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Japan Facts





Infographic of Japan Fast Facts

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What is the origin of Japan’s name?
The name for Japan in Japanese is Nippon (sometimes Nihon) which means “Land of the Rising Sun.” This name was given because of Japan’s location to the east of China, the direction in which the sun rises.

The English name, “Japan” might have originated from the Malay word “Jepang,” brought to Europe by Portuguese explorers, who traded all around Asia.

Where is Japan located?
Japan is located in Asia between the North Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Japan. Japan does not share any land boundaries with another country, but is close to North Korea, South Korea, China and Russia.

How many islands make up Japan?
The Japanese archipelago, or chain of islands, consists of 6,852 islands, though only about 430 are inhabited.

The 4 main islands are:
  • Hokkaidō
  • Honshū
  • Shikoku
  • Kyūshū

What is the capital of Japan? Tokyo is Japan’s capital. Centrally located in the Kantō region of Japan, the Tokyo metropolitan area is the most populous metropolitan area in the world. It also boasts the largest metropolitan area economy in the world.

What is the population of Japan?
Japan’s population is estimated at 127 million people, making it the 10th largest population in the world.
The high population combined with uninhabitable conditions in much of the country means Japan has a very high population density.

What does Japan’s flag represent?
Japan’s flag is all white with a red circle, representing the sun, in its center. Japan’s ties to the symbol of the sun probably originated for the same reasons as Japan’s name: it’s relation to the east of its nearest neighbors on the Asian continent.

Who are the political leaders of Japan?
Japan is still a constitutional monarchy led by an Emperor, although the Emperor is more a ceremonial position than a political one. Political decisions are made by the Prime Minister and his cabinet.

The Emperor of Japan is Akihito, who has held that title since January 7, 1989.

Prime Minister of Japan is Shinzo Abe.

How big is Japan’s economy?
Japan has a GDP of $5.8 trillion (nominal), making it the third largest economy in the world, which is surprising after Japan’s economic struggle after WWII. Japan specializes in the manufacture of cars and electronics, and is a world leader in technology.

Because of Japan’s geography, it is unable to produce much of its own agriculture, aside from rice, so it imports the majority of its food. Japan has one of the world’s largest fishing fleets, catching about 15% of all fish caught in the world.

What are Japan‘s geographic features?
Japan is made up of over 3,000 islands, many of which are covered with mountains and forests. Japan is located within the Pacific Ring of Fire, meaning it lies along the edge of the Pacific tectonic plate. As a result, Japan has many volcanoes and earthquakes from the movement of the plates. Some of Japan’s active volcanoes are Unzen, Sakura-jima, and Asama. Mount Fuji is also a volcano, though it last erupted in 1707. The seismic activity in Japan often comes in the form of earthquakes, including large enough earthquakes to cause sizable tsunamis. Since Japan is made up of islands, these tsunamis can cause serious damage to Japan. Most recently, in March 2011, Japan experienced its strongest earthquake in history: it ranked a 9.0 on the Richter scale. The earthquake’s epicenter was just off Japan’s coast, and some of the aftershocks were almost as big as the first quake. The earthquakes resulted a tsunami with waves up to 40 meters high (133 feet), which destroyed many cities in Japan. Over 15,000 lives were lost in the Japanese earthquake and tsunami of March 2011.

What are the major religions practiced in Japan?
Shinto and Japanese Buddhism are the two most common religions in Japan, though most Japanese do not claim to practice any religion. Shinto is an indigenous religion of Japan, and has been around since pre-historic times. Shinto and Buddhism are usually practiced together, as one complex religion. Other religions, like Christianity and Islam are practiced by a minority.

What currency is used in Japan?
The Japanese yen (JPY) has been used in Japan since 1871. The Japanese yen is the third most traded currency, after the US dollar and the euro.