Japan is an archipelago with four large and a number of smaller islands. Very
large parts of the country are characterized by young, quite impassable and
forested mountains. This is especially true of the main island, Honshu; total
is 2/3 of the country covered by forest. In contrast,
the many large and small river and coastal plains are extremely intensively
exploited and very densely populated. Alone in the historic core area
from Tokyo to the ancient capital Kyoto (Tokaido) and further along
the Inland Sea to Kyushu live approximately half of the population. The northern and
second largest island, Hokkaido, was late colonized from the south and remains
Japan has an ethnically very uniform population. From the Japanese occupation
of Korea 1910-45 are still many descendants of displaced and immigrant Koreans
and especially on Hokkaido living few and heavily adulterated descendants of the
indigenous Ainu - population. In addition, the residents are ethnic
Japanese. According to AllCityPopulation.com,
the homogeneous character has its background in the island kingdom's
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population pyramid and resident density about this country.
The population density is 333 residents per km2, but with 2/3 of
the country covered by forest is the real density in the inhabited areas much
larger, and Japan's cultural landscape is emerging as one of the closest and
most intensively used in the world. Traditionally, any fairly flat plot of land
was used for cultivation, and the associated buildings were located on the
surrounding mountain slopes. This building pattern remains evident in the
For a long time, the population was fairly constant at approximately 35 mio. residents,
and the growth took place especially after 1870. Until after World War II,
agriculture was the dominant occupation, and both birth rate and mortality were
high. With the rapid economic development thereafter and the associated growth
in both urban population and standard of living, both birth and death rates
decreased. This development was supported by the fact that as early as 1948,
Japan was one of the first countries in the world to introduce legal
abortion. In the 1990's, the population has stabilized at around 125 million. As
in most other highly developed countries, the number of old people is rising
sharply, and problems of dependency and labor shortages are foreseen.
The very high density in the Japanese population centers causes the known
problems with traffic and smog (but remarkably not with crime). From the state
side, attempts are being made to turn urban development away from the
Tokyo-Hiroshima dense urban belt in particular, and there are extensive support
programs for the outlying areas.
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The Japanese business distribution is similar to that of the other
industrialized countries with a large and growing share of the labor force in
the tertiary industries, while the industry itself employs a declining part and
agriculture only a few percent. The fishery is the world's second largest (after
China), and in addition, Japan is by far the largest fish importer in the
world. It reflects the very central position that fish traditionally and still
holds in Japanese cuisine.
Mining has largely ceased. On the one hand, most deposits (copper, iron,
coal) have been depleted, and on the other hand, the mines have been outcompeted
by countries with lower production costs. Japan is among the world's largest
importers of a wide range of raw materials: coal, oil, natural gas, iron ore and
Industry. Japan's current status as an industrial superpower has
been achieved since 1945, when the country emerged from the war with a severely
damaged production apparatus. The great growth of the industry was not due to
special natural resources or favorable location in relation to the market, but
to a large extent to a massive American support for reconstruction and societal
reforms. In addition, the Korean War, which meant great American activity in the
region and demand for Japanese products. Throughout the process, the Japanese
state played an active and governing role in industrialization and ensured
competitiveness through low wages and low taxes.
Japanese industrial production is very versatile. From the outside, the very
large groups in particular are characterized by names such
as Mitsubishi and Mitsui, but the business community is also characterized by
smaller, domestic-oriented companies. They either manufacture consumer goods or
are subcontractors in close connection with the large groups.
The main exports are cars, electronics and ships. The Japanese car industry
gained market share through the 1970's, as a consequence of the oil
crises. The Japanese cars were smaller and had lower fuel consumption than the
American and European ones and were often also cheaper. In the 1990's, the
automotive industry has become highly internationalized, and it is less clear
which countries produce what. Japanese car brands are now manufactured
in a large number of countries, and Japanese capital is invested in other
countries' car groups.
In the past, heavy industry was an important export sector, and Japan was by
far the largest shipbuilding nation. Increased demands for environmental
protection and rising costs have now meant that much heavy industry has moved
abroad. The export of electronic articles, on the other hand, has grown
sharply. Japanese companies such as Sony, Panasonic and Fuji are among the
leaders in cameras, music systems and IT.
The domestic industry includes a wide range of food and consumer goods,
including traditional Japanese handicrafts of lacquer and paper. This sector
plays a minor economic role, but has great employment significance.
Industrial development has taken place in close cooperation between the state
and the business community, characterized by large-scale coordinated
efforts. Thus, the 1960's investment in the machinery and especially the
automotive industry, the 1970's turn towards electronics and the 1980's investment
in biotechnology and other high technologies were all the result of government
initiatives, adopted in close contact with the leading business community.
Japanese industrial development is based on a distinctive model, which is
characterized both by traditional Japanese culture and by the extensive reforms
under the Allied administration after World War II. The companies accept that
the state has a great influence on the development. The business structure is
characterized by the large corporations, all of which have roots dating back to
the early development after 1868; several of them are among the world's largest
companies. Zaibatsuare usually very broad-spectrum groups with many types of
companies. Changes in the priorities of industrial policy are quickly absorbed,
as the groups have companies in almost all industries. The structure helps to
strengthen the common interest between the state and the business community and
creates the opportunity for strong management of the future core areas of
Agriculture. Japan stretches over 21 degrees latitude from north to
south, and there are large climatic differences from Okinawa's and Kyushu's
subtropical to Hokkaido's temperate climate with long, snowy winters.
Agricultural production has for more than 2000 years been concentrated on
rice cultivation. Other traditional crops are millet, barley and soybeans. The
arable area is only twice as large as Denmark's, but the cultivation is
extremely intensive, and the hectare yields are among the highest in the
world. The cultivation was first mechanized late (after the 1950's), which is
related to the complicated rice cultivation, where the plants germinate in beds
and then are planted out in irrigated fields. After a comprehensive land reform,
which was carried out by the Allied administration, it was gnsntl. farm size
quite small and it remains at a few acres. Most farms are run on a part-time
basis; despite very large government subsidies, the earnings are not enough to
entertain a family.
The Japanese diet has traditionally been completely dominated by plant foods
with fish in addition to animal proteins. With the great economic growth and
increase in prosperity, the demand has changed, and several large farms with
meat and dairy production have been established.
Investments in transport and communication did not keep up with industrial
development at all for a long time. The focus was primarily on a rapid increase
in production, and in the late 1970's one could find modern companies located at
the end of dirt roads. Traditionally, shipping was important due to the often
impassable terrain, and much industry was established in the port cities. This
pattern still characterizes the industrial location, but is changing.
Since the 1960's, there has been a nationwide expansion of the infrastructure,
which in the 1990's is characterized by great capacity and efficiency. With the Shinkansen -
the connection between Tokyo and Osaka in 1964, Japan got the world's first
high - speed train, and in the late 1990's the network stretches from northern
Honshu to Kyushu. At the same time, the motorway network has been expanded with
e.g. several bridge connections across the Inland Sea. Common to the many
facilities are major engineering challenges and gigantic costs in the
mountainous and densely populated country.
The Japanese island arc is formed by the active collision zone between two
large lithosphere plates. The mountains of Japan are all very young and
predominantly north-south-going. Pga. the young age they appear with rugged,
steep mountain sides. No plateaus or plateaus of degradation material have
formed in the valleys, and the rivers are short and have a large slope. Early
on, dams were built for irrigation and energy supply.
Earthquakes and volcanism are commonplace in Japan, but few earthquakes cause
major damage. This is partly due to the fact that most of them are of moderate
strength, and partly due to the fact that all major buildings are constructed
with special vibration-damping constructions. However, the country is
occasionally hit by particularly violent earthquakes with great destruction as a
result; most recently in the Kobe area in 1995 and the Fukushima area in 2011.
The Tokyo earthquake in 1923 is among the most devastating in history; it cost
There are approximately 40 active volcanoes. Several have very regular cone shape
and large well-defined craters. This also applies to a large extent to the
sacred mountain Fujisan SV for Tokyo, which, however, is considered extinct. The
active volcano Aso on Kyushu is known for one of the largest craters in the
Climate. The northern part of the country lies in the temperate
zone; the border with subtropical climate goes a little north of Tokyo. The
southernmost islands (Okinawa) have a tropical climate. The location east of the
Asian mainland means that the climate is both mainland and monsoon. In winter,
the stationary high pressure over Siberia presses cold air over the Sea of
Japan, where it absorbs moisture. It is causing heavy snowfall in northwestern
Japan, while the east coast is sheltered from both the cold and rainfall. In
summer, warm, humid winds blow in from the Pacific Ocean and provide
precipitation on the east-facing side of the mountains. However, there is no
real rainy and dry season, and the rainy seasons are not as pronounced as in
actual monsoon climates.
The Japanese islands are formed by a collision between the Eurasian Plate and
the two oceanic lithosphere plates, the Pacific Plate and the Philippine Plate,
which slide under the Japanese arch. At the same time, the Pacific plate is
being pushed under the Philippine. With these
movements, earthquakes and volcanic activity occur, and Japan is one of the
areas in the world that has the highest frequency of earthquakes. The islands
have many active and extinct volcanoes as well as numerous hot springs. Between
the two ocean floor plates are the deep-sea tombs Boningraven
and Marianergraven. Where the Pacific plate moves down below northern Japan, the
Kuriler Tomb is found in the north and the Japan Tomb further south. Where the
Philippine Plate pushes itself under the southern part of Japan, are the Nankai
Trough and the Ryukyu Tomb. Japan's highest mountain, the volcano Fujisan (3776
m), is located just where the two plates slide in under the Japanese arch.
The main islands, Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu, consist in part of
older sediments; the oldest fossil carriers are from Silur. In addition,
sediments are found from the entire period until today. Pga. repeated phases of
plate movements and deformations, the sediments have been folded
and metamorphosed several times; to each phase also belong granitic intrusions.
Melting of magma has formed intrusions, and hydrothermal activity in
connection with this has resulted in mineralizations of e.g. gold,
copper, nickel, manganese and iron. Pga. lateral displacements, the Japanese
archipelago since the Miocene (approximately 24-5 million before now) is partially broken
and torn from the Eurasian Plate. Thereby, The Sea of Japan has been
formed. The displacements have created a series of deep basins in the arch, in
which thick sediment layers are deposited. The continued undercutting has meant
that some of these have been raised and folded. The sediments today contain
deposits of hard coal, lignite, oil and gas.
The Japanese population is unusually homogeneous, and approximately 99% are
considered Japanese. In Japan, the Ainu people, who are predominantly
assimilated, as well as a group of Koreans and Chinese also live. Many Chinese
and Koreans came to Japan more or less voluntarily in the period leading up to
World War II, where they then remained, and in many cases their descendants grew
up without speaking anything other than Japanese.
Some Japanese emigrated to Hawaii (from 1885), Brazil (from 1908) and later
the United States and Canada. However, emigration has never been large enough to
have had any noticeable effect on the population of the home country.