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Japan – island country

Geographical Setting

Japan is an island country in the North Pacific Ocean. It lies off the northeast coast of mainland Asia and faces Russia,Korea, and China. Four large islands and thousands of smaller ones make up Japan. The four major islands- Hokkaido,Honshu,Kyushu and Shikoku form a curve that extends for about 1,900 kilometres.


Japan is a land of great natural beauty. mountains and hills cover about 70% of the country. IN fact, Japanese islands consist of the rugged upper part of a great mountain range that rises from the floor of the North Pacific Ocean. Jagged peaks, rocky gorges, and thundering mountain waterfalls provide some of the country’s most spectacular scenery. Thick forests thrive on mountansides, adding to the scenic beauty of the Japanese islands. Forests cover about 68% of the country’s land.

Japan lies on an extremely unstable part of the earth’s crust. As a result, the land is constantly shifting. This shifting causes two of Japan’s most striking features– earthquakes and volcanoes. The Japanese islands have about 1500 earthquakes a year. Most of them are minor tremors that cause little damage, but severe earthqaukes occur every few years. Underseaquakes sometimes cause huge, destructive tidal waves, called tsunami, along Japan’s Pacific coast. The Japanese islands have more than 150 major volcanoes. Over 60 of these volcanoes are active.

Numerous short, swift rivers cross Japan’s rugged surface. most of the rivers are too shallow and steep to be navigated. Their waters are used to irrigate farmland, and their rapids and falls supply power for hydroelectric plants. Many lakes nestle among the Japanese mountains. Some lie in the craters of extinct volcanoes. A large number of hot springs gush from the ground throughout the country. The Japanese islands have a total land area of about 337,708 sqkm. The islands , in order of size, are Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku. The sea of Japan washes the country’s west coast and the Pacific ocean lies to the east.


Regional climates in Japan can be compared to those of the East Coast of the United States. Kyushu and Shikoku have a climate much like that of Perth. They have long hot summers and mild winters. The island Honshu’s generally has warm,humid summers. Winters are mild in the south and cold and snowy in the north. Honshu has balmy, sunny autumns and springs. Hokkaido has cool summers and cold winters much like Tasmania.

Two Pacific Ocean currents–the Japan Current and the Oyashio Current–influence Japan’s climate. The warm, dark-blue Japan Current flows northward along the country’s south coast and along the east coast as far north as Tokyo. The Japan current has a warming effect on the climate of theses regions. The cold Oyashio Current flows southward along the east coasts of Hokkaido and northern Honshu, cooling these areas.

Seasonal winds called monsoons also affect Japan’s climate. In winter, monsoons from the northwest bring cold air to northern Japan. These winds, which gather moisture as they cross the Sea of Japan, deposit heavy snows on the country’s northwest coast. During the summer, monsoons blow from the southeast , carrying warm, moist air from the pacific ocean. Summer monsoons cause hot, humid weather in central and southern Japan.

Rain is abundant through most of Japan. All the areas of the country–except eastern Hokkaido–recieve at least 100 centimetres of rain yearly. Japan has two major rainy seasons–from mid-June to early July and from September to October. Several typhoons strike the country each year, mainly in late summer and early Autumn. The heavy rains and violent winds of these storms often do great damage to houses and crops


The Extended Family

Family life has always been important in Japan. Before 1945, many Japanese lived in large family units that included grandparents, parents, children, and sometimes uncles and their families. Japanese families were bound together by a strict set of customs. Husbands had complete authority over their wives, and children were expected to show unquestioning obedience to their parents. Marriage and Courtship-When a child was old enough to marry, the parents selected a suitable marraige partner. In some cases, the bride and groom had never met before the wedding.

The Nuclear Family Today most of the Japanese live in the style of a nuclear family. These consist of only parents and children. The Japanese still have strong family ties and a deep respect for authority. But since WW2 relationships with families have become a little less formal, and more democratic.

Marriage and Courtship-Most young people now select their own marraige partners on the basis of shared interests and mutual attraction.

Parental Roles

The parents still sometimes decide the marraige partner for their child to marry.

Female and Male roles


Role in Society

Japanese law requires children to complete six years of elementary school, and three years of junior high school. Education at public schools is free during these nine years for children aged from 6 through 14 years of age. Almost all Japanese children complete the education requirments. Completing these compulsory years of schooling gives children the basic knowledge in a wide range of areas to succeed in adult life. Further education builds on this basic knowledge to prepare people for more intellectual jobs.

Primary Education

Japanese elementary and junior high school students study such subjects as art, homemaking, the japanese language, mathematics, moral education, music, physical education, science and social studies. In addition, many junior high school students study English or another foreign language. Students spend much time learning to read and write japanese because the language is so difficult.

Secondary Education

Senior high school runs for three years. To enter senior high school the students must pass an entrance examination. Classes include many of the same subjects studied in junior high school. Senior schools also offer courses to prepare students for college or to train them for jobs. About 95% of junior high school leavers go to senior high school.

Higher Education

Japan has about 460 Universities and about 600 junior and technical colleges. The largest University is Nihon (Japan) University in Tokyo, which has about 80, 000 students. The country has 90 National Universities, which are supported by the government. Some of these universities–such as the University of Tokyo and the University of Kyoto–have exceptionally high reputations. Highly regarded private universities include Doshisha University in Kyoto and Keio University and Waseda University in Tokyo

Senior high school graduates who want to attend a college or university must pass the entrance examination given by the school of their choice. Large numbers of students compete for admission to the top Japanese universities. About 38% of senior high school graduates go to an institution of higher learning.

Political System

Political Structure

Japan’s parliment, makes the country’s laws. it consists of two houses. The house of Representatives has 511 members. They are elected to four-year terms from electoral districts. The House of Councillors has 252 members. Half the councillors are elected every three years to six-year terms. Of the councillors, 100 are elected from the country as a whole, and 152 are chosen from 47 political divisions called prefectures.

Political Parties

Japan has several political parties. The most successful is the Liberal- Democratic Party (LDP), a conservative party which has more seats in the Government than any other since 1955. In 1993, a coallition of other important parties was formed to oppose the LDP. The largest members of the coallition include the Social Democratic Party of Japan, the Japan Renewal Party, the Komeito (Clean Government Party), and the Japan New Party.

Stability of Government

Although the Government itself is stable, within the parties there is much disruption and complaint

Role of Local Government

The municipalities have fairly broad powers; they control public education and may levy taxes.

Legal System

Organisation of judiciary system

The Japanese judicial system is entirely separate from and independent of the executive authority. Except for reasons of health, judges may be removed only by public impeachment. The highest court in the nation is the Supreme Court, established by the constitution and consisting of a chief justice appointed by the emperor upon the recommendation of the cabinet and 14 associate justices appointed by the cabinet. Four types of lower courts are prescribed by the constitution: high courts, district courts, family courts, and summary courts. The Supreme Court is the tribunal of final appeal in all civil and criminal cases and has authority to decide on the constitutionality of any act of the legislature or executive. High courts hear appeals in civil and criminal cases from lower courts. District courts have both appellate and original jurisdiction. Family and summary courts are exclusively courts of first instance.

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