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currency: Yen (JPY)
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Japan profile
strategic location in northeast Asia
Japan history
In 1603, after decades of civil warfare, the Tokugawa shogunate (a military-led, dynastic government) ushered in a long period of relative political stability and isolation from foreign influence. For more than two centuries this policy enabled Japan to enjoy a flowering of its indigenous culture. Japan opened its ports after signing the Treaty of Kanagawa with the US in 1854 and began to intensively modernize and industrialize. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Japan became a regional power that was able to defeat the forces of both China and Russia. It occupied Korea, Formosa (Taiwan), and southern Sakhalin Island. In 1931-32 Japan occupied Manchuria, and in 1937 it launched a full-scale invasion of China. Japan attacked US forces in 1941 - triggering America's entry into World War II - and soon occupied much of East and Southeast Asia. After its defeat in World War II, Japan recovered to become an economic power and an ally of the US. While the emperor retains his throne as a symbol of national unity, elected politicians hold actual decision-making power. Following three decades of unprecedented growth, Japan's economy experienced a major slowdown starting in the 1990s, but the country remains a major economic power. In March 2011, Japan's strongest-ever earthquake, and an accompanying tsunami, devastated the northeast part of Honshu island, killing thousands and damaging several nuclear power plants. The catastrophe hobbled the country's economy and its energy infrastructure, and tested its ability to deal with humanitarian disasters.
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Conventional long form: none
Conventional short form: Japan
Local long form: Nihon-koku/Nippon-koku
Local short form: Nihon/Nippon
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Japan's capital city is Tokyo
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Japan Constitution:

3 May 1947
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Japan population growth rate: -0.1%
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Japan highest point: Fujiyama 3,776 m
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Japan lowest point: Hachiro-gata -4 m
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About 48% of Japan's land is arable.
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Shinano River is the Longest River in Japan
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Japan birth rate is 8 births/1,000 population
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Japan infant mortality rate is 2 deaths/1,000 live births
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Japan fertility rate is 1.39 children born/woman
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Japan climate:

varies from tropical in south to cool temperate in north
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Top 10 cities of Japan with populations (2012 est.) are:
1. Tokyo: 8,949,447
2. Yokohama: 3,689,603
3. Osaka: 2,666,371
4. Nagoya: 2,263,907
5. Sapporo: 1,914,434
6. Kobe: 1,544,873
7. Kyoto: 1,474,473
8. Fukuoka: 1,463,826
9. Kawasaki: 1,425,678
10. Saitama: 1,222,910
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Japan ethnic groups:

Indo-Aryan 72%, Dravidian 25%, Mongoloid and other 3%
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Japan Exports:

motor vehicles 13.6%; semiconductors 6.2%; iron and steel products 5.5%; auto parts 4.6%; plastic materials 3.5%; power generating machinery 3.5%
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Japan Imports:

petroleum 15.5%; liquid natural gas 5.7%; clothing 3.9%; semiconductors 3.5%; coal 3.5%; audio and visual apparatus 2.7%
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bicameral Diet or Kokkai consists of the House of Councillors or Sangi-in (242 seats - members elected for fixed six-year terms; 146 members in multi-seat constituencies and 96 by proportional representation) half elected every three years; and the House of Representatives or Shugi-in (480 seats - members elected for maximum four-year terms; 300 in single-seat constituencies; 180 members by proportional representation in 11 regional blocs); the prime minister has the right to dissolve the House of Representatives at any time with the concurrence of the cabinet

Administrative Divisions:
47 prefectures; Aichi, Akita, Aomori, Chiba, Ehime, Fukui, Fukuoka, Fukushima, Gifu, Gunma, Hiroshima, Hokkaido, Hyogo, Ibaraki, Ishikawa, Iwate, Kagawa, Kagoshima, Kanagawa, Kochi, Kumamoto, Kyoto, Mie, Miyagi, Miyazaki, Nagano, Nagasaki, Nara, Niigata, Oita, Okayama, Okinawa, Osaka, Saga, Saitama, Shiga, Shimane, Shizuoka, Tochigi, Tokushima, Tokyo, Tottori, Toyama, Wakayama, Yamagata, Yamaguchi, Yamanashi
Political parties and leaders:
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) - Banri KAIEDA

Japan Communist Party (JCP) - Kazuo SHII

Japan Restoration Party (JRP) - Shintaro ISHIHARA

Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) - Shinzo ABE

New Komeito (NK) - Natsuo YAMAGUCHI

People's Life Party (PF) - Ichiro OZAWA

Social Democratic Party (SDP) - Mizuho FUKUSHIMA

Tomorrow Party of Japan (TPJ) - Tomoko ABE

Your Party (YP) - Yoshimi WATANABE