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Japan Facts. Japanese History. Japan Population.


Japan flagJapan, officially Nihon-koku or Nippon-koku, is an island country in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of China, Korea, and Russia. The characters that make up Japan's name literally mean "sun-origin," thus Japan is sometimes identified as the "Land of the Rising Sun," derived from the country's eastward position relative to China. Its capital and largest city is Tokyo.

At 377,872 square kilometers (145,898 sq.mi), Japan is the sixty-second largest country by area. It encompasses over 3,000 islands, the largest of which are Honshū, Hokkaidō, Kyūshū and Shikoku. Most of Japan's islands are mountainous, and many are volcanic, including the highest peak, Mount Fuji.

Archaeological research indicates that people were living on the islands of Japan as early as the upper paleolithic period. The first written mention of Japan begins with brief appearances in Chinese history texts from the 1st century AD. 


Japan has the world's 10th largest population, with nearly 128 million people. The Greater Tokyo Area, with over 30 million residents, is the largest metropolitan area in the world. Japan is an economic world power with the world's second largest economy (by nominal GDP), world's largest international creditor and is the sixth largest exporter and importer and is a member of the United Nations, G8, G4, and APEC. Japan has one of the highest life expectancy in the world, at 81.25 years of age as of 2006. For the most part, Japanese society is linguistically and culturally homogeneous with only small populations of foreign workers. 

Despite public views on foreigners, the Japanese in general do not mind foreigners in their country, and this is pointed out when comparing the increasingly common inter-marriage between Japanese and foreigners, but opinions on "rebellious" foreigners are still strong. Ethnic issues are improving, so there is a narrow but strong chance that if more foreigners enter Japan, and decide to marry another foreigner or Japanese resident, this may increase the chance of the population growing again. It is also noted that many Japanese youth are increasingly preferring not to marry or have families as adults.


The climate of Japan is predominantly temperate but varies greatly from north to south. Japan's geographical features divide it into six principal climatic zones:

  • Hokkaidō: The northernmost zone has a temperate climate with long, cold winters and cool summers. Precipitation is not heavy, but the islands usually develop deep snow banks in the winter. 
  • Sea of Japan: On Honshū's west coast, the northwest wind in the wintertime brings heavy snowfall. In the summer, the region is cooler than the Pacific area, though it sometimes experiences extremely hot temperatures, due to the Föhn wind phenomenon. 
  • Central Highland: A typical inland climate, with large temperature differences between summer and winter, and between day and night. Precipitation is light. 
  • Seto Inland Sea: The mountains of the Chūgoku and Shikoku regions shelter the region from the seasonal winds, bringing mild weather throughout the year. 
  • Pacific Ocean: The east coast experiences cold winters with little snowfall and hot, humid summers due to the southeast seasonal wind. 
  • South-west Islands: The Ryūkyū Islands have a subtropical climate, with warm winters and hot summers. Precipitation is very heavy, especially during the rainy season. Typhoons are common. 

The main rainy season begins in early May in Okinawa, and the stationary rain front responsible for this gradually works its way north until it dissipates in northern Japan before reaching Hokkaidō in late July. In most of Honshū, the rainy season begins before the middle of June and lasts about six weeks. In late summer and early autumn, typhoons often bring heavy rain.

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