For the most current version of this Note, see Background Notes A-Z.
Area: 377,864 sq. km. (145,902 sq. mi.); slightly smaller than California.
Cities: Capital--Tokyo. Other cities--Yokohama, Osaka, Nagoya, Sapporo, Kobe, Kyoto, Fukuoka.
Terrain: Rugged, mountainous islands.
Climate: Varies from subtropical to temperate.
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Japanese.
Population (2005 est.): 127.4 million.
Population growth rate (2005 est.): 0.05%.
Ethnic groups: Japanese; Korean (0.6%).
Religions: Shinto and Buddhist; Christian (about 0.7%).
Health (2003): Infant mortality rate--3.3/1,000. Life expectancy--males 77 yrs., females 84 yrs.
Work force (67 million, 2003): services--42%; trade, manufacturing, mining, and construction--46%; agriculture, forestry, fisheries--5%; government--3%.
Type: Constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary government.
Constitution: May 3, 1947.
Branches: Executive--prime minister (head of government). Legislative--bicameral Diet (House of Representatives and House of Councillors). Judicial--civil law system based on the model of Roman law.
Administrative subdivisions: 47 prefectures.
Political parties: Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), New Clean Government Party (Komeito), Conservative New Party (CNP), Japan Communist Party (JCP), Social Democratic Party (SDP).
Suffrage: Universal at 20.
GDP (2004 est.): $4.9 trillion ($3.57 trillion on a purchasing power parity-PPP basis in 2003).
Real growth rate (2004 est.): 2.7%.
Per capita GDP (2004 est.): $38,201 (PPP: $29,400 in 2004).
Natural resources: Negligible mineral resources, fish.
Agriculture: Products--rice, vegetables, fruit, milk, meat, silk.
Industry: Types--machinery and equipment, metals and metal products, textiles, autos, chemicals, electrical and electronic equipment.
Japan, a country of islands, extends along the eastern or Pacific coast of Asia. The four main islands, running from north to south, are Hokkaido, Honshu (or the mainland), Shikoku, and Kyushu. Okinawa Island is about 380 miles southwest of Kyushu. About 3,000 smaller islands are included in the archipelago. In total land area, Japan is slightly smaller than California. About 73% of the country is mountainous, with a chain running through each of the main islands. Japan's highest mountain is the world famous Mt. Fuji (12,385 feet). Since so little flat area exists, many hills and mountainsides are cultivated all the way to the summits. As Japan is situated in a volcanic zone along the Pacific depth, frequent low intensity earth tremors and occasional volcanic activity are felt throughout the islands. Destructive earthquakes occur several times a century. Hot springs are numerous and have been developed as resorts.
Temperature extremes are less pronounced than in the United States since no part of the interior is more than 100 miles from the coast. At the same time, because the islands run almost directly north-south, the climate varies considerably. Sapporo, on the northernmost main island, has warm summers and long, cold winters with heavy snowfall. Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka, and Kobe, in central and western parts of the largest island of Honshu, experience relatively mild winters with little or no snowfall and hot, humid summers. Fukuoka, on the island of Kyushu, has a climate similar to that of Washington, DC, with mild winters and short summers. Okinawa is subtropical.
Japan's population, currently some 128 million, has experienced a phenomenal growth rate during the past 100 years as a result of scientific, industrial, and sociological changes, but this has recently slowed because of falling birth rates. High sanitary and health standards produce a life expectancy exceeding that of the United States.
Japan is an urban society with only about 6% of the labor force engaged in agriculture. Many farmers supplement their income with part-time jobs in nearby towns and cities. About 80 million of the urban population is heavily concentrated on the Pacific shore of Honshu and in northern Kyushu. Major population centers include: Metropolitan Tokyo with approximately 14 million; Yokohama with 3.3 million; Osaka with 2.6 million; Nagoya with 2.1 million; Kyoto with 1.5 million; Sapporo with 1.6 million; Kobe with 1.4 million; and Kitakyushu, Kawasaki, and Fukuoka with 1.2 million each. Japan faces the same problems that confront urban industrialized societies throughout the world: overcrowded cities, congested highways, air pollution, and rising juvenile delinquency.
Shintoism and Buddhism are Japan's two principal religions. Shintoism is founded on myths and legends emanating from the early animistic worship of natural phenomena. Since it was unconcerned with problems of afterlife which dominate Buddhist thought, and since Buddhism easily accommodated itself to local faiths, the two religions comfortably coexisted, and Shinto shrines and Buddhist monasteries often became administratively linked. Today many Japanese are adherents of both faiths. From the 16th to the 19th century Shintoism flourished.
Adopted by the leaders of the Meiji restoration, it received state support and was cultivated as a spur to patriotic and nationalistic feelings. Following World War II, state support was discontinued, and the emperor disavowed divinity. Today Shintoism plays a more peripheral role in the life of the Japanese people. The numerous shrines are visited regularly by a few believers and, if they are historically famous or known for natural beauty, by many sightseers. Many marriages are held in the shrines, and children are brought there after birth and on certain anniversary dates; special shrine days are celebrated for certain occasions, and numerous festivals are held throughout the year. Many homes have "god shelves" where offerings can be made to Shinto deities.
Buddhism first came to Japan in the 6th century and for the next 10 centuries exerted profound influence on its intellectual, artistic, social, and political life. Most funerals are conducted by Buddhist priests, and burial grounds attached to temples are used by both Buddhist and Shinto faiths.
Confucianism arrived with the first great wave of Chinese influence into Japan between the 6th and 9th centuries. Overshadowed by Buddhism, it survived as an organized philosophy into the late 19th century and remains today as an important influence on Japanese thought and values.
Christianity, first introduced into Japan in 1549, was virtually stamped out by the government a century later; it was reintroduced in the late 1800s and has spread slowly. Today it has 1.4 million adherents, including a relatively high percentage of important figures in education and public affairs.
Beyond the three traditional religions, many Japanese today are turning to a great variety of popular religious movements normally lumped together under the name "new religions." These religions draw on the concept of Shinto, Buddhism, and folk superstition and have developed in part to meet the social needs of elements of the population. The officially recognized new religions number in the hundreds, and total membership is reportedly in the tens of millions.
Japanese legend maintains that Japan was founded in 600 BC by the Emperor Jimmu, a direct descendant of the sun goddess and ancestor of the present ruling imperial family. About AD 405, the Japanese court officially adopted the Chinese writing system. Together with the introduction of Buddhism in the sixth century, these two events revolutionized Japanese culture and marked the beginning of a long period of Chinese cultural influence. From the establishment of the first fixed capital at Nara in 710 until 1867, the emperors of the Yamato dynasty were the nominal rulers, but actual power was usually held by powerful court nobles, regents, or "shoguns" (military governors).
Contact With the West
The first recorded contact with the West occurred about 1542, when a Portuguese ship, blown off its course to China, landed in Japan. During the next century, traders from Portugal, the Netherlands, England, and Spain arrived, as did Jesuit, Dominican, and Franciscan missionaries. During the early part of the 17th century, Japan's shogunate suspected that the traders and missionaries were actually forerunners of a military conquest by European powers. This caused the shogunate to place foreigners under progressively tighter restrictions. Ultimately, Japan forced all foreigners to leave and barred all relations with the outside world except for severely restricted commercial contacts with Dutch and Chinese merchants at Nagasaki. This isolation lasted for 200 years, until Commodore Matthew Perry of the U.S. Navy achieved the opening of Japan to the West with the Convention of Kanagawa in 1854.
Within several years, renewed contact with the West profoundly altered Japanese society. The shogunate resigned, and the emperor was restored to power. The "Meiji restoration" of 1868 initiated many reforms. The feudal system was abolished, and numerous Western institutions were adopted, including a Western legal system and constitutional government along quasi-parliamentary lines.
In 1898, the last of the "unequal treaties" with Western powers was removed, signaling Japan's new status among the nations of the world. In a few decades, by creating modern social, educational, economic, military, and industrial systems, the Emperor Meiji's "controlled revolution" had transformed a feudal and isolated state into a world power.
Wars With China and Russia
Japanese leaders of the late 19th century regarded the Korean Peninsula as a "dagger pointed at the heart of Japan." It was over Korea that Japan became involved in war with the Chinese Empire in 1894-95 and with Russia in 1904-05. The war with China established Japan's domination of Korea, while also giving it the Pescadores Islands and Formosa (now Taiwan). After Japan defeated Russia in 1905, the resulting Treaty of Portsmouth awarded Japan certain rights in Manchuria and in southern Sakhalin, which Russia had received in 1875 in exchange for the Kurile Islands. Both wars gave Japan a free hand in Korea, which it formally annexed in 1910.
World War I to 1952
World War I permitted Japan, which fought on the side of the victorious Allies, to expand its influence in Asia and its territorial holdings in the Pacific. The postwar era brought Japan unprecedented prosperity. Japan went to the peace conference at Versailles in 1919 as one of the great military and industrial powers of the world and received official recognition as one of the "Big Five" of the new international order. It joined the League of Nations and received a mandate over Pacific islands north of the Equator formerly held by Germany.
During the 1920s, Japan progressed toward a democratic system of government. However, parliamentary government was not rooted deeply enough to withstand the economic and political pressures of the 1930s, during which military leaders became increasingly influential.
Japan invaded Manchuria in 1931 and set up the puppet state of Manchukuo. In 1933, Japan resigned from the League of Nations. The Japanese invasion of China in 1937 followed Japan's signing of the "anti-Comintern pact" with Nazi Germany the previous year and was part of a chain of developments culminating in the Japanese attack on the United States at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941.
After almost 4 years of war, resulting in the loss of 3 million Japanese lives and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan signed an instrument of surrender on the U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Harbor on September 2, 1945. As a result of World War II, Japan lost all of its overseas possessions and retained only the home islands. Manchukuo was dissolved, and Manchuria was returned to China; Japan renounced all claims to Formosa; Korea was occupied and divided by the U.S. and the U.S.S.R.; southern Sakhalin and the Kuriles were occupied by the U.S.S.R.; and the U.S. became the sole administering authority of the Ryukyu, Bonin, and Volcano Islands. The 1972 reversion of Okinawa completed the U.S. return of control of these islands to Japan.
After the war, Japan was placed under international control of the Allies through the Supreme Commander, Gen. Douglas MacArthur. U.S. objectives were to ensure that Japan would become a peaceful nation and to establish democratic self-government supported by the freely expressed will of the people. Political, economic, and social reforms were introduced, such as a freely elected Japanese Diet (legislature) and universal adult suffrage. The country's constitution took effect on May 3, 1947. The United States and 45 other Allied nations signed the Treaty of Peace with Japan in September 1951. The U.S. Senate ratified the treaty in March 1952, and under the terms of the treaty, Japan regained full sovereignty on April 28, 1952.
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
Japan is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary government. There is universal adult suffrage with a secret ballot for all elective offices. The executive branch is responsible to the Diet, and the judicial branch is independent. Sovereignty, previously embodied in the emperor, is vested in the Japanese people, and the Emperor is defined as the symbol of the state.
Japan's Government is a parliamentary democracy, with a House of Representatives and a House of Councillors. Executive power is vested in a cabinet composed of a prime minister and ministers of state, all of whom must be civilians. The prime minister must be a member of the Diet and is designated by his colleagues. The prime minister has the power to appoint and remove ministers, a majority of whom must be Diet members.
The six major political parties represented in the National Diet are the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), the New Clean Government Party (Komeito), the Japan Communist Party (JCP), the Socialist Democratic Party (SDP), and the Conservative New Party (CNP).
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. The Japanese constitution includes a bill of rights similar to the U.S. Bill of Rights, and the Supreme Court has the right of judicial review. Japanese courts do not use a jury system, and there are no administrative courts or claims courts. Because of the judicial system's basis, court decisions are made in accordance with legal statutes. Only Supreme Court decisions have any direct effect on later interpretation of the law.
Japan does not have a federal system, and its 47 prefectures are not sovereign entities in the sense that U.S. states are. Most depend on the central government for subsidies. Governors of prefectures, mayors of municipalities, and prefectural and municipal assembly members are popularly elected to 4-year terms.
Recent Political Developments
The post-World War II years saw tremendous economic growth in Japan, with the political system dominated by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). That total domination lasted until the Diet Lower House elections on July 18, 1993, in which the LDP failed for the first time to win a majority. A coalition of new parties and existing opposition parties formed a governing majority and elected a new prime minister, Morihiro Hosokawa, in August 1993. His government's major legislative objective was political reform, consisting of a package of new political financing restrictions and major changes in the electoral system. The coalition succeeded in passing landmark political reform legislation in January 1994.
In April 1994, Prime Minister Hosokawa resigned. Prime Minister Tsutomu Hata formed the successor coalition government, Japan's first minority government in almost 40 years. Prime Minister Hata resigned less than 2 months later. Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama formed the next government in June 1994, a coalition of his Japan Socialist Party (JSP), the LDP, and the small Sakigake Party. The advent of a coalition containing the JSP and LDP surprised many observers because of their previously fierce rivalry. Prime Minister Murayama served until January 1996, when he was succeeded by Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto. Hashimoto headed a loose coalition of three parties until July 1998, when he resigned due to a poor electoral showing by the LDP in Upper House elections. Hashimoto was succeeded as LDP President and Prime Minister by Keizo Obuchi, who took office on July 30, 1998.
The LDP formed a governing coalition with the Liberal Party in January 1999, and Keizo Obuchi remained prime minister. The LDP-Liberal coalition expanded to include the Komeito Party in October 1999. Prime Minister Obuchi suffered a stroke in April 2000 and was replaced by Yoshiro Mori. After the Liberal Party left the coalition in April 2000, Prime Minister Mori welcomed a Liberal Party splinter group, the New Conservative Party, into the ruling coalition. The three-party coalition made up of the LDP, Komeito, and the New Conservative Party maintained its majority in the Diet following the June 2000 Lower House elections.
After a turbulent year in office, Prime Minister Mori agreed to hold early elections for the LDP presidency to improve his party's chances in crucial July 2001 Upper House elections. Riding a wave of grassroots desire for change, political maverick Junichiro Koizumi won an upset victory on April 24, 2001, over former Prime Minister Hashimoto and other party stalwarts on a platform of economic and political reform.
Koizumi was elected as Japan's 87th Prime Minister on April 26, 2001. The New Conservative Party dissolved in December 2002, and elements of it and defectors from the opposition DPJ formed the Conservative New Party (CNP). The CNP joined the coalition with the LDP and Komeito at its inception. Prime Minister Koizumi was re-elected as LDP President on September 20, 2003, securing a second 3-year term as Prime Minister. In the fall of 2003, the Liberal Party merged with the Democratic Party of Japan, combining party identification under the DPJ name. In congressional elections held in November of 2003, the DPJ won 40 seats, bringing to 177 the total number held by the party. This result brought Japan as close as it has ever been to a two-party political system (the LDP picked up two seats in a by-election in April 2005). The DPJ's position in the Upper House improved in the July 11, 2004 election, when it won 50 seats, 12 more than its pre-election strength. The LDP coalition fared less well, winning 49 seats, one less than its pre-election strength.
On September 27, 2004, Koizumi carried out a major cabinet reorganization, dubbing his new ministerial lineup "Reform Implementation Cabinet." Key appointments included Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura, who called the U.S.-Japan alliance the "linchpin" of Japan's foreign policy while also pledging to improve ties with key Asian neighbors, including the People's Republic of China (P.R.C.) and the Republic of Korea. As of April 2005, Koizumi's support rating in public opinion polls (40-50% range) remained very high by Japanese standards, and his tenure in office remained one of the longest on record.
Principal Government Officials
Head of State--Emperor Akihito
Prime Minister (Head of Government)--Junichiro Koizumi
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Nobutaka Machimura
Ambassador to the U.S.--Ryozo Kato
Permanent Representative to the UN--Kenzo Oshima
Japan maintains an embassy in the United States at 2520 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel: 202-238-6700; fax: 202-328-2187).
Japan's industrialized, free market economy is the second-largest in the world. Its economy is highly efficient and competitive in areas linked to international trade, but productivity is far lower in areas such as agriculture, distribution, and services. After achieving one of the highest economic growth rates in the world from the 1960s through the 1980s, the Japanese economy slowed dramatically in the early 1990s, when the "bubble economy" collapsed.
Japan's reservoir of industrial leadership and technicians, well-educated and industrious work force, high savings and investment rates, and intensive promotion of industrial development and foreign trade have produced a mature industrial economy. Japan has few natural resources, and trade helps it earn the foreign exchange needed to purchase raw materials for its economy.
While Japan's long-term economic prospects are considered good, Japan is currently in its worst period of economic growth since World War II. Plummeting stock and real estate prices in the early 1990s marked the end of the "bubble economy." The impact of the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98 also was substantial. Real GDP in Japan grew at an average of roughly 1% yearly in the 1990s, compared to growth in the 1980s of about 4% per year. Real growth in 2003 was 2.7%.
Agriculture, Energy, and Minerals
Only 15% of Japan's land is suitable for cultivation. The agricultural economy is highly subsidized and protected. With per hectare crop yields among the highest in the world, Japan maintains an overall agricultural self-sufficiency rate of about 50% on fewer than 5.6 million cultivated hectares (14 million acres). Japan normally produces a slight surplus of rice but imports large quantities of wheat, sorghum, and soybeans, primarily from the United States. Japan is the largest market for U.S. agricultural exports.
Given its heavy dependence on imported energy, Japan has aimed to diversify its sources. Since the oil shocks of the 1970s, Japan has reduced dependence on petroleum as a source of energy from more than 75% in 1973 to about 57% at present. Other important energy sources are coal, liquefied natural gas, nuclear power, and hydropower.
Deposits of gold, magnesium, and silver meet current industrial demands, but Japan is dependent on foreign sources for many of the minerals essential to modern industry. Iron ore, coke, copper, and bauxite must be imported, as must many forest products.
Japan's labor force consists of some 67 million workers, 40% of whom are women. Labor union membership is about 12 million. The unemployment rate is currently around 5%, still near the post-war high. In 1989, the predominantly public sector union confederation, SOHYO (General Council of Trade Unions of Japan), merged with RENGO (Japanese Private Sector Trade Union Confederation) to form the Japanese Trade Union Confederation.
Despite its current slow economic growth, Japan remains a major economic power both in Asia and globally. Japan has diplomatic relations with nearly all independent nations and has been an active member of the United Nations since 1956. Japanese foreign policy has aimed to promote peace and prosperity for the Japanese people by working closely with the West and supporting the United Nations.
In recent years, the Japanese public has shown a substantially greater awareness of security issues and increasing support for the Self Defense Forces. This is in part due to the Self Defense Forces' success in disaster relief efforts at home, and its participation in peacekeeping operations such as in Cambodia in the early 1990s. However, there are still significant political and psychological constraints on strengthening Japan's security profile. Although a military role for Japan in international affairs is highly constrained by its constitution and government policy, Japanese cooperation with the United States through the 1960 U.S.-Japan Security Treaty has been important to the peace and stability of East Asia. Currently, there are domestic discussions about possible reinterpretation or revision of Article 9 of the Japanese constitution. All postwar Japanese governments have relied on a close relationship with the United States as the foundation of their foreign policy and have depended on the Mutual Security Treaty for strategic protection.
While maintaining its relationship with the United States, Japan has diversified and expanded its ties with other nations. Good relations with its neighbors continue to be of vital interest. After the signing of a peace and friendship treaty with China in 1978, ties between the two countries developed rapidly. Japan extended significant economic assistance to the Chinese in various modernization projects and supported Chinese membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO). Japan's economic assistance to China is now declining. The development of political relations is hampered by China's opposition to Prime Minister Koizumi's visits to the Yasukuni Shrine war memorial and historical and territorial issues. At the same time, Japan maintains economic but not diplomatic relations with Taiwan, with which a strong bilateral trade relationship thrives.
Japan's ties with South Korea have improved since an exchange of visits in the mid-1980s by their political leaders. Japan has limited economic and commercial ties with North Korea. A surprise visit by Prime Minister Koizumi to Pyongyang on September 17, 2002, resulted in renewed discussions on contentious bilateral issues--especially that of abductions to North Korea of Japanese citizens--and Japan's agreement to resume normalization talks in the near future. In October 2002, five abductees returned to Japan, but soon after negotiations reached a stalemate over the fate of abductees' families in North Korea. Japan strongly supported the United States in its efforts to encourage Pyongyang to abide by the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and its agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Japan is continuing to cooperate with the U.S. in international efforts to get Pyongyang to abandon development of weapons of mass destruction. The U.S., Japan, and South Korea closely coordinate and consult trilaterally on policy toward North Korea, and Japan participates in the Six-Party talks to end North Korea's nuclear arms ambitions.
Japan's relations with Russia are hampered by the two sides' inability to resolve their territorial dispute over the islands that make up the Northern Territories (Kuriles) seized by the U.S.S.R. at the end of World War II. The stalemate has prevented conclusion of a peace treaty formally ending the war between Japan and Russia. The United States supports Japan on the Northern Territories issue and recognizes Japanese sovereignty over the islands. Despite the lack of progress in resolving the Northern Territories dispute, however, Japan and Russia have made progress in developing other aspects of the relationship.
Beyond relations with its immediate neighbors, Japan has pursued a more active foreign policy in recent years, recognizing the responsibility that accompanies its economic strength. It has expanded ties with the Middle East, which provides most of its oil, and has been the second-largest assistance donor (behind the U.S.) to Iraq and Afghanistan. Japan increasingly is active in Africa and Latin America--recently concluding negotiations with Mexico on an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA)--and has extended significant support to development projects in both regions. A Japanese-conceived peace plan became the foundation for nationwide elections in Cambodia in 1998. Japan's economic engagement with its neighbors is increasing, as evidenced by the conclusion of an EPA with Singapore, and its ongoing negotiations for EPAs with Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
The U.S.-Japan alliance is the cornerstone of U.S. security interests in Asia and is fundamental to regional stability and prosperity. Despite the changes in the post-Cold War strategic landscape, the U.S.-Japan alliance continues to be based on shared vital interests and values. These include stability in the Asia-Pacific region, the preservation and promotion of political and economic freedoms, support for human rights and democratic institutions, and securing of prosperity for the people of both countries and the international community as a whole.
Japan provides bases and financial and material support to U.S. forward-deployed forces, which are essential for maintaining stability in the region. Under the U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security, Japan hosts a carrier battle group, the III Marine Expeditionary Force, the 5th Air Force, and the Army's 9th Theater Support Command. The United States currently maintains approximately 53,000 troops in Japan, about half of whom are stationed in Okinawa.
Over the past several years the alliance has been strengthened through revised Defense Guidelines, which expand Japan's noncombat role in a regional contingency. The alliance has also been strengthened by the Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) program to consolidate U.S. military presence in Okinawa, the 2001 5-year agreement on Host Nation Support of U.S. forces stationed in Japan, and technical cooperation on ballistic missile defense. After the tragic events of September 11, 2001, Japan has participated significantly with the global war on terrorism by providing major logistical support for U.S. and coalition forces in the Indian Ocean. Japan also has played a leading role in the reconstruction of Afghanistan, as well as in the political and economic rehabilitation of Iraq. Their efforts include the passage of historic legislation allowing Japan's Self Defense Forces to participate in reconstruction and humanitarian missions in Iraq; by April 2004, nearly 1,000 Self Defense Force troops were operating in the southern Iraqi city of Al Samawah.
As the world's second-largest industrial economy, Japan is a welcome partner in managing international economic issues as well as a critical bilateral trade partner. Japan is the United States' third-largest trading partner and its best market for aircraft, software, and agricultural products.
The United States has two major goals in its economic relations with Japan: to promote sustainable demand-led growth and to improve market access for U.S. goods and services. At their Camp David Summit on June 30, 2001, President Bush and Prime Minister Koizumi announced the U.S.-Japan Economic Partnership for Growth, which establishes a structure for cooperation and engagement on bilateral, regional, and global economic and trade issues. The Partnership aims to promote sustainable growth by focusing on structural and regulatory reform, foreign investment, accelerated bank and corporate restructuring, market opening, and better use of information technology. The Partnership has involved the private sector in identifying problems and solutions.
Because of the two countries' combined economic and technological impact on the world, the U.S.-Japan relationship has become global in scope. The United States and Japan cooperate on a broad range of global issues, including development assistance combating communicable disease such as the spread of HIV/AIDS, and protecting the environment and natural resources. Both countries also collaborate in science and technology in such areas as mapping the human genome, research on aging, and international space exploration. As one of Asia's most successful democracies and its largest economy, Japan contributes irreplaceable political, financial, and moral support to U.S.-Japan diplomatic efforts. The United States consults closely with Japan and the Republic of Korea on policy regarding North Korea. In Southeast Asia, U.S.-Japan cooperation is vital for stability and for political and economic reform. Outside Asia, Japanese political and financial support has substantially strengthened the U.S. position on a variety of global geopolitical problems, including the Gulf, Middle East peace efforts, and the Balkans. Japan is an indispensable partner on UN reform, and broadly supports the United States on nonproliferation and nuclear issues. The U.S. supports Japan's aspiration to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.
U.S. economic policy toward Japan is aimed at increasing access to Japan's markets, stimulating domestic demand-led economic growth, promoting economic restructuring, and raising the standard of living in both the United States and Japan. The U.S.-Japan bilateral economic relationship--based on enormous flows of trade, investment, and finance--is strong, mature, and increasingly interdependent. Further, it is firmly rooted in the shared interest and responsibility of the United States and Japan to promote global growth, open markets, and a vital world trading system. In addition to bilateral economic ties, the U.S. and Japan cooperate closely in multilateral fora such as the WTO, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund, and regionally in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC).
Japan is a major market for many U.S. manufactured goods, including chemicals, pharmaceuticals, photo supplies, commercial aircraft, nonferrous metals, plastics, and medical and scientific supplies. Japan also is the largest foreign market for U.S. agricultural products, with total agricultural exports valued at $9.5 billion, excluding forestry products.
Though bilateral trade increased dramatically over the decade, the past year brought sluggish growth in exports to Japan while imports from Japan decreased slightly. U.S. exports to Japan reached just over $54 billion in 2004, up slightly from 2003 and still down from $65 billion in 2001. U.S. imports from Japan were about $130 billion in 2004, up from $118 billion in 2003 but still down from $146 billion in 2000.
The U.S. holds regular discussions with Japan to address the structural features of the Japanese economy that impede the inflow of foreign direct investment. Japan continues to host a far smaller share of global foreign direct investment than any of its G-8 counterparts. U.S. discussions with Japan aim to improve the environment for mergers and acquisitions so that U.S. firms can establish a presence in Japan without having to build one from the ground up; to recruit qualified Japanese employees; and to cut entry costs for U.S. firms by promoting the efficiency of the land market.
U.S. foreign direct investment in Japan reached $78 billion in 2004, up from $73 billion in 2003. New U.S. investment was especially significant in financial services, Internet services, and software, generating new export opportunities for U.S. firms and employment for U.S. workers.
Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Ambassador--J. Thomas Schieffer
Deputy Chief of Mission--Michael W. Michalak
Political Minister-Counselor--David B. Shear
Economic Minister-Counselor--James P. Zumwalt
Consular Affairs--Edward McKeon
Management Affairs--James Van Derhoff
Commercial Minister--Samuel H. Kidder
Public Affairs--William M. Morgan
Defense Attache--Capt. Mark Welch, USN
The street address and the international mailing address of the U.S. Embassy in Japan is 10-5 Akasaka 1-chome, Minato-ku, Tokyo (107); tel. 81-3-3224-5000; fax 81-3-3505-1862. The APO mailing address is American Embassy Tokyo, Unit 45004, Box 258, APO AP 96337-5004. U.S. Consulates General are in Osaka, Sapporo, and Naha, and Consulates are in Fukuoka and Nagoya. The American Chamber of Commerce in Japan is at 7th floor, Fukide No. 2 Bldg., 1-21 Toranomon 4-chome, Minato-ku, Tokyo (105). Additional information is available on the U.S. Embassy's Internet home page: http://tokyo.usembassy.gov.