Japan is an island nation in situated in East Asia. The four main islands of Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu, which comprise 98% of the land area, stretch from 30 to 45 degrees north. The climate ranges from sub-tropical in the south to temperate cool in the north, which receives significant snow in winter. It is in a single time zone one hour ahead of Western Australia (GMT+9), making conducting business and travelling between WA and Japan very convenient. A rugged and mountainous country with a long coastline, no point in Japan is further than 115 kilometres from the sea.
A highly urban population
Japan has the 10th largest population in the world with 127 million people. The population is 85 per cent urban, with the greater Tokyo area, ranked the largest metropolis in the world, being home to over 35 million people. The Osaka-Kobe area is also a major metropolis, home to over 11 million people, and the Kansai region to 23 million people. The Japanese people enjoy very high living standards by all major measures of health, education, literacy and income.
A healthy life expectancy
Japan has the highest life expectancy of any country in the world, and the third lowest infant mortality rate. The very low birth rate, currently at 1.34, means that the population has peaked. Combined, these two key trends of highlife expectancy and low birth rate means that country is greying fast, with people aged 65 and older accounting for over 22 per cent of the population, while the productive population in decline.
School is compulsory from age 6 to 15. In addition, 88 per cent of all children receive pre-primary education, and 58 per cent of the tertiary age population receive tertiary education. The literacy rate for 15-24 years olds exceeds 98 per cent, and is over 93 per cent for all adults 15 years of age and over.
A democratic political system
Japan is a democratic constitutional monarchy with the chief of state Emperor Akihito heading the Imperial Family. Emperor Akihito’s reign is known as the Heisei Period, and the monarchy is hereditary. Japan’s Parliament, known as the Diet, has two houses: the House of Representatives, or Lower House, where the government is formed, and the House of Councillors, or Upper House. The current government is a coalition of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), the Social Democratic Party (SDP), and the People’s New Party, led by Prime Minister Mr. Yukio Hatoyama of the DPJ.
A rich history blends with contemporary culture
Japan’s long history and rich culture provide a vivid contrast to its cutting edge technology and youth lifestyles. The ancient temples and gardens for which Kyoto and Nara are famed, the rituals of sumo, and the form and traditions of karate, judo and aikido, live side-by-side with manga, anime, and a youth culture that makes it a trend leader in Asia.
Japan dominates high-end manufacturing and services in the Asian region, with numerous companies that are world leaders in their fields and household names around the world, including automobiles, consumer and business electronics. It is a pioneer in bullet trains, the home of video gaming, advanced robotics and hybrid cars. In addition, it leads in numerous technologies and products, from carbon fiber for aircraft and sports equipment, to production equipment for making wafers and LCD screens, to solar and battery technologies to name a few of the most prominent.