Coordinates: 36°N 138°E / 36°N 138°E / 36; 138
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日本国 (Japanese)
Nippon-koku or Nihon-koku
Projection of Asia with Japan's Area colored green
Territory controlled by Japan in dark green;
parliamentary constitutional monarchy
• Emperor
Fumio Kishida
Imperial Dynasty established
February 11, 660 BC
November 29, 1890
May 3, 1947
• Total
377,975 km2 (145,937 sq mi)[1] (62nd)
• Water (%)
1.4 (2015)[2]
• 2022 estimate
Neutral decrease 124,840,000[3] (11th)
• 2020 census
• Density
330/km2 (854.7/sq mi) (44th)
GDP (PPP)2022 estimate
• Total
Increase $6.139 trillion[5] (4th)
• Per capita
Increase $49,044[5] (36th)
GDP (nominal)2022 estimate
• Total
Decrease $4.234 trillion[5] (3rd)
• Per capita
Decrease $33,822[5] (28th)
Gini (2018)Positive decrease 33.4[6]
HDI (2021)Increase 0.925[7]
very high · 19th
CurrencyJapanese yen (¥)
Time zoneUTC+09:00 (JST)
Driving sideleft
Calling code+81
ISO 3166 codeJP
Internet TLD.jp

Japan (Japanese: 日本, Nippon or Nihon,[nb 1] and formally 日本国, Nihonkoku)[nb 2] is an island country in East Asia. It is situated in the northwest Pacific Ocean and is bordered on the west by the Sea of Japan, extending from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north toward the East China Sea, Philippine Sea, and Taiwan in the south. Japan is a part of the Ring of Fire, and spans an archipelago of 14,125 islands, with the five main islands being Hokkaido, Honshu (the "mainland"), Shikoku, Kyushu, and Okinawa. Tokyo is the nation's capital and largest city, followed by Yokohama, Osaka, Nagoya, Sapporo, Fukuoka, Kobe, and Kyoto.

Japan is the

coastal plains. Japan is divided into 47 administrative prefectures and eight traditional regions. The Greater Tokyo Area is the most populous metropolitan area in the world. Japan has the world's highest life expectancy, though it is experiencing a population decline


Meiji period, the Empire of Japan adopted a Western-modeled constitution and pursued a program of industrialization and modernization. Amidst a rise in militarism and overseas colonization, Japan invaded China in 1937 and entered World War II as an Axis power in 1941. After suffering defeat in the Pacific War and two atomic bombings, Japan surrendered in 1945 and came under a seven-year Allied occupation, during which it adopted a new constitution

Under the 1947 constitution, Japan has maintained a unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy with a bicameral legislature, the National Diet. Japan is a developed country and a great power. Its economy is the world's third-largest by nominal GDP and the fourth-largest by PPP, with its per capita income ranking at 36th highest in the world. Although Japan has renounced its right to declare war, the country maintains Self-Defense Forces that rank as one of the world's strongest militaries. A global leader in the automotive, robotics and electronics industries, the country has made significant contributions to science and technology. It is part of multiple major international and intergovernmental institutions.

Japan is considered a

film, music, and popular culture, which encompasses prominent manga, anime and video game


The name for Japan in

Sino-Japanese reading of the characters, is favored for official uses, including on banknotes and postage stamps.[9] Nihon is typically used in everyday speech and reflects shifts in Japanese phonology during the Edo period.[10] The characters 日本 mean "sun origin",[9] which is the source of the popular Western epithet "Land of the Rising Sun".[11]

The name "Japan" is based on Chinese pronunciations of 日本 and was introduced to European languages through early trade. In the 13th century, Marco Polo recorded the early Mandarin or Wu Chinese pronunciation of the characters 日本國 as Cipangu.[12] The old Malay name for Japan, Japang or Japun, was borrowed from a southern coastal Chinese dialect and encountered by Portuguese traders in Southeast Asia, who brought the word to Europe in the early 16th century.[13] The first version of the name in English appears in a book published in 1577, which spelled the name as Giapan in a translation of a 1565 Portuguese letter.[14][15]


Prehistoric to classical history

A Paleolithic culture from around 30,000 BC constitutes the first known habitation of the islands of Japan.[16] This was followed from around 14,500 BC (the start of the Jōmon period) by a Mesolithic to Neolithic semi-sedentary hunter-gatherer culture characterized by pit dwelling and rudimentary agriculture.[17] Clay vessels from the period are among the oldest surviving examples of pottery.[18] From around 700 BC, the Japonic-speaking Yayoi people began to enter the archipelago from the Korean Peninsula,[19][20][21] intermingling with the Jōmon;[21] the Yayoi period saw the introduction of practices including wet-rice farming,[22] a new style of pottery,[23] and metallurgy from China and Korea.[24] According to legend, Emperor Jimmu (grandson of Amaterasu) founded a kingdom in central Japan in 660 BC, beginning a continuous imperial line.[25]

Japan first appears in written history in the Chinese Book of Han, completed in 111 AD. Buddhism was introduced to Japan from Baekje (a Korean kingdom) in 552, but the development of Japanese Buddhism was primarily influenced by China.[26] Despite early resistance, Buddhism was promoted by the ruling class, including figures like Prince Shōtoku, and gained widespread acceptance beginning in the Asuka period (592–710).[27]

The far-reaching

Prince Ōtomo, became a major catalyst for further administrative reforms.[29] These reforms culminated with the promulgation of the Taihō Code, which consolidated existing statutes and established the structure of the central and subordinate local governments.[28] These legal reforms created the ritsuryō state, a system of Chinese-style centralized government that remained in place for half a millennium.[29]


Nara). The period is characterized by the appearance of a nascent literary culture with the completion of the Kojiki (712) and Nihon Shoki (720), as well as the development of Buddhist-inspired artwork and architecture.[30][31] A smallpox epidemic in 735–737 is believed to have killed as much as one-third of Japan's population.[31][32] In 784, Emperor Kanmu moved the capital, settling on Heian-kyō (modern-day Kyoto) in 794.[31] This marked the beginning of the Heian period (794–1185), during which a distinctly indigenous Japanese culture emerged. Murasaki Shikibu's The Tale of Genji and the lyrics of Japan's national anthem "Kimigayo" were written during this time.[33]

Feudal era

Japanese samurai boarding a Mongol vessel during the Mongol invasions of Japan, depicted in the Mōko Shūrai Ekotoba
, 1293
Three unifiers of Japan. Left to right: Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu

Japan's feudal era was characterized by the emergence and dominance of a ruling class of warriors, the samurai.[34] In 1185, following the defeat of the Taira clan by the Minamoto clan in the Genpei War, samurai Minamoto no Yoritomo established a military government at Kamakura.[35] After Yoritomo's death, the Hōjō clan came to power as regents for the shōgun.[31] The Zen school of Buddhism was introduced from China in the Kamakura period (1185–1333) and became popular among the samurai class.[36] The Kamakura shogunate repelled Mongol invasions in 1274 and 1281 but was eventually overthrown by Emperor Go-Daigo.[31] Go-Daigo was defeated by Ashikaga Takauji in 1336, beginning the Muromachi period (1336–1573).[37] The succeeding Ashikaga shogunate failed to control the feudal warlords (daimyō) and a civil war began in 1467, opening the century-long Sengoku period ("Warring States").[38]

During the 16th century, Portuguese traders and

two unsuccessful invasions of Korea in 1592 and 1597.[31]

Osaka rice brokers.[46] The study of Western sciences (rangaku) continued through contact with the Dutch enclave in Nagasaki.[43] The Edo period gave rise to kokugaku ("national studies"), the study of Japan by the Japanese.[47]

Modern era

Japanese Empire
in 1942


Meiji period (1868–1912), the Empire of Japan emerged as the most developed nation in Asia and as an industrialized world power that pursued military conflict to expand its sphere of influence.[50][51][52] After victories in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894–1895) and the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905), Japan gained control of Taiwan, Korea and the southern half of Sakhalin.[53][49] The Japanese population doubled from 35 million in 1873 to 70 million by 1935, with a significant shift to urbanization.[54][55]

The early 20th century saw a period of

The Empire of Japan invaded other parts of China in 1937, precipitating the

Japanese Empire and its influence over the territories it conquered.[66][67] The Allies convened the International Military Tribunal for the Far East to prosecute Japanese leaders for war crimes.[67]

In 1947, Japan adopted


Japan comprises 14,125 islands extending along the Pacific coast of Asia.[72] It stretches over 3000 km (1900 mi) northeast–southwest from the Sea of Okhotsk to the East China Sea.[73][74] The country's five main islands, from north to south, are Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu and Okinawa.[75] The Ryukyu Islands, which include Okinawa, are a chain to the south of Kyushu. The Nanpō Islands are south and east of the main islands of Japan. Together they are often known as the Japanese archipelago.[76] As of 2019, Japan's territory is 377,975.24 km2 (145,937.06 sq mi).[1] Japan has the sixth-longest coastline in the world at 29,751 km (18,486 mi). Because of its far-flung outlying islands, Japan has the eighth-largest exclusive economic zone in the world, covering 4,470,000 km2 (1,730,000 sq mi).[77][78]

The Japanese archipelago is 67%

most densely populated country.[81][82] Honshu has the highest population density at 450 persons/km2 (1200/sq mi) as of 2010, while Hokkaido has the lowest density of 64.5 persons/km2 as of 2016.[83] As of 2014, approximately 0.5% of Japan's total area is reclaimed land (umetatechi).[84] Lake Biwa is an ancient lake and the country's largest freshwater lake.[85]

Japan is substantially prone to

earthquakes, tsunami and volcanic eruptions because of its location along the Pacific Ring of Fire.[86] It has the 17th highest natural disaster risk as measured in the 2016 World Risk Index.[87] Japan has 111 active volcanoes.[88] Destructive earthquakes, often resulting in tsunami, occur several times each century;[89] the 1923 Tokyo earthquake killed over 140,000 people.[90] More recent major quakes are the 1995 Great Hanshin earthquake and the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake, which triggered a large tsunami.[70]


Mount Fuji in Spring, view from Arakurayama Sengen Park

The climate of Japan is predominantly temperate but varies greatly from north to south. The northernmost region, Hokkaido, has a

Precipitation is not heavy, but the islands usually develop deep snowbanks in the winter.[91]

In the Sea of Japan region on Honshu's west coast, northwest winter winds bring heavy snowfall during winter. In the summer, the region sometimes experiences extremely hot temperatures because of the foehn.[92] The Central Highland has a typical inland humid continental climate, with large temperature differences between summer and winter. The mountains of the Chūgoku and Shikoku regions shelter the Seto Inland Sea from seasonal winds, bringing mild weather year-round.[91]

The Pacific coast features a

humid subtropical climate that experiences milder winters with occasional snowfall and hot, humid summers because of the southeast seasonal wind. The Ryukyu and Nanpō Islands have a subtropical climate, with warm winters and hot summers. Precipitation is very heavy, especially during the rainy season.[91] The main rainy season begins in early May in Okinawa, and the rain front gradually moves north. In late summer and early autumn, typhoons often bring heavy rain.[93] According to the Environment Ministry, heavy rainfall and increasing temperatures have caused problems in the agricultural industry and elsewhere.[94] The highest temperature ever measured in Japan, 41.1 °C (106.0 °F), was recorded on July 23, 2018,[95] and repeated on August 17, 2020.[96]


Japan has nine forest

ecoregions which reflect the climate and geography of the islands. They range from subtropical moist broadleaf forests in the Ryūkyū and Bonin Islands, to temperate broadleaf and mixed forests in the mild climate regions of the main islands, to temperate coniferous forests in the cold, winter portions of the northern islands.[97] Japan has over 90,000 species of wildlife as of 2019,[98] including the brown bear, the Japanese macaque, the Japanese raccoon dog, the small Japanese field mouse, and the Japanese giant salamander.[99]

A large network of

Four sites have been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List for their outstanding natural value.[102]


In the period of rapid economic growth after World War II, environmental policies were downplayed by the government and industrial corporations; as a result, environmental pollution was widespread in the 1950s and 1960s. Responding to rising concerns, the government introduced environmental protection laws in 1970.[103] The oil crisis in 1973 also encouraged the efficient use of energy because of Japan's lack of natural resources.[104]

Japan ranks 20th in the 2018 Environmental Performance Index, which measures a nation's commitment to environmental sustainability.[105] Japan is the world's fifth-largest emitter of carbon dioxide.[94] As the host and signatory of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, Japan is under treaty obligation to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions and to take other steps to curb climate change.[106] In 2020 the government of Japan announced a target of carbon-neutrality by 2050.[107] Environmental issues include urban air pollution (NOx, suspended particulate matter, and toxics), waste management, water eutrophication, nature conservation, climate change, chemical management and international co-operation for conservation.[108]

Government and politics

on November 10, 2019.

Japan is a

ceremonial role.[109] Executive power is instead wielded by the Prime Minister of Japan and his Cabinet, whose sovereignty is vested in the Japanese people.[110] Naruhito is the Emperor of Japan, having succeeded his father Akihito upon his accession to the Chrysanthemum Throne in 2019.[109]

Japan's legislative organ is the

Ministers of State, and is appointed by the emperor after being designated from among the members of the Diet.[111] Fumio Kishida is Japan's prime minister; he took office after winning the 2021 Liberal Democratic Party leadership election.[113] The right-wing big tent Liberal Democratic Party has been the dominant party in the country since the 1950s, often called the 1955 System.[114]

Historically influenced by Chinese law, the Japanese legal system developed independently during the Edo period through texts such as Kujikata Osadamegaki.[115] Since the late 19th century, the judicial system has been largely based on the civil law of Europe, notably Germany. In 1896, Japan established a civil code based on the German Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch, which remains in effect with post–World War II modifications.[116] The Constitution of Japan, adopted in 1947, is the oldest unamended constitution in the world.[117] Statutory law originates in the legislature, and the constitution requires that the emperor promulgate legislation passed by the Diet without giving him the power to oppose legislation. The main body of Japanese statutory law is called the Six Codes.[115] Japan's court system is divided into four basic tiers: the Supreme Court and three levels of lower courts.[118]

According to data from the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the majority of members of the Japanese parliament are male and range in age from 50 to 70. In April 2023, according to Japanese public broadcaster NHK, Ryosuke Takashima, 26, is the Japan's youngest-ever mayor.[119]

Administrative divisions

Japan is divided into 47 prefectures, each overseen by an elected governor and legislature.[109] In the following table, the prefectures are grouped by region:[120]


1. Hokkaido

2. Aomori
3. Iwate
4. Miyagi
5. Akita
6. Yamagata

7. Fukushima

8. Ibaraki
9. Tochigi
10. Gunma
11. Saitama
12. Chiba
13. Tokyo

14. Kanagawa

15. Niigata
16. Toyama
17. Ishikawa
18. Fukui
19. Yamanashi
20. Nagano
21. Gifu
22. Shizuoka

23. Aichi


24. Mie
25. Shiga
26. Kyoto
27. Osaka
28. Hyōgo
29. Nara

30. Wakayama

31. Tottori
32. Shimane
33. Okayama
34. Hiroshima

35. Yamaguchi

36. Tokushima
37. Kagawa
38. Ehime

39. Kōchi


40. Fukuoka
41. Saga
42. Nagasaki
43. Kumamoto
44. Ōita
45. Miyazaki
46. Kagoshima

47. Okinawa

Foreign relations


A member state of the United Nations since 1956, Japan is one of the

G7, APEC, and "ASEAN Plus Three", and is a participant in the East Asia Summit.[122] It is the world's fifth-largest donor of official development assistance, donating US$9.2 billion in 2014.[123] In 2021, Japan had the fourth-largest diplomatic network in the world.[124]

Japan has close economic and military relations with the United States, with which it maintains a security alliance.[125] The United States is a major market for Japanese exports and a major source of Japanese imports, and is committed to defending the country, with military bases in Japan.[125] Japan is also a member of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (more commonly "the Quad"), a multilateral security dialogue reformed in 2017 aiming to limit Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific region, along with the United States, Australia, and India, reflecting existing relations and patterns of cooperation.[126][127]

Japan's relationship with South Korea had historically been strained because of Japan's treatment of Koreans during Japanese colonial rule, particularly over the issue of comfort women. In 2015, Japan agreed to settle the comfort women dispute with South Korea by issuing a formal apology and paying money to the surviving comfort women.[128] As of 2019 Japan is a major importer of Korean music (K-pop), television (K-dramas), and other cultural products.[129][130]

Japan is engaged in several territorial disputes with its neighbors. Japan contests Russia's control of the Southern Kuril Islands, which were occupied by the Soviet Union in 1945.[131] South Korea's control of the Liancourt Rocks is acknowledged but not accepted as they are claimed by Japan.[132] Japan has strained relations with China and Taiwan over the Senkaku Islands and the status of Okinotorishima.[133]


Kongō class destroyer