Essay, Research Paper: Japan


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The island of Japan (145,826 sq. mi.) is located in the North Pacific Ocean. It
is bounded by on the north by the Sea of Okhotsk, on the east by the Pacific
Ocean, on the south by the Pacific Ocean and the East China Sea, and on the west
by the Korea Strait and the Sea of Japan. I. Geography a.) Land Japan is made up
of four islands: Hokkaido, Kyushu, Honshu, and Shikoku. The Entire country is
smaller than the state of Montana. Honshu is the largest island of the four. It
is a very mountainous island and features the Japanese Alps, which is home to
Mount Fuji, Japan’s highest peak. These Alps also harbor many active and
inactive volcanoes. The Kanto Plain, the largest lowland in the country spreads
from the Alps. Hokkaido, the northernmost and second largest island is full of
forested mountains and hills. Although large in size, Hokkaido only has about 5%
of the nation living there. The steep, walled heavily forested mountains that
run down the center of the island characterize Kyushu. Kyushu has rolling hills,
wide plains and doesn’t have much fertile farmland. Many mountains and hills
cross up Shikoku, Japan’s smallest island. b.) Climate The climate in Japan is
generally mild. However, the temperature for each island varies. For instance,
in Hokkaido and northern Honshu, the winters are usually bitterly cold and the
summers are very short. In Kyushu, Shikoku, and southern Honshu, the summers are
long and humid and winters are mild. All areas in Japan are subject to at least
40 inches of rain a year. Typhoons are common in late summer-early fall. c.)
Vegetation Japan is home to more than 17,000 species of flowering and
nonflowering plants. Trees in Japan are predominately conifers; the most common
species is the sugi or Japanese cedar. Other evergreens such as the larch,
spruce, and fir thrive there also. On Kyushu, Shikoku, and southern Honshu,
subtropical trees like bamboo, camphor, and banyan are all prevalent. d.)
Population and Culture Approximately 125,449,703 people currently live in Japan,
making it one of the most population dense countries in the world. Seventy-eight
percent of Japan’s population reside in the large urban areas such as Tokyo,
Osaka, and Kawasaki. Japan is ethnically 99% Japanese and the remaining 1% is
comprised of Koreans, Chinese, and the Ainu, the aboriginal people of Japan. The
major religions of the Japanese people are Shintoism and Buddhism. Japan is also
a very appreciative and cultured country. Japan has a large, state-of-the-art
library in virtually every major city. The University of Tokyo Library boasts
more than 6.3 million volumes and increases by 200,000 volumes every year. Japan
also has many modern galleries and museums, such as the Tokyo National Museum.
The Japanese, who place high value on education, attend one of over 60 national
universities or the countless other private institutions there. The Japanese
also are lovers of all types of sports. Baseball, soccer, volleyball, tennis,
and skiing are all secular favorites. a.) Natural Resources and Land Usage Japan
has various minerals, but has generally small quantities of them all. Thus,
Japan imports almost all minerals that it requires. Limestone is the primary
mineral mined in Japan. Other minerals available in minute quantities are coal,
natural gas, copper, lead, zinc, and quartzite. Japan has utilized its large
waterpower potential to produce massive amounts of energy. II. History III.
Economics Japan’s unit of currency is the yen. The national bank of issue is
the Bank of Japan. Due to the lack of arable land, agriculture plays a small
part in Japan’s economy, while mining, manufacturing, and other industries
employ 70 percent of the workforce. Fishing and forestry are both very lucrative
industries in Japan. Japan’s leading manufactured items include chemicals,
transportation equipment, metal and metal goods, electrical machinery, and
non-electrical machinery. Japan has one of the world’s strongest economies.
Although economically devastated after WWII, Japan became strong again in the
late-1950’s to early-1960’s. The primary exports in Japan are electronics,
automobiles, machines, chemicals, textiles, iron and steel, precision
instruments, and office machines. Japanese imports include live animals,
textiles, metal ores, petroleum and petroleum products, lumber, food products,
clothing, automobiles, and electrical machinery. Japan’s principal trading
partners are the US, Great Britain, countries in Europe, and several Asian
countries IV. Politics and Government Japan is a constitutional monarchy. All
executive power is in the cabinet, headed by the Prime Minister. The cabinet is
chosen from members of the Diet or national legislature. Major political parties
are the Liberal Democratic Party, the New Frontier Party, the Democratic Party
of Japan, the Social Democratic Party of Japan, the Japanese Communist Party,
and Sakigage. V. Military The Japanese armed forces are of moderate strength.
The army has about 149,900 soldiers enlisted. The air force has about 44,700
members, and the navy has 43,100 sailors. Japan has no enemies at the time. VI.
International Relations Japan belongs to no international groups. VII.
International Appeal Japan attracts millions of travelers annually. Many are
attracted to the beautiful rural areas that dot the country. The Japanese Alps
attract many skiing or mountain climbing enthusiasts. Tokyo and other large
metropolitan areas, with their bustling cityscapes and prime shopping areas
makes them great tourist attractions.
1. Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia, 1996 “Japan” 2. SIRS Government
Reporter, “Japan”, Spring 1998 3. Encarta 1998-Search “Japan” 4.
CultureGram ‘98. “Japan” 5. World Book “J”, 1996

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