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Japan is composed of several islands. The four biggest islands are Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu, and Hokkaido. The closest countries to Japan are Russia, China, and Korea. The majority of Japan is at sea level, so it allows it to heavy a steady and rather warmer temperature. However, certain areas have a high altitude (such as the mountains) so those areas seem to be rather cold. Furthermore, the ocean currents allow for there to be more moderate temperatures. This means that a hot summer could have mild days, and there would be warmer winters instead of it always being freezing cold. Japan is also located in the Northern hemisphere. Because the country is disconnected, the climate is different in different regions. In areas such Hokkaido, there is snow. Due to the fact that it is close to the Sea of Japan, there is a lot of snow because the Sea of Japan is rather cold. Tokyo and other major cities have the four season’s cycle. Places closes to Okinawa have an extremely warm temperature, even in January.
The Japanese transit system is one of the most efficient in the world. Due to how busy the major cities are, the subways are almost always packed. Railways/subways are by far the most popular method of transportation. In populated cities, subways are extremely popular as it is inconvenient to drive. In fact, a lot of people living in major cities such as Japan do not even own a car or have a driving license. If you look at the top right corner of the slide, you can see the multiple different lines that make the subway system in Tokyo. People take the subway or bike instead of driving. In the suburbs and rural areas, driving is more popular. For short distance transportation, buses are common. There are also highway buses which are used for longer trips. There are domestic ferries which bring people from one Japanese island to another. People also use flights when travelling to a different Japanese island, however the ferries are much more popular as they are cheaper and come more often. When importing goods from other countries, the countries are either brought in on water or in the air.
Japan is not known for its natural resources. The nation is surrounded by water, so Japanese people are easily able to fish. Hence, fish is a natural resource of Japan. Japan also has titanium is very strong yet very light. It is used for jet engines, air frames, and space applications. It shows how tech dominated Japan is. Japan also has sheet mica, as well as timber. Timber is prominent in the rural areas. Japan has almost no oil or natural gas, which is why it imports a large number of those resources.
Japan is notorious for natural hazards and disasters. This is due to the geographical, meteorological, and topographical conditions. Every couple of years, there is a serious earthquake in Japan. In fact, there have been multiple earthquakes in a single year. One of the deadliest earthquakes was the Tōhoku Earthquake in 2011 which also created a tsunami. The total number of deaths exceeded 15, 0000 people. When a strong earthquake occurs under the ocean, it often creates a tsunami. Japan also has a history of massive tsunamis. One of the biggest ones happened in 1933, and that was the Sanriku tsunami. Typhoons occur on a regular basis as well, with one of the largest being Typhoon Tokage in 2004. Japan also has a history of volcanic eruptions, with the most recent being Mount Io erupting this year.
Since the early ages, Japan has been ruled by the samurai class. A samurai is essentially a warrior. Although there were several powerful and strong samurais, Oda Nobunaga stood out. He was able to conquer several warlords, and he attempted to unify the nation. However, he was assassinated in 1582 with his goal not being accomplished. This is when one of his successors who was also his son-in-law, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, finished Oda’s mission and united the nation of Japan in 1590. Unfortunately, war started once he passed away. In the 1600s, another samurai leader named Tokugawa Ieyasu was appointed shogun, or ruler of Japan, when he defeated all of the other clans. The Edo period then started because shogunate created the isolationist sakoku, which means locked country, and this lasted for 250 years.
In 1854, Japan was brought out and into world. Due to politic and economic issues, the Boshin war started. This war started in 1868 and lasted for a year and a half. More importantly, the war started the Meji Restoration which transformed Japan into an industrialized power. During WWII, the American army placing atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki essentially destroyed Japan. Although the attack was in 1945, the effects are still felt today. In the 1980s, Japan was able to rebuild into one of the world’s largest economies; however, the economic crisis in the 90s which is known as the “Last Decade” brought them back down. Japan still has not fully recovered from this.
Although several religions are practiced in Japan, the two most popular ones are Shinto and Buddhism. Both of these are polytheistic, meaning that they believe in more than one god. Shinto, meaning “the way of the gods”, has been there since the existence of Japanese people and is the indigenous faith of Japan. Unlike the majority of world religions, there is no sacred scripture. Also, there is no founder of Shinto. Shinto gods are called “Kami,” and humans become Kamis after they die. The second major religion is Buddhism, specifically Mahayana Buddhism which is one of the branches of Buddhism. It started in the 6th century BC in India and spread to Japan. It was considered a friendly gift from China and Korea. Mahayana, meaning “Greater Vehicle,” preaches the teaching of the Buddha. At first, both faiths conflicted and fought each other, however they learned to live and grow together. Some religious observations included dietary restrictions and prayer. Usually, Shinto shrines conduct weddings while Buddhist temples host funerals.
The population of Japan is around 127 million people and the population density is about 340.8 people per square kilometer. Approximately 97% of the population lives on the main 4 islands, while the remaining three percent are spread upon the remaining 6, 849 islands. Although Japan is the tenth most populated country, the population is decreasing. Over the last couple years, it averages out to be decreasing by about 189 thousand people per year. There are several reasons for why the population is decreasing. Firstly, suicide rates have been increasing. In 2009, there was 33,000 reported suicides. That is about one suicide every 15 minutes. Furthermore, many people focus their careers over family life. Instead of finding a spouse and having a family, they focus on advancing their career. At this rate, the population of Japan in 2050 will be 30% less of what it is right now. In Japan, 98.5% of the people are ethnic Japanese people and the remaining 2.5% are mainly Korean, Chinese, Brazilian, and Portuguese. Japan’s lack of diversity is not something they wish to change, as former Prime Minister Taro Aso once said “One nation, one civilization, one language, one culture, one race.”
Prior to World War II, the Emperor and Imperial Family had complete control of Japan’s political system. However, after their defeat a constitution was created and was enacted on May 3rd, 1947. This established a democracy in Japan. The three sections that receive power are the National Diet, the Cabinet, and the judicial sections. The National Diet is the legislative branch, the Cabinet is the execute branch, and the judicial sections is the judicial branch. Although a democracy was formed, the Emperor and Imperial family still existed. However, their roles are much like the Royal family’s role in England. The Emperor performs ceremonial duties such as appointing the Prime Minister into his position. The Imperial family acts as ambassadors of Japan. Since 1955, the Liberal Democratic Party has dominated the election. Except for a couple of slips such as losing to the the Democratic Party of Japan in 2009, LDP has stayed on top.
The currency used in Japan is known as the Japanese Yen. Today, one Canadian dollar is equal to 84.93 Japanese yen. In 2017, Japan exported 17.5 billion dollars’ worth of goods and services to Canada. These include autos, industrial machinery, auto parts, and information/communication technologies. In the same year, Japan imported 11.8 billion dollars’ worth of goods and services from Canada. These include coal, Canola oil, copper ores, lumber, wheat, and pork to Canada. As you can see, Japan has to import a lot of natural resources due to the fact that it lacks resources. Japan is the number two importer of oil and the number one importer of coal and natural gases. The high-tech country of Japan relies on natural resources from trading partners in order to operate.
The style of negotiating in Japan is very different from that of both Europe and the Western world. Firstly, everything is very stylish and world class. Japanese people are top tier negotiators. Japanese people negotiate looking for what is best for the group, not the individual. This is selfless and shows that they are able to look at the bigger picture. Japanese negotiators are extremely respectful of a person’s title, and expect that people respect their title. This is crucial as it allows them to “save face.” “Face” is essentially a person’s dignity. Destroying “face” usually occurs when there is conflict, so conflict is avoided at all costs. In order to show respect and not disturb “face,” negotiations happen within the privacy of an office. This way, everything that needs to be said is said without anyone else knowing. Additionally, there will often to a relationship first before a business relationship. Connecting with them in a social manner before a business matter is important in Japanese culture. During negotiations, there will be times where it is completely silent. This is a sign of respect as it shows that there is thought being done and allows both people to reflect on what is happening. When Japanese negotiators talk, they usually phrase their sentence in the form of a question. This is because they want to sound nice. One of the reasons why the Japanese to not like American negotiators is because they believe that they are selfish and rude. When Japanese people negotiate, they always try to negotiate until there is consensus. This way, everyone is happy with the outcome. Also, Japanese very rarely will give an answer as being a “no.” Instead, they say phrases such as “We will consider it” or “maybe.” Because of this, there tends to be several days of negotiating before the issue is solved.
Although a couple of different languages are spoken in Japan, Japanese is both the official and primary language with 125 million people speaking it. Japanese is known as “Nihonga” in Japan. Although this cannot be confirmed, people believe that Nihonga was brought to Japan from the Pacific Islands or continental Asia. Japanese is heavily influenced by the Chinese language as they both use “kanji” as their characters. Additionally, Japanese uses Arabic numerals to go along with the Chinese ones. Japanese is also a member of the “Japonic” language. Another language that is a member is the Ryukyuan language. This language is spoken by 1.45 million people, the majority of which are elders.
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