Country Analysis – Japan Essay

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Japan gained independence in 660 BC. The national holiday is December 23 (1933), which is the birthday of Emperor Akihito. The most recent event that changed Japan’s political, legal, and lifestyle trends, was World War II. After WWII U.S. occupation forces helped shape a new legal system in Japan. Allied powers occupied Japan from the end of WWII to April 1952.

The largest contribution of U.S. was to help develop the Peace Constitution. Japan’s Constitution went into affect on May 3, 1947. The constitution resulted in the emperor losing all political and military power. The emperor to this day is simply a symbol of the state with no forcing power. The constitution also introduced universal suffrage and human rights were assured.

After the occupation ended in 1952 Japan established a self defense force. The US-Japan Security Treaty was renewed in 1960 and caused some uneasiness in Japan. The end of the Korean War fueled Japan’s economic recovery. A rise in living standards and stabilization resulted from the economic growth. Japan’s high technology industries were the result of the 1973 oil crisis. The oil crisis shocked the Japanese economy because of Japan’s dependency of oil.

Physical Environment Location Japan is located off the shore of Eastern Asia between the Sea of Japan and the North Pacific Ocean. Japan’s size is slightly smaller than California. The four main islands of Japan are Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikok, and Kyushu. Climate and Topography

Japan is a collection of mountainous islands. The climate is very tropical in the south and cooler in the north. The island of Japan is 75% mountains and plains. The Japanese people have used techniques of building dikes, drainages and rice patties along mountainsides to try and regain land back from the sea and rivers. Transportation

Railways, highways, airplanes and waterways are all means of Japan’s transportation. Japan has 172 airports, 141 have paved runways while the other 31 are using unpaved runways. Japan has developed and built artificial ports on their islands, which are used as Japan’s main channel of distribution between their neighboring countries. Over 594 ships use the ports and harbors that have been developed for distribution. Communication

Japan’s different levels of communications include telephone, radio and the Internet. The telephone system has been recognized as being excellent for both domestic and international use. Japan has established themselves as one the most advance, and most competitive, telecommunications globally. Their mobile communication industry has been driving the development of the global communication industry for years now. Japans communication couldn’t be complete without the use of radio and television; over 200 million people enjoy the use of either of the two. Internet users are shown as over 56 million subscribers to one of the 73 Internet service providers.

Economic Environment Japan’s free market economy is the second largest in the world only behind the United States. Japan has been very successful due to their strong work ethic. Japan has gone through three different eras in their economy; High Growth era, The Mature Economy, and the Bubble Economy. [pic]

High Growth Era The High Growth era occurred at the end of WWII. Between 1950 and 1970, cities in Japan doubled with an increase demand for services. Economic growth was a result of Japan’s industrial sector dominating their economy by shifting away from agriculture and light manufacturing. Exports grew to 18.4% as a result of shifting to heavy industry and services. The Mature Economy

A recession occurred in the 1970’s due to inflation, and the middle-east oil crisis as a result this lowered future growth expectations. Cutting costs and increasing efficiency was a major reason for Japan’s major export industries to stay competitive. The automobile industry was able to position itself globally by manufacturing economical vehicles. In 1979, Japan shifted its focus to the technological fields as they drifted away from the industrial industries. Their focus was on developing computers, semiconductors, and technology industries. The Bubble Economy

The bobble economy refers to the time period of 1980 to 1993. During this time frame Japan saw the Yen rise to three times its value and corporate land rise to 180% of its value. As a result the Japanese government regulated the monetary policies system and raised interest rates. The Tokyo stock market dropped 38% wiping out over two trillion in estimated value. In October 1993, the recession bottomed out and Japan rebounded slowly by switching their focusing on technological innovations to regain strong market position behind the United States. Japan retained as the leader of the semi-conductor and automobile industries. In 1995 the rise of the Yen forced Japan to shift production overseas to China, Tokyo, and Malaysia. Today

Japan and the United States have a strong economic relationship focusing on global growth, open markets and a world wide trading system. Japan is a major market for US good and the largest foreign market for US government products. The total agriculture export (including forestry) is valued at $9.5 billion. The US and Japan are working together in foreign relations by trying to establish places of business in their respective countries, financial services, internet services and software, and new employment opportunities for US workers. Growth rate has slowed because of the after effects of over investment during the late 1980’s and excesses of the stock and real estate markets. Government efforts to revive economic growth have met with little success and are hampered by the slowing of the European, US, and Asian economies. With the decline in the Japanese economy there have been an increasingly large amount of suicides. Studies have shown that the people of Japan are not prepared for economic declines and the result is depression. There are close to 600 suicides a day, which is three times more than the amount of Japanese killed in car accidents.

Social Structure Family In Japan the roles of a family are more traditional than the western cultures. Primarily the household income comes from the man’s career. The women are to stay at home and take care of their children. The woman takes care of household items such as finances and the decision of education of the children. Japanese children spend most of their time either in school or studying. The wife of the household is in charge of monitoring homework and participating in school related activities.

The family is not to burden the man of the household, which causes increased stress on the women of the household. The woman’s free time is during the day and she is expected to be at home during the evening. The man’s free time is reversed because during the day he is at work so the evening is his free time. Education

The education system in Japan is ranked one of the best in the world. Despite the Japanese language is one of the hardest to learn, the Japanese literacy rate is 95%. Also, 95% of the Japanese population graduates high school compared to 88% in the United States.

The education system in Japan is very similar to the United States but there are some differences, which may be the reason for more successful graduates in Japan. Besides academics, moral education is also taught to the Japanese students. The Japanese culture, of the group is more important than the individual, is also seen in the Japanese schools. The students are in charge of cleaning the school once a week, which is unheard of in the United States. It has been said that by the time a Japanese student graduates high school, their education level is equal to an American student finishing two years of college. Political System

The Japanese political system contains three branches; Legislature, Executive, and Judiciary. The most powerful branch is thee Legislature, which consists of the House of Representatives (500 members) and the House of Councillors (252 members). The parliament is called the Diet. Members of the diet are elected by the Japanese people.

The Executive branch is headed by the Prime Minister and reports to the Diet. The Prime Minister is selected by the Diet and is elected for a three-year term. The current Prime Minister is Junichiro Koizumi. Koizumi was elected the Prime Minister on April 26, 2001 and was re-elected into a second three-year term on September 20, 2003. The cabinet also consists of ministers. The ministers are selected by the Prime Minister and are, in most cases, members of the Diet.

“Japan’s judicial system, drawn from customary law, civil law, and Anglo-American common law, consists of several levels of courts, with the Supreme Court as the final judicial authority” (U.S. Department of State, 2004). The judicial system’s courts, in order of power, are; Supreme, District, High, Family, and Summary courts. The judges are elected by the executive cabinet.

The legal voting age is 20. Elections of the House of Representatives are every four years. Half of the House of Councillors is elected every three years. There are seven political parties represented in the Diet. Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) was formed after World War II in 1955 and is the strongest party in the Diet. The LDP has provided all the Prime Ministers up to know besides the period 1993-1996. The president of the LDP is Junichiro Koizumi. The largest issue of the LDP is creating World peace. They also work to stress morals in the education systems that will lead to a higher quality of life for their people.

The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) is the second strongest in the Diet. The current president of the DPJ is Katsuya Okada. The DPJ was formed in 1996 and most of the members come from either the Socialist parties or other opposition parties. Since 1997 the DPJ is the largest opposition party. The DPJ works a broad array of issues. Their issues are based on increasing human rights and minimizing the role of the government.

The New Clean Government Party (Komeito) is lead by the head of head of Soka Gakkai, Daisaku Ikeda. The party’s mission is to pioneer “people-centered politics, a politics based on a humanitarianism that treats human life with the utmost respect and care” (New Komeito, 2004). The Komeito party aims to make Soka Buddhism the official religion of Japan and ultimately the world. The Japan Communist Party (JCP) was formed on July 15, 1922. Some of JCP’s issues are; eliminating U.S. military bases in Japan, end serving interests to multi-national corporations, end the use of nuclear weapons and military to solve disputes in Japan.

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