Japan: Location, Size, Population, & Government

About the location, size, population, and government of the country Japan.



Location--Japan (Nippon or Nihon) is an island chain of about 500 islands that forms an arc along the coast of East Asia. The southern end of Japan is 125 mi. from the southern tip of Korea. Japan's northernmost island is less than 30 mi. south of the island of Sakhalin, now part of the Soviet Union.

Size--143,818 sq. mi. (372,488 sq. km.).

Population--112 million: Japanese, 99.4%; Korean, 0.5%; Chinese, Ainu, and others, 0.1%. Over 80% of the people are Buddhist, over 80% are Shintoist, and most are both. Less than 1% are Christian.

Who Rules--Japan is a constitutional monarchy, headed by Emperor Hirohito since 1926. Hirohito renounced his divinity following W.W. II.

Under the supervision of American occupation forces, the Japanese adopted their current constitution in 1947. Japan has a bicameral, parliamentary form of government. The House of Representatives, the 491-member lower house of the Diet, has the power to overrule the 252-member House of Councillors.

Who REALLY Rules--Since it was formed from smaller parties in the mid-'50s, the Liberal Democratic party (LDP) has governed Japan. Changes of government have been the result of disputes within the party.

Despite its name, the LDP is basically conservative and is the political voice of Japanese business. Big-businessmen openly dominate the Government through the party and through a network of advisory boards from the lowest bureaucratic level to the Cabinet.

The business community itself is dominated by Zaikai, a financial elite that dominates both business and politics. The Zaikai works through the elite Sanken (Industrial Problems Study Council) and the broader Keidanren (Federation of Economic Organizations).

The "Prime Minister" of the Zaikai is Kazutaka Kikawada, the chairman of Sanken and the Japanese Committee for Economic Development and the president of Tokyo Electric Power, the world's largest power company.

The Japanese tradition of loyalty goes beyond nation (Emperor) and family: It also includes employers. Japanese corporations maintain a paternal system of industrial relations. They provide company dormitories for unmarried employees, and sometimes they provide housing projects for families. Workers at many companies sing company hymns in unison ("Grow, Matsushita, Grow, Grow, Grow") before beginning work each day.

Women in Japanese culture have been traditionally subservient to men. Before W.W. II, women had no property rights. Most married Japanese women still call their husbands shujin (master) and young girls still attend bridal schools to learn wifely skills.

Though traditionally Japanese marriages have been arranged by families, "love matches" now make up 63% of all marriages.

In 1945 the Soviet Union, having defeated Nazi Germany, prepared to enter the Pacific war. Before the Soviets could commit many troops to the Asian theater, the U.S. had dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, destroying those cities and hastening Japanese surrender. The atomic bombs essentially kept the Soviets out of Japan and established American postwar military superiority over the Soviet Union.

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