Introduction to Japan

Japan is an archipelago nation comprised of 6,852 islands located in the Pacific Ocean. To the West lie the countries of China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia. The characters that make up Japans name mean ‘sun-origin’ which is why Japan is called the Land of the Rising Sun.

The four largest islands are Honshu, Kyushu, Hokkaido and Shikoku which together make up 97% of Japans land mass. The country is home to over 127million people making it the tenth most populated nation in the world. Its capital city Tokyo is the largest metropolitan area on earth and is home to a staggering 30 million people.

Japan is one of the world’s economic powerhouses being home to the third largest economy. It is the fourth largest importer and fourth biggest exporter and its citizens have the longest life expectancy on the planet.

Japan has a long history filled with long periods of isolation. For centuries the peoples of Japan did not have any contact with the world outside of their homeland allowing them to create a unique culture, most famous for the Samurai and Shoguns that rose to power. It wasn’t until the medieval period that the Japanese came into regular contact with other Asian nations such as China and Korea. The first Europeans to visit Japan did not arrive until the 1500’s.

Japan is a constitutional monarchy and is comprised of the Emperor and the parliament known as the Diet. The Emperor is regarded as define by the people and is a symbol of the state and of Japanese unity. Before World War Two Japan ruled a vast Pacific empire but after the war the nation adopted a policy of non aggression making it one of the most peaceful nations in the world.