Japan

Article

January 21, 2022

Japan (Japanese: 日本, Nihon, /ɲihoꜜɴ/ or Nippon, /ɲippoꜜɴ/ ) is an island country in East Asia, located between the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of ​​Japan, east of China, South Korea, North Korea and Russia, and north of Taiwan. Etymologically, the kanji (Chinese characters) that make up the name of Japan mean “country (国, koku) of origin (本, hon) of the Sun (日, ni)”; this is how Japan is referred to as the “land of the rising sun”. Japan has formed, since 1945, an archipelago of 6,852 islands (over 100 m2), the four largest of which are Hokkaidō, Honshū, Shikoku and Kyūshū, representing alone 95% of the country's land area. The archipelago extends over more than three thousand kilometers. Most of the islands are mountainous, sometimes volcanic. Thus, the highest peak in Japan, Mount Fuji (3,776 m), is a volcano whose last eruption took place in 1707. Japan is the eleventh most populous country in the world, with more than 125 million inhabitants for 377,975 km2 (337 inhab./km2), most of which is concentrated on the narrow coastal plains of southern Honshū and northern Shikoku and Kyūshū, forming a practically continuously urbanized whole called "Japanese megalopolis" or " Taiheiyō Belt” (太平洋ベルト, Taiheiyō beruto, literally “Pacific Belt”). Greater Tokyo, which includes the capital Tokyo and several surrounding prefectures, is the largest metropolitan area in the world, with more than 35 million inhabitants. The city was the world's leading financial center in 1990. Archaeological research shows that Japan was populated as early as the Upper Palaeolithic period. The earliest written mentions of Japan are brief appearances in texts of first-century Chinese history. Japan's history is characterized by periods of great influence in the outside world followed by long periods of isolation. Since adopting its constitution in 1947, Japan has maintained a constitutional monarchy with an emperor and an elected parliament, the Diet. Japan is the world's third largest economy by nominal GDP and fourth by GDP at purchasing power parity. This economic dynamism is based above all on an efficient and innovative industry, driven by large groups of global importance called Keiretsu (系列), particularly in the sectors of automobile construction (third largest producer in the world in 2017) or electronics. peak. It is also the fourth exporting country and the sixth importing country in the world. A major player in international trade and a saving power, it has thus accumulated a net creditor position vis-à-vis the rest of the world (in) of more than 325,000 billion yen, placing it in first position ahead of China. It is a developed country, with a very high standard of living (nineteenth highest HDI in 2018), low inequality (the third highest inequality-adjusted HDI, still in 2018) and the longest life expectancy. life in the world according to UN estimates. But this idyllic picture should not hide major problems that weigh on the future of the country: Japan suffers from one of the lowest birth rates in the world, well below the generation renewal threshold. The country is currently in demographic decline. It is also the country for which the weight of gross public debt is the highest in the world, the latter amounting in 2017 to 240% of GDP.

Etymology

In Japanese, "Japan" (日本) is said to be Nihon or Nippon, and possibly in administrative documents Nipponkoku (日本国) more rarely pronounced Nihonkoku, meaning "Japanese nation". The abbreviated form Ni- (日), always as a prefix, is sometimes used in a

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