.4 trillion foreign exchange reserves rank second in the world. On the Global Competitiveness Report, it comes fifth, and in terms of the Economic Complexity Index, it comes on top globally. Additionally, Japan is the fourth-largest consumer market in the world.
As per the human development index (HDI), which the United Nations uses to gauge the economic growth of a country, Japan scored 0.919 points in 2019 and got placed in the 20th position out of 189 nations.
Japan’s GDP growth was revised to 3.5% in 2022 due to increased capital investment, demonstrating that the country’s economy had fully recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Japan has been actively preserving its environment since the 1970s. As a result, it today employs some of the most cutting-edge technologies and tactics available elsewhere in the world to achieve the optimal balance between economic growth and environmental preservation.
There are strict laws and rules in place regarding natural site development. All around the country, protected areas have been established, including national parks.
The development of electric and hydrogen fuel vehicles and Japan’s extensive and stringent recycling laws are other initiatives of a similar nature aimed at making the country more environment-friendly.
People in many locations create unique means of merging local culture with nature because of the wide variety of climatic zones and physical features. Japan’s hot spring or “onsen” culture is one such example.
The Japanese archipelago, situated on the Pacific Ring of Fire, was formed by tectonic plate movements, which led to the emergence of volcanoes all around the nation, which produced many hot springs. This abundance of hot springs has also spawned an onsen culture with a history that spans thousands of years.
Japan ratified the Paris agreement in 2016. According to Japan’s updated 2030 Paris Agreement goal, it would cut emissions by 46% below 2013 levels and make a “continuous hard effort in its struggle” to cut emissions by 50%.
Japan has limited mineral resources, and those exploited are frequently of low grade, but Japan managed them wisely. Japan has attained a good supply of safe drinking water because its water delivery systems have a spread rate of around 97%.
Influence and Military
From the Meiji Restoration onward, the military significantly influenced Japanese society. Nearly every leader in Japanese society during the Meiji period, whether in the armed forces, the government, or business, was a former samurai or a samurai ancestor. They all had similar beliefs and principles.
The earlier Meiji administration saw western imperialism as a threat to Japan, and one of the main goals of the Fukoku Kyohei strategy was to develop Japan’s economic and industrial base to create a powerful military to protect Japan against foreign aggressors.
The emergence of secret and semi-secret nationalistic societies, such as the Genysha in 1881 and Kokuryukai in 1901, combined political activities with paramilitary activities and intelligence officers and assisted expansionist policies as a solution to Japan’s domestic problems, coincided with the rise of political groups in the late Meiji period.
During the latter part of the 19th century, Japan thought Western nations looked down on it. During this period, the expression Fukuoka Kyhei (rich nation, powerful army) was coined, illustrating how Japanese leaders viewed imperialism as a means of gaining respect and dominance.
Japan joined the imperialist powers after adopting a more assertive foreign policy and winning the First Sino-Japanese War against China and the Russo-Japanese War against Russia.
The belief that Japan would only be able to gain the respect of Western nations and change the unfair treaties through a powerful force fueled the demand for a robust military to protect its burgeoning overseas empire.
Japan played a major role in World War I and II and was defeated badly in the second World War when the US dropped two Atomic bombs with disastrous effects still seen in Japan. But after this incident, Japan developed close relations with the US, now Japan’s closest ally.
The United Nations (UN) was founded in 1945, and after eleven years, in 1956, Japan joined the UN as its 80th member.
Japan has no severe rivalry, but it condemns China’s actions in the region. In response to China’s expanding regional and global involvement, Japanese-US collaboration has accelerated to strengthen Japan’s military’s deterrent capability.
With roughly 55,000 soldiers, Japan has the highest concentration of US forces worldwide. There are also about 85 US military facilities there.
The Prime Minister is the commander-in-chief of the Japan Self-Defense Forces. Japan does not have nuclear weapons or atomic bombs. Japan has close relations with the Western powers, particularly with the United States, and came under the security umbrella of the US.
Japan is one of the most developed states in Asia. The strong political, economic, social, and bureaucratic structures of Japan pushed it to play a prominent role in global affairs. Moreover, Japanese architecture, customs, food, art and crafts, and pop culture are all well-known internationally. These traits of Japan made it unique from the world.
*The research is conducted by the author; TDI does not take responsibility for the errors in the research. This also does not necessarily represent the position of the institution.