Japan Research Project

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According to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) World Factbook (2019), Japan is divided into 47 prefectures, with Tokyo as the capital of the country (CIA, 2019). The current Constitution of Japan was enacted in 1947 and no amendments have been made to it, although a process for passing amendments exists (CIA, 2019). Japan is a parliamentary constitutional monarchy (CIA, 2019). The executive branch in Japan is represented by the chief of state, the head of government, and the cabinet. Its chief of state is the emperor, currently emperor Naruhito who succeeded his father on 1 May 2019 (CIA, 2019). The head of government is the prime minister, usually the leader of the majority coalition or party in the House of Representatives (CIA, 2019). The prime minister appoints the cabinet. Since December 2012, the prime minister of Japan is Shinzo Abe (CIA, 2019). The legislative branch is represented by the bicameral Diet consisting of the House of Councillors and the House of Representatives (CIA, 2019). The House of Councillors includes 242 seats (CIA, 2019). 146 members of the House of Councillors are directly elected by simple majority vote (CIA, 2019). 96 members are directly elected by proportional representation vote (CIA, 2019). Members of the House of Councillors serve a 6-year term (CIA, 2019). Every 3 years, half of the membership is renewed (CIA, 2019). The House of Representatives includes 465 seats (CIA, 2019). 289 members of the House of Representatives are directly elected by simple majority vote (CIA, 2019). 176 members are directly elected by proportional representation vote (CIA, 2019). Members of the House of Representatives serve a 4-year term (CIA, 2019). The judicial branch includes the Supreme Court as the highest court, 8 High Courts, each of which also includes a Family Court, 50 District Courts with 203 additional branches, and 438 Summary Courts (CIA, 2019). The legal system of Japan is based on German model with Anglo-American influence (CIA, 2019). It also reflects Japanese traditions (CIA, 2019). Japan has diplomatic relationship with the USA. Since 28 March 2018, the Japanese Ambassador to America is Shinsuke Sugiyama (CIA, 2019). Since 31 August 2017, the American Ambassador to Japan is William F. Hagerty, IV (CIA, 2019).

As of July 2018, the estimated population of Japan is 126,168,156 (CIA, 2019). Ethnically, the absolute majority of the population is Japanese (98,1%) (CIA, 2019). Other largest ethnic groups represented in the Japanese population include Chinese (0,5%) and Korean (0,4) (CIA, 2019). The rest of the ethnic groups represented in Japan amount to approximately 1% (CIA, 2019). Among them, the most notable are Filipino, Vietnamese, and Brazilian (CIA, 2019). The population of Japan is mostly urban (91,6%) (CIA, 2019). The main urban areas include Tokyo area, with the population of approximately 37,468,000, and Osaka area, with the population of approximately 19,281,000 (CIA, 2019). According to Encyclopedia Britannica (2019), since 2010s, Japan experiences one of the lowest birth rates in the world, while the life expectancy of its population is one of the highest. As of 2018, the population growth rate of Japan is established to be -0.24% (CIA, 2019), with 7.5 births and 9.9 deaths per 1000 people (CIA, 2019). At the same time, the life expectancy of Japanese population is 85.5 years, the second highest in the world (CIA, 2019), with the approximate life expectancy for men being 82.2 years and for women 89 years (CIA, 2019). This situation leads to the serious issue of a rapidly ageing and declining population in Japan (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2019).

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Almost all the population of Japan speaks Japanese (CIA, 2019; Encyclopedia Britannica, 2019; Sawe, 2017; “Languages in Japan,” n.d.). All the other languages spoken in this country amount to approximately 1% or less (“Languages in Japan,” n.d.). They include Ryukyuan language, which can be heard in the Ryukyu Islands, Ainu language, the language of the Ainu ethnic group, the native inhabitants of Japan, Bonin English, Nivkh, and Uilta (Sawe, 2017). However, most of these languages are close to extinction, and those who speak them also know Japanese (“Languages in Japan,” n.d.). One of the most widespread foreign languages in Japan is Korean (“Languages in Japan,” n.d.). However, Korean native speakers in Japan can also speak Japanese (“Languages in Japan,” n.d.). As for the Japanese language, it has a number of dialects, two major groups of which are Hondo and Nantou (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2019). Although they have their specifics, all the dialects in Japan can be understood with the knowledge of standard Japanese, also known as Tokyo dialect. All the population of Japan knows standard Japanese, because this is the language taught at schools and officially used in the country (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2019).

The two major religions in Japan are Shintoism and Buddhism. As of 2015, 70.4% of the population confess Shintoism and 69.8% confess Buddhism (CIA, 2019). The reason the total amount is more than 100% is that many people in Japan practice both religions simultaneously (CIA, 2019; Encyclopedia Britannica, 2019). Another relatively widespread religion in the country is Christianity. 1.5% of the population practice this religion (CIA, 2019). All the other religions represented in Japan amount to approximately 6.9% (CIA, 2019). Most of the Japanese population are not very religious (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2019). An important trait of Japanese religious life is that all major religions in the country (mostly Shintoism and Buddhism, but also partially Christianity, Confucianism, and Hinduism, etc.) effect one another and intertwine (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2019). It is a widespread phenomenon in Japan for people to engage in rituals from various religions (Shintoism and Buddhism, and sometimes Christianity), often for the same event (for example, a Japanese wedding can include Shinto, Buddhist, and Christian elements and rituals).

  • Japan. (2019). In Central Intelligence Agency: The World Factbook. Retrieved from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ja.html
  • Japan. (2019). In Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/place/Japan
  • Languages in Japan. (n.d.). In StudyCountry. Retrieved from https://www.studycountry.com/guide/JP-language.htm
  • Sawe, B. E. (2017). What languages are spoken in Japan? Retrieved from https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/what-languages-are-spoken-in-japan.html

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