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Geography—note: strategic location in northeast Asia

total: 377,835 sq km
land: 374,744 sq km
water: 3,091 sq km

Area—comparative: slightly smaller than California

Climate: varies from tropical in south to cool temperate in north

Terrain: mostly rugged and mountainous

Environment—current issues: air pollution from power plant emissions results in acid rain; acidification of lakes and reservoirs degrading water quality and threatening aquatic life; Japan's appetite for fish and tropical timber is contributing to the depletion of these resources in Asia and elsewhere.

Population: 125,931,533 (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 15% (male 9,802,921; female 9,342,254)
15-64 years: 69% (male 43,486,840; female 43,135,979)
65 years and over: 16% (male 8,388,242; female 11,775,297) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 0.2% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 10.26 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 7.94 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 4.1 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 80 years
male: 76.91 years
female: 83.25 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 1.46 children born/woman (1998 est.)

Ethnic groups: Japanese 99.4%, other 0.6% (mostly Korean)

Religions: observe both  Shinto and Buddhist 84%, other 16% (including Christian 0.7%)

Languages: Japanese

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99% (1970 est.)
male: NA%
female: NA%

National Capitol:  Tokyo

Independence: 660 BC (traditional founding by Emperor Jimmu)

Constitution: 3 May 1947

Suffrage: 20 years of age; universal

Political parties and leaders: Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Ryutaro HASHIMOTO, president, Koichi KATO, secretary general; Social Democratic Party (SDP), Takako DOI, chairperson, Tadatoshi AKIBA, secretary general; Sakigake (Harbinger), Akiko DOMOTO, chairperson, Hiroyuki SONODA, secretary general; Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), Naoto KAN, leader, Tsutomu HATA, secretary general; Japan Communist Party (JCP), Tetsuzo FUWA, chairman, Kazuo SHII, secretary general; Komei, Toshiko HAMAYOTSU, chief; Liberal Party, Ichiro OZAWA, president, Takeshi NODA, secretary general; New Peace Party, Takenori KANZAKI, leader, Tetsuzo FUYUBASHI, secretary general; Reform Club, Tatsuo OZAWA, leader, Katsuyuki ISHIDA, secretary general

note: subsequent to the last legislative elections, the New Frontier Party (NFP) disbanded; the Sun Party was formed by former NFP members, but later disbanded; the DPJ was formed by former members of the SDP and Sakigake and, in April 1998, was joined by three additional parties which had formed after the NFP disbanded; Reform Club, New Peace Party, and Liberal Party were formed in January 1998 after the NFP disbanded.

Economy—overview: Government-industry cooperation, a strong work ethic, mastery of high technology, and a comparatively small defense allocation (roughly 1% of GDP) have helped Japan advance with extraordinary rapidity to the rank of second most powerful economy in the world. One notable characteristic of the economy is the working together of manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors in closely knit groups called keiretsu. A second basic feature has been the guarantee of lifetime employment for a substantial portion of the urban labor force; this guarantee is eroding. Industry, the most important sector of the economy, is heavily dependent on imported raw materials and fuels. The much smaller agricultural sector is highly subsidized and protected, with crop yields among the highest in the world. Usually self-sufficient in rice, Japan must import about 50% of its requirements of other grain and fodder crops. Japan maintains one of the world's largest fishing fleets and accounts for nearly 15% of the global catch. For three decades overall real economic growth had been spectacular: a 10% average in the 1960s, a 5% average in the 1970s, and a 4% average in the 1980s. Growth slowed markedly in 1992-95 largely because of the aftereffects of overinvestment during the late 1980s and contractionary domestic policies intended to wring speculative excesses from the stock and real estate markets. Growth picked up to 3.9% in 1996, largely a reflection of stimulative fiscal and monetary policies as well as low rates of inflation. But in 1997 growth fell back to 1%. As a result of the expansionary fiscal policies and declining tax revenues due to the recession, Japan has one of the largest budget deficits as a percent of GDP among the industrialized countries. The crowding of habitable land area and the aging of the population are two other major long-run problems.

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 2%
industry: 41.5%
services: 56.5% (1995)

Agriculture—products: rice, sugar beets, vegetables, fruit; pork, poultry, dairy products, eggs; world's largest fish catch of 10 million metric tons in 1991

total value: $421 billion (f.o.b., 1997)
commodities: manufactures 96% (including machinery 50%, motor vehicles 19%, consumer electronics 3%)
partners: US 27%, Southeast Asia 17%, EU 15%, China 5%

total value: $339 billion (c.i.f., 1997)
commodities: manufactures 54%, foodstuffs and raw materials 28%, fossil fuels 16%
partners: US 22%, Southeast Asia 15%, EU 14%, China 12%

Currency:  Yen

Military manpower—availability:
males age 15-49: 31,105,541 (1998 est.)

Military manpower—fit for military service:
males: 26,778,356 (1998 est.)

Military expenditures—dollar figure: $48.5 billion (FY96/97)

Military expenditures—percent of GDP: 1% (FY96/97)

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