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JAPAN

LOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT
TOPOGRAPHY
CLIMATE
FLORA AND FAUNA
ENVIRONMENT
POPULATION
MIGRATION
ETHNIC GROUPS
LANGUAGES
RELIGIONS
TRANSPORTATION
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT
POLITICAL PARTIES
LOCAL GOVERNMENT
JUDICIAL SYSTEM
ARMED FORCES
INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION
ECONOMY
INCOME
LABOR
AGRICULTURE
ANIMAL HUSBANDRY
FISHING
FORESTRY
MINING
ENERGY AND POWER
INDUSTRY
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
DOMESTIC TRADE
FOREIGN TRADE
BALANCE OF PAYMENTS
BANKING AND SECURITIES
INSURANCE
PUBLIC FINANCE
TAXATION
CUSTOMS AND DUTIES
FOREIGN INVESTMENT
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
HEALTH
HOUSING
EDUCATION
LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS
MEDIA
ORGANIZATIONS
TOURISM, TRAVEL, AND RECREATION
FAMOUS JAPANESE
DEPENDENCIES
BIBLIOGRAPHY

Nippon

CAPITAL: Tokyo

FLAG: The Sun-flag (Hi-no-Maru) consists of a red circle on a white background.

ANTHEM: (de facto) Kimigayo (The Reign of Our Emperor), with words dating back to the ninth century.

MONETARY UNIT: The yen (¥) of 100 sen is issued in coins of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, and 500 yen, and notes of 500, 1,000, 5,000, and 10,000 yen. ¥1 = $0.00917 (or $1 = ¥109) as of 2005.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is the legal standard.

HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Adults' Day, 15 January; Commemoration of the Founding of the Nation, 11 February; Vernal Equinox Day, 20 or 21 March; Greenery Day, 29 April; Constitution Day, 3 May; Children's Day, 5 May; Respect for the Aged Day, 15 September; Autumnal Equinox Day, 23 or 24 September; Health-Sports Day, 10 October; Culture Day, 3 November; Labor-Thanksgiving Day, 23 November; Emperor's Birthday, 23 December.

TIME: 9 pm = noon GMT.

LOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT

Situated off the eastern edge of the Asian continent, the Japanese archipelago is bounded on the n by the Sea of Okhotsk, on the e and s by the Pacific Ocean, on the sw by the East China Sea, and on the w by the Sea of Japan. The total area of Japan is 377,835 sq km (145,883 sq mi). Comparatively, the area occupied by Japan is slightly smaller than the state of California. It extends 3,008 km (1,869 mi) nesw and 1,645 km (1,022 mi) senw and has a total coastline of 29,751 km (18,486 mi).

The five districts are Honshū, Hokkaidō, Kyūshū, Shikoku, and Okinawa. Each of the five districts consists of a main island of the same name and hundreds of surrounding islands.

Of the thousands of lesser islands, four are of significance: Tsushima, in the straits between Korea and Japan; Amami Oshima, of the northern Ryukyu Islands at the southern end of the Japanese archipelago; Sado Island in the Sea of Japan off central Honshū; and Awaji Island, lying between Shikoku and Honshū. Two groups of islands returned to Japan by the United States in 1968 are located some 1,300 km (800 mi) due east of the Ryukyus: the Ogasawara (Bonin) Islands, about 885 km (550 mi) south of Tokyo, and the Kazan (Volcano) Islands, directly south of the Ogasawara group.

Japan's principal island is Honshū, on which are located the capital city of Tokyo, the principal cities and plains, and the major industrial areas. This island is divided into five regions: Tohoku, from north of Kanto to Tsugaru Strait; Kanto, embracing seven prefectures in the Tokyo-Yokohama region; the Chubu, or central, region, from west of Tokyo to the Nagoya area; Kinki, including the important cities of Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, and Nara; and Chugoku, a narrow peninsula thrusting westward from Kinki between the Sea of Japan and the Inland Sea, which lies between southern Honshū and the island of Shikoku.

The Japanese government maintains that the Habomai island group and Shikotan, lying just off Hokkaidō and constituting fringe areas of the Kurils, belong to Japan and should be returned to Japanese administration. These islands and the Kuril Islands are occupied by Russia, whose claims are not formally recognized by Japan.

Japan's capital city, Tokyo, is located on the east coast of the island of Honshū.

TOPOGRAPHY

The Japanese islands are the upper portions of vast mountains belonging to what is sometimes called the Circum-Pacific Ring of Fire, which stretches from Southeast Asia to the Aleutian Islands. Mountains cover over 75% of the land's surface. Landforms are steep and rugged, indicating that, geologically, Japan is still a young area. Through the central part of Honshū, running in a northsouth direction, are the two principal mountain ranges: the Hida (or Japan Alps) and the Akaishi mountains. There are 25 mountains with peaks of over 3,000 m (9,800 ft). The highest is the beautiful Mt. Fuji (Fuji-san), at 3,776 m (12,388 ft). Japan has 265 volcanoes (including the dormant Mt. Fuji), of which about 20 remain active.

The plains of Japan are few and small and cover only about 29% of the total land area. Most plains are located along the seacoast and are composed of alluvial lowlands, diluvial uplands, and low hills. The largest is the Kanto Plain (Tokyo Bay region), about 6,500 sq km (2,500 sq mi). Others include the Kinai Plain (Osaka-Kyoto), Nobi (Nagoya), Echigo (north-central Honshū), and Sendai (northeastern Honshū). There are four small plains in Hokkaidō. The population is heavily concentrated in these limited flat areas.

Rivers tend to be short and swift. The longest is the Shinano (367 km/228 mi) in north-central Honshū, flowing into the Sea of Japan. The largest lake is Lake Biwa, near Kyoto, with an area of 672 sq km (259 sq mi). Lake Kussharo, in the Akan National Park of Hokkaidō, is considered the clearest lake in the world, having a transparency of 41 m (135 ft). Good harbors are limited because in most areas the land rises steeply out of the sea. Yokohama, Nagoya, and Kobe are Japan's most prominent harbors.

The Ryukyu Islands, among which Okinawa predominates, are the peaks of submerged mountain ranges. They are generally hilly or mountainous, with small alluvial plains.

Japan is considered to be one of the most seismically active areas in the world; about 20% of all magnitude of six or higher earthquakes in the world take place in this region. The country experiences an average of 1,500 minor shocks per year. One of the world's greatest recorded natural disasters was the Kanto earthquake of 1923, when the Tokyo-Yokohama area was devastated and upward of 99,000 persons died. In 1995, a 7.2 magnitude quake shook Kobe and left over 6,400 people dead. On October 23, 2004, a series of seven earthquakes in two hours caused severe damage in northern Japan; at least 16 people were killed and over 900 were injured. In the days that followed, at least 450 lesser tremors were felt.

CLIMATE

Japan is located at the northeastern edge of the Asian monsoon climate belt, which brings much rain to the country. The weather is under the dual influence of the Siberian weather system and the patterns of the southern Pacific; it is affected by the Japan Current (Kuroshio), a warm stream that flows from the southern Pacific along much of Japan's Pacific coast, producing a milder and more temperate climate than is found at comparable latitudes elsewhere. Northern Japan is affected by the Kuril Current (Oyashio), a cold stream flowing along the eastern coasts of Hokkaidō and northern Honshū. The junction of the two currents is a bountiful fishing area. The Tsushima Current, an offshoot of the Japan Current, transports warm water northward into the Sea of Japan.

Throughout the year, there is fairly high humidity, with average rainfall ranging by area from 100 cm to over 250 cm (3998 in). Autumn weather is usually clear and bright. Winters tend to be warmer than in similar latitudes except in the north and west, where snowfalls are frequent and heavy. Spring is usually pleasant, and the summer hot and humid. There is a rainy season that moves from south to north during June and July.

Average temperature ranges from 17°c (63°f) in the southern portions to 9°c (48°f) in the extreme north. Hokkaidō has long and severe winters with extensive snow, while the remainder of the country enjoys milder weather down to the southern regions, which are almost subtropical. The Ryukyus, although located in the temperate zone, are warmed by the Japan Current, giving them a subtropical climate.

The typhoon season runs from May through October, and each year several storms usually sweep through the islands, often accompanied by high winds and heavy rains. In September 2005, Typhoon Nabi hit southern Japan causing the deaths of at least 77 people and temporarily displacing more than 300,000.

FLORA AND FAUNA

Hokkaidō flora is characterized by montane conifers (fir, spruce, and larch) at high elevations and mixed northern hardwoods (oak, maple, linden, birch, ash, elm, and walnut) at lower altitudes. The ground flora includes plants common to Eurasia and North America. Honshū supports a panoply of temperate flora. Common conifers are cypress, umbrella pine, hemlock, yew, and white pine. On the lowlands, there are live oak and camphor trees, and a great mixture of bamboo with the hardwoods. Black pine and red pine form the typical growth on the sandy lowlands and coastal areas. Shikoku and Kyūshū are noted for their evergreen vegetation. Sugarcane and citrus fruits are found throughout the limited lowland areas, with broadleaf trees in the lower elevations and a mixture of evergreen and deciduous trees higher up. Th roughout these islands are luxuriant growths of bamboo.

About 140 species of fauna have been identified. The only indigenous primate is the Japanese macaque, a small monkey found in the north. There are 32 carnivores, including the brown bear, ermine, mink, raccoon dog, fox, wolf, walrus, and seal. There are 250 breeding bird species and 8 species of reptiles. Japan's waters abound with crabs and shrimp; great migrations of fish are brought in by the Japan and Kuril currents. There are large numbers and varieties of insects. The Japanese beetle is not very destructive in its homeland because of its many natural enemies.

ENVIRONMENT

Rapid industrialization has imposed severe pressures on the environment. Japan's Basic Law for Environmental Pollution Control was enacted in 1967 and the Environment Agency was established four years later.

Air pollution is a serious environmental problem in Japan, particularly in urban centers. Toxic pollutants from power plant emissions have led to the appearance of acid rain throughout the country. In the mid-1990s, Japan had the world's fourth-highest level of industrial carbon dioxide emissions, which totaled 1.09 billion metric tons per year, a per capita level of 8.79 metric tons per year. In 2000, the total of carbon dioxide emissions was at 1.18 billion metric tons. Air quality is regulated under the Air Pollution Control Law of 1968; by 1984, compensation had been provided to 91,118 air-pollution victims suffering from bronchitis, bronchial asthma, and related conditions. However, the "polluter pays" principle was significantly weakened in 1987 as a result of years of business opposition. Nationwide smog alerts, issued when oxidant density levels reach or exceed 0.12 parts per million, peaked at 328 in 1973 but had declined to 85 (85% of which took place in the Tokyo and Osaka areas) by 1986, following imposition of stringent automobile emissions standards.

Water pollution is another area of concern in Japan. The nation has 430 cu km of renewable water resources with 64% used in farming activity and 17% used for industrial purposes. Increase in acid levels due to industrial pollutants has affected lakes, rivers, and the waters surrounding Japan. Other sources of pollution include DDT, BMC, and mercury. Environmental damage by industrial effl uents has slowed since the promulgation of the Water Pollution Control Law of 1971, but there is still widespread pollution of lakes and rivers from household sources, especially by untreated sewage and phosphate-rich detergents. Factory noise levels are regulated under a 1968 law. Airplanes may not take off or land after 10 pm and the Shinkansen trains must reduce speed while traveling through large cities and their suburbs.

Most of the nation's forests, which play a critical role in retarding runoff and soil erosion in the many mountainous areas, are protected under the Nature Conservation Law of 1972, and large areas have been reforested. Parks and wildlife are covered by the National Parks Law of 1967. In 2003, 6.8% of Japan's total land area was protected. One of the world's chief whaling nations, Japan vigorously opposed the 1982 resolution of the IWC calling for a phaseout of commercial whaling by 1986/87. However, since most of its trading partners, including the United States, supported the measure and threatened retaliatory measures if whaling continued, Japan finally agreed to comply with the ban.

According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), threatened species included 37 types of mammals, 53 species of birds, 11 types of reptiles, 20 species of amphibians, 27 species of fish, 25 types of mollusks, 20 species of other invertebrates, and 12 species of plants. Endangered species in Japan included the Ryukyu sika, Ryukyu rabbit, Iriomote cat, Southern Ryukyu robin, Okinawa woodpecker, Oriental white stork, short-tailed albatross, green sea turtle, and tailless blue butterfly. The Ryukyu pigeon, Bonin thrush, Japanese sea lion, and Okinawa flying fox have become extinct.

POPULATION

The population of Japan in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 127,728,000, which placed it at number 10 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 20% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 14% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 96 males for every 100 females in the country. The projected population for the year 2025 was 121,136,000. The population density was 338 per sq km (876 per sq mi).

Japan is the only Asian country thus far with a birthrate that has declined to the level of industrial areas in other parts of the world. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 200510 was expected to be 0.1%, a rate the government viewed as too low. The estimated 10 births per 1,000 population in 2000 compares with about 343 births per 1,000 population in 1947. The steep drop since 1950 has been attributed to legalization of abortion, increased availability of contraceptives, and the desire to raise living standards.

Even with the low birth rate, Japan is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Urban density rates were 14,245 per sq mi (5,500 per sq mi). The UN estimated that 79% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 0.27%. The capital city, Tokyo, had a population of 34,997,000 in that year. Other major metropolitan areas and their estimated populations include Osaka, 11,286,000; Nagoya, 3,189,000; Kitakyushu, 2,815,000; Sapporo, 1,828,000; Kyoto, 1,805,000; Hiroshima, 1,005,000; and Sendai, 940,000.

MIGRATION

Japanese nationals living in other countries totaled more than 600,000 in the 1990s, including some 250,000 in the United States and over 100,000 in Brazil. More than one million Japanese have emigrated since 1880; about 70% of them arrived on the US mainland and in Hawaii during the decades prior to World War II. Emigration continued after the war, encouraged by government policy as a way of relieving population pressure. By the mid-1960s, emigration had considerably decreased, as economic opportunities and living standards in Japan improved. From the 1970s1990s, however, the number of emigrants rose, from 12,445 in 1975 to 34,492 in 1985 to 82,619 in 1992.

Immigration to Japan is generally small-scale, although the illegal entry of workers from neighboring countries has come to be regarded as a problem. Since 1975, 10,000 Indo-Chinese refugees have settled in Japan. The total number of legal migrants who entered or departed Japan in 2002 was 44,651,272, an increase of 3.4% from 2001. The total number of migrants into Japan was 22,311,491, and the total number of people who left Japan was 22,339,781. The number of Japanese migrants increased by 1.9%, and the number of foreigners also increased by 9.8% from 2001. In the mid-2000s, there were 1.9 million foreign residents in Japan, half ethnic Koreans and Chinese who were mostly born in Japan, followed by 350,000 ethnic Japanese from Latin America, often the descendents of Japanese who emigrated.

Because citizenship is based on nationality of parent rather than place of birth, registered aliens may have spent their entire lives in Japan. According to Migration News, Japan continued to struggle with Zainichi, a term that literally means "to stay in Japan," but is used as a shorthand for Koreans who came to Japan during Japan's colonial rule, and their descendants. Zainichi are often considered outsiders in both Japan and Korea. Their numbers are reduced as more become naturalized Japanese. In 2003 there were 470,000 Zainichi in Japan. In 2005, the net migration rate was zero migrants per 1,000 population.

Internal migration, providing a steady exodus of people from farm and mountain communities to the cities and suburbs, has been accelerating since 1952. Most such migrants flocked to the three major population centersthe Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya metropolitan areas. As pollution and congestion in these areas increased, the government instituted programs to decentralize industry by directing new growth to smaller cities of the north and west, and also began efforts to improve rural living conditions and employment opportunities. Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications reported that the number of inter-prefectural migrants had decreased steadily from 19962004; in 2004 inter-prefectural migration was 2.6 million persons, decreased by 2.6% in comparison with the previous year.

According to Migration News, Japan began to allow temporary workers in 1986, and by 2004 lifted almost all remaining restrictions on the categories of jobs where temporary workers were permitted. In 2005 about 20% of Japanese manufacturers hired part-time workers. In 2003, Japan had an estimated 760,000 foreign workers, 1.5% of the work force. Foreigners in Japan remitted $2.8 billion officially in 2003 and an estimated $5.5 billion unoffi cially, to China, Korea, the Philippines, Brazil, and Peru.

Since the 1980s some 497 Myanma have sought asylum in Japan, usually on the grounds of religious persecution as Christians in a Buddhist nation. In 2004 Japan had 1,960 refugees and 496 seeking asylum, mainly from Turkey and Myanmar.

ETHNIC GROUPS

In 2004, 99% of the population was Japanese while only 1% be-longed to other ethnic groups (mostly Korean, Chinese, Brazilian, and Filipino). Although it is known that the Japanese are descended from many varied peoples of Asia, there is no agreement as to origins or specific ethnic strains. In physical characteristics, the Japanese belong to the Mongoloid group, with faint admixtures of Malayan and Caucasoid strains. Waves of migration from the continental hinterland reached Japan during the end of the Paleolithic period, blending into a complicated and diverse ethnic, linguistic, and cultural system. It is believed that the Japanese have their roots in the Old Stone Age race of at least 30,000 bc. A major migration appears to have taken place in the 2nd and 3rd centuries ad, and by the 4th century this group, called the Yamato clan, established a monarchy in the present Nara prefecture. Other ethnic strains may have come from Indonesia and China in the south, Korea in the west, and Siberia and Alaska in the north.

The one remaining distinct ethnic group in Japan is the Ainu. These people, living on the northern island of Hokkaidō, are physically distinct from the contemporary Japanese, having Nordic-like features, including more pervasive facial and body hair. There is no agreement as to their origins; their current population is less than 20,000.

LANGUAGES

Japanese is the official language. Most linguists agree that Japanese is in a language class by itself, although there is some inconclusive evidence that traces it to the Malayo-Polynesian language family. In vocabulary, Japanese is rich in words denoting abstract ideas, natural phenomena, human emotions, ethics, and aesthetics, but poor in words for technical and scientific expression. For these latter purposes, foreign words are directly imported and written in a phonetic system (katakana ). A distinct characteristic is the use of honorifics to show proper respect to the listener and his social status.

Written Japanese owes its origin almost entirely to Chinese forms. Having no indigenous script, the Japanese since the 5th century have used Chinese characters, giving them both an approximate Chinese pronunciation and a Japanese pronunciation. In addition, the Japanese invented phonetic symbols (kana ) in the 9th century to represent grammatical devices unknown to the Chinese.

Attempts have been made to reduce the complexity of the written language by limiting the number of Chinese characters used. The government has published a list of 1,850 characters for use in official communications. Newspapers adhere to this list.

RELIGIONS

According to a 2002 report by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, about 49.9% of the population practice Shintoism and 44.2% practice Buddhism. Religious identities are not mutually exclusive, however, and many Japanese maintain affiliations with both a Buddhist temple and a Shinto shrine.

Shinto, originally concerned with the worship of spirits of nature, grew under the influence of Chinese Confucianism to include worship of family and imperial ancestors, and thus provided the foundation of Japanese social structure. Shinto became an instrument of nationalism after 1868, as the government officially sponsored and subsidized it, requiring that it be taught in the schools and that all Japanese belong to a state Shinto shrine. After World War II, Shinto was abolished as a state religion, and the emperor issued an imperial prescript denying divine origin. Today, Shinto exists as a private religious organization.

Buddhism is considered by some the most important religion in Japan. Introduced through China and Korea around ad 552, Buddhism spread rapidly throughout Japan and has had considerable influence on the nation's arts and its social institutions. There are 13 sects (shu ) and 56 denominations, the principal shu being Tendai, Shingon, Jodo, Zen, Soto, Obaku, and Nichiren. Japanese Buddhism was founded on the Mahayana school, which emphasizes the attainment of Buddhahood, whereas the Hinayana Buddhism of India emphasizes obedience to commandments and personal perfection. The great temples and gardens of Japan, the famous Japanese tea ceremony (chanoyu ), and Japanese flower-arranging arts (ikebana ) owe their development to the influence of Buddhism.

Religions designated as other are practiced by about 6% of the population (including 0.9% practicing Christianity). "Other" faiths that were founded in Japan include Tenrikyo, Seichounoie, Sekai Kyusei Kyo, Perfect Liberty, and Risho Koseikai. Christianity, introduced to Japan by the Jesuit St. Francis Xavier in 1549, was first encouraged by feudal lords but then banned in 1613, often under penalty of death. After that time, a unique sect known as "hidden Christians" developed, with no tradition of churches or public displays of faith and a syncretic doctrine that incorporated local ideas and history. The prohibition against Christianity was in force until 1873, following the reopening of Japan to international relations in 1854. Following World War II, when the emperor lost his claim to divinity, some Japanese gave up Shinto and converted to Christianity or Judaism.

After World War II, a considerable number of new religious groups sprouted up. One of these, the Soka-Gakkai, a Buddhist offshoot, controlled a political party (Komeito ), the third-strongest political group in Japan, until politics and religion were officially separated in 1970. In addition to the established and new religions, Confucianism, an ethical system originating in China, has strongly influenced Japanese society since the earliest periods, providing underpinnings for some characteristically Japanese attitudes.

TRANSPORTATION

Despite its rugged terrain, Japan has a highly developed transportation system. In 2004, Japan had 23,577 km (14,664 mi) of railways, of which about 86% was 1.067-m narrow gauge. Of that total, 13,277 km (8,258 mi) were electrified. Standard gauge lines totaled 3,204 km (1993 mi), all of which are electrified. The government-owned Japan National Railways (JNR) was privatized in April 1987 and divided into six railway companies. Feeding into these six lines were 144 other private railroads. Like their counterparts elsewhere, Japan's rail lines face increasing competition from automotive, sea, and air transport, as well as rising operating costs. High-speed lines, however, have been successful in partially meeting these problems; the most famous of these is the Shinkansen, which opened to traffic in October 1964 between Tokyo and Osaka and was extended in March 1975 to Fukuoka in northern Kyūshū. In 1984, the Shinkansen superexpress trains covered the 1,069 km (664 mi) between Tokyo and Fukuoka in less than seven hours, with maximum speeds of 210 km/hr (130 mph). In 1982, the first section of the northern Shinkansen line, between Tokyo and Omiya, began operations. This line was extended in 1983 to Niigata and to Morioka, in northern Honshū. By far the longest railway tunnel in the world, the 54.2 km (33.7 mi) Seikan tube linking Honshū with Hokkaidō, was opened in 1983 and completed in 1985. The tunnel, lying beneath the Tsugaru Strait, cost well over $2 billion. A bridge links Honshū and Shikoku. Subway lines serve nine citiesTokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Kobe, Yokohama, Sapporo, Kyoto, Fukuoka, and Sendai. There are 410 km (255 mi) of track, with 196 km (122 mi) in Tokyo's 11 lines. Since 1964, down-town Tokyo has also been linked with that city's Haneda Airport by a monorail transport system, and several other monorails have been put into operation. In addition, a 7 km (4.3 mi) monorail serves the city of Yokohama.

Roads have become the most important means of domestic transport. Motor vehicles in 2003 numbered 55,212,593 passenger cars and 17,312,192 commercial vehicles, up from 25,848,000 and 8,306,000, respectively, in 1985. To speed traffic flow, a total of 6,946 km (4,320 mi) of expressways were open to traffic in 2002. In total, there were 1,177,278 million km (732,267 mi) of roadways, of which about 914,745 km (568,971 mi) were paved.

Japan is one of the world's great maritime nations. The chief ports are Yokohama (for Tokyo), Nagoya, and Kobe. In 2005, Japan's merchant fleet included 702 ships of 1,000 GRT or more, totaling 10,149,196 GRT. Since 1959, Japan has emerged as the world's leading shipbuilder, but output declined in the late 1970s and 1980s in the face of a worldwide recession and increased competition from the Republic of Korea (ROK). Although Japan had 1,770 km (1,101 mi) of navigable inland waterways, as of 2004, they are not used by ocean-going vessels, which prefer to use the country's inland seas.

Japan had an estimated 174 airports in 2004. As of 2005 a total of 142 had paved runways, and there were also 15 heliports. Principal domestic airports include Haneda in Tokyo, Itami in Osaka, Itazuke in Fukuoka, and Chitose on Hokkaidō. Principal international facilities include Kansai International at Osaka and New Tokyo International at Tokyo. Japan Air Lines (JAL), the nation's major domestic and international airline, began operations in 1952 and inaugurated international flights in 1954. All Nippon Airways, established in 1957, began as a domestic system serving smaller areas of the country and acting as a feeder line to JAL but now serves overseas routes; it began to carry freight in 1987. In 2003, Japan's airlines performed 7,985 million freight ton-km. In that same year, about 103.606 million passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international airline flights.

HISTORY

Archaeological discoveries revealed the existence of Paleolithic humans in Japan when the islands were connected to the Asian continental landmass. Little is known about the origins of the earliest Japanese beyond the fact that they migrated from the continent. The first distinctive Neolithic culture, the Jõmon, existed in Japan from 11,000 bc to 300 bc. The Jõmon was displaced by the Yayoi culture, which introduced new agricultural and metallurgical skills from the continent. Tradition places the beginning of the Japanese nation in 660 bc with the ascendance to the throne of the legendary Emperor Jimmu. It is generally agreed, however, that as the Yayoi developed, the Yamato clan attained hegemony over southern Japan during the first three or four centuries of the Christian era and established the imperial family line. Earlier contacts with Korea were expanded in the 5th century to mainland China, and the great period of cultural borrowing began: industrial arts were imported; Chinese script was introduced (thereby permitting the study of medical texts), the Chinese calendar and Buddhism also arrived from China. Japanese leaders adapted the Chinese governmental organization but based power upon hereditary position rather than merit. The first imperial capital was established at Nara in 710. In 794, the imperial capital was moved to Heian (Kyoto), where it remained until 1868, when Tokyo became the nation's capital.

Chinese influence waned as native institutions took on peculiarly Japanese forms. Outside court circles, local clans gained strength, giving rise to military clan influence over a weakening imperial system. The Minamoto clan gained national hegemony as it defeated the rival Taira clan in 1185, and its leader, the newly appointed Yoritomo, established a military form of government at Kamakura in 1192, a feudal system that lasted for nearly 700 years. Under the shogunate system, all political power was in the hands of the dominant military clan, with the emperors ruling in name only. The Kamakura period was followed by the Ashikaga shogunate (13361600) which saw economic growth and the development of a more complex feudalism. For over 100 years, until the end of the 16th century, continuous civil war among rival feudal lords (daimyo ) ensued. During this time, the first contact with the Western world took place with the arrival in 1543 of Portuguese traders, and with that, the first guns were imported. Six years later, St. Francis Xavier arrived, introducing Christianity to Japan.

By 1590, the country was pacified and unified by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a peasant who had risen to a top military position. Hideyoshi also invaded Korea unsuccessfully, in 159293 and in 1598, dying during the second invasion. Ieyasu Tokugawa consolidated Hideyoshi's program of centralization. Appointed shogun in 1603, Tokugawa established the Tokugawa shogunate (military dictatorship), which was to rule Japan until the imperial restoration in 1868. Tokugawa made Edo (modern Tokyo) the capital, closed Japan to foreigners except Chinese and Dutch traders (who were restricted to Nagasaki) and occasional Korean diplomats, and banned Christianity. For the next 250 years, Japan enjoyed stability and a flowering of indigenous culture, although from the end of the 18th century onward, Japan came under increasing pressure from Western nations to end its isolationist policy.

The arrival of Commodore Matthew C. Perry from the United States in 1853with his famous "black ships"started a process that soon ended Japanese feudalism. The following year, Perry obtained a treaty of peace and friendship between the United States and Japan, and similar pacts were signed with Russia, Britain, and the Netherlands based on the principle of extraterritoriality. A decade of turmoil and confusion followed over the question of opening Japan to foreigners. A coalition of southern clans led by ambitious young samurai of the Satsuma and Choshu clans forced the abdication of the Tokugawa shogun and reestablished the emperor as head of the nation. In 1868, Emperor Mutsuhito took over full sovereignty. This Meiji Restoration, as it is known, signaled the entry of Japan into the modern era.

Intensive modernization and industrialization commenced under the leadership of the restoration leaders. A modern navy and army with universal military conscription and a modern civil service based on merit formed the foundation of the new nationstate. The government undertook the establishment of industry, by importing technological assistance. In 1889, a new constitution established a bicameral legislature (Diet) with a civil cabinet headed by a prime minister responsible to the emperor.

By the end of the 19th century, irreconcilable territorial ambitions brought Japan into open conflict with its much larger western neighbors. The Sino-Japanese War (189495) was fought over the question of control of Korea, and the Russo-Japanese War (190405) over the question of Russian expansion in Manchuria and influence in Korean affairs. Japan emerged victorious in both conflicts, its victory over the Russians marking the first triumph of an Asian country over a Western power in modern times. Japan received the territories of Taiwan and the southern half of Sakhalin Island, as well as certain railway rights and concessions in Manchuria and recognition of paramount influence in Korea. The latter became a Japanese protectorate in 1905 and was annexed by Japan in 1910.

During the Taisho era (191226), Japan participated in a limited way in World War I, in accordance with the Anglo-Japanese Alliance of 1902. Japan was one of the Big Five powers at the Versailles Peace Conference and in 1922 was recognized as the world's third-leading naval power at the Washington Naval Conference. The domestic economy developed rapidly, and Japan was transformed from an agricultural to an industrial nation. Economic power tended to be held by the industrial combines (zaibatsu ), controlled by descendants of those families that had instituted the modernization of the country decades earlier. In 1925, universal manhood suffrage was enacted, and political leaders found it necessary to take into consideration the growing influence of parties.

In 1926, Emperor Hirohito ascended the throne beginning the Showa era. By the 1930s, democratic institutions atrophied and the military-industrial complex became dominant. With severe social distress caused by the great depression, an ultranationalist ideology emerged, particularly among young army officers. Acting independently of the central government, the military launched an invasion of Manchuria in 1931, eventually establishing the puppet state of Manchukuo. In 1932, a patriotic society assassinated the prime minister, bringing an end to cabinets formed by the majority party in the Diet. Japan withdrew from the League of Nations (which had protested the Manchurian takeover) in 1933, started a full-scale invasion of China (the Second Sino-Japanese War, 193745), and signed the Anti-Comintern pact with Germany in 1936 and a triple alliance with Germany and Italy in 1940. The military leadership, viewing the former USSR and the United States as chief barriers to Japanese expansion, negotiated a nonaggression pact with the USSR in April 1941, thus setting the stage for the attack on Pearl Harbor and other Pacific targets on 7 December of that year. Thereafter, Japanese military actions took place in the context of World War II.

With its capture of the Philippines on 2 January 1942, Japan gained control of most of East Asia, including major portions of China, Indochina, and the southwest Pacific. Japanese forces, however, could not resist the continued mobilization of the US military. A series of costly naval campaignsincluding battles at Midway, Guadalcanal, and Leyte Gulfbrought an end to Japanese domination in the Pacific. By 1945, the Philippines had been recaptured, and the stage was set for a direct assault on Japan. After the US troops captured Okinawa in a blood battle, US president Harry S. Truman argued that a full invasion of Japan would prove too costly and decided on aerial attacks to force Japan into surrendering. After four months of intense bombardment with conventional weapons, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima on 6 August 1945 and a second bomb on Nagasaki on 9 August. An estimated 340,000 persons died from the two attacks and the subsequent effects of radiation. In addition, all major cities, with the exception of Kyoto, were destroyed during the war and food and supply shortages continued for several years after the surrender.

On 14 August, Japan accepted the Potsdam Declaration for unconditional surrender with formal surrender documents signed aboard the USS Missouri on 2 September. After the surrender over 500 Japanese military officials committed suicide and hundreds more faced war crimes prosecution. Emperor Hirihito was not declared a war criminal and although he lost all military and political power he retained his royal title and became a symbol of the state until his death in 1989. The subsequent occupation (194552), under the direction of General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, began a series of ambitious reforms. Political reforms included the adoption of a parliamentary system of government based on democratic principles and universal suffrage, a symbolic role for the emperor as titular head of state, the establishment of an independent trade union, and the disarmament of the military. Economic reforms consisted of land reform, the dissolution of the zaibatsu, and economic and political rights for women. A new constitution was promulgated on 3 November 1946 and put into force on 3 May 1947.

The Postwar Period

Heavy economic aid from the United States and a procurement boom produced by the Korean War, coupled with a conservative fiscal and monetary policy allowed the Japanese to rebuild their country. The Japanese economy rapidly recovered, and the standard of living quickly surpassed the prewar level by a substantial margin. The state of war between the Western powers and Japan was formally ended by the San Francisco Peace Treaty, signed in September 1951 by 56 nations. The allied occupation ended officially when the treaty went into effect in April 1952. Japan renounced claims to many of its former overseas territories, including such major areas as Taiwan and Korea. The Amami island group, comprising the northern portion of the Ryukyu Islands, nearest to Kyūshū Island, was returned to direct Japanese control by the United States in December 1953; the remainder of the group, including Okinawa, was returned to full Japanese sovereignty in May 1972. The Ogasawara (Bonin) Islands and Kazan (Volcano) Islands were returned to Japanese sovereignty in June 1968. The former USSR never signed the San Francisco Peace Treaty, and Japan and Russia have continued to dispute sovereignty over the Kurile Islands, to the northeast of Hokkaidō, which the USSR occupied in 1945. In 1956, Japan and the former USSR agreed to establish diplomatic relations.

In 1956 Japan was elected to UN membership. A revision of the 1952 defense treaty with the United States, under which a limited number of troops were to remain in Japan for defense purposes, was signed amid growing controversy in 1960. On 22 June 1965, Japan signed a treaty with South Korea normalizing relations between the two countries. The US-Japanese Security Treaty was renewed in 1970, despite vigorous protest by the opposition parties and militant student organizations. In 1972, Japan moved to establish full diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China. Formal diplomatic links with the Nationalist Chinese government on Taiwan were terminated by this move, but Japan's economic and cultural links with Taiwan nonetheless have survived virtually intact.

While Japan defined its new role in East Asian affairs, its remarkable economic expansion raised it to the level of a major trading power. Based on strong government support of export industries, political stability under the Liberal-Democratic Party (LDP), and public policy guidance from a powerful bureaucracy, Japan experienced a dramatic rise from the ruins of World War II. From 1955 to 1965, Japan experienced a nominal growth rate of 1020% annually and real growth rates (adjusted for inflation) of 512%. In 1968, it surpassed the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) to stand second after the United States among non-Communist nations in total value of GNP. The oil crisis of 1973a combination of shortages and rising pricesrevealed the crack in Japan's economic armor, the lack of domestic petroleum resources. A second oil crisis during the late 1970s was met by a reappraisal of Japan's dependence on foreign fuels and the institution of long-range programs for energy conservation and diversification. These oil crises led to a shift in the economy and to the creation of high-technology industries, most notably electric and electronic appliances.

The yen declined in value in the early 1980s, causing Japanese exports to become cheaper in overseas markets and leading to huge trade surpluses with the United States and other leading trading partners, who began to demand that Japan voluntarily limit certain exports and remove the barriers to Japan's domestic market. During 198587, the yen appreciated in value against the dollar and, by 1994, the dollar had hit a post-World War II low, but Japan continued to register substantial trade surpluses.

Political stability, maintained since the 1950s by the majority LDP, began to unravel in the 1970s, following the retirement from politics of Prime Minister Eisaku Sato in 1972. Sato's successor, Kakuei Tanaka, was forced to resign in December 1974 amid charges of using his office for personal gain in the Lockheed Corporation bribery scandal. Takeo Miki succeeded Tanaka and Takeo Fukuda became prime minister when Miki resigned in December 1976. Fukuda was defeated in intraparty elections by Masayoshi Ohira in 1978. When Ohira died in June 1980, he was succeeded by Zenko Suzuki. Suzuki stepped down as prime minister in November 1982 and was replaced by controversial and outspoken Yasuhiro Nakasone. Noboru Takeshita became prime minister in November 1987.

Policy regarding military force has been a major political issue in the postwar years. According to Article Nine of the 1947 constitution, Japan renounced the belligerency of the state but soon developed a Self-Defense Force with US encouragement. In 1986, breaking a long-standing policy, the government increased military spending to over 1% of the GNP. The Diet (parliament) approved a bill allowing the deployment of troops abroad for international peacekeeping in 1992 with troops participating with the United Nations in Cambodia, Israel, Iraq, Sudan, Indonesia, and other states.

Emperor Hirohito died of cancer on 7 January 1989, at the age of 87. He was succeeded by the Crown Prince Akihito, who was enthroned as the Heisei emperor in a formal ceremony in November 1990. The sense of entering a new era brought increased controversy over the assessment of Japan's role in the earlier part of the century, particularly during World War II. Some denied that Japan had committed atrocities during the war and there were attempts to further soften the wording of school textbooks. In March 1989, Prime Minister Takeshita apologized to North Korea (DPRK) for the suffering Japan caused over the 36 years of occupation of Korea (191045) and Emperor Akihito expressed similar regrets to President Roh Tae Woo of South Korea (ROK) in May 1990. In the same month, the government removed the requirement for fingerprinting of people of Korean descent living in Japan. In 1992, Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa apologized for the forced prostitution of Korean, Chinese, and Japanese women in Japanese military brothels during World War II. However, many minorities in Japan, Chinese and Koreans included, claimed that they still experienced social and economic discrimination in Japan well after the war.

The 1980s ended with a major scandal involving illegal stock trading and influence peddling by the Recruit Cosmos Company. Between the summer of 1988 and the closing of the case in May 1989, the scandal led to the implication and resignations of prominent business people and politicians in top government positions, among them then-finance minister Kiichi Miyazawa, and the former prime minister, Yashuhiro Nakasone. Scandals continued into the 1990s with stock rebates for politicians in 1991 and then in 1992, contributions to politicians from a trucking company linked to organized crime became public knowledge.

The economy entered a period of major stagnation and distress in the early 1990s. In 1990, the stock market declined more than 25% from January to April. Then, during the spring of 1992, the stock index fell rapidly again, until by the summer, the index was at its lowest point in six years at 62% below the record high of 1989. By the end of 1993, Japan was in the midst of its worst economic downturn in at least 20 years. This also led to a debt crisis that resulted in many banks becoming unsustainable causing a massive consolidation. Although the long-term economic prospects for Japan were good, it was further retarded by the impact of the Asian financial crisis of 199798. In 1998, the Japanese economy witnessed its most serious recession with a negative growth rate of 1.9%. As of 2005 there were only four national banks in Japan.

Against the background of scandals and an economic recession, the political landscape began a major change. Taking responsibility for political problems caused by the Recruit scandal, Noboru Takeshita resigned as prime minister in April 1989, to be succeeded in May by Sosuke Uno, who abruptly resigned when a sex scandal became public amidst the LDP loss of its majority in the upper house of the Diet. The next prime minister, Toshiki Kaifu, served his term from August 1989 to October 1991, but the LDP did not support him for a second term. Instead, Kiichi Miyazawa became prime minister in November 1991. When the lower house gave Miyazawa a vote of no confidence in June 1993 for abandoning electoral reform bills, Miyazawa dissolved the lower house and called for elections.

In the election for the 511 seats of the House of Representatives on 18 July 1993, the LDP, for the first time since its own formation in 1955, failed to secure the 256 seats needed for a majority. Without a majority, the LDP was unable to form a government and the new prime minister, Morihiro Hosokawa (JNP), was chosen on 29 July 1993, by a seven-party coalition of LDP defectors, socialists, and conservatives. Hosokawa, too, was tainted by questions regarding personal finances and stepped down as prime minister to be replaced by Tsutomu Hata (Shinseito) in April 1994. Just as Hata took office, the Socialist Party left the governing coalition, leaving the prime minister as the head of a minority government for the first time in four decades. Hata soon resigned and, in a surprise move, the LDP and the Socialist Party, traditionally opponents, allied to form a new coalition, which also included the Sakigake. The coalition selected as prime minister, Tomiichi Murayama, the head of the Socialist Party and the first Socialist prime minister since 1948. Within the coalition the LDP was the dominant factor but the decades of LDP rule appeared to be over and the nature of the LDP itself changed. The dissolution of the House of Representatives and the ensuing election on 18 July 1993 marked a major turning point for Japanese politics as the LDP lost its political dominance as new parties formed. One new party, the Japan New Party (JNP), was formed by Morihiro Hosokawa, a former LDP member, in May 1992. On 21 June 1993, 10 more members of the LDP, led by Masayoshi Takemura, left to form the Sakigake (Harbinger Party) and another 44 LDP members quit two days later to create the Shinseito (Renewal Party) with Tsutomu Hata as its head. By 28 June, one-fifth (57 members) of the LDP bloc of the dissolved lower house left the party.

In June 1994, Tomiichi Murayama became prime minister in a coalition consisting of the LDP, the Social Democratic Party of Japan (SDPJ), and Sakigake. In an unprecedented move, Murayama recognized the legal right for the existence of the Japanese Self-Defense force, much to the disapproval of left-leaning party members. The tumultuous reign of Murayama included the Kobe earthquake and political scandals which led to the resignation of the Justice Minister and the director of the Management and Coordination Agency. Elections in October 1996 resulted in a victory for the LDP, but the party still failed to obtain a majority of seats, only capturing 239 of 500. The Sakigake and Democratic Party of Japan agreed to support Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto. In July 1998, Hashimoto resigned after a poor performance of the LDP in the House of Councilors election and was replaced by Keizo Obuchi. During the Obuchi regime, the Japanese economy showed signs of recovering with major fiscal stimuli including a massive public works program.

In April 2000, Obuchi suffered a stroke, entered into a coma, and was replaced by Yoshiro Mori who called summarily for elections. On 25 June parliamentary elections were held for the House of Representatives. Mori was reelected prime minister, with a ruling coalition of the LDP, the Buddhist-backed New Komeito, and the New Conservative Party (NCP). In early 2001, the Nikkei stock average fell to its lowest level since 1985 and unemployment rates reached 4.9%, the highest since the end of World War II. Plagued by scandal and the depressed economy, Mori resigned in April 2001. Junichiro Koizumi won control of the LDP and became prime minister on 26 April, promising to reinvigorate Japanese politics and radically reform the economy. He appointed members of his cabinet without seeking nominations from major factions of the LDP, as had been the practice in the past.

Koizumi immediately raised controversy by making a visit to the Yasukuni Shrine. Dedicated to Japan's war dead, it served as a symbol of nationalism during World War II and has been a lightning rod for anger among Asian nations that suffered under Japan's military aggression. He continued to visit the shrine annually. Japan was also the target of international criticism over its Education Ministry's approval of junior high-school textbooks that allegedly glossed over Japan's aggression in China, particularly the Nanjing Massacre and its annexation of the Korean Peninsula.

Koizumi's coalition dominated the July 2001 elections for the House of Councilors, with the LDP taking 65 of the 121 contested seats, its best performance in the House of Councilors since 1992. The victory was seen as a mandate for Koizumi. However, the economy remained in recession throughout 2002, which reduced his popularity.

In 2002, Japan began a diplomatic initiative to improve relations with North Korea. In September 2002, North Korean President Kim Jong Il apologized to Koizumi for North Korea's kidnapping of Japanese citizens during the 1970s and 1980s. Japan pledged a generous aid package to North Korea in return. In 2005 relations with South Korea and China soured over Japanese continued use of junior high-school textbooks which downplayed the aggressive nature of Japan's role in WWII. In addition, South Korea objected to the reassertion of the Japanese claim to the Liancourt Rocks, which Korea occupies. China objected to the Japanese proposal for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, while both countries objected to Japan's use of the East China Sea.

Elections in 2003 resulted in large gains for the opposition Democratic Party, but the LDP coalition retained a majority within the parliament. On 27 September 2004, Koizumi carried out a major cabinet reorganization dubbing his new ministerial lineup the "Reform Implementation Cabinet", in order to combat corruption and inefficiency. April 2005 public opinion polls showed Koizumi support ratings in the 4050% range, which was very high by Japanese standards, and his tenure in office was one of the longest on record.

Koizumi called for early elections in September 2005 after he dissolved the lower House due to the defeat in the upper House of his landmark proposals to reform the country's postal system. The upper House cannot be dissolved in Japan, and so a two-thirds majority was needed in the lower House to be able to pass new legislation without the consent of the upper House. The result was the second-largest landslide in a general election in the LDP's history. In combination with allied parties, the LDP coalition held over two-thirds of the seats, 296 out of 480. The results were a devastating setback for the Democratic Party, the main opposition, whose gains in 2001 and 2003 led some to believe that Japanese Democracy was evolving into a two-party system. Due to LDP term limits, Koizumi was expected to retire in 2006, although the possibility of his remaining in office still existed.

GOVERNMENT

Japan follows the parliamentary system in accordance with the constitution of 1947. The most significant change from the previous constitution of 1889 was the transfer of sovereign power from the emperor to the people. The emperor is now defined as "the symbol of the state and of the unity of the people." The constitution provides for the supremacy of the National Diet as the legislative branch of the government, upholds the separation of legislative, executive, and judicial powers, and guarantees civil liberties. It is officially termed a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary government.

The executive branch is headed by a prime minister selected from the Diet by its membership. The cabinet consists of the prime minister and 17 state ministers (as of February 2003) whom are elected by the prime minister, each heading a government ministry or agency. At least half the ministers must be selected from the Diet, to which the cabinet is collectively responsible. Upon a vote of no confidence by the House of Representatives, the cabinet must resign en masse.

The National Diet is bicameral. The 2005 House of Representatives (the lower House) has a membership of 480, with terms of office for four years, except that all terms end upon dissolution of the house (a law promulgated in February 2000 reduced the composition of the House from 500 to 480 members). Of the 480 seats, 180 are elected from 11 multi-member constituencies by proportional representation, and 300 are elected from single-member constituencies. The House of Councilors (the upper House) has 242 members, 144 members in multi-seat constituencies and 98 by proportional representation. The term of office is six years, with one-half elected every three years. This means that of the 121 members subject to election each time, 73 are elected from the 47 prefectural districts and 48 are elected from a nationwide list by proportional representation. The lower house holds primary power. In case of disagreement between the two houses, or if the upper house fails to take action within 60 days of receipt of legislation from the lower house, a bill becomes law if passed again by a two-thirds majority of the lower house.

Suffrage is universal, the voting age being 20 years, with a three-month residence requirement. The 1947 constitution granted suffrage to women. In January 1994, the Diet passed an electoral reform bill. In addition to new laws on campaign financing, the legislation abolished the multiple-member districts and replaced them with 300 single-member districts and 200 multimember districts. The number of multimember districts stood at 180. The 1996 elections resulted in the weakening of minor parties, in particular the SDPJ and Sakigake. Elections for the House of Representatives took place in 2005, two years before the official end of the term taken from the election in 2003 due to Koizumi's decision to dissolve the lower House. The next elections for the House of Councilors were scheduled to take place in 2007.

POLITICAL PARTIES

Most political parties in Japan are small local or regional parties, with the total number of parties exceeding 10,000. Japan's most popular party, the Liberal-Democratic Party (LDP) represents a wide spectrum of Japanese society, but especially the conservative elements. Formed in 1955 by the merger of the two leading conservative parties, this party held the reins of government since its formation until July 1993. The LDP supports an alliance with the United States and the various security pacts enacted by the two countries.

The Japan Socialist Party (JSP) is Japan's principal opposition party, drawing its support mainly from the working class, but it suffers from personality as well as ideological problems within its ranks. The JSP split into right and left wings over the ratification of the US-Japan Security Treaty of 1952. In October 1955, however, the two factions reunited, preceding the unification of the conservative parties and actually forcing the conservative groups into a unified front, thus creating a formal two-party system in Japan.

Beginning in the late 1960s, a shift took place toward a multipleparty system, with the gradual increase of opposition parties other than the JSP. The Democratic Socialist Party (DSP) represented moderate elements of the working class. The Komeito (Clean Government Party), professing middle-of-the-road politics, was the political wing of the Soka-Gakkai, a Buddhist sect. The Japanese Communist Party, founded as an underground group in 1922 and legalized after World War II, experienced major shifts in platform. The party had traditionally sided with China in the Sino-Soviet ideological dispute, although in recent years the Japanese Communists have focused instead on social conditions at home.

The LDP continued to hold its majority in both houses until 1993. Traditionally, the LDP has functioned as a coalition of several factions, each tightly organized and bound by personal loyalty to a factional leader. In the mid-1970s, policy differences among the factions and their leaders became acute, with the resignation under pressure of Prime Minister Tanaka in December 1974.

In the summer of 1993, after five years of scandals involving corruption, sex, organized crime, and in the midst of economic recession, the old political order disintegrated as dozens of younger LDP members defected to form new parties. Chief among these was the Japan New Party (JNP), formed in May 1992, and the Sakigake (Harbinger Party) and the Shinseito (Renewal Party), both formed in June 1993. A watershed election in July 1993 for the House of Representatives, the lower house of the parliament, resulted in the loss by the LDP, for the first time since 1955, of its majority. Of the 511 seats, the LDP won 223 seats (as compared with 275 in the 1990 election), the JSP won 70 seats (a loss of half of its previous seats), the Komeito won 51 seats, the Shinseito took 55 seats, the JNP won 35 seats, and the Sakigake won 13. A seven-party coalition, including new parties of LDP defectors, the JSP, and other conservative parties, formed the new cabinet, which governed for a year until the prime minister (Morihiro Hosokawa, JNP) resigned over a financial scandal. The coalition formed a new government, led by Tsutomu Hata of the Shinseito, in April 1993. However, the JSP, finding itself maneuvered out of any voice in the coalition, broke away and Hata, then with a minority in the House of Representatives, resigned after one month in office.

The next government was formed by a new, unorthodox coalition of the traditional opponents, the LDP and the JSP, as well as the Sakigake. Tomiichi Murayama, head of the JSP, was chosen prime minister in June 1994, the first Socialist to head a government since 1948, although the LDP appeared to be dominant in the coalition. This unusual partnership caused strains, leading to further defections, within the LDP and within the JSP. The Shinseito emerged as a serious focus of opposition, standing for an internationally more active Japan, including use of the military overseas, for a revision of the constitution, and for removing protective regulations to open the domestic economy to competition. The left wing of the JSP, unhappy with the alliance with the LDP, held that the Self-Defense Forces were unconstitutional, and that the North Korean government (DPRK) was the legitimate government of all of Korea, and advocated abolition of the security treaty with the United States.

The parliamentary election that took place on 20 October 1996 combined the 300 single seat constituencies with the proportional representation for the remaining 200 seats. After the dissolution of Shinshinto, a highly fractionalized party system emerged. Going into the 2000 election, the LDP had 266 seats, with the largest opponents being the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) with 94 seats, the Komeito with 52, the Liberal Party with 39, and the Communists with 23. The LDP worked closely with the Komei party and the Liberal Party, effectively making the DPJ the only significant opposition.

The 2000 House of Representatives election produced the following distribution of seats: LDP, 233; DPJ, 127; Komeito, 31; Liberal Party, 22; Japan Communist Party (JCP), 20; Social Democratic Party (SDP), 19; New Conservative Party (formed in 2000), 7; and 21 other seats. In the 2001 House of Councilors vote, the seats fell as follows: LDP, 110; DPJ, 59; Komeito, 23; JCP, 20; SDP, 8; Liberal Party, 8; New Conservative Party, 5; and independents took 14 seats. A new party emerged in Japanese politics, the New Conservative Party, formed in March 2000 by members who split off from the Liberal Party.

In November 2003, an election for the House of Representatives was held, and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, leading the LDP, emerged victorious, although with a reduced majority. The election was seen as a victory for the DPJ, which won 180 seats, its largest share ever. In 2005 the six largest parties represented in the national Diet were the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), the New Clean Party Government (Komeito), the Japan Communist Party (JCP), the Socialist Democratic Party (SDP), and the Conservative New Party (CNP). The early election called by Koizumi in September of 2005, however, resulted in a firm majority for the LDP.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Local government throughout Japan was strengthened by the Local Autonomy Law of 1947. Administratively, Japan is divided into 47 prefectures. Within these prefectures there are 670 cities and 2,562 towns and villages. The local chief executives, mayors, and village heads, together with prefectural assembly members, are directly elected. Governors and assembly members are elected by popular vote every four years. The 47 prefectures are divided as follows: 1 metropolitan district (to Tokyo), 2 urban prefectures (fu Kyoto and Osaka), 43 rural prefectures (ken ), and 1 district (d Hokkaidō). Large cities are subdivided into wards (ku ), and further split into towns, or precincts (machi or cho ), or subdistricts (shicho ) and counties (gun ). The city of Tokyo has 23 wards.

Local public bodies have the right to administer their own affairs as well as to enact their own regulations within the law. The National Diet cannot enact legislation for a specific public entity without the consent of the voters of that district. Local governments control school affairs, levy taxes, and carry out administrative functions in the fields of land preservation and development, pollution control, disaster prevention, public health, and social welfare. However, the Ministry of Home Affairs has had enormous control over the designs the systems of local administration, local finance and taxation, and co-ordinates between the central government and local governments although its purpose is to support and develop local and regional autonomy. The result of this power is a high level of organizational and policy standardization among the different local governments. Because Japan does not have a federal system, and its 47 prefectures are not sovereign entities in the sense that the United States are, most depend on the central government for subsidies. Mainly through the actions of the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Japanese government was seeking to decentralize power, through a process termed "controlled decentralization," away from Tokyo by allowing prefectures to exercise greater fiscal and budgetary autonomy.

JUDICIAL SYSTEM

The 1947 constitution provides for the complete independence of the judiciary. All judicial power is vested in the courts. There are five types of courts in Japan: the Supreme Court, High Courts (8 regional courts), District Courts (in each of the prefectures), Family Courts, and 438 Summary Courts. Family Courts, on the same level as the District Courts, adjudicate family conflicts and complaints such as partitions of estates, marriage annulments, and juvenile protection cases.

The Summary Courts handle, in principle, civil cases involving claims which do not exceed 900,000 yen; and criminal cases relating to offenses punishable by fines or lighter penalties; and civil conciliations. They are situated in 438 locations nationwide. The cases are handled by a single summary court judge. The District Courts handle the first instance of most types of civil and criminal cases. They are situated in 50 locations nationwide (one in each of the 47 prefectures and one in the 3 cities of Hakodate, Asahikawa, and Kushiro) with branch offices in 203 locations. Most cases are disposed by a single judge, aside from those cases in which it has been decided that hearing and judgment shall be made by a collegiate court or cases where the crimes are punishable by imprisonment with or without labor for a minimum period of not less than one year. The High Courts handle appeals filed against judgments rendered by the district courts, family courts or summary courts. The cases are handled by a collegiate body consisting of three judges.

The Supreme Court is the highest and final court that handles appeals filed against judgments rendered by the High Courts. It is composed of the Chief Justice and 14 Justices with a Grand Bench made up of all 15 Justices. The Supreme Court is divided into three Petty Benches each made up of 5 Justices to which cases are first assigned. Those cases that involve constitutional questions are transferred to the Grand Bench for its inquiry and adjudication. The chief justice is appointed by the emperor on designation by the cabinet; the other justices, by cabinet appointment. Judges of the lesser courts also are appointed by the cabinet from lists of persons nominated by the Supreme Court. Their term of office is limited to 10 years, with the privilege of reappointment.

The Supreme Court is the court of last resort for determining the constitutionality of any law, order, regulation, or official act that is challenged during the regular hearing of a lawsuit. Abstract questioning of a law is prohibited and thus there is no judicial review. The constitution affords criminal defendants a right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial tribunal. There is no right to a trial by jury. The constitution requires a judicial warrant issued by a judge for each search or seizure. Japan accepts compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice with reservation.

Japan has the death penalty and it can be enforced for the crimes of murder, arson, or crimes against humanity, although only 23 prisoners are executed a year. Japan has been widely criticized for giving lenient punishments for certain crimes, especially rape which carries a typical sentence of 25 years in prison. On 18 May 2005, the Diet enacted a new law to improve the treatment of inmates and to help prevent recidivism.

ARMED FORCES

The reestablishment of Japanese defense forces has been a subject of heated debate in the period since World War II. Article 9 of the constitution renounces war as a sovereign right and the maintenance of "land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential." During the Korean War, General MacArthur recommended the establishment of a national police reserve. Following the signing of the San Francisco Peace Treaty, the reserve force was reorganized into a National Safety Agency (1 August 1952). Laws establishing a Defense Agency and a Self-Defense Force became effective on 1 July 1954, both under firm civilian control.

The strength of Japan's armed forces in 2005 was 239,900 active personnel, supported by a reserve force of 44,395. The Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) had 148,200 personnel, organized into one armored and nine infantry divisions. The JGSDF's weaponry included 980 main battle tanks, 100 reconnaissance vehicles, 70 armored infantry fighting vehicles, 730 armored personnel carriers, 1,980 artillery pieces, and 90 attack helicopters. The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) had an estimated 44,400 personnel, with 16 tactical submarines, 44 destroyers, 9 frigates, 31 mine warfare vessels, and 9 patrol/coastal craft. The JMSDF's naval aviation arm had an estimated 9,800 members with 80 combat capable aircraft that was made up of 80 fixed-wing maritime patrol aircraft. The service also had 10 mine counter-measures and 88 antisubmarine warfare helicopters. Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) personnel numbered up to 45,600, with 300 combat capable aircraft, including 150 fighters, and 130 fighter ground attack aircraft. Japan has a paramilitary coast guard of 12,250 operating 419 patrol vessels.

Although Japan's defense budgets rank high by world standards, they are modest in relation to gross domestic product (about 1%). In 2005, Japan's defense budget totaled $44.7 billion. The United States maintains extensive military facilities and several thousand troops in Japan. Japan participated in peacekeeping missions in the Middle East.

INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION

Japan was admitted to the United Nations on 18 December 1956, and it holds membership in ESCAP and all the nonregional specialized agencies. It is a member of the WTO, participates in the Colombo Plan, and has permanent observer status with the OAS. In 1963, Japan became a member of IMF and the OECD. It is also a charter member of the Asian Development Bank, which came into operation in 1966; Japan furnished $200 million, a share equal to that of the United States. Japan is also a member of APEC, G-5, G-7, G-8, the Paris Club (G-10), the Inter-American Development Bank, and the Latin American Integration Association (LAIA). Japan is a dialogue partner in ASEAN, and observe to the Council of Europe, and a partner in the OSCE.

Japan has been actively developing peaceful uses for nuclear energy, and in 1970 it signed the Geneva Protocol, which prohibits the use of poisonous and bacteriological weapons. In June 1976, Japanthe only nation to have suffered a nuclear attackbecame the 96th signatory to the international Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Japan also participates in the Australia Group, the Zangger Committee, the Nuclear Energy Agency, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (London Group), the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and as an observer in the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN).

Japan has been extending technical and financial aid to many countries, and in 1974 it established the Japan International Cooperation Agency to provide technical assistance to developing nations. Japan also was instrumental in establishing the Asian Productivity Organization, the objective of which is to organize national productivity movements in various Asian countries into a more effective movement on a regional scale. Japan has entered into cultural agreements with many European and Asian nations and maintains an educational exchange program with the United States. Through the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers, Japan sends youths to work in developing countries.

In environmental cooperation, Japan is part of the Antarctic Treaty, the Basel Convention, Conventions on Biological Diversity and Whaling, Ramsar, CITES, the London Convention, International Tropical Timber Agreements, the Kyoto Protocol, the Montréal Protocol, MARPOL, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Climate Change, and Desertification.

ECONOMY

Japan's economy is the most technologically-advanced in Asia and the second most technologically-advanced in the world, behind the United States. Total GDP at market exchange rates in 2005, estimated at $4.617 trillion, was second only to the United States, but in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms, given the high price level in Japan and the low price level in China, Japan's estimated GDP of $4.008 trillion (PPP) put it third behind the United States and China. In per capita GDP at market exchange rates, Japan was among the leading nations of the world, at an estimated $36,236 in 2005. GDP per capita in PPP terms was $31,457 that year. Japan was the first Asian country to develop a large urban middle-class industrial society. It was also the first Asian country where a sharp reduction in the birthrate set the stage for notable further increases in per capita income.

Since 1952, the number of farmers has fallen sharply, while expansion has been concentrated in industry and trade. The agriculture sector in 2004 accounted for only 1.3% of the GDP, although it remained highly subsidized, employing a relatively high 5% of the labor force. Domestic raw materials are far too limited to provide for the nation's many needs, and imports must be relied on for such basics as raw cotton, raw wool, bauxite, and crude rubber, with fuels and foodstuffs heading the list of materials. The primary engine of Japan's modern growth has been the need to pay for these basic imports with manufactured exports. The exchange of high value-added finished products for low value-added commodities and raw materials has been the basis for both its high level of industrialization and its persistently high trade surpluses. Up until the mid-1980s, economic development depended on continued expansion in exports. With the steady appreciation of the yen in real terms after 1985, however, the country's economic structure underwent some adjustment. Business investment became the second major engine of growth. Facilitated by growing wage rates, favorable credit conditions, cuts in personal and corporate income tax rates and other stimulus measures by the government, domestic demand as well as direct foreign investment have played an increasingly important role as a source of growth in recent years.

After a period of recovery following World War II (from 1947 to 1960), Japan entered into about 15 years of rapid growth (1961 to 1975) that was arrested by the world oil crisis, signaled by the first oil shock in 1973. In 1974, for the first time since World War II, the GNP fell (by 1.8%). The recession was cushioned, however, by the nation's ability to improve its trade balance (by $11 billion) by increasing exports while reducing imports. The recovery of the mid-1970s was slowed by the second oil shock, in 197879, and although the Japanese economy continued to outperform those of most other industrial countries, growth in GNP slowed to an estimated 4.1% yearly in real terms for 197982, compared with 8.9% for 196972.

Meanwhile, the continued stimulation of exports, especially of automobiles and video equipment, combined with Japan's restrictive tariffs and other barriers against imports, led to increasingly strident criticism of the nation's trade practices in the United States and Western Europe. As early as 1971, Japan agreed to limit textile exports to the United States, and in the 1980s it also imposed limits on exports of steel, automobiles, and television sets. Similar limits were adopted for exports to Canada, France (where criticism focused on videocassette recorders), and West Germany. Nevertheless, Japan's trade surpluses with the United States and other countries continued to swell through the mid-1980s, helped by a number of factors, most notably the misalignment of major currencies, particularly between the dollar and the yen.

During the late 1980s, a 70% appreciation of the yen's value against the US dollar helped narrow Japan's trade surplus by 19% for two consecutive years in 1988/89 and 1989/90. This was accompanied by low rates of unemployment as well as strong growth in consumer spending and private investment, in turn contributing to a healthy 5% annual growth rate in the GNP between 1987 and 1990. The end of the period of high growth, 1975 to 1990, coincided with the collapse of the Cold War confrontation. The period that followed, after 1991 and until about 2003, had been characterized by very low to stagnant growth, and three dips into recession. The investment boom of the late 1980s, known retrospectively as the bubble economy, had its corresponding bust from 1991 to 1994, leaving mountains of debts that still constitute a drag on the economy. GDP growth rates fell to 1.0%, 0.3%, 0.6%, and 1.5% in the period 1992 to 1995. A spurt of recovery to 5% in 1996 was cut short by the Asian financial crisis of 1997, and Japan saw its first recession year since 1974 when GDP declined 1% in 1998.

Recovery from the Asian financial crisis was itself cut short in 2001, with the onset of a global slowdown and the aftershocks of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States: real GDP growth dropped from 2.2% in 2000 to -0.5% in 2001. The depth of recessions have been minimalized by massive stimulus packages and tax cuts across the period of stagnant growth. Recently, major tax cuts were made in 1999 and 2003, and in 2001, the government implemented its ninth massive stimulus package since 1992, this one for ¥11 trillion (about $960 billion). Total national debt, at 164.3% of GDP in 2004, is proportionately the highest among developed countries.

As of 2006, howeverdespite a currency that rose more than 20% from 200205Japan's economy was beginning to show signs of improvement. GDP was forecast to grow by 2.3% in 2005 and by 2% in 2006. Japan remained set to end persistent deflation in 2006, although fiscal tightening could slow GDP growth. Consumer prices were forecast to fall by 0.1% in 2005 and to rise by 0.3% in 2006. The unemployment rate was forecast to fall from 3.9% in 2006, to 3.8% in 2007, to just 3.5% in 2008.

INCOME

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Japan's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $3.9 trillion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $30,400. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 2.1%. The average inflation rate in 2005 was -0.2%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 1.3% of GDP, industry 25.3%, and services 73.5%.

According to the World Bank, in 2003 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $1.078 billion.

The World Bank reports that in 2003 household consumption in Japan totaled $2.448 trillion or about $19,123 per capita based on a GDP of $4.3 trillion, measured in current dollars rather than PPP. Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings. It was estimated that for the period 1990 to 2003 household consumption grew at an average annual rate of 1.4%. In 2001 it was estimated that approximately 12% of household consumption was spent on food, 7% on fuel, 2% on health care, and 22% on education.

LABOR

Japan's labor force in 2005 numbered an estimated 66.4 million persons. The distribution of employed workers in 2004 was as follows: services, 67.7%; industry, 27.8%; and agriculture, 4.6%. The unemployment rate in 2005 was estimated at 4.3%. Employers tend toward traditional, paternalistic, often authoritarian, control over their workers, but in turn, most regular workers have traditionally enjoyed permanent status.

Union membership in 2005 was about 10.3 million or 19.2% of the workforce. Union strength is greatest in local government employees, automobile workers, and electrical machinery workers. Most members are organized in units called enterprise unions, which comprise the employees of a single firm. Virtually all organized workers are affiliated with national organizations, of which the largest is the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Shin-Rengo), established in 1987 following the dissolution of the Japanese Confederation of Labor (Domei), and incorporating the General Council of Trade Unions (Soyho) as of 1989. Collective bargaining is widely utilized, and the right to strike is available to most workers.

Strict enforcement of child labor laws as well as societal values protects children from exploitation in the workplace. Children under age 15 are not permitted to work, and those under 18 are restricted. As of 2005, the minimum wage ranged from $5.77 to $6.76 per hour, depending on region. Labor legislation mandated a standard workweek of 40 hours, with premium pay rates for overtime.

AGRICULTURE

Crop production is vital to Japan despite limited arable land (13% of the total area) and the highest degree of industrialization in Asia. Steep land (more than 20°) has been terraced for rice and other crops, carrying cultivation in tiny patches far up mountainsides. With the aid of a temperate climate, adequate rainfall, soil fertility built up and maintained over centuries, and such a large farm population that the average farm has an area of only 1.2 hectares (3 acres), Japan has been able to develop intensive cultivation. Agriculture exists in every part of Japan, but is especially important on the northern island of Hokkaidō, which accounts for 10% of national production. Since World War II (193945), modern methods, including commercial fertilizers, insecticides, hybrid seeds, and machinery, have been used so effectively that harvests increased substantially through the 1970s. Japan is the third-largest agricultural product importer in the world (after the United States and Germany), with total agricultural product imports of $41.5 billion in 2004. At $39.6 billion, Japan had the largest agricultural trade deficit in the world that year.

Almost all soybeans, feedstuffs, and most of the nation's wheat are imported. In 2004, Japan produced 10.9 million tons of rice, the chief crop. In that year, rice accounted for about 90% of all cereal production. About 39% of all arable land is devoted to rice cultivation. Overproduction of rice, as a result of overplanting and a shift to other foods by the Japanese people, led the government in 1987 to adopt a policy of decreasing rice planting and increasing the acreage of other farm products. For many years the government restricted imports of cheaper foreign rice, but in 1995 the rice market was opened to imports, as the government implemented the Uruguay Round agreement on agriculture. Other important crops and their annual production in 2004 (in thousands of tons) included potatoes, 2,839; sugar beets, 4,656; mandarin oranges, 1,200; cabbage, 2,400; wheat, 860; barley, 240; soybeans, 163; tobacco, 53; and tea, 95. In 2003, the government estimated that Japan's self-suffi ciency rate for cereals was 60%; for fruits, 44%; and for vegetables, 82%.

As a result of the US-occupation land reform, which began in late 1946, nearly two-thirds of all farmland was purchased by the Japanese government at low prewar prices and resold to cultivators on easy terms. By the 1980s, nearly all farms were owner-operated, as compared with 23% before reform. A more telling trend in recent years has been the sharp growth in part-time farm households. Farmers are aging, and 84% of farm income is derived from other sources, such as industrial jobs. Although agriculture accounts for only 1% of GDP, about 10% of the population lives on farms. Despite increasing urbanization, 59% of all farms still cultivated less than one hectare (2.7 acres) in 2004. As a result, Japanese agriculture intensively utilizes both labor and machinery for production. In 2003, Japan had 2,028,000 tractors and 1,042,000 combines.

ANIMAL HUSBANDRY

Livestock production has been the fastest-growing sector in Japanese agriculture, with meat production increasing from 1.7 million tons in 1970 to 3 million tons in 2005. In 2004, Japan imported $8.8 billion in beef, pork, and poultry meat. In 2005 there were 9,600,000 hogs, 4,401,000 head of beef cattle, and 283,000,000 chickens. That year, pork production reached 1,250,000 tons (up from 147,318 tons in 1960); beef, 500,000 tons (142,450 tons in 1960); milk, 8,255,000 tons (1,886,997 tons in 1960); and eggs, 2,465,000 tons. Japan is the single largest recipient of US agricultural exports; over a third of Japan's meat imports come from the United States. In 2003, the government estimated that Japan's self-suffi ciency rate for meat was 45%; for eggs, 96%; and for dairy products, 69%.

FISHING

Japan is one of the world's foremost fishing nations, accounting on average for about 8% of the world's catch. In 2004, the total catch was 5.73 million tons, with marine fishing accounting for 78%. The waters off Japan include cold and warm currents in which fish abound. In 2003, there were 335,938 registered fishing boats which sailed both on nearby waters and in other fishing grounds in the Pacific Ocean, the South China Sea, and the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, with a total capacity of 320,010 gross tons. Annual per capita fish and shellfish consumption from 1999 to 2001 averaged 66 kg (145 lb). In 2003, despite domestic fish production, about $12.4 billion in fish and shellfish was imported in order to satisfy domestic demand.

Whales have been prized in Japan as a source of both food and a variety of by-products, and Japanese whalers caught 2,769 whales in 1986. Japan ended commercial whaling in 1987, following the imposition of a worldwide ban on the hunting of endangered species of whales by the International Whaling Commission, but announced that it would catch 875 whales for "research" purposes. The 2003 Japanese whale catch of 820 blue and fin whales represented about 42% of the world's whale catch.

Competition for overseas fishing privileges has at various times brought Japan into conflict with Canada over salmon, with Russia over fishing in the Sea of Okhotsk (between 1905 and 1945 Japan had special treaty privileges in these waters), with the ROK and China over their limitations on Japanese fishing operations, with Australia over pearl fishing in the Arafura Sea, with Indonesia over fishing in what Indonesia regards as inland waters, and with the United States, especially over fishing in north Pacific and Alaskan waters. Japan has been adversely affected by the adoption of the 200 mi fishing zone by the United States and more than 80 other world nations. Fishing in waters claimed by the United States (where about 70% of the Japanese catch originates) or by many other nations now requires payment of fees and special intergovernmental or private agreements.

Fish culture in freshwater pools, as well as in rice paddies, has long been practiced in Japan. Aquaculture provides an additional 1.2 million tons of fish annually. The leading species cultivated are laver (nori ), yesso scallops, Pacific cupped oysters, and Japanese amberjack. Seaweed culture provides winter season activity for many fishermen. Pearl culture has for more than half a century been the foundation of a valuable export industry.

FORESTRY

Forests cover nearly 64% of the total land area of Japan and in 2000 supplied about half the domestic demand for lumber and wood pulp. Of 24 million hectares (59.5 million acres) of forest, the Japanese government owns 30%, which it maintains under strict regulations limiting overcutting. On private forest lands, cutting is less controlled. About 6.6 million hectares (16.3 million acres) are reforested with trees less than 20 years old. Forest management and erosion control are urgent necessities in a land where gradients are very steep and flooding is frequent. Japan was the world's third leading producer of paper and paperboard in 2004 (after the United States and China), at over 30.5 million tons.

About 45% of the forest area consists of plantations. The Japanese cedar (sugi), which grows in most of Japan, is the most exploited species, followed by Japanese cypress (hinoki), and Japanese red pine (akamatsu). These three species grow on 10 million hectares (24.7 million acres) of plantation forest and were first planted in the 1950s and 1960s. In 2004, roundwood production totaled 15.2 million cu m (537 million cu ft), as compared with 49.1 million cu m (1.7 billion cu ft) in 1965. Domestic roundwood production met 51% of Japan's total wood fiber demand that year (up from 48% in 2003); the rest was supplied by imports. In 2004, Japan's 9,420 sawmills processed 13.6 million tons of logs.

During the 1980s and 1990s, Japan became more reliant on imported wood to satisfy domestic demand. In 2004, Japan imported $11.1 billion in forest products, second only to the United States. Japan is the world's dominant importer of softwood and tropical hardwood logs, and has become one of the largest importers of softwood lumber, which is mainly used for housing construction.

In the early 1960s, 42 public corporations were formed to help private landowners with harvesting and replanting Japan's forests. Since timber prices have fallen 75% since the 1980s, many of these public corporations are now unable to pay back loans and are accruing large debts. As of 2004, the failure of these corporations left several prefectures with a great deal of unpaid loans.

MINING

The mining sector was the smallest of Japan's industrial-based economy, accounting for 0.2% of GDP in 2003. The mineral-processing industry, however, was among the world's largest and most technologically advanced, accounting for 6.3% of Japan's GDP, in 2003 and it played a key role in supplying steel, nonferrous metals, and chemicals for the country's world-class manufacturing sector, as well as to those of the region. Japan is among the largest producers and consumers of cadmium, and a leading producer of selenium metal, electrolytic manganese dioxide, titanium sponge metal iodine, pig iron, nickel metal, crude steel, copper metal, diatomite, zinc metal, and cement. Japan also produced and had considerable resources of limestone, carbonate rocks (construction aggregates and dolomite), clays (bentonite and fire clay), pyrophyllite, and silica. Since the beginning of the 20th century, most mineral production has undergone a steady decline, and Japan has become a net importer of minerals, relying heavily on imports for petroleum, iron ore, chromium, cobalt, copper concentrate copper metal, primary aluminum, ilmenite, rutile, natural gas, gallium, uranium, manganese (for all its requirements), indium, nickel and coal, although coal accounted for slightly more than half of all mineral production by value. With the exception of gold and zinc, Japan's ore reserves for other minerals, especially oil, gas, and metallic minerals, were very small.

Of Japan's $470.7 billion in total exports in 2003, minerals, mineral-related chemicals, and processed minerals products were valued at $38.5 billion; iron and steel products, and nonferrous, rare, and other base metals totaled $27.3 billion; processed mineral products of asbestos, cement, ceramics, glass, mica, and stone, $4.7 billion; mineral-related chemicals and fertilizer, $2.4 billion; precious and semiprecious stones, and precious metals, $2.1 billion; salt, sulfur, earths, stone, plastering materials, lime, and cement, $2.0 billion.

Among metal minerals, preliminary data for 2003 shows that Japan produced 8,143 kg of mine gold (metal content), and 78,862 kg of mine silver. In addition, Japan produced the metal minerals alumina, antimony oxide, high-purity arsenic, bismuth, mine copper, germanium oxide, iron ore, iron sand concentrate, mine lead, manganese oxide, rare-earth oxide (including oxide of cerium, europium, gadolinium, lanthanum, neodymium, praseodymium, samarium, terbium, and yttrium), elemental selenium, high-purity silicon, elemental tellurium, titanium dioxide, mine zinc, and zirconium oxide. Gold ore reserves totaled 178,762 kg (metal content); and zinc ore (metal content), 3.25 million tons.

Among industrial minerals, preliminary output totals for 2003 were: hydraulic cement, 68.766 million tons; iodine, 6,524 metric tons; diatomite, 1850,000 metric tons; limestone (crushed), 163.565 million tons; dolomite (crushed), 3.579 million tons; bentonite, 425,945 tons (estimated); crude fire clay, 460,000 metric tons (estimated); pyrophyllite (from Nagasaki, Okayama, and Hiroshima prefectures), 600,000 metric tons (estimated); silica sand, 4.699 million tons; and silica stone (quartzite), 12.838 million tons. In addition, Japan produced asbestos, elemental bromine, kaolin clay, feldspar, aplite, gypsum, quicklime, nitrogen, perlite, salt, sodium compounds (soda ash and sulfate), sulfur, talc, and vermiculite. Reserves of iodine totaled 4.9 million tons; limestone, 57.9 billion tons; dolomite, 1.19 billion tons; pyrophyllite, 160.4 million tons; silica sand, 200.95 million tons; white silica stone, 880.7 million tons; and kaolin, 36.03 million tons.

Japan's mineral industry consisted of a small mining sector of coal and nonferrous metals, a large mining sector of industrial minerals, and a large minerals-processing sector of ferrous and nonferrous metals and industrial minerals. Mining and mineral-processing businesses were owned and operated by private companies. There were two major nonferrous metal mines and around 40 major industrial mineral mines in 2003.About 50,000 people were employed by Japan's mining sector in 2003. The mineral-processing industry produced, among other things, inorganic chemicals and compounds, ferrous metals, industrial minerals, nonferrous metals, petrochemicals, and refined petroleum productsfor domestic consumption and for exports.

The government, through its Metal Mining Agency of Japan (MMAJ), collaborating with the Japan International Cooperation Agency, continued to promote overseas mineral exploration by providing loans and technical assistance, and by carrying out basic exploration. In line with its mineral policy to secure and diversify its long-term supply of raw materials, Japan was expected to continue its active search for direct investment in joint exploration and development of minerals in developed and developing countries. The targeted minerals were antimony, chromium, coal, columbium (niobium), copper, gold, iron ore, lead, lithium, manganese, molybdenum, natural gas, nickel, crude petroleum, rare earths, silver, strontium, tantalum, titanium, tungsten, vanadium, and zinc.

ENERGY AND POWER

As of August 2004, Japan was the fourth-largest energy consumer in the world, and the second-biggest importer of energy topped only by the United States. Japan's primary energy needs in 2002 were supplied by oil (49.7%), coal (18.9%), nuclear power (13.7%), natural gas (12.7%), hydropower (3.7%), and other renewable sources (1.1%).

Japan's proven oil reserves are miniscule. As of 1 January 2004, these reserves were estimated at 59 million barrels. In 2003, oil production averaged an estimated 120,000 barrels per day, of which 5,000 barrels per day consisted of crude oil. However, oil demand by Japan in 2003 was estimated at 5.57 million barrels per day. Thus imports for that year made up the difference, at an estimated average of 5.45 million barrels per day. However, Japan has been involved in exploration for petroleum and its production overseas. However, in 2000, Japan lost its drilling rights in Saudi Arabia. To make up for this loss, Japan began making investments in Iran, and has sought equity stakes in the Caspian Sea region. Japan is also looking at the Russian Far East.

As of 1 January 2004, Japan's crude oil refining capacity was estimated at 4.7 million barrels per day, spread among 32 refineries.

As of 1 January 2004, Japan's proven natural gas reserves were estimated at 1.4 trillion cu ft. However, additional deposits may lie under the seabed around Japan. Domestic natural gas output is small. In 2002, Japan's production of natural gas came to an estimated 0.10 trillion cu ft. As a result, Japan must import the vast majority of the natural gas it consumes. Demand for natural gas in 2002 was estimated at 2.67 trillion cu ft, with imports for that same year estimated at 2.57 trillion cu ft. Almost all of Japan's natural gas imports are in the form of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Although Japan has coal reserves estimated in 2002 at 852 million short tons, Japan ceased all coal production in January 2002, when it closed its last operating mine at Kushiro, on the island of Hokkaidō. With demand for coal at an estimated 179.1 million short tons in 2002, Imports of coal that year came to an estimated 175.8 million short tons. In 2002, the last year of domestic production, output came to 3.3 million short tons.

In 2002, Japan's electric power generating capacity stood at 236.995 million kW, of which conventional thermal plants accounted for 168.728 million kW, nuclear generating plants 45.907 million kW, hydropower facilities 45.907 million kW, and geothermal/other 0.709 million kW. Electric power output in 2002 came to 1036.208 billion kWh, of which 646.457 billion kWh came from conventional thermal plants, 280.339 billion kWh from nuclear plants, 81.554 billion kWh from hydropower facilities and 27.858 from geothermal/other sources. Electricity is provided by several private companies, with the public Electric Power Development Co. and the Japan Atomic Power Co. playing supplementary roles in distribution.

To reduce its reliance on oil and its carbon dioxide emissions, Japan has aggressively pursued the development of nuclear power since the 1980s. In 2002, nuclear generated electric power accounted for 27% of all power produced. According to Japan's 10-year energy plan, which was approved in March 2002, nuclear generation is to be increased by about 30% by 2011. It is anticipated that between 9 and 12 new nuclear plants would be needed. As of 2002, Japan had 51 reactors in operation, with a total capacity of 45 GW. These included the world's first Advanced Boiling Water Reactor, which came online in 1997.

INDUSTRY

Manufacturing has been a key element in Japan's economic expansion during three periods of phenomenal growth. First, during the 50-year rise of Japan from a feudal society in 1868 to a major world power in 1918, output in manufacturing rose more rapidly than that of other sectors. Second, during the 1930s, when Japan recovered from the world depression earlier and faster than any other country and embarked on an aggressive course in Asia, manufacturing, especially heavy industries, again had the highest rate of growth. Third, in the remarkable recovery since World War II, manufacturing, which had suffered severely during the latter stages of the war, was again a leader, although commerce and finance expanded even more rapidly.

Japanese industry is characterized by a complex system of exclusive buyer-supplier networks and alliances, commonly maintained by companies belonging to the same business grouping, or keiretsu. Such a system utilizes a web of vertical, horizontal, and even diagonal integration within the framework of a few large conglomerations. Keiretsu firms inhibit the foreign acquisition of Japanese firms through nontransparent accounting and financial practices, cross-holding of shares among keiretsu member firms (even between competitors), and by keeping a low proportion of publicly traded stock relative to total capital.

During the 1970s and early 1980s, the rate of Japan's industrial growth surpassed that of any other non-Communist industrialized country. Of the 26 largest industrial companies in the world in the mid-1980sthose with sales of $20 billion or morefour were Japanese: Toyota Motor, Matsushita Electric, Hitachi, and Nissan Motor. In addition to spectacular expansion in the volume of output, Japanese industry has also achieved impressive diversity, with maximal application of efficiency standards and technological input. In 1997, industry accounted for about 38% of GDP and 33% of the total labor force. However, the Asian financial crisis that beset the region impacted Japan's industrial production growth, which went from 9.6% in 1997 to -6.9% in 1998. Growth was still negative in 1999, but only by -0.1%, and in 2000 positive growth had returned as industrial production rose 5.3%. The recovery was short lived. The global slowdown of 2001 compounded by the economic aftershocks of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States contributed to a massive 8.3% decline in industrial production in Japan in 2001. The percentage of Japan's labor force in industry had dropped from 40% in 1997 to 30% in 2001. However, by 2003, industrial production had improved, and by 2004 was growing by 6.6%, even though the percentage of Japan's labor force in industry had dropped further, to 25%.

A brief recession forced production cutbacks in 1965; a deeper recession in 1974, related to rising world oil costs and diminished supplies, slowed Japan's economy in 197375 and again in 197880. At the same time, wage rates rose substantially, thereby reducing Japan's competitive advantage vis-à-vis other industrialized nations and prompting a major government effort to promote high-technology industries capable of making the most efficient use of the high educational level and technical competence of the Japanese labor force. Japan's industrial strategy, which involves close cooperation between business, government, and labor, was coordinated by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI). Particular emphasis was given by MITI and other government agencies to encouraging and assisting research and development of new products and technologies.

Facing increasingly stiff competition from overseas trading partners in the 1980s, Japanese firms responded with several strategies, including product diversification, increased investment in overseas plants, as well as a greater focus on production for the domestic market. Despite declining profits with the economic downturn of the early 1990s, Japanese companies continued to make large investments in new plants and equipment; in 1992, these outlays amounted to over 20% of the GDP, well outstripping the level of private investment in the United States. Since 1992, the government has implemented nine massive stimulus packages, including large investments in public projects like roads, bridges, and airports, in its efforts to spark renewed growth, or, at least, prevent a deeper recession.

Manufacture of electrical machinery ranks first in value added. Nonelectrical machinery ranks second, followed by transportation equipment and chemicals. The electronics industry grew with extraordinary rapidity in the 1980s and now leads the world. Radio and television sets and household appliances have been exported in large quantities since World War II; in addition to generators, motors, transformers, and other heavy equipment, the industry now produces automatic devices, electronic computers, videocassette recorders, tape recorders, calculators, and communications and broadcasting equipment. Japan plays an increasingly important role in the computer industry. By 1987, Japan was fiercely competing with the United States in developing high-tech products, such as superconducting materials.

Japan is the world's leading shipbuilder; more than half the ships built are exported, including some of the world's largest oil tankers. Rapid increases in shipbuilding capacity by Brazil and South Korea reduced demand for Japanese-built ships from a peak of 38 million gross tons of new orders in 1973 to 7.0 million gross tons in 1991. The decline prompted direct government intervention in the ailing industry and the closing of close to 37% of dockyard facilities in 1980. As of 2001, Japan had 33% market share in new orders of ships, followed by South Korea with 30%, and China with 11%.

Passenger car production expanded rapidly in the 1970s, as Japan moved to fill rising demand for fuel-efficient cars in the United States and Europe. In the early 1980s, Japan emerged as the world's leading automobile producer, topping the United States for the first time in the history of the industry. Dominant industry giants are Nissan and Toyota, which together produced about three-fifths of all passenger cars in the mid-1980s. Restrictions imposed on Japanese automobile exports have promoted a marked increase in Japanese investment in automobile manufacturing facilities (engine manufacture, assembly as well as research and development) in the United States, Western Europe, and other overseas markets. Japanese manufactures have also sustained growth through greater focus on producing for the booming domestic motor vehicle market. Japan's superior technology in the design of bicycles, motorcycles, buses, and high-speed trains has been another major factor in the growth of the transport industry. In 2004, Japan produced 10,511,518 cars, trucks, and buses, of which 4,957,663 were exported. Leading car makers included Daihatsu, Fuji, Hino, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Honda, Isuzu, Mazda, Suzuki, and Toyota.

The chemical and petrochemicals industry has been another of the economy's key growth sectors since the late 1960s, in part due to rising domestic demand. Products include industrial chemicals such as sulfuric acid, caustic soda and fertilizers, as well as plastics, dyestuffs, paints, and other items for domestic use. Japan must import much of the iron ore and coking coal used in its steel industry, which ranked second only to the former USSR's in the mid-1980s. Output of crude steel peaked at 119.32 million tons in 1973 but declined to 101.6 million tons in 1995. In 2004, crude steel production totaled 112.72 million tons.

Textiles and apparel, Japan's main exports during the years immediately following World War II, have steadily declined in importance. Output of cotton and woolen fabrics, yarns, and rayon and acetate remains substantially below 1965 levels. The Japanese textile industry has been especially hard hit by rising wage rates and competition from developing nations, especially the other industrializing countries of East Asia.

Japan's semiconductor business has grown in size and profit due to the trade pact between Japan and the United States. While some argue that this pact had a negative effect on Japan's domestic chip market, it now appears, that these chip companies have become more efficient and therefore more profitable. Both the United States and Japan have become so intertwined in the semiconductor area that neither could afford to terminate the relationship.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

The Japanese rank second only to the United States in spending on scientific research and technology development. However, in Japan, 80% of all research and development (R&D) is carried out by industry, in contrast to the United States, where industry undertakes about half of all R&D (the US government supports the rest). This is important because industry is more likely to support the type of research that will result in new technologies and products. For many people, this breakdown of R&D funding explains why Japan has become such an economic powerhouse. Much more of the total R&D budget is focused on near-term and commercial science and technology. Some of the more successful applications of the fruits of Japanese R&D include high-speed trains, robotics, semiconductor chips, telecommunications, cancer research, and environmental technologies.

In 198797, science and engineering students accounted for 21% of college and university enrollments. In 2002, of all bachelor's degrees awarded, 18.6% were in the sciences (natural, mathematics and computers, and engineering) In that same year, there were 5,085 scientists and engineers per million population actively engaged in R&D. In 2000 (the latest year for which the following data was available) R&D spending in Japan totaled $98,242.931 million, or 2.98% of GDP, for which business accounted for 72.4%, and government 19.6%. Higher education, that same year, accounted for 7.6%, while foreign sources provided 0.4%. Despite Japan's economic downturn in the 1990s, it was likely that investments in both equipment and personnel would grow. In 2002, high-tech exports were valued at $94.730 billion and accounted for 24% of manufactured exports.

In terms of the Japanese government's role in national science and technology, three ministries are important. The Ministry of Education, or Monbusho, provides most of the support and funding for scientific education and training at the university level in Japan. In the 1990s, Monbusho led a national effort to improve science and technology education at universities, particularly in "basic" research (areas where research does not necessarily have to pay off in commercial products). Another organization, the Science and Technology Agency (STA) promotes science and technology policies, and acts as the prime minister's leading policy and budgetary agency. It performs this function through annual "white papers" which describe the current stateand future goalsof Japanese science and technology. The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) is probably the ministry best known by Americans. MITI promotes and protects Japanese industry by sending them signals and giving guidance to those firms which undertake research and development. MITI has been instrumental in providing close government-industry cooperation in many high technology fields, including computers, electronics, and biotechnology.

Regional research institutions such as Tskuba Science City and Kansai Science Park also play a role in fostering Japanese research and development. Their growth since the 1970s has begun to shift some of the focus and power of the national government and industry in Tokyo to the regional prefectures. International cooperation with the United States in areas like global warming and space launches may create new opportunities for greater scientific research at local, regional, and national levels in Japan.

Japan has numerous universities and colleges that offer courses in basic and applied sciences. The country's National Science Museum, founded in 1877, is located in Tokyo. The University of Tokyo has botanical gardens that were established in 1684.

DOMESTIC TRADE

At least half of all consumer goods are purchased through small, privately owned and operated shops. Street hawkers and peddlers provide certain foods and small consumer items; street stalls offer food, clothing, and household and other goods. Specialty shops exist in great profusion, and about 100 associations of such shops represent common interests. There are chain stores owned and operated by a single management and there are voluntary chains of independent stores operating in association. Japan also has numerous cooperatives, principally consumer, agricultural, and fishing. Recent revisions in the large-scale retail store law have loosened government regulation of the distribution system, allowing the establishment of large foreign discounters and mega-stores, which are likely to offer growing competition to smaller retailers in the future. As of 2005, Japan's franchise industry was the second-largest in the world in total sales with over 1,000 chains. The number of outlets in Japan exceeds 218,000.

A key characteristic of the country's distribution system has been the long term and carefully cultivated nature of the supplier and wholesaler or retail store relationship, necessitating considerable commitment of time and outreach effort by foreign companies wishing to enter the Japanese market.

In retail trade, cash transactions have been traditional, but various forms of installment selling are increasingly being used, especially in the sale of durable goods. The use of charge accounts is growing rapidly. Promotion by displays, advertising, and other methods used in Western countries is increasing rapidly in Japan. Advertising appears in the daily press, in the numerous weekly and monthly magazines, and in special publications of many kinds. Radio and television also carry extensive advertising, excepting those channels run by the government's Japan Broadcasting Corporation.

Normal shop hours are 10 am to 8 pm, seven days a week, although department stores shut their doors at 7:30 pm and are closed two or three weekdays a month; government offices are open 9 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday. Banks are open from 9 am to 3 pm Monday through Friday, and are closed on Saturdays and Sundays.

FOREIGN TRADE

Despite the fact that Japan's currency rose more than 20% from 200205, and 13% in 2005 alone, it remained the world's second-largest exporting nation, behind Germany. However, Japan exhibits a low degree of openness to foreign trade, and therefore maintains a significant trade surplus. For example, as a percentage of current-price GDP, the value of Japan's two-way foreign trade in 2003 was just above 18%, compared with 54% for Germany. The closed nature of Japan's economy is also comparable to other countries in Asia, such as China, which in 2003 saw foreign trade reach nearly 60% of current-price GDP. This phenomenon is due to official and unofficial restrictions on merchandise imports, which remain in placedespite pressure from the United States and other important trading partnersto protect the less efficient sectors of Japanese industry, such as textiles, food, and pulp and paper. This lack of openness to foreign trade has been named as one of the reasons for the poor productivity of companies in the nontradable sectors of the economy, for example, and for other structural economic problems.

Imports consist mostly of fuel, foodstuffs, industrial raw materials, and industrial machinery. Exports are varied, but manufactures now account for nearly all of the total. Cars represent a leading export product, with the United States, Canada, Australia, Germany, and the United Kingdom as the main markets. The export of office machinery, scientific and optical equipment is also important. South Korea, China, and Taiwan are among the main buyers of Japan's iron and steel, while plastic materials and fertilizers are shipped primarily to South Korea and the Southeast Asian countries, and woven fabrics are supplied to China, the United

Country Exports Imports Balance
World 471,996.0 383,452.0 88,544.0
United States 117,539.5 59,994.8 57,544.7
China 57,415.5 75,469.3 -18,053.8
Korea, Republic of 34,805.6 17,902.7 16,902.9
Other Asia nes 31,235.7 14,311.4 16,924.3
China, Hong Kong SAR 29,896.9 29,896.9
Germany 16,422.2 14,207.5 2,214.7
Thailand 16,040.1 11,892.9 4,147.2
Singapore 14,846.6 5,435.1 9,411.5
United Kingdom 13,226.2 5,846.3 7,379.9
Netherlands 11,772.3 11,772.3
() data not available or not significant.

States, and Saudi Arabia. Only a small fraction of Japan's total exports consists of food items, mainly fish.

In light of growing overseas concern about Japan's continuing large trade surplus, the US and Japanese governments collaborated on the Structural Impediments Initiative of 1989. Steps taken in the wake of the initial report included a variety of import and direct foreign investment promotion measures, including deregulation, accelerated government spending on public infrastructure, and support services for foreign businesses. The Initiative as a framework for US-Japanese relations was ended in 1993.

Manufactured products make up most of Japan's commodity exports. Japan is the world's largest maker of machine tools, and is one of the world's most important iron and steel makers. The automobile is the country's most important industry, along with computers and electronic equipment. Japan makes more than 25% of the world's exported ships.

In percentage terms, Japan's main exports in 2004 were: electrical machinery (23.5% of all exports); transportation equipment (23.1%); nonelectrical machinery (20.6%); chemicals (8.5%); and metals (6.6%). Japan's main imports in 2004 were: machinery and equipment (31.3% of all imports); mineral fuels (21.7%); food (10.8%); chemicals (7.8%); and raw materials (6.2%). Japan's leading markets that year were: the United States (22.4% of total exports); China (13.1%); South Korea (7.8%); Taiwan (7.4%); and Hong Kong (6.3%). Leading suppliers in 2004 were: China (20.7% of all imports); the United States (13.7%); South Korea (4.8%); Indonesia (4.1%); and Taiwan (3.7%). Bilateral trade between China and Japan now exceeds trade between Japan and the United States.

BALANCE OF PAYMENTS

Beginning in 1981, surpluses in Japan's current accounts increased rapidly, reaching $49 billion in 1985 and $86 billion in 1986, the latter being 18 times the level of 1981. These huge surpluses resulted

Current Account 136.2
     Balance on goods 106.4
         Imports -342.7
         Exports 449.1
     Balance on services -33.9
     Balance on income 71.2
     Current transfers -7.5
Capital Account -4.0
Financial Account 71.9
     Direct investment abroad -28.8
     Direct investment in Japan 6.2
     Portfolio investment assets -176.3
     Portfolio investment liabilities 81.2
     Financial derivatives 5.6
     Other investment assets 149.9
     Other investment liabilities 34.1
Net Errors and Omissions -17.0
Reserves and Related Items -187.2
() data not available or not significant.

largely from the high value of the dollar relative to the yen; price declines of primary goods, such as petroleum, also enhanced Japan's favorable trade position. Japan's mounting surpluses and the rising deficits of the United States forced the United States and other leading industrial nations to attempt to realign their currencies, especially the dollar and the yen, in September 1985. Within two years the yen rose 70% against the dollar. The yen's appreciation increased the competitiveness of American products and contributed to the reduction of Japan's external imbalances through 1990, when the current account surplus fell by 37.4%, due to higher expenses for imported oil and rising expenditures by Japanese traveling abroad. Whereas long-term capital outflows exceeded Japan's current account surplus from 1984 through 1990, by 1991 the outflow shifted predominantly to short-term capital, and overseas direct investment slowed.

In 2004, Japan's merchandise trade surplus, on a balance-of-payments basis, stood at $132.1 billion, with exports totaling $539 billion and imports totaling $406.9 billion. The current account recorded a surplus of $172.1 billion, or 3.7% of GDP in 2004. Japan's current account balance averaged 3% of GDP over the period 200105. Japan had the highest trade and current account surpluses in the world in the early 2000s; however, Japan is less open to trade than other highly developed economies. As a percentage of current-price GDP, the value of Japan's two-way foreign trade in 2003 was just 18%, compared with Germany's 54% and China's nearly 60%. This was due in part to restrictions on merchandise imports to protect the country's less efficient industry sectors. Due to this lack of openness to trade, companies in the nontradable sectors have not been productive.

BANKING AND SECURITIES

Japan's highly sophisticated banking system continued to play a dominant role in financing the country's and the world's economic development, despite Japan's decade long recession. In the mid-1980s, while the United States was becoming a debtor nation, Japan became the world's largest creditor. Banks provide not only short-term but also long-term credit, which often in effect becomes fixed capital in industry. In terms of sheer size, Japanese banks occupy some of the top spots in worldwide bank ratings.

The controlling national monetary institutions are the Bank of Japan (founded in 1882) and the Ministry of Finance. The Bank of Japan, as central bank, has power over note issue and audits financial institutions to provide guidance for improving banking and management practices. Ceilings for interest rates are set by the bank, while actual rates, commissions, and discounts are arranged by unoffi cial agreements among bankers and other financial institutions, including the National Bankers' Association. A new banking law, replacing the National Banking Law of 1928, was adopted in 1982. Its objectives were to increase competition in the financial world by enabling banks to sell bonds and by authorizing both banks and securities firms to sell commercial paper and certificates of deposit.

Eleven important city banks, with branches throughout the country, account for about two-thirds of all commercial bank assets, the rest accruing to 131 regional banks, 7 trust banks, and 83 foreign banks. In addition, 112 foreign banks have representative offices in Japan. Of special interest are the postal savings facilities, which are used by many Japanese families and have assumed many of the aspects of a huge state-owned banking business.

The Foreign Exchange Law was changed to totally liberalize cross-border transactions in 1998. Important foreign exchange banks include the city banks, long-term credit banks, trust banks, major local banks, major mutual loan and savings banks, and the Japanese branches of foreign banks. Such governmental financial institutions as the Japan Export-Import Bank, the Central Bank for Commercial and Industrial Associations, and the Central Bank for Agriculture and Forestry also participate in foreign exchange markets.

The rapid expansion of bank lending and the importance of land and stocks as assets in Japan's financial sector have exposed its financial institutions to the risks stemming from falling asset prices. Thus one of the root problems of Japan's diffi culty in returning to a trend rate of GDP growth lies in the fragility of the financial sector. Banks and other financial institutions have been rocked by the huge sums of nonperforming debt, stemming from an earlier lending spree based on inflated land values as collateral. In the aftermath of the collapse of the "bubble economy," many of the generous loans extended, especially to land and property developers, cannot be repaid or even serviced. Japan's 21 major banks, including the 11 city banks, wrote off about ¥11 trillion ($102 billion) of bad debts at the end of March 1996.

The bad debt held by the seven failed jusen (housing loan companies established by banks and agricultural financiers), which were liquidated partly at public expense, led to huge secondary losses in other areas of the financial sector. The liquidated jusen moved their assets to the newly established Housing Loan Administration Corp., which had the responsibility, from the beginning of its operations in October 1996, of recovering loans from the seven companies. This was unlikely, however, since not only would many property companies go bankrupt, but also much of the bad debt was extended illegally or to companies associated with yakuza (gangsters). Consequently, several jusen executives were arrested in 1996 on charges of alleged aggravated breach of trust.

The most dramatic merger was that between the Bank of Tokyo and Mitsubishi Bank in April 1996. This "mega-merger" created the world's largest bank, which became highly competitive in global financial markets. In 1999, three Japanese banks: Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank, Fuji Bank, and IBI, announced a merger worth more than $1.3 trillion, surpassing all other large financial institutions. The other premier Japanese banks in 1999 were Sumitomo Bank, Sanwa Bank, and Sakura Bank. The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were equal to $2,318.7 billion. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual fundswas $5,293.5 billion. The money market rate, the rate at which financial institutions lend to one another in the short term, was 0.06%. The discount rate, the interest rate at which the central bank lends to financial institutions in the short term, was 0.1%.

Major securities exchanges are in Tokyo, Hiroshima, Fukuoka, Nagoya, and Osaka. Small regional exchanges are in Kyoto, Niigata, and Sapporo. Although prior to World War II most stocks were held by large business firms (zaibatsu), stocks are now available for public subscription. The Tokyo Stock Exchange, the largest in the world, is the most important in Japan.

In the late 1980s, there were three categories of securities companies in Japan, the first consisting of the "Big Four" securities houses (among the six largest such firms in the world): Nomura, Daiwa, Nikko, and Yamaichi. The Big Four played a key role in international financial transactions and were members of the New York Stock Exchange. Nomura was the world's largest single securities firm; its net capital, in excess of us$10 billion in 1986, exceeded that of Merrill Lynch, Salomon Brothers, and Shearson Lehman combined. In 1986 Nomura became the first Japanese member of the London Stock Exchange. Nomura and Daiwa were primary dealers in the US Treasury bond market. The second tier of securities firms were affiliates of the Big Four, while some were affiliated with banks. In 1986, 83 of the smaller firms were members of the Tokyo Securities and Stock Exchange. Japan's securities firms derived most of their incomes from brokerage fees, equity and bond trading, underwriting, and dealing. Other services included the administration of trusts. In the late 1980s a number of foreign securities firms, including Salomon Brothers and Merrill Lynch, became players in Japan's financial world.

The Tokyo Securities and Stock Exchange became the largest in the world in 1988, in terms of combined market value of outstanding shares and capitalization, while the Osaka Stock Exchange ranked third after Tokyo and New York. As of 2004, there was a combined total of 3,220 companies listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange and the JASDAQ, which had a combined market capitalization of $3,678.262 billion. In 2004, the TOPIX index rose 10.2% from the previous year to 1,149.6.

INSURANCE

After 56 years, the Japanese Insurance Business Law was revised in 1997. The purpose of the newly revised law is competition, to protect policy holders, and to promote greater management efficiency. The law allowed, for the first time, cross entries of life and nonlife companies into each other's sector through the establishment of subsidiary companies. In response to this development, 6 life and 11 nonlife insurance companies set up subsidiaries. Firms may not engage in life and nonlife insurance at the same time. In 2003, leading Japanese nonlife insurance firms included Tokio, Mitsui Sumitomo, Aioi, and Nippon Koa. Leading life insurance companies included Nippon, Dai-Ichi, Sumitomo, Meiji Yasuda, and ALICO Japan. Direct premiums written in 2003 totaled us$478.865 billion.

Life insurance is by far the most extensive of all classes of insurance. Premium income is more than three times that of all nonlife premium income. In 2003, direct life insurance premiums written totaled us$381.335 billion, while nonlife insurance premiums totaled us$97.530 billion. Japan is the world's largest holder of life and health insurance. More than 90% of the population owns life insurance, and the amount held per person is at least 50% greater than in the United States. Nippon Life Insurance Co., the world's largest insurance firm, had us$44,356.7 million in gross premiums written in 2003.

In the nonlife field, automobile insurance is the largest sector. (Automobile liability insurance is compulsory.) Personal accident insurance was next in importance, followed by fire, marine cargo, and marine hull insurance. Worker's compensation, nuclear liability and health insurance are also compulsory. In 2003, Tokio was the nation's leading nonlife insurer, with direct premium income (net cancellations and returns, but including savings in maturity funded policies) of $14,861.1 million.

In the mid-1990s the combined Japanese life and nonlife insurance market had the world's largest share with 30.8% of the world total premium. The life insurance market was 42.6% of the world market, and the nonlife market with 15.2%, the second-largest in the world after the United States. The Japanese nonlife insurance market consisted of 29 domestic companies and the life insurance market consisted of 36 domestic companies in 1997.

PUBLIC FINANCE

Plans for the national budget usually begin in August, when various agencies submit their budget requests to the Ministry of Finance. On the basis of such requests, the ministry, other government agencies, and the ruling party start negotiations. The government budget plan usually is approved by the Diet without diffi culty, and the budget goes into effect in April. Deficits, financed by public bond sales, have steadily increased in size since the 1973 oil crisis. As a result, the ratio of gross debt to GNP has risen from 8% in 1970 to 60% by 1987. By 1990, debt servicing was absorbing over 20% of budgeted expenditures. Since 1982, Japan has pursued tight fiscal policies and has attempted to constrain government debt. In June 1987, however, as a response to appeals from other nations to reduce international imbalances, Japan initiated a $35 billion public works spending package, followed up by $10 billion in tax cuts. In recent years, however, fiscal stimulus policies have contributed to an increasing budget deficit. Japan's government deficit was 3% of GDP in 1994 and reached 4.3% of GDP in 1995, due to ongoing high levels of public sector borrowing. The government's focus on fiscal policy to compensate for a tight monetary policy has restricted spending on infrastructure, yet by 2002, the deficit had reached 7.8% of GDP.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2005 Japan's central government took in revenues of approximately $1.4 trillion and had expenditures of $1.7 trillion. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately -$346 billion. Public debt in 2005 amounted to 170% of GDP. Total external debt was $1.545 trillion.

TAXATION

After World War II, Japan adopted a tax system relying mainly on direct taxes, like those in the United States and the United Kingdom. The most important of these are the income tax and corporation tax.

Japan's standard corporate tax rate is 30%, but local enterprise and inhabitant taxes can push that rate to 41%. Corporations capitalized at ¥100 million or less are taxed at a 22% rate that is applied to the first ¥8 million of taxable income. Capital gains received by companies are taxed as income at normal tax rates. In the past, capital gains received from the sale of land had been subject to a special surplus tax. As of 2005, that tax was suspended until 31 December 2008. Dividends are generally subject to a withholding tax of 20%. However, dividends paid on listed shares from 1 April 2003 through 31 March 2008 are taxed at a lower 10% rate. Interest paid to residents and nonresidents is also subject to a 20% withholding rate, although interest received by nonresidents from debentures, bank deposits, and bonds are subject to a lower rate of 15%.

Japan has a progressive individual income tax that has a top rate of 37%. However, local taxes can push the effective rate to 50%. Local taxes can include municipal and prefectural inhabitant and per capita taxes. There is also a 5% consumption tax that is applied to most services and goods. However, a number of items are zerorated. These include: exports; foreign cargo handling, carriage, and storage; certain services to nonresidents; and patent, trademark and copyright loans or transfers to nonresidents. Exemptions include land transfers, medical services, residential rents, and financial services.

Additional national taxes include customs duties; a stamp tax; inheritance and gift taxes; a monopoly profits tax; a sugar excise tax; taxes on liquor, gasoline, and other commodities; and travel, admissions, and local road taxes.

CUSTOMS AND DUTIES

The Japanese tariff system is administered by the Customs Bureau of the Ministry of Finance. As of 1997, Japan imposed a general tariff rate of 2%. However, import duties remained relatively high for certain agricultural and manufactured goods. In addition, quantity quotas and tariff quotas are still applied to some goods. There is also a 5% consumption tax on imports based on cost, insurance, freight plus the duty. In August 2005, Japan imposed a 15% retaliatory duty on 15 products manufactured in the United States. These included ball bearings, steel products, navigational instruments, machinery accessories, printing machines, forklift trucks and industrial belts. There is a free trade zone at Naha, on Okinawa; no free trade zones function on the main islands.

FOREIGN INVESTMENT

Japanese investments abroad have expanded steadily since the 1970s, the result both of liberalization on the outflow of capital and of the prosperity of the Japanese economy. It has also been due in part to increased investment in the United States and European Union (EU) as a conciliatory move to lessen the trade gap between Japan and the two industrial regions. Net annual direct investment outflows remained near $5 billion in the late 1970s but climbed steadily between 1985 and 1991 when they reached $48 billion, declining somewhat to $30.7 billion in 1992. Overseas direct investments made by Japan totaled $41 billion in 1993/94 and $51.4 billion in 1994/95. In 1996, Japan reportedly invested $50 billion overseas and attracted only about $7 billion in inward direct investment. In 2003, inward FDI was $6.3 billion, and outward FDI amounted to $28.8 billion.

Foreign investment in Japan has historically been less than in other G-7 countries. One reason for this is that in the past, the Japanese government discouraged foreign investment. A second but perhaps more significant reason is the high cost of doing business in Japan, which, in turn, reduces profits. Some of the barriers became less significant with the signing of the US-Japan Investment Accord signed in 1995. As of 2005, Japan's government imposed few formal restrictions on FDI in Japan, and had removed or liberalized most legal restrictions that applied to specific economic sectors. In 2005, President Koizumi promised to double the amount of FDI in Japan by 2010.

During the early 1990s, there was a significant imbalance in Japan's investment in other countries compared to other countries investing in Japanthe former was far greater than the latter. As an example, Japan invested $17,331 million in the United States in 1994 and $22,649 million in 1995. During those same two years, the United States invested $1,915 million and $1,837 million, respectively, in Japan. Since the mid-1990s, however, investment in Japan soared. FDI stock in Japan had more than tripled (on a yen basis) from 19982003. Reforms in the financial, communications, and distribution sectors have encouraged foreign investment in these sectors.

In 2003, inward FDI to Japan slowed to $6.3 billion, from $9.2 billion in 2002, but this followed continued strong increases in FDI in the preceding several years. In 2003, Japan's overseas investments also shrank, to $28.8 billion, from $32.3 billion in 2002. In 2003, China attracted 90% of Japan's FDI in the Asia region alone. The primary foreign investors in Japan in 2003 were (in order): the United States, the Netherlands, France, Germany, and the Cayman Islands. Japanese direct investment abroad went to (in order): the United States, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, China, and the Cayman Islands.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Japan's phenomenal economic growth since the 1950s has been based on an efficient blend of two economic tendencies. First is government activism in national planning and implementation, with guidance of the largely free economy via sophisticated and powerful monetary and fiscal policies. Second is the distinctively Japanese way of coupling largely private ownership of assets with conservative, public-spirited management. Especially significant was the role of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), which coordinated national industrial policies consistent with economic and social growth. In a unique government-industry collaboration sometimes referred to overseas as "Japan, Inc.," MITI selected and nurtured industries targeted as important to Japan's future economic growth. Industries so targeted have included chemicals, iron and steel, shipbuilding, and transistor radios in the 1960s; automobiles and electronics in the 1970s; and computers, computer chips, and other high-technology industries for the 1980s. In addition to stimulating new industries, MITI also smoothed the way for plant closings and worker retraining in industries targeted for de-emphasis, such as textiles in the 1970s and the ailing coal-mining and shipbuilding industries in the 1980s. MITI also assumed an active role in lessening Japan's positive trade imbalances through a variety of import promotion measures, in collaboration with both domestic companies and foreign firms. Close ties between government and industry are illustrated by the ministries' issuance of informal "administrative guidance" to Japanese companies, the frequent placement of retired bureaucrats in Japanese companies and trade associations, and the delegation of quasi-regulatory authority to trade associations (which are often allowed to devise and regulate their own insider rules). In 2001, MITI was reorganized as the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI).

The objectives of maintaining rapid GNP growth, controlling inflation, and developing Japan's social and industrial infrastructure have been the concern of the Economic Planning Agency, which produced the successful Ikeda plan (to double the national income between 1961 and 1970) and released projections of key indicators at frequent intervals. (In 2001, the offices and functions of the Economic Planning Agency were reassigned to the newly-formed Cabinet Office, where they function as a secretariat to the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy.) In the main, the Ikeda plan consisted of a series of projections of growth in a free market economy, with the basic assumptionthe continued growth of Japan's overseas tradelargely outside of government control. During the plan's 10-year span, an annual growth of 11% in GNP was realized, as against the forecast rate of 7.2%. An economic and social development plan (196775) accomplished a GNP growth rate of 10.6%, as against 8.2% projected.

A second economic and social plan (197075) projected a continued annual growth rate of 10.6%. The 1973 world oil crisis and its aftermath severely shook Japan's trade-dependent economy, however; in 1974, the GNP actually shrank by 1.8%, the first such negative growth in three decades. In 1975, the cabinet approved a new economic and social plan for 197985 calling for an average annual growth rate of 5.7%. However, the impact of the second oil crisis in 1978 necessitated downward revisions of projected growth targets. Plans to stimulate the economy by increasing public-works spending and cutting taxes were approved in October 1983 and in May 1987. Also enacted in 1989 was a value-added tax to strengthen the government's revenue base while allowing reductions in personal and corporate income tax.

In 1988, a five-year plan was adopted to sustain real GNP growth at 3.8% per year, maintain low unemployment (2.5% per year), contain inflation, reduce the country's trade surplus, and improve the quality of life through a shorter work week and stabilized property prices. Many of these objectives were achieved or surpassed in the closing years of the decade. After 1992, however, the economy's downturn was likened by some analysts to the 1974 recession in its severity and length. Economic indicators included steep declines and sluggish recovery in the stock market index after 1989, falling real estate prices, as well as a shrunken rate of GNP growth, despite surging exports. To prompt a recovery, the Ministry of Finance approved large stimulus packages for 1992 and 1993, totaling $85.6 billion and $119 billion in expenditures, respectively. Under the Structural Impediments Initiative, the government sought to sustain growth while also reducing the country's external trade imbalances. Among the main steps taken under the Initiative was a 10-year program targeting the expenditure of up to $8 trillion for the construction or renovation of airports, bridges, roads, ports, telecommunications systems, resorts, retirement communities, medical facilities, and other forms of public infrastructure development. Real growth during the 1990s hovered around 1% a year, however. The Asian Tigers, such as Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, saw their economies grow at a much higher rate than Japan's, and China's economic growth rate of 10% a year during the 1990s. In 1999, Japan began a tentative recovery from its longest and most severe recession since the end of World War II. By 2005, the economy was growing by a rate of approximately 2.3%.

Japan's financial assistance to developing countries and international agencies has grown significantly, making it one of the world's leading donor countries. The government has committed itself to large increases in official development assistance to developing countries and multilateral agencies since the late 1980s. Among the top recipients of bilateral ODA from Japan have been Indonesia, China, the Philippines, Thailand, Bangladesh, and Malaysia. Japan's increasing financial assistance to developing countries like China and Indonesia is an indication that the Japanese government is willing to sacrifice short term gain for longer term prosperity and stability. In essence, Japan is helping to create viable trading partners; and since Japan is a trading state, this strategy will enhance Japan's economic development over the long term. From 19922001, Japan was the largest donor of ODA, in terms of raw dollars. That was until 2001, when the United States reclaimed that position, and Japan's amount of aid dropped by nearly $4 billion. A key factor accounting for this was the 12.7% depreciation of the yen. In 2004, Japan donated $8.859 billion in ODA, or 0.19% of GNP, down from $9.678 billion in 2001 (0.23% of GNP).

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

Living standards reflect Japan's rapid economic development since the mid-1960s. Greatly contributing to the social stability of the nation is the strong sense of family solidarity among the Japanese; virtually every home has its butsudan, or altar of the ancestors, and most elderly people are cared for in the homes of their grown children. A further source of social stability has been Japan's employment system, noted for its "lifetime employment" of workers from the time they enter the company after completing their education to the time they retire. Traditionally, layoffs and dismissals of employees were rare, even during times of recession.

The present social insurance system includes national health insurance, welfare annuity insurance, maternity coverage, unemployment insurance, workers' accident compensation insurance, seamen's insurance, a national government employees' mutual aid association, and day workers' health insurance. It also provides pension plans designed to maintain living standards for the elderly, based on years of employment, and for families of deceased workers. Per capita expenditure on social security programs remained low, however, in relation to expenditure in many other industrial nations. There is a family allowance for low income residents with children under the age of nine.

Nearly the entire population receives benefits in one form or another from the health insurance system. Health insurance is compulsory for those employed at enterprises with five or more workers and premiums are shared equally by the insured and their employers. Those not covered at work are insured through the National Health Insurance program. Other sickness and health insurance is in force among farmers, fishermen, and their dependents. Unemployment coverage is obligatory for all enterprises regardless of size; workers' compensation must also be provided by employers.

The Daily Life Security Law laid the groundwork for an ever-growing livelihood assistance program. Out of this have come laws pertaining to child welfare, physically handicapped persons' welfare, social welfare service, welfare fund loans to mothers and children, aid to the war-wounded and ill, and aid to families of deceased soldiers. The system provides direct aid for livelihood, education, housing, medical, maternity, occupational disability, and funerals. More than a thousand welfare offices throughout the nation are staffed by full-time, salaried welfare secretaries and assisted by voluntary help. Institutions have been established to care for the aged, those on relief, and those needing rehabilitation. Numerous private organizations assist government agencies. There are special pension programs for public employees, private school teachers and employees, and employees of agricultural, forestry, and fishery cooperatives.

Women make up over 40% of the labor force. Although the law prohibits wage discrimination, there remained a significant gap between earnings for men and women in 2004. Women also retain the responsibility of child care and household chores. Domestic abuse and other violence against women are often unreported due to societal concerns about shame in the family. The government is taking some action in providing shelter facilities and passing laws to protect victims. There is also an increase in the molestation of women on the railways while commuting. Sexual harassment in the workplace is prevalent.

Discrimination against ethnic Koreans and other non-Japanese minorities also continued. Human rights are generally respected by the government, but there have been some reports of abuse of detainees and prisoners.

HEALTH

The Ministry of Health and Welfare has become the central administrative agency responsible for maintaining and promoting public health, welfare, and sanitation. All hospitals and clinics are subject to government control with respect to their standards and spheres of responsibility. In 2004, there were 201 physicians, 820 nurses, 72 dentists, and 171 pharmacists per 100,000 people. Every practitioner in the field of medicine or dentistry must receive a license from the Ministry of Health and Welfare. In addition, the ministry recognizes and authorizes certain quasi-medical practices, including massage, acupuncture, moxa-cautery, and judo-orthopedics, all based upon traditional Japanese health professions.

Expanded examination and treatment have brought about a dramatic decrease in the death rate from tuberculosis, the major cause of death in the 1940s. Death rates from cancer and heart disease have risen considerably and now rank among the leading causes of death, trailing cerebrovascular diseases. Japanese medical researchers have been working on research for a new cure for breast cancer.

Infant mortality dropped to 3.26 per 1,000 live births in 2005, one of the lowest in the world. Only 3% of children under age five were malnourished. The total fertility rate was 1.4 as of 2000. Immunization rates for children up to one year old are nearly 100%. Average life expectancy was 81.15 years in 2005, among the highest rates in the world. In the mid-1990s there were nearly 300,000 deaths per year strictly from cardiovascular diseases. The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 0.10 per 100 adults in 2003. As of 2004, there were approximately 12,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. There were an estimated 500 deaths from AIDS in 2003.

HOUSING

A severe housing shortage plagued Japan after World War II. It was estimated that in 1947, two years after the war's end, the housing deficit amounted to more than four million units. A construction program resulted in 9.7 million new units by the end of 1965. The following year, the government undertook a five-year plan for the construction of 7.6 million houses by mid-1971; the plan was designed to fulfill the goal of "one house for each family."

Housing construction peaked at 1.9 million units in 1973; despite efforts to promote construction as a means of stimulating the domestic economy, construction lagged in later years, falling to between 1.1 million and 1.5 million units in the 1980s. The decline reflected not so much a saturation of demandmany Japanese regard their housing as inadequateas a rapid rise in land and construction costs, especially in the Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka metropolitan areas, which put new housing out of the reach of potential buyers.

In the mid-1990s, the average salaried worker in Tokyo could only afford a house 40 km outside the Tokyo metropolitan area. Condominiums and prefabricated homes provided much of the nation's new housing in the 1980s. In fiscal 1987, low interest rates pushed new housing starts to 1.729 million units; they declined in 1988 to 1.6 million, and fell to 1.343 million in 1991 with the start of the recession. However, in 1998, there was a total of 50.25 million dwellings, representing 13% more than the number of households. In 2000, about 58.5% of all households were living in detached houses. About 61% of all households lived in owner-occupied dwellings.

EDUCATION

Japan's entire educational system was reorganized along US lines after World War II, adhering to a six-three-three-four plan (six years of primary school, three years of lower secondary school, three years of upper secondary schoolfull-time, part-time or correspondenceand four years of college). Education is compulsory and provided free of charge for the first nine years, from age 6 through 14. Entrance into high schools, the stage following the compulsory level, is by examination only, and most of these schools charge tuition. Coeducation has become an accepted principle.

In 2001, about 84% of children between the ages of three and five were enrolled in some type of preschool program. Primary school enrollment in 2003 was estimated at about 100% of age-eligible students. The same year, secondary school enrollment was also estimated at about 100% of age-eligible students. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 20:1 in 2003.

Would-be national and local public university students must pass entrance examinations in Japanese, English, mathematics, science, and social studies. There are three types of institutions for higher educationuniversities, junior colleges and technical colleges, all of which receive prefectural and national support or annual subsidies. There are 95 national universities, with each prefectural capital having one school; the remainder are in the principal cities. The largest religious bodies, both Christian and Buddhist, maintain important universities and other educational institutions. There are many special schools for the handicapped. In 2003, about 51% of the tertiary age population were enrolled in some type of higher education program; with 54% for men and 47% for women. The adult literacy rate for 2002 was estimated at about 99%.

Educational activities for adults and youths are organized both by government and private bodies. There is a board of education in each of the 47 prefectures and 3,000 municipalities and these serve as the local education authority. The central education authority is the Ministry of Education, which provides guidance and financial assistance to the local bodies. As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 3.6% of GDP, or 10.5% of total government expenditures.

LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS

In 1948, the National Diet Library Law established the National Diet Library to provide reference service to the Diet, other libraries, and the general public. In 1949, this library absorbed the Ueno Library (the former national library) as one of its branches. The National Diet Library acts as a legal depository for Japanese publications and is also a depository library for the United Nations. There are over 7.3 million volumes in the library's collection. The University of Tokyo (Tokyo Daigaku) has 7.6 million volumes, and Keio University, also in Tokyo has libraries with holdings of over 1 million volumes.

Public libraries are beginning to find their place in Japanese life. Prior to the enactment of the Library Law of 1950, 70% of those who utilized libraries were students and scholars. Today, libraries are information centers, and increasing numbers of citizens are patronizing them. The Tokyo Metropolitan Library consists of three main branches with ties to about 360 town and village libraries throughout the metropolitan region.

Except in large cities, typical Japanese museums take the form of the treasure halls of shrines or temples, botanical gardens, and aquariums. Important museums include the National Science Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, Calligraphy Museum, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, all located in Tokyo. Also in Tokyo are the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, a criminal museum, and a clock museum. In 2002 the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art opened in Kobe. Osaka houses a museum of natural history and the National Museum of Ethnography, and Kyoto, the former capital, has many historical sights and monuments. Yokohama is home to an equine museum and Kanazawa Bunko, a general museum dating back to 1275 and featuring Zen Buddhist documents. There is a Peace Memorial and Museum in Hiroshima.

MEDIA

Telephone and telegraph services are offered by Nippon Telephone and Telegraph, which was privatized in 1986, and by Japan Telecom and other companies that entered the market after Nippon Telegraph and Telephone's monopoly ended in 1985. Telex, fax, and international telegram services are provided by Kokusai DenshinDenwa (KDD). In 2003, there were an estimated 472 mainline telephones for every 1,000 people. The same year, there were approximately 679 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people.

A semigovernmental enterprise, the Japan Broadcasting Corp. (Nihon Hoso KyokaiNHK), plays a large role in Japan's radio and television communications. Started in 1935, Radio Japan is also beamed by NHK throughout the world. There are four other national commercial networks. Some commercial stations are connected with large newspaper companies. Color television broadcasting began in 1960; multiplex broadcasting, for stereophonic or multiple-language programming, was made available in Tokyo and other metropolitan areas in 1978. As of 2001 there were 215 AM and 89 FM radio stations. In 2003, there were an estimated 956 radios and 785 television sets for every 1,000 people. About 193.4 of every 1,000 people were cable subscribers. Also in 2003, there were 382.2 personal computers for every 1,000 people and 483 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet.

The Japanese press is among the world's largest in terms of newspaper circulation and is also a leader in ratio of copies to population. The leading Japanese dailies, with their 2002 morning (and evening) circulations, are: Yomiuri Shimbun, 10,224,70 (4,183,130 evening); Asahi Shimbun, 8,322,050 (4,070,610); Mainichi Shimbun, 3,976,360 (1,708,910); Nihon Keizai Shimbun, 1,796,310 (959,730); Sankei Shimbun, 1,997,700 (907,370); Tokyo Shimbun, 653,120 (348,750); Hochi Shimbun, 438,420; Osaka Nichi-Nichi Shimbun, 225,000; Chunichi Shimbun (in Nagoya), 3,075,320 (1,247,820); Nishi-Nippon Shimbun (in Fukuoka), 841,460 (187,530); Hokkaidō Shimbun (in Sapporo), 677,550 (387,520); Kyoto Shimbun (in Kyoto), 504,600 (319,730); Kobe Shimbun (in Kobe), 546,080 (269,640); and Chugoku Shimbun (in Hiroshima), 732,730 (89,310).

There are two domestic news agencies: the Kyodo News Service, with 50 domestic bureaus and with foreign bureaus in every major overseas news center; and the Jiji Press, serving commercial and government circles.

The constitution of Japan provides for free speech and a free press and the government is said to respect these rights in practice. The Japanese press enjoys the reputation of having the most vigorous and outspoken in the world. It operates under the constitutional provision of absolute prohibition of censorship.

ORGANIZATIONS

The Japan Chamber of Commerce includes several regional and local branches. Workers and employers are represented by a number of trade organizations, including the umbrella organizations of the General Council of Trade Unions, the Congress of Labor Unions, and Federation of Employers Associations. Specialized business and industry organizations include the Japan Silk Association, the Japan Whaling Association, and the Japan Pearl Exporters' Association.

The Japan Industrial Safety and Health Association serves an important role in regulating workplace safety standards. The Japan Medical Association promotes research and education on health issues and works to establish common policies and standards in healthcare. There are several other associations dedicated to research and education for specific fields of medicine and particular diseases and conditions. There are numerous professional associations representing a wide variety of careers.

There are numerous youth organizations, including the Scout Association of Japan, Girl Guides, YMCA/YWCA, and the Japan Youth Association. Numerous sports associations and clubs promote amateur competition in such pastimes as tae kwon do, horse racing, squash, table tennis, track and field, and cricket.

The Institute of Art Research and the National Institute of Japanese Literature are important in the cultural field. The Society for International Cultural Relations, established in 1934, is active in the publishing field and in cultural exchange. The Motion Picture Association of Japan is a prominent entertainment organization. There are many associations and clubs available for hobbyists.

There are national chapters of the Red Cross Society, CARE, Greenpeace, Habitat for Humanity, and Amnesty International.

TOURISM, TRAVEL, AND RECREATION

Tourism in Japan is regarded as a major industry, since many foreign visitors as well as the Japanese themselves tour the country extensively. In 2003, Japan had about 5.2 million visitors. There were 1,562,867 hotel rooms with an occupancy rate of 70%. Tourism expenditure receipts totaled $11.4 billion. A valid passport along with an onward/return ticket is required. A visa is not necessary for stays of up to 90 days.

Japan's chief sightseeing attractions are in the ancient former capital of Kyoto: Nijo Castle, Heian Jingu Shrine, the 13th-century Sanjusangendo temple, and the Kinkaku-ji (Temple of the Golden Pavilion); the Ryoan-ji (Temple of the Peaceful Dragon), famed for its garden of stones and raked sand, and numerous other ancient Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. Nearby sights in the vicinity of Nara include the Great Buddha, a huge bronze statue originally cast in the eighth century; the Kofuku-ji pagoda; and Horyu-ji, the seventh century temple from which Buddhism spread throughout Japan. There are few historic sites in the capitalTokyo was devastated by an earthquake in 1923 and virtually destroyed in World War IIbut nearby attractions include Mt. Fuji and the hot springs of Fuji-Hakkone-Izu National Park; Nikko National Park, site of the Toshogu Shrine, where the first Tokugawa shogun is entombed; and the summer and winter sports facilities in the mountains of central Japanthe so-called Japan Alps. The Hiroshima Peace Park and Peace Memorial Museum commemorate the destruction of the city by an atomic bomb in 1945.

Baseball is Japan's national pastime; there are two professional leagues, each with six teams. Sumo, a Japanese form of wrestling, is also popular, with tournaments held six times a year. Golf, an expensive sport because of the lack of open space, is used mainly as a means of entertaining business clients. Other pastimes include judo, karate, table tennis, fishing, and volleyball. Gardening is the most popular hobby among men and women alike. Nagano hosted the 1998 Olympic Winter Games.

The costs of traveling in Japan, among the highest in the world, were reduced slightly when a 3% tourism tax, in effect since 1960, was abolished on 1 April 2000.

In 2005, the US Department of State estimated daily expenses for staying in Tokyo at $257. Okinawa was estimated at $354 from May through September and $238 the rest of the year. To stay in Osaka-Kobe the daily expenses were $260 and in Kanazawa, $195.

FAMOUS JAPANESE

Murasaki Shikibu (late 10thearly 11th cent.) was the author of The Tale of Genji, probably the best-known Japanese literary classic in English since it was first translated in the 1920s. Zeami (Motokiyo, 13631443) was an actor who established Noh theater and wrote a number of plays that have been part of the Noh repertoire ever since. Monzaemon Chikamatsu (16531724) wrote plays for the Bunraku theater, many of which later became part of the repertoire of Kabuki. Basho (Matsuo Munefusa, 164494) perfected the writing of the poetic form now known as haiku. In this genre, three other poets are also known: Buson Yosa (171683), Issa Kobayashi (17631827), and the modern reformer Shiki Masaoka (18671902). Ryunosuke Akutagawa (18921927) is best known for his story "Rashomon." Prominent modern novelists include Jun'ichiro Tanizaki (18861965); Yasunari Kawabata (18991972), winner of the 1968 Nobel Prize for literature; Kobo Abe (192493); Yukio Mishima (192570); Shusako Endo (192396); Haruki Murakami (b.1949); and Kenzaburo Oe (b.1935) who won the 1994 Nobel Prize in literature. A leading modern writer and Zen Buddhist scholar was Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki (18701966).

In art, Sesshu (14201506) was the most famous landscape artist of his day. Ogata Korin (16581716) was a master painter of plants, animals, and people. The leader of the naturalist school was Maruyama Okyo (173395). The best-known painters and wood-block artists of the "ukiyo-e " style were Kitagawa Utamaro (17541806), Katsushika Hokusai (17601849), Saito Sharaku (fl.179495), and Ando Hiroshige (17971858). Four 20th-century Japanese architects whose work has had a marked influence on international style are Mayekawa Kunio (190586), Hideo Kosaka (19122000), Kenzo Tange (19132005), and Yoshinobu Ashihara (19182003).

Noted Japanese film directors include Kenjii Mizoguchi (18981956), Yasujiro Ozu (190363), and Akira Kurosawa (191092). Toshiro Mifune (192097) was the best-known film star abroad. Important composers include Toshiro Mayuzumi (192997) and Toru Takemitsu (193096). Seiji Ozawa (b.1935) is a conductor of world renown. The leading home-run hitter in baseball history is Sadaharu Oh (b.1940), manager of the Yomiuri Giants, who retired as a player for the same team in 1980 after hitting 868 home runs.

Hideyo Noguchi (18761928), noted bacteriologist, is credited with the discovery of the cause of yellow fever and is famed for his studies on viruses, snake poisons, and toxins. Hideki Yukawa (190781), Japan's most noted physicist, received the 1949 Nobel Prize for research on the meson. In 1965, Shinichiro Tomonaga (190679), a professor at Tokyo University of Education, became one of the year's three recipients of the Nobel Prize for physics for work in the field of quantum electrodynamics. Leo Esaki (b.1925) won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1973; Kenichi Fukui (19181998) shared the 1981 chemistry award; and Susumu Tonegawa (b.1939) won the 1987 medicine award. Hideki Shirakawa (b.1936) shared the 2000 Nobel Prize in chemistry; Ryoji Noyori (b.1938) shared the chemistry prize in 2001; and Koichi Tanaka (b.1959) shared the 2002 chemistry prize. Masatoshi Koshiba (b.1926) shared the Nobel Prize in physics in 2002.

Hirohito (190189) became emperor of Japan in 1926. His eldest son, Akihito (b.1933), succeeded him in 1990. The leading statesman after World War II was Eisaku Sato (190175), prime minister from 1964 to 1972 and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1974.

DEPENDENCIES

Japan has no territories or colonies.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Alexander, Yonah (ed.). Combating Terrorism: Strategies of Ten Countries. Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan Press, 2002.

Altbach, Philip G. and Toru Umakoshi (eds.). Asian Universities: Historical Perspectives and Contemporary Challenges. Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004.

Aspalter, Christian. Conservative Welfare State Systems in East Asia. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2001.

Auslin, Michael R. Negotiating with Imperialism: The Unequal Treaties and the Culture of Japanese Diplomacy. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2004.

Bellah, Robert Neelly. Imagining Japan: The Japanese Tradition and Its Modern Interpretation. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2003.

Bowring, Richard, and Peter Kornicki (eds.). The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Japan. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

Contemporary Japan and Popular Culture. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1996.

Currents in Japanese Culture: Translations and Transformations. New York: Columbia University Press, 1997.

Henshall, Kenneth G. A History of Japan: From Stone Age to Superpower. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2001.

Hoare, Jim and Susan Pares. A Political and Economic Dictionary of East Asia. Philadelphia: Routledge/Taylor and Francis, 2005.

International Smoking Statistics: A Collection of Historical Data from 30 Economically Developed Countries. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Perkins, Dorothy. Encyclopedia of Japan: Japanese History and Culture, from Abacus to Zori. New York: Facts on File, 1991.

Richardson, Bradley M. Japanese Democracy: Power, Coordination, and Performance. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1997.

Schirokauer, Conrad (ed.). A Brief History of Chinese and Japanese Civilizations. 3rd ed. Australia: Th omson/Wadsworth, 2006.

Summers, Randal W., and Allan M. Hoffman (eds.). Domestic Violence: A Global View. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2002.

Waswo, Ann. Modern Japanese Society, 18681994. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Woronoff, Jon. The "No Nonsense" Guide to Doing Business in Japan. New York: Palgrave, 2001.

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JAPAN

(including Okinawa)

Major Cities:
Tokyo, Yokohama, Ōsaka, Kōbe, Kyōto, Nagoya, Hiroshima, Fukuoka, Sapporo, Nagasaki

Other Cities:
Chiba, Gifu, Hamamatsu, Himeji, Kagoshima, Kanazawa, Kawasaki, Kita-kyūshūu, Kumagaya, Kumamoto, Kurashiki, Miyazaki, Niigata, Nishinomiya, Okayama, Sakai, Sendai, Utsunomiya, Yokosuka

EDITOR'S NOTE

This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report 2001 for Japan. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at http://travel.state.gov/ for the most recent information available on travel to this country.

INTRODUCTION

For a country that lived in self-imposed isolation until 150 years ago, Japan has not hesitated to make up for lost time.

It is a place of ancient gods and customs but is also the cutting edge of cool modernity. High-speed trains whisk you from one end of the country to another with frightening punctuality. You can catch sight of a farmer tending his paddy field, then turn the corner and find yourself next to a neon-festooned electronic games parlor in the suburb of a sprawling metropolis.

Few other countries have, in the space of mere generations, experienced so much or made such an impact. Industrialized at lightning speed, Japan shed its feudal trappings to become the most powerful country in Asia in a matter of decades. After defeat in World War II, it transformed itself to a wondereconomy, the envy of the globe.

In the cities you will first be struck by the mass of people. In this mountainous country, the vast majority of the 126 million population live on the crowded coastal plains of the main island of Honshu. The three other main islands, running north to south, are Hokkaido, Shikoku, and Kyushu, and all are linked to Honshu by bridges and tunnels that are part of one of Japan's modern wondersits efficient transport network of trains and highways.

Outside the cities, there is a vast range of options from the wide open spaces and deep volcanic lakes of Hokkaido, blanketed by snow every winter, to the balmy subtropical islands of Okinawa. You will seldom have to travel far to catch sight of a lofty castle, ancient temple or shrine, or locals celebrating at a colorful street festival. The Japanese are inveterate travelers within their own country and there is hardly a town or village, no matter how small or plain, that does not boast some unique attraction.

Rampant development and sometimes appalling pollution is difficult to square with a country also renowned for cleanliness and appreciation of nature. Part of the problem is that natural cataclysms, such as earthquakes and typhoons, regularly hit Japan, so few people expect things to last for long.

And yet, time and again, Japan redeems itself with unexpectedly beautiful landscapes, charmingly courteous people, and its tangible sense of history and cherished traditions. Most intriguing of all is the opaqueness at the heart of this mysterious hidden culture that stems from a blurring of traditional boundaries between East and West. Japan is neither wholly one nor the other.

MAJOR CITIES

Tokyo

Tokyo, the capital of Japan and one of the world's largest cities in terms of area, is at the head of Tokyo Bay on the Kanto Plain, the largest level area in the country. The city proper covers 221 square miles and has a population of 8.5 million. The 796-square-mile metropolitan area occupies sea-level stretches along the bay and rivers, as well as hilly areas farther inland which include suburban cities and towns, and several small villages; total population of this area is now more than 14 million.

Tokyo developed originally around a feudal castle built during the 16th century. Toward the end of that century, a great feudal lord named Tokugawa Iyeyasu ruled this castle and the surrounding area. In 1603, after a series of civil wars, he established himself as shogun, or military dictator, of all Japan, and administered his rule from Edo, which later was called Tokyo. Under succeeding rulers of the Tokugawa dynasty, the city grew in importance and became the leading commercial center of the area.

Tokyo has been, for all practical purposes, the capital of Japan since 1603, although the imperial court in the ancient capital of Kyōto maintained nominal authority until 1868. The court moved to Tokyo, and a Western-style government was established in the late 1860s.

Besides being the seat of government, Tokyo is the industrial, commercial, financial, communications, and educational center of Japan. It has over 7,900 factories or plants with 30 or more employees, 102 four-year colleges and universities, and 28 daily newspapers. It is Japan's most international city, with more than 122,500 foreign residents, of whom over 14,000 are Americans. Most foreign companies doing business in Japan have their headquarters here.

Tokyo is a vital metropolis of striking contrastsof confusion and calm. Business and residential properties are side by side, giving the city a patchwork-quilt impression. It has lovely parks and shrines, broad thoroughfares, modern office buildings and hotels, expressways, and department stores similar to those in other large international cities. Beyond all this, however, lies another world of narrow streets, markets, theaters, restaurants, and Japanese-style houses that make Tokyo a unique city.

Utilities

Electricity in Tokyo is single phase 100 or 200 volts, 50 cycles (HZ) electric current. Most U.S.-manufactured appliances will operate satisfactorily as long as they will tolerate 50 cycle electric current. Electric timing devices and clocks that are designed for standard U. S. 60-cycle electric current may not operate properly on 50-cycle electricity. Most appliances manufactured for Tokyo use require 100 volt, 50 cycle electric current.

Food

Most food items available in the U.S. can be obtained on the local market at higher prices.

The New Sanno Hotel also has a small shoppette. Throughout the city one can conveniently locate greengrocers, convenience-type stores, and large modern supermarkets.

Clothing General:

Bring a four-season wardrobe for all family members. Winter clothing is advised for the cold and damp winter months. Summer in Tokyo can be very hot and humid. Raincoats and umbrellas are essential.

Local department and specialty stores carry a variety of Western-style clothes and imported items from the design centers of the world for both men and women but are generally available in sizes unique to the Japanese physique and are very expensive. Excellent quality silks, woolens, and various synthetics are available.

Shoes for men, women and children are available locally but it is difficult, and sometimes impossible, to find the proper size. Shoe sizes are shorter and wider than in the U.S.

If you need special sizes or particular brands in clothing and shoes in order to be properly fitted, bring them with you. Office dress as well as sports and casual attire follow Washington or U.S. standards. Social functions are not extremely dressy. Simple good taste is the best criterion.

Men: The accepted attire for dinner parties, unless otherwise stated, is a business suit.

Women: An afternoon dress, a simple long dress, or long skirt and top are suitable for the frequent cocktail parties, receptions, and buffet dinners. Formal attire is a floor-length dress. Bring at least one full skirt (either long or short) that would be appropriate for dining in Japanese restaurants or homes where guests sit on tatami mats on the floor.

Children: A variety of children's clothing is available; sizes are not a big problem but prices are high.

Supplies and Services

The following items are available at higher prices: toiletries for men and women, cosmetics, feminine personal supplies, tobacco items, home medicines and drugs; common household items, including minor repair materials; and entertainment supplies such as candles, napkins.

All basic services-laundry, drycleaning, barber and beauty shops, shoe, and automobile repair-are available.

Domestic Help

The number and type of domestics varies with the obligations and living pattern of the employee. The hourly rate for part-time domestics is approximately Y1,000. Salaries for full-time domestics vary but generally you can expect to pay $1,000-$1,500 per month.

Domestics are covered by Japanese national health insurance but are not covered by unemployment insurance. Many employers assume partial obligation for doctors' bills and for the placement of a domestic in another position when they leave Japan. Those who sponsor non-Japanese domestics are responsible for assuring their departure from Japan if not placed with a qualified sponsor.

Part-time maids are available as babysitters when those services are needed. Teenagers charge from Y500 per hour depending on age and experience while part-time maids charge Y1,000 per hour.

Religious Activities

English-language services are available in the Tokyo and Yokohama areas for members of most denominations. Religions represented include Roman Catholic, Baptist, Seventh-day Adventist, Episcopal, Mormon, Christian Scientist, Lutheran, Interdenominational, Jewish, and Interdenominational Charismatic. The churches offer a variety of fellowship for all age groups and combined programs to provide services for the benefit of the foreign community in the area.

Education

Tokyo has a wide selection of excellent schools that provide education comparable to that available in the best schools in the U.S. and elsewhere. The school styles range from open classroom to more structured approaches; sports, music, drama, and other outside activities are provided in varying degrees. Graduates from the schools in the area have no difficulty being accepted by the best U.S. colleges and universities. To accommodate the requirements of children with special needs, parents should be certain to communicate directly with the schools regarding individual educational needs and programs available. The school year is from September to June. It is essential to communicate with the schools as early as possible since competition for spaces is keen. Most schools begin accepting applications for the upcoming school year in November of the current year. Most of the private schools maintain waiting lists. Upon acceptance, many schools require an early commitment on the part of the family and may require a non-refundable deposit. The schools in the Tokyo area most frequently used are listed below. Each is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

A physical examination is required by most of the schools.

The American School in Japan (ASIJ) (1-1, Nomizu 1-comme, Chofushi, Tokyo 182-0031, tel: 0422-34-5300, fax: 0422-34-5308; web address: www.asij.acjp; e-mail: [email protected]) is an independent elementary and secondary school accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. It is an overseas member of the National Association of Independent Schools of the United States and is affiliated with the International Schools Service. Of the 1,400 students, 67% are American, 15% are Japanese and the rest third-country nationals. The curriculum is similar to that of the best U.S. college preparatory schools. In addition, Japanese language and area studies are offered in all grades. The facilities include an indoor swimming pool, two gymnasiums, theater, laboratories, libraries, and cafeteria. The emphasis is on individualized instruction through the modular schedule in the secondary schools and through employment of team teaching as a means of greater flexibility in the elementary school. The number of graduates who enter colleges is about 98%.

The school is at Chofu in Tokyo's western suburbs. The school provides bus service from all areas of Tokyo including a stop at the apartment compound, with commuting time running slightly under an hour each way. Train service to within 10 minutes walking distance from the school is also available.

American School in Japan Nursery-Kindergarten (3-5 age group) (15-5, Aobadai 2-chome, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 153-0042; e-mail: [email protected]). In addition to the kindergarten on the Chofu campus, ASIJ operates a nursery kindergarten Meguro that is about 20 minutes from the housing compound. It accommodates 115 students of several nationalities. The normal school day includes teacher-directed work and activities (music, library, films), rest periods, snack, and outdoor play.

International School of Sacred Heart (3-1, Hiroo 4-chome, Shibuyaku, Tokyo 150-0012; fax: (3) 3400-3496; tel: (3) 3400-3951; web address: www.iac.cojp/-issh3/ ; e-mail: [email protected]) is an elementary and secondary institution with a student body of about 588 students directed by the Catholic Sisters of the Society of the Sacred Heart. Accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, it is a school for girls; however, boys are accepted for kindergarten. Around 50 different nationalities are represented in the student body and about 40-50 graduates are admitted to U.S. and Japanese colleges and universities each year. The school plant includes laboratories, gymnasium, and library; sports facilities also are provided. The school is on the Sacred Heart University campus in central Tokyo.

Nishimachi International School (14-7, Moto Azabu 2-chome, Minatoku, Tokyo 106-0046; tel: (3) 3451-5520; fax: (3) 3456-0197; web address: www.nishimachi.ac.jp; e-mail: [email protected]) offers instruction from kindergarten through grade 9. It is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Enrollment is about 400 with an international student body. The curriculum allows easy progression into the international high schools in the Tokyo area. Centrally located in Tokyo, the school has a gym (but no field), a large library, plus a strong Japanese language and active cultural activities programs. It generally requires early application for admission since there is usually a waiting list, particularly in the lower grades.

Seisen International School for Girls (12-15, Yoga 1-chome, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 158-0097; fax: (3) 3701-1033; tel: (3) 3704-2661; web address: www.scisen.com; e-mail: [email protected]) is a girls' elementary and secondary school accredited by the Western Association of Secondary Schools and Colleges and operated by the Catholic order, the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Boys are accepted for kindergarten. Enrollment is around 645, representing 60 nationalities. The emphasis in the secondary school is college preparatory with an extracurricular program of arts, drama, journalism, music, and sports. Some 94% of graduates enter college. The school is in Tokyo, convenient to public buses, subways, and trains.

St. Mary's International School (6-19, Seta 1-chome, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 158-8668; fax: (3) 3707-1950; tel: (3) 3709-3411; web address: www.smistokyo.com; e-mail: [email protected]) is sponsored by the Catholic order, Brothers of Christian Instruction. It is an elementary and secondary boy's school accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges with an enrollment of 900, representing some 70 nationalities. The school has a preschool (5 years), but there is a waiting list. The secondary school curriculum is college preparatory, and participation in sports and extracurricular activities including music, arts, drama, and journalism is emphasized. The international Baccalaureate program is offered in the high school. The facilities include a gymnasium, indoor pool, laboratories, library, and cafeteria. Almost all graduates enter American colleges. Bus service is provided by the school. In addition, train, subway, and public bus service to the school is excellent.

Tokyo International Learning Community (6-3-50 Osawa, Mitaka-shi, Tokyo 181-0015, Tel: 0422-31-9611; fax: 0422-31-9648; web address: www.tilc.org; e-mail: [email protected]) Established in 1987, Tokyo International Learning Community was set up by concerned parents and professionals in Tokyo's English-speaking community to support the education of students with special needs.

Its staff now consists of four full-time teachers and over 10 other staff members, including an occupational therapist, a physical therapist, a speech pathologist, and a psychologist. Based in a seven-room school building in Mitaka, Tokyo International Learning Community has an Early Childhood program for children from newborn to 5 years old with developmental disabilities or difficulties, and their families, as well as an Upper School Program for elementary, middle-and high-school students.

There is a support group for parents of children with special needs. A program for students enrolled in other international schools who are diagnosed as having a learning disability is also available. Services are offered in central Tokyo as well as the Mitaka campus.

Special Educational Opportunities

Exceptional opportunities exist in Tokyo for higher education and for training in Japanese arts and crafts. Each institution has its own admission requirements; courses can be followed as part of a degree program or for enrichment.

Sophia University, a Jesuit institution, has an international division that offers accredited courses in English and comparative cultures, leading to bachelor's and master's degrees. Both part-time and full-time study is possible, and all courses are in late afternoon or evening.

Temple University Japan, established in the early 1980s, is a branch of Temple University of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In the fall of 1987, the school moved into a new building in Shinjuku, which include such facilities as classrooms, a library, a language laboratory, and an auditorium. Temple offers bachelors degrees in the liberal arts and masters degrees in teaching English as a second language and business administration. Classes take place days and evenings.

International Christian University is about 20 miles from the center of Tokyo. It is an interdenominational school offering courses in English in all of its divisions-humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and languages. The Bachelor of Arts degree requires competency in Japanese, which can be acquired at the university by taking an intensive program. Night courses are not offered.

The University of Maryland, in cooperation with the Armed Forces, offers night courses at the undergraduate and some graduate levels. Although these courses are offered primarily to military personnel, Embassy staff members also are eligible. Courses currently are given at Camp Zama and Yokota Air Force Base. The commuting distance is from 1 to 1-1/2 hours from Tokyo by train.

Many opportunities exist for participation in adult classes in painting, sumie painting, ikebana (flower arrangement), woodcarving, doll making, pottery, and other Japanese crafts. Lessons in Japanese and Chinese cooking, music, and dancing can also be taken.

Sports

The Japanese are sports lovers and participate in virtually every sport popular in the West in addition to their own. The foreigner is welcomed, either as an active participant or as a spectator, and sports are effective avenues for establishing social and informal contacts with the Japanese people.

The most popular spectator sport of Western origin in Japan is baseball; the Tokyo pro teams play to sellout crowds nearly every day in season, and the annual Japan World Series championship team often gives visiting American teams stiff competition. Ranking in spectator popularity is the traditional Japanese wrestling or sumo. Fans include foreigners and Japanese alike, and tickets to the major tournaments held throughout the year are hard to find. Local television broadcasts both baseball and sumo events. Other popular spectator sports include soccer, rugby, gymnastics, swimming and diving competitions, and the Japanese martial arts exhibitions and matches. In addition to judo and karate, the arts include kendo (fencing with bamboo swords), Aikido (self-defense emphasizing physical conditioning and mind over matter), and Japanese longbow archery. You can study any of the martial arts in Tokyo under the most famous instructors. Judo instructions are available to Mission employees on the compound.

Golf is very popular in Japan. The courses are excellent and playable year round. Public courses are relatively few, and membership in the private Japanese clubs is prohibitively expensive. The military has three 18-hole golf courses at Tama, Zama, and Atsugi, all from 1 to I-1/ 2 hours' drive from downtown Tokyo. Membership is open to all Mission employees and their families, and dues are reasonable. Non-members can play by paying a nominal greens fee.

Golfers bringing a letter certifying their handicap at a previous golf club will be considered by the handicap committee for an "in-Japan" handicap.

The city has few public tennis and badminton courts. Private clubs have long waiting lists and are expensive.

Many Japanese recreational centers and clubs feature table tennis.

The major hotels have swimming pools and clubs; memberships are available but costs are relatively high. In the complex of the Olympic sports facilities are two Olympicsized pools and a high diving area open to the public. The New Sanno Hotel has an outdoor pool.

Beaches and water in the Tokyo area are polluted. However, nice but crowded beaches are located along the coast south of Tokyo near Kamakura on the Miura Peninsula, on the picturesque Izu Peninsula about 80 miles from Tokyo, and the eastern coast of the Chiba Peninsula about 60 miles from Tokyo. These areas abound in picturesque fishing villages and dramatic scenery.

The Tokyo YMCA has a basketball court, swimming pool, and facilities for volleyball and gymnastics. Also, Tokyo's Olympic Gymnasium facilities for these sports are open on a limited basis to the public. Bowling is popular in Japan, and Tokyo has many centers.

Several indoor ice skating rinks in the city are open year round and outdoor skating is popular on lakes and rinks outside Tokyo during winter.

The mountain resort areas of Nikko and Hakone have facilities for sailing and water-skiing. Commercial marinas, like Enoshima on Sagami Bay, rent sailboats. Skiing is excellent in Japan. Many ski areas are to the north and northwest of Tokyo (3-6 hours by train), with areas for beginners and experts. Accommodations range from luxurious lodges to skier dormitories. Equipment can be rented, but large ski boots are difficult to find.

Mountain climbing is also popular; you can join several hiking clubs. Good hiking over mountain trails is within 2 hours by train from Tokyo.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

Japan's rugged and beautiful terrain offers a great deal to outdoor enthusiasts. Most scenic areas, including nearby Nikko and Mt. Fuji, have been incorporated into an extensive national park system. Hiking trails and good camping facilities abound. Hundreds of lowpriced hostels exist, many in isolated places. The hostels are open to people of all ages, single or married.

Much of Japan is easily accessible from Tokyo on Japan's excellent rail transportation system. The historic Kyoto-Nara area, with its hundreds of shrines and their typical Japanese gardens, can be reached by Shinkansen (super express trains) in about 3 hours. Shinkansen to Kyushu, southern Japan, takes about 7 hours. Northern Japan is a day's journey by train. Domestic airlines will take you to most major cities in Honshu, Shikoku, Hokkaido, and Kyushu or Okinawa within a few hours. Travel by air, rail and car tends to be expensive.

Within hours by car or rail from Tokyo are the many hot-spring mountain resorts of the Hakone Range near Mt. Fuji, beautiful Nikko National Park with its famous shrines of the Tokugawa Shoguns; and northwest of Tokyo, Nagano Prefecture, popular winter sports center. These resort areas offer excellent recreational facilities and fine Western and Japanese-style hotels.

Shimoda, at the tip of the Izu Peninsula (about 3 hours from Tokyo by express train), is of historic interest as the site of the first American Consulate in Japan, opened by Townsend Harris in 1856.

Nearby Tokyo is Kamakura, which is also of great historical interest with its many 12th-and 13th-century shrines and temples and the famed Great Buddha. Added incentives to travel are the many colorful festivals that take place throughout Japan, especially during the summer. Timing a trip to coincide with a festival or witnessing some of the many festivals held in Tokyo can add greatly to your experience.

In all the major cities and many of the others are Western-style hotels with facilities ranging from acceptable to adequate. A stay in a Japanese-style inn or Ryokan can be most interesting. Ryokans are usually more expensive than firstclass Western-style hotels, but the attentive service given guests is almost unequaled anywhere in the world. The guest must be prepared, however, to sleep on tatami mats and eat Japanese food.

Entertainment

Tokyo is one of the entertainment capitals of the world. It offers an infinite variety of nightlife from the most deluxe and expensive clubs and spectacular music hall revues to jazz coffeehouses and working-class restaurants. Restaurants are everywhere. Hardly a street in the city does not have at least one Japanese restaurant specializing in tempura (shrimp, fish, and various vegetables deep fried in oil), sushi (raw fish or shrimp in a small rice mold wrapped in a special kind of seaweed), and sukiyaki, perhaps the best known Japanese food among foreigners. Many nice restaurants feature international cuisine or regional specialties (Chinese, French, American, Russian, Italian, Korean, or Spanish). Tokyo also has a variety of fast-food chains, both Japanese and such American favorites as McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King, Shakey's, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Pizza Hut. Recent casual restaurant additions include Outback Steakhouse and TGI Friday's. Prices in the restaurants range from moderate to extremely expensive. One of the best ways to sample the restaurants in Tokyo is at lunchtime when a meal costs half as much when served in the evening.

Tokyo is the center of the Kabuki and Noh theaters. Two major theaters in Tokyo present Kabuki, and usually at least two productions are playing at any one time. Several productions of Noh and the classical Japanese comedy, Kyogen, are shown every week. The famous Bunraku Puppet Theater of Osaka visits Tokyo regularly.

Tokyo has nine symphony orchestras that perform year round, several ballet and opera companies, and many chamber groups and individual artists. With these choices, and with the constant stream of visiting foreign orchestras, ballet and opera companies, and individual artists, it has become one of the world's music centers. However, ticket prices are expensive.

Tokyo Weekender and Tokyo Classified, periodic publications especially for foreign residents or tourists in the city, present useful information on what is happening in music and the theater in Tokyo and describes various events going on throughout Japan.

Tokyo is also the center of Japan's contemporary art life. Several museums have fine collections of Japanese and Western arts, and innumerable small galleries present showings of Japanese and foreign artists. The major department stores often sponsor art exhibitions. The Tokyo Museum of Modern Art each year has several large foreign exhibitions of international significance.

The Western Theater in Tokyo attracts much interest and activity. Most foreign plays are translated and presented in Japanese. The Tokyo International Players, an international English-language amateur group, produces several plays and readings during their October-May season. American and other foreign movies, shown with Japanese subtitles, are quite popular in Tokyo. They are, however, expensive. The English-language press carries detailed schedules. American movies are shown on Sunday afternoons and evenings at the New Sanno Hotel.

Photography is a popular hobby for both still and video enthusiasts. The Japanese are avid picture takers, and most foreigners follow suit. Excellent Japanese cameras and accessories are sold at the exchanges at reasonable prices. American film is sold locally and at the exchanges, although Japanese film is also of high quality.

Social Activities

The Tokyo American Club is a large, long-established club to which many in the business community belong. It has a restaurant and swimming pool. Fees are prohibitive.

The New Sanno Hotel, open to US. Government civilian employees, has three restaurants and a snack bar, a cocktail lounge, a swimming pool, and offers dancing, night-club shows, special events, and movies.

Social life is comparable to the social life enjoyed in most large U.S. cities. Acquaintances and friends are developed through contacts in the office, at clubs, churches, and through friends.

Although opportunities are numerous for making Japanese friends in Tokyo, it does require a positive effort in most cases. This is partly explained by the size of the city, the language barrier, and differences in cultural background and personality between Westerners and Japanese. Although the Japanese are not surprised when Westerners remain aloof in the foreign colony, they are delighted when a foreigner makes an effort to learn about their way of life, e.g., by studying their various art forms, by traveling Japanese-style, etc. One good way to make daily contact with the Japanese more meaningful is to learn some of the language and customs. In addition, a great number of organizations and activities bring people together for both business and pleasure, such as the American Chamber of Commerce, the Japan-America Society, the Royal Asiatic Society, the International House, international friendship clubs, and the Japanese alumni associations of many American colleges and universities. Many organizations directed either toward community welfare or cultural exchange provide excellent opportunities to meet both Japanese women and women of other nationalities, i.e., the College Women's Association of Japan, the Japan-American Women's Club, the International Ladies Benevolent Society, the International Social Service, and the Tokyo-Washington Women's Club. The latter club meets several times a year and offers monthly or biweekly meetings of various small interest groups such as golf, bridge, chorus, ink painting, flower arranging, and doll making.

Classes in Japanese arts and crafts are also readily available throughout the city and serve both to broaden your circle of friends and your knowledge of the culture of Japan. These classes are not offered solely for foreigners, since the formal study of various aspects of Japanese culture has traditionally been popular for Japanese as well.

An excellent way to make Japanese friends is to offer classes in English conversation. These classes are not difficult to arrange. Another way to make Japanese friends is to participate in the American Orientation Program sponsored by the Fulbright Commission for Japanese scholarship students going to the U.S. to study.

Yokohama

Yokohama is Japan's second largest city, with a population of 3.3 million, and is part of the Kanto metropolitan area centered near Tokyo. Yokohama was one of the first Japanese ports to open to Western trade, and today is one of the world's busiest shipping ports, with a cosmopolitan flavor and a large international population. Despite being a large, industrial city, Yokohama retains a pleasant atmosphere and is relatively close to a number of sightseeing and recreation areas, such as the ancient capital of Kamakura, the hot spring resorts at Hakone, and Mount Fuji.

Yokohama's climate is essentially the same as Tokyo's, with hot, humid summers and mild winters.

The United States Foreign Service Institute has a field school in Yokohama, established to provide language and area-studies training. The center is in a converted residence (the former American Consulate) on the Bluff, a ridge overlooking the harbor and the city, about a five-minute walk from Harbor View Park and the Foreign Cemetery.

The school's neighborhood, called Yamate. It features several parks and historic sites related to the opening of the port to foreign trade and the early foreign community in Yokohama. This neighborhood hosts a commercial center with a wide variety of stores, restaurants and entertainment.

Japanese Language and Area Training Center

FSI Yokohama is an overseas field school of the State Department's Foreign Service Institute, offering intensive, full-time language instruction to U.S. Government civilian and military officials, their spouses, and in some cases diplomats from third countries.

FSI Yokohama's excellent teaching staff is small but highly experienced. The faculty has created many texts and reference materials in-house, and continues to innovate in both teaching methods and course content. In recent years, the school has adopted a number of computer-based interactive teaching materials. Instructors can help students in finding opportunities to use Japanese outside the classroom as well, through local sport or hobby groups, travel and language exchanges. The school has a library of language texts and reference works, books in English about Japan, Japanese literature in the original and in translation, and videotapes in Japanese.

Taking advantage of its location in country, the school arranges frequent field trips to places of interest to students for their ultimate assignments in Japan. These may include government offices, political party conventions, newspapers and TV stations, Japan Self-Defense Force facilities, factories or museums. The class may take overnight field trips out of town to experience some of the variety of Japanese society, particularly the more traditional culture found in rural areas. Many students also do a week-long practicum, working on a volunteer basis in a Japanese business or institution to gain experience in practical use of the language and in social interaction. A series of guest lectures, in both English and Japanese, offers further insights into Japan's politics, economy and society.

Other, optional events, such as attending a sumo match or traditional Japanese theater, are open to students' families as well.

Food

Local grocery stores, however, are more convenient and have a better selection of fresh foods such as produce, meat, fish, and baked goods. Local stores also carry premium imported items such as cheeses and wines, but at high prices.

The Honmoku area offers a number of Japanese-and Western-style restaurants, including several family restaurants. Farther afield, you can find restaurants serving just about any kind of cuisine in and around downtown Yokohama.

Clothing

Japanese clothing prices vary from near US. prices to much higher, depending on the item and outlet, and larger sizes may be hard to find.

Supplies and Services

Most things are usually found nearby, although it sometimes takes more of a search than in the U. S., and prices may be higher. Yokohama has a growing number of large U.S. specialty retailers (e.g., Toys R Us, Sports Authority) within a 30-minute drive from student housing, although the selection of goods differs somewhat from the same stores in the US.

Services such as drycleaning, hair styling, and photo developing available.

Phone service is good but expensive. Pre-paid phone cards, however, offer calls to the U.S. for as little as 15¢ per minute. Home e-mail and Internet service is available at a cost, and quality is comparable to that in the U.S. In Japan, however, even local calls are metered, so extended Internet use will result in a high phone bill. Cell phones are available locally at reasonable rates.

Religious Activities

In addition to numerous Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, the neighborhoods are home to several Catholic and Protestant churches. Most of the churches serve international congregations and offer services in English.

Education

Children in kindergarten through sixth grade usually attend the R. E. Byrd DODDS Elementary School at the Negishi Housing Area (PSC 472 Box 12, FPO AP 96348-0005). It is a small school, less than 200 students total, in a modern facility on a quiet residential street.

Middle and high school students usually attend St. Maur International School (83 Yamate-cho, Nakaku, Yokohama 231-8654 Japan, www.stmaur.acjp) or Yokohama International School (258 Yamatecho, Naka-ku, Yokohama 2310862 Japan, www.yis.ac.jp). Both are coeducational day schools, and both are about a 30-minute walk from the student housing area. St. Maur is operated by the Sisters of the Infant Jesus, a Catholic order, and is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. YIS is an independent nonsectarian school, and is accredited by the New England Association of Colleges and Schools.

Both the international schools include kindergarten and elementary grades as well. There are several pre-kindergarten options, but most are fairly expensive. The Byrd School offers one year of pre-kindergarten, but class size is limited and space might not be available for children of non-DOD families. The two international schools offer pre-school classes, and some families have sent children to local Japanese pre-schools.

The Yokohama area offers a wealth of opportunities for instruction in both traditional Japanese and Western arts, crafts, music, drama, and sports. Many of these classes can be found within walking distance of student housing. Extension programs of U.S. universities are offered on the larger military bases, but long commutes make participation difficult for those living in Yokohama.

Recreation and Social Life

The Yamate neighborhood offers good routes for walking, jogging, or bicycling. Neighborhood playgrounds are within a block or two of all student housing. A municipal sports center has a weight room, basketball and volleyball courts, and classes for martial arts and other sports, usually for a small per-visit fee. A public parkf has an outdoor pool open in summer with a reasonable entry fee.

A commercial sports club offers year-round swimming as well as a weight room, aerobics classes and other facilities. Rates are around Y6,000 to Y10,000 per month, depending on the hours and days of use. The Yokohama Country and Athletic Club offers more extensive indoor and outdoor sports facilities, but membership fees are high.

The Negishi housing area has a library which has a large selection of English-language books for children and adults. Yokohama boasts a wide variety of museums, concert halls, theaters, and cinemas. Cinemas are much more expensive than in the U.S., but video rentals are close to American prices. American movies are often available in English with Japanese subtitles.

Yokohama in general and the area around FSI in particular have a large international population, and local Japanese residents tend to be very open to foreigners. Most students and family members, even those who speak little or no Japanese, have few problems making friends.

Ōsaka & Kōbe

One of the world's greatest commercial cities, Osaka sits at the center of the Kansai region, Japan's traditional heartland and its second largest economic center. It is Japan's third largest city with a population of nearly 3 million. From the 3rd century A.D., Osaka (then called Naniwa), with its bay and magnificent river system, has been the hub of inland traffic for the Kansai region and the center of Japanese trade. Over the past 3 decades, Osaka has lost its position as Japan's premier commercial and industrial city to Tokyo. But Osaka and the Kansai region still rank as one of the most important economic regions in the world, and its economic output exceeds that of most European countries and equals that of Canada. Osaka is home to many of Japan's most famous companies, including Matsushita (Panasonic), Sharp, Sanyo, Suntory and Minolta. The approximately 85,000 manufacturing enterprises in Osaka prefecture alone employ nearly 1 million people and produce over $220 billion worth of good annually.

Thirty minutes to the west of Osaka is the cosmopolitan port city of Kobe , noted for its foreign influence. Another major city Hiroshima, site of the first atomic bombing and the headquarters of the Japanese car maker, Mazda, now one-third owned by Ford Motor Company.

Kōbe lies on a narrow strip of land along the famous Inland Sea. It faces an excellent harbor on the south and is bordered by the steep, pine-clad Rokko Mountains on the north. The altitude ranges from sea level to some 600 feet within Kōbe proper, and rises abruptly to 3,000 feet in the mountains behind the city. In the bay is Port Island, the world's largest man-made island.

An industrial city and one of the busiest ports in the world, Kōbe is a cosmopolitan city noted for its foreign influence. In recent years, coastal reclamation has enlarged the industrial and port areas. Manufacturing centers around shipbuilding, steel, textiles, and electronics.

One of the first seaports to be opened to foreign settlement more than a century ago (1868), Kōbe remains a highly cosmopolitan city.

The population of 1.4 million includes an international community of Koreans, Chinese, Indians, French, British, Germans, and Americans. Over 1,000 Americans live in Kōbe, many of whom commute to work in Ōsaka.

Western-style hotels, modern trade shows on Port Island, restaurants serving international cuisine, and colorful festivals add to the city's unique atmosphere. Parks and gardens accentuate the natural beauty of Kōbe, particularly during azalea time in May and the blooming of the chrysanthemums in late autumn. Some of the Western-style houses built more than a century ago in Kitano, the old foreign district, are open for walking tours.

Between Kōbe and Ōsaka is Takarazuka. It is the site of a popular hot-spring resort and family amusement park.

Utilities

No shortages of or problems with electricity, gas, or water occur in Japan, absent an event like the Kobe Earthquake in January 1995. Telephone service is excellent, and direct dialing is available for international calls. Electricity in the Osaka area is 100 volts/60 cycles.

Typical Japanese outlets accommodate a plug with two, equally-sized flat prongs.

Food

The local market is filled with fresh fruit, vegetables, eggs, breads, meats, fish, and dairy products, and its use requires no more sanitary caution than one would apply in the U.S. All of these items are expensive. Many stores in Kobe also carry foreign-brand foodstuffs, albeit at higher prices than in the U.S. or the country of origin. A local buyer's club also permits the purchase of international foods.

Osaka is known as a "kuidaore" (food-loving) city. Both Western-style and Japanese restaurants are abound.

These range from affordable shops and sushi bars to exclusive, members-only establishments.

There is the opportunity to experience a broad range of the dining spectrum.

Clothing

Fashion tastes in Japan increasingly are influenced by American trends, but Japanese-particularly in this area-tend to be fashion-conscious in a conservative way. Americans who dress similarly will be well received. Clothing and shoes purchased locally are expensive, and size also presents a problem.

Supplies and Services

Almost everything is available in Japan, but prices range from high to exorbitant. If you favor certain brands or need special medicines or a regular supply of some item (e.g., contact lens cleaner, toiletries, or hot cooking sauce), it may be better and cheaper to ship them from the U.S.

Laundry and drycleaning services are excellent, as are barber and beauty shops. Women's hair coloring may not match colors available in the U.S., so bringing samples may help. Repair facilities for American-made appliances and automobiles are often inadequate; repairs for Japanese products are adequate and easily available but expensive.

Domestic Help

Domestic help is hard to find, and wages are high. Day help can be obtained from an agency, but at nearly $300 per day. Live-in cook/servants charge about $1,800 a month, plus a month's bonus twice a year. Employees must also provide plane fare to the home country once per year.

Religious Activities

English-language services for followers of the Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish faiths are held in Kobe. Catholic and Anglican/Episcopalian Churches, with Japanese-language services, are 10 minutes away in Nishinomiya.

Education

English-speaking students have a choice of four schools in the Osaka and Kobe areas.

Canadian Academy, a coeducational facility founded in 1913, teaches kindergarten through high school and also offers boarding facilities for boys and girls grades 7-12. The curriculum is based on the typical college preparatory system in the U.S. The school has an extensive array of extracurricular activities. The language of instruction in all subjects is English. Address: Koyo-cho Naka 4chome, Higashinada-ku, Kobe, 658-0032, Telephone +81 (78) 857-0100, Fax +81 (78) 857-3250.

Osaka International School, founded in 1992, also offers a wide curricula and a number of extracurricular activities with a college preparatory emphasis. A school bus for all ages can be taken from near the housing compound. Address: 4-16, Onohara Nishi 4-chome, Mino-shi, Osaka 562-0032, Telephone +81 (727) 27-5050, Fax +81 (727) 27-5055.

Marist Brothers International School, for boys and girls from kindergarten through grade 12, was founded in 1951 and is located in western Kobe. The curriculum is based on the U.S. college preparatory system. The language of instruction in all subjects is English. Children can go from Nishinomiya (east of Kobe) to Marist by public transportation: Address: 2-1, Chimori-cho 1-chome, Suma-ku, Kobe 654-0072, Telephone +81 (78) 732-6266, Fax +81 (78) 7326268.

St. Michael's International School, a primary school for boys and girls, is an Episcopal school for children of all nationalities and faiths. It is built on the site of the old English Mission School in the center of Kobe. A school bus stop is available about 2 kilometers away from the compound. Address: 17-2 Nakayamate dori 3-chome, Chuoku, Kobe 650-0004, Telephone +81 (78) 2318885, Fax +81 (78) 231-8899.

A number of Japanese nursery schools accept foreign children. In Kyoto, the Kyoto International School, for boys and girls in grades 1 through 8, serves a diverse foreign community of a number of nationalities. Most of the parents are teachers, research scholars, artists, or missionaries. Address: 317 Kitatawara-cho, Naka-dachiuri Sagaru, Yoshiyamachi-dori, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto 602-8247, Telephone +81 (75) 451-1022, Fax +81 (75) 451-1023.

Special Educational Opportunities

Many Americans here enjoy classes and tutoring in traditional Japanese art forms such as flower arranging, cooking, dancing, pottery making, music, brush painting, and calligraphy, as well as in Japanese sports such as judo, kendo, karate, and aikido. Prices for lessons, however, are typically high.

Sports

Sports facilities are available, but are more crowded and expensive than in the U.S.

A number of pools, tennis courts, and health clubs in the area are open on either a membership or a pay-as-you-go basis. Typical costs are a one-time membership fee of about $100, and about $100 a month thereafter.

Public golf courses and driving ranges are crowded and rather expensive. Private golf clubs are numerous but beyond the financial reach of most U.S. visitors. However, occasionally invitations are sent to play in golf tournaments organized by the Japan-America societies and other American-affiliated groups.

Excellent beaches are a few hours' drive or a ferry ride away from Kobe. The Osaka-Kobe area has numerous bowling alleys and roller and ice skating rinks. Winter skiing areas are located a 2-hour train ride or 3-hour car ride away. The Rokko Mountain National Park in Kobe has extensive hiking trails, and a smaller mountain hiking area is a 10-minute walk from the Nishinomiya compound.

Zoos, aquariums, amusement parks, and museums of all types are available for family outings.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

Local festivals are held in the consular district throughout the year. Public and private museums regularly feature special exhibits. Department stores also sponsor fairs showcasing food items and crafts from different Japanese prefectures. Kyoto is an international cultural treasure and a popular touring destination. Shops in Kyoto and elsewhere are well-stocked with wood block prints, china, porcelain, scrolls, screens, etc. Its centuries-old festivals and innumerable temples and shrines bring visitors back again and again.

Nearby Nara was founded in A.D. 710 and contains some of the oldest and most famous art treasures in Japan, including the Great Buddha of the Todaiji Temple, housed in the world's largest wooden building. Hundreds of tame deer freely roam Nara Park and are very popular with children.

To the west of Kobe is Himeji, site of the most spectacular castle in Japan. It has been the site of many Japanese samurai movies, including the American TV program, "Shogun." To the west and south lies the Inland Sea, whose quiet shores and scenic islands are within easy reach of the compound by bridge and ferry.

Two of Japan's most famous scenic spots are in the consular district: Amanohashidate on the Japan Sea and Miyajima Shrine near Hiroshima. Also in Hiroshima is the Peace Park and Museum. See also Tokyo, Touring and Outdoor Activities.

Entertainment

Movie houses throughout Osaka and Kobe show first-run American and foreign films, while at prices two to three times higher than in the US. Auditoriums in Kobe and Osaka offer concerts by world-famous classical and popular artists as well as symphony orchestras, ballet, and opera. Osaka is also the home of Bunraku, the famous traditional Japanese puppet theater, and Kabuki and Noh performances are also presented. The spring tournament of sumo, the historical sport popular among foreigners and Japanese alike, is held annually in Osaka. A unique all-girl troupe in Takarazuka, a 30-minute train ride from the compound, performs Western-style musicals on a constantly changing bill.

Social Activities

Most Americans entertain in their homes. Kobe and Osaka have many nightclubs and restaurants suitable for entertainment in a variety of price ranges. The Kansai Chapter of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) maintains an office in Osaka and meets periodically for luncheons and dinners in Osaka and Kobe. The George Washington Society, a gathering of American residents in the Kansai, celebrates George Washington's birthday with a formal ball and the Fourth of July with a picnic.

Japanese enjoy Western entertainment and accept invitations to American homes. Both format and informal contacts between Americans and Japanese are extensive. The Japan-America Societies in Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto, and Hiroshima sponsor a variety of lectures, luncheons, and parties that offer an excellent opportunity to establish friendships. The Japan-America Women of the Kansai (JAWK) meets bimonthly and organizes a number of programs to increase friendship and understanding between women of the two countries as well as to raise money for charitable organizations. Rotary International, Lions International, and the Jaycees have chapters in almost every city and like to meet with official Americans. Japanese-American sister city affiliation committees promote a number of exchanges. The Kobe Women's Club meets weekly from September to May for art programs, excursions, bridge, and other activities. Twenty-three official and 45 honorary consulates general and consulates are in the Osaka-Kobe area, as are foreign business representatives of all nationalities.

Kyōto

Kyōto is about an hour's drive from Ōsaka over an excellent highway, and is one of the world's most famous and beautiful cities. It was the capital of Japan from 794 (when it was called Hei-an-kyo) until 1868 and, although it was superseded as the administrative seat of government for brief periods during those years, it remained the ceremonial capital. And since Kyōto was spared the bombs of World War II, it is the city richest in historical remains and cultural assets in Japan.

Modeled after the ancient Chinese capital Ch'an An, and surrounded on three sides by forested mountains, Kyōto has long inspired scholars and artists. Its centuries-old festivals and innumerable temples and shrines bring visitors back again and again. Nijo Castle, the residence of the first Tokugawa shogun ; Kinkaku-ji, the Temple of the Golden Pavilion; the Shinto shrine with its lovely cherry-blossom gardens; and Gosho, the ancient imperial palace, are but a few of Kyōto's treasures. Japan's history is still very much alive in Kyōto today, but the charm of the cultural heritage is only one aspect of the city.

The visitor is aware of the old and new, which initially seem to contradict one another, but soon he realizes that ancient shrines and temples and quiet gardens and traditional handicrafts blend with the modern life of Kyōto in beautiful harmony. All of these contribute to the unique atmosphere of the city.

Many English books are available at local stores as a help to guide visitors through this fascinating city. Since Kyōto has been thriving primarily on the tourist industry, other industries are less important, except for electronics and silk-weaving.

Kyōto's population is 1.5 million.

Education

Kyōto International School, for boys and girls in pre-kindergarten through grade eight, serves a diverse foreign community of at least eight nationalities. Most of the parents are teachers, research scholars, artists, or missionaries. An American/British curriculum is followed.

Recreation

Sports facilities are available but very crowded and expensive.

Public golf courses in the Ōsaka-Kōbe district are crowded and expensive, and private clubs are even more costly. Tennis, health clubs, and swimming are available, as are playing fields for soccer, rugby, and field hockey. Social clubs have been organized by members of the foreign community, but membership fees are quite high.

Excellent, but crowded, beaches are only a few hours away. Boating and water-skiing enthusiasts find many opportunities to enjoy their sports. The area has numerous bowling alleys and roller and ice skating rinks. In the winter, skiing areas are two hours away by train. Also, there are limitless hiking trails in the Rokko Mountain National Park.

Zoos, an aquarium, amusement parks, and many different types of museums are found in this area.

In the district is Nara, center of the nation's spiritual heritage and the ancient capital of the earliest known Japanese dynasty. Founded in the year 710, it contains some of the oldest and most famous art treasures in the country, including the Great Buddha of the Todaiji Temple, housed in the world's largest wooden building. The massive five-story pagoda of Kofuku-ji and some beautiful Buddhist shrines and statues can also be visited. Hundreds of tame deer freely roam Nara Park.

Two of Japan's most famous scenic spots are also in this area: Amanohashidate on the Japan Sea and Miyajima near Hiroshima.

Souvenir and curio hunting is a popular diversion, and shops in these three cities are well stocked with woodblock prints, china, porcelain, scrolls, screens, and the like.

Many movie houses show first-run American and foreign films. Fine auditoriums offer concerts and recitals by world-famous artists; the Ōsaka music festivals are held three weeks annually in a splendid 3,000-seat auditorium. Ōsaka is also the home of Bunraku, the traditional Japanese puppet theater. Legitimate stage productions in English are few, but a unique all-girl troupe in Takarazuka performs Western-style musicals on a constantly changing bill. Theater-goers enjoy Kabuki and Noh plays as well as other forms of traditional Japanese theater. A sumo (Japanese wrestling) tournament is held every spring.

Since nightclubs are quite expensive, most Americans in the area entertain in their homes. The Japanese happily accept such invitations.

Rotary, Lions International, and the Jaycees have chapters in almost every city in Japan, and are active in the Ōsaka-Kōbe area. Also represented are Japan-America societies, the Japan-America Women of the Kansai, the YMCA and YWCA, the Kōbe Women's Club, and the Japan League of Women Voters.

Nagoya

Nagoya City is the capital of Aichi Prefecture and center of commerce, industry, and culture in central Japan (the Chubu Region). The city has over 2 million people, ranking fourth in population among Japan's cities. It is located between Tokyo and Osaka and sits astride Japan's major east-west highway and railway systems.

Nagoya and the surrounding region make up an industrial powerhouse. Economic activity in this region is such that even if separated from the rest of Japan, it would still have one of the world's largest economies. This is the center of Japan's automobile and auto parts industries. The country's largest carmaker, Toyota Motor Corporation, has its headquarters and virtually all of its Japan operations in Aichi and other car and truck manufacturers are either headquartered or have plant facilities in the region. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries, along with other aerospace companies, are located in or near Nagoya.

Other industries, ranging from machine tools to fine ceramics, are located here and form part of the Chubu Region's vast economic base. Some of this manufacturing output is exported out of the Port of Nagoya, the busiest in export volume of all of the country's ports. Nagoya Bay is large enough to accommodate some of the world's largest ships; every year, about 38,000 ships enter the bay to dock at Nagoya's port. In 1999, foreign trade volume in and out of all of the regional air and maritime ports was almost $142 billion.

Nagoya and its residents have long been associated with commerce and merchandising. Located along the historical transportation routes between eastern and western Japan (e.g., between Edo, or Tokyo, and Osaka), the town prospered from its trade with both regions. Among the important early regional industries were textiles, steel-making, and ceramics, traditional economic activities whose imprint is still evident today. The first of Japan's Tokugawa shoguns, Tokugawa leyasu (who was from the area of Nagoya), recognized the town's strategic importance in the early 17th century and built an imposing castle in its center. Ruled over first by one of his sons and then by other Tokugawa successors, Nagoya grew both in economic and political importance during the long, and virtually warfare-free, Tokugawa era. Over time, the city and the surrounding area became the commercial and industrial hub that it remains today. The castle built by the shogun, leveled along with the rest of the city during World War II, was rebuilt and remains the premier landmark in and symbol of the city.

Regional civic and business leaders are pushing ahead with several large scale 21st century projects in and around Nagoya. Already in place is a giant new commercial development, JR Central Towers, which opened in downtown Nagoya over the city's main train terminal in March 2000. The year 2005 looms large both as the deadline for completion of the new Central Japan International Airport and as the year the region will host the 2005 World Exposition. The airport is a $7.2 billion project to be built on landfill in Ise Bay about 35 kilometers south of Nagoya. Plans for the World Exposition (EXPO 2005) have been scaled back from the original conception but the project is still an enormous undertaking with a projected investment of about $1.4 billion by the Japanese government, local governments, and the private sector. The estimated number of visitors to the March through September EXPO is upwards of 18 million. The EXPO, which will have an environment based theme, will be held on existing parkland near a forested area adjacent to Nagoya. There are also several huge highway and railway construction projects planned for the region. The most heavily trafficked highways between Nagoya and Tokyo (the "Tomei") and between Nagoya and Osaka (the "Meishin") both have new partner routes planned for construction early in this century. In addition, Nagoya-based Central Japan Railways is going ahead with development of the " Linear Chuo Shinkansen," a futuristic "maglev" (magnetic levitation) train that could run at speeds as high as 500 kilometers per hour, connecting Tokyo and Nagoya in 40 minutes.

Utilities

Electricity in Nagoya is 100v, 60 cycles, so many U.S.-made electric appliances can be used without adjustment. However, televisions, radios, VCRs, and clocks intended for use in the U.S. will not work well in this area because of frequency and/or timing problems. A VCR, for instance, might work for playback only but not record well because the timing would be askew. Electric sockets are compatible with regular two-prong, U.S. plugs, but three-prong sockets with grounding are rare.

Food and Clothing

Shopping for groceries and other goods in Japan follows a simple rule of thumb: you can get most anything you want if you are willing to pay for it.

Nagoya, like all large Japanese cities, has world-class department stores, specialty food shops selling an ample selection of imported goods, wine and liquor stores, and fashionable boutiques. Those are all predictably expensive. But Nagoya also offers less costly shops that may be in less convenient locations or provide a somewhat lower standard of packaging or presentation but still offer high-quality goods. Also, large, lower-cost, high-volume retailers, American stores among them, are increasingly in evidence in the Nagoya area and these firms are adding to the variety of goods sold and increasing price competition.

Recreation & Entertainment

Nagoya provides an especially strong encounter with the Japanese and their way of life. Contacts in and around Nagoya are less likely to speak English, so Japanese language skills are going to be tested every day. Local and regional news, whether on television or radio or in the regional newspaper, is going to be in Japanese, further testing language skills.

Among the best features of life in Nagoya are the city's own cultural attractions, its location in the midst of some of Japan's greatest historic sites, and its natural setting with both seacoast and mountains nearby. Few of the ancient temples and shrines that once dotted the city exist any longer but those that do, such as Atsuta Shrine, are well worth a visit.

Tokugawa leyasu, who had such an important role in the city's history and his descendants are featured in the Tokugawa Museum, a splendid collection of weapons, armor, artworks, and other artifacts from that era in Japanese history. Tokugawa's castle, restored in the 1950s, is a great structure that visitors can enter and explore inside. The Nagoya Boston Museum has an impressive collection of treasures from ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome along with more modern works of art on display; the works are on long-term loan from the Boston Museum.

The new Aichi Performing Arts Center is a huge complex with a concert hall, theaters, and museum space. The city also has numerous parks, among which is Higashiyama Koen, with a beautiful Japanese garden as well as a great zoo.

Using Nagoya as a base, some of Japan's greatest historic sites are within easy reach. Kyoto, for instance, is about an hour and a half away by car and 45 minutes away by train, a fairly easy day trip. Ise Shrine in Mie Prefecture, among the best-known and most beautiful of Japan's shrines, can also be reached in less than 2 hours. Takayama in Gifu Prefecture, where an ancient part of city remains intact and where traditional Japanese craft-making is still preserved, is probably too far for a day trip but can easily be visited in a weekend. There are also old post towns set in the mountains that are around Nagoya to the north and west. The mountains are an attraction themselves; some of Japan's tallest peaks are not far from Nagoya, making hiking and skiing easy to do for those posted here. If you want to ski, bring your boots, clothes, and other equipment; there are plenty of ski slopes in the nearby mountains.

Nagoya has a well-deserved reputation for being very hot and humid in the summer. Winters are cool to cold, but are milder with each passing year. These days it snows only rarely, perhaps one snowfall in Nagoya itself each winter.

Education

Nagoya's only English-speaking school is the Nagoya International School (NIS), which offers a U.S.-based education program. The school has over 300 students in kindergarten through grade 12 college preparatory curriculum. The post educational allowance covers tuition and some other educational expenses. NIS is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. A large proportion of the faculty has advanced degrees. Facilities dating back from the later 60s and early 70s are well-maintained. A new gymnasium and arts center was dedicated in 1999. The school's location is about 30 minutes from the eastern part of the city where the principal officer lives and about 45 minutes from the more central area where the two other American officers have their homes. Both areas are served by buses operated by the school. The principal officer serves as a member of the Board of Trustees.

Special Information

Nagoya has a number of quality hospitals with English-speaking personnel. There are a number of U.S.-trained doctors and dentists who are well-acquainted with the Consulate and its staff and are very helpful. There are also English speaking druggists.

Hiroshima

Hiroshima is in the center of the National Park Inland Sea of Seto and is the largest city of West Honshū. As the target of the first atomic bomb on August 6, 1945, Hiroshima is known throughout the world. Ninety percent of the city was destroyed that day, and the estimated loss of life is as high as 200,000.

Hiroshima was rebuilt in the post-war years. Peace Memorial Park, with the Cenotaph, Atomic Dome, and Peace Memorial Museum, draws thousands of visitors annually; the park was created in a section of the city which had been gutted by the atomic explosion. Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima Island, one of the three most scenic views in Japan, is 14 miles west of Hiroshima.

Prominent among local enterprises are the automotive industry, represented by Toyo Kogyo K.K., Japan's third largest car manufacturer; and the shipbuilding companies of Mitsubishi Heavy Industry, Ltd., and Hitachi Engineering Co., Ltd.

The current population of Hiroshima is over one million.

Education

Hiroshima International School, located in a suburban/rural area, offers coeducational classes for kindergarten through grade eight. The school was organized in 1962 by business people, missionaries, and families attached to the Hiroshima Radiation Effects Research Foundation (U.S.-sponsored).

International's curriculum is based on U.S. and British educational systems; all students receive instruction in Japanese, and other languages are also taught (including English as a foreign language).

Fukuoka

Fukuoka City, capital of Fukuoka Prefecture, is the cultural, economic, and educational center of Kyushu Island with a population of 1.3 million people. The city is the heart of the region's $410 billion economy, which is larger than that of Australia and almost equal that of South Korea. The Island encompasses 10% of Japan's GNP and the region represents Japan's fourth economic center behind the Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya region. In addition, the region boasts an economic growth rate above the national average and increasing integration into the regional Asian economy. Already known as Japan's "Silicon Island" because of the semiconductor industry that accounts for over 30% of Japan's total chip output, Kyushu is also developing into a major car-manufacturing center. It will soon produce 10% of Japan's car output, based on roboticized state-of-the-art auto technology.

Fukuoka City also is the heart of the Island's dynamic hi-tech research and development, which is noted as a leading world center for research in advanced computer chips, nuclear fusion, and robotics. With its long tradition of openness to the outside world and receptivity to foreign ideas and products, Fukuoka City has developed into Japan's test market for fashion design and new products.

Culturally and politically, Fukuoka has led Kyushu's advancement in promoting some of the nation's most active sister-city programs and Japan-America Society activities. Fukuoka City's universities are highly active in expanding student and cultural exchanges, particularly with Asia. In addition, Fukuoka City's leading officials are exploring ways in which the City, region, and people may play a more constructive role in the development of the Asian-Pacific Region.

In this context, the Kyushu region is known as the "Gateway to Asia," maintaining close economic, cultural, and political ties with Japan's Asian neighbors. Fukuoka City has established the Asian Cultural Awards to honor contributions to the understanding of Asian culture and thought by both Western and Asian scholars. It has also initiated an Asian-Pacific Mayors summit to encourage networking by local leaders in order to work cooperatively in developing solutions to common problems. The City has also established regular meetings with counterparts in Korea to promote understanding and cooperation. Reflecting Fukuoka City's increasing prominence in Asia, Asia Week, a weekly magazine published in Hong Kong named Fukuoka City the "Most Livable City in Asia" for the second time in 1999. Fukuoka also hosted the G-8 Finance ministers meeting in July 8, 2000, prior to the Kyushu-Okinawa Summit of G-8 meeting in Okinawa on July 21-23. The city hopes to become an important international economic, cultural, and political center in the future.

Few regions in Japan can match Kyushu's historic consciousness, and fewer yet have the deep sense of self identity and pride seen in the people of Kyushu. According to tradition, it is here that the Sun Goddess Amaterasu descended from heaven to establish the nation of Japan, and it is here where Japan's first emperor was born. Kyushu led Japan out of feudalism in 1868, and its local heroes have played major roles in shaping modern Japan.

The consular district-which contains over 15 million people comprises the seven prefectures of Kyushu Island and Yamaguchi Prefecture on the main island of Honshu. Other major cities in the district include Kitakyushu, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Oita, and Kagoshima.

Two key US. military facilities, Sasebo Naval Base and the Marine Corps Air Station at Iwakuni, are located in the consular district. The foreign missions are also established in Fukuoka and the Kyushu region.

Utilities and Equipment

Electricity in Fukuoka is 100v, 60 cycles; AC (different from Tokyo's 50 cycles), so most U.S.-made electric appliances can generally be used without difficulty. Overseas calling services are available, and are considerably cheaper than the Japanese long-distance carrier.

There are a number of FM radio stations in Fukuoka. These stations broadcast at a different frequency than those in the U.S., however, so a radio capable of receiving the Japanese FM band is required. Similarly, regional television channels broadcast at a different frequency.

Newer televisions allow automatic programming of channels. English on the sub-channel, including news programs. Cable TV is available at commercial rates at post. Video rental stores (VHS) are common in Fukuoka, but selection varies.

Food

American-type foods are available locally, and health and food product safety standards are comparable to those in the U.S. Fresh meat, seafood, fruits, and vegetables, as well as staples, packaged foods, and coffee are sold in Japanese markets, although at higher prices than in the U.S. Beef prices are exceptionally high by American standards.

Baby food is available but difficult to find on the local economy. Good quality milk, butter, and margarine are available locally. A selection of cheeses from Europe, the U.S. and New Zealand are sold at Japanese outlets at higher than U.S. prices. Fruits and vegetables are more expensive than those in the U.S.; however, they are also fresher.

Clothing

As with other major cities in Japan, current American and European fashions are available at the larger department stores but at higher prices (for name labels, two to three times the U.S. price is the norm). Also, finding U.S. sizes is often a problem. Military exchanges offer some relief, but stocks are limited and trips to the bases are expensive and time consuming. Mail-order catalogs are a commonly used source of clothing.

Fukuoka's winters are usually mild (it usually snows one or two days per year) although the proximity to the Korean Peninsula occasionally results in a sudden cold snap. Summers in Fukuoka are similar to those in Washington, hot and humid. Bring a four-season wardrobe. As with the rest of Japan, residents of Fukuoka dress conservatively.

Supplies and Services

Toiletries, cosmetics, tobacco products, commonly used home medical supplies, and virtually all household supplies can be found in Japanese shops but at high prices. Cribs, playpens, strollers, diapers, and other products for babies are available but, again, are expensive locally.

Local shoe repair, dry cleaning, laundry, barbers and beauty shops are more expensive than in the US. Dealers representing the major U.S. automobile manufacturers have offices in Fukuoka. Nevertheless, parts for American and other foreign autos are expensive and harder to find. In terms of servicing and size, most employees choose to purchase a used Japanese car, which can be purchased at post.

Domestic Help

Cost of a full-time servant, including food and transportation, is about Y175,000 per month. Part-time domestic help costs Y10,000 daily, including transportation. It is also customary to pay semi-annual bonuses (June and December), that usually amount to a month's pay each time.

Religious Activities

Roman Catholic, Latter-day Saints, and Protestant churches (including Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, and Episcopal) in the city hold services in Japanese to which Americans are welcome. English-language Protestant and Roman Catholic services are also available. Fukuoka does not have a Jewish congregation.

Education

Founded in 1972, the Fukuoka International School (FIS) is a private, coeducational day and boarding school that offers an educational program from pre-kindergarten through grade 12 for English-speaking students of all nationalities. The school year comprises two semesters extending approximately from September 1 to June 18.

A Board of Directors and Board of Trustees govern the school. The school is a member of the Japan Council of Overseas Schools and the East Asia Regional Council of Overseas Schools. A basic college preparatory U.S. curriculum is updated regularly to keep it current with trends in the U.S. as well as in other international schools in Japan. The curriculum includes English as a Second Language (ESL) program, Japanese-language classes, and computer classes. FIS is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. The 2000-2001 school year consists of i headmaster, 18 full-time and 9 part-time staff members, including 11 American citizens, 8 host-country nationals, and 5 third-country nationals. Enrollment at the beginning of the 2000-2001 school year was 173 students. Korean, American, and Japanese are the largest nationalities represented at the international school, but British, Australian, Canadian and other nationals also are part of a very culturally diverse student community.

A new two-story physical plant with a gymnasium was constructed in 1990/91. A dormitory was built in the 1994/95 school year. The current facility consists of 11 classrooms, a science lab, a music room, a language laboratory, physics, science and computer rooms, an art room, an office, principal's room, a kitchen, a student lounge, and a 5,100 volume library. The dormitory provides rooms for 24 live-in students.

In the 2000-2001 school year, nearly all of the school's income was derived from regular day school tuition and registration fees. Annual tuition rates were as follows: pre-kindergarten: $8,341; kindergarten-grade 6: $9,082; grades 7-8: $9,916; and grades 9-12: $10,658. There is a one-time registration fee of $1,853 and annual facility fee, $463. Unless special arrangements are made with the school's treasurer, tuition is payable at the beginning of each semester. (All fees are quoted in U.S. dollars-107_/$1.) Local business and government support for the Fukuoka International School is strong.

Fukuoka International School 18-50, Momochi 3-comme, Sawara-ku, Fukuoka, Japan 814-0006 Tel: 81-92-841-7601. Fax: 81-92-841-7602

Sports

For the avid jogger/runner there is Ohori Park, modeled after China's famed West Lake in Hangzhou. Ohori Park has a specially paved two-kilometer jogging path along with bicycle and walking paths along the scenic lake. Rowboats are available for rental on the lake from spring to autumn. There are numerous road races and marathons held year around in Fukuoka and Kyushu. The October Fukuoka City Marathon attracts a large number of participants of all ages from the region.

Bowling is popular in Fukuoka along with ice and in-line skating. Swimming is also a popular pastime, with numerous facilities around the city. Swimming lessons for children and adults are offered year around at reasonable prices at facilities. There is also a man-made beach facing Hakata Harbor. Hikers enjoy the trails at the Citizen's Forest.

A full range of sports activities is offered in Fukuoka, particularly in the martial arts. The "budokan," or sports center, offers kendo, judo, laido, karate, and other types of Asian martial arts courses.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

Kyushu is noted as Japan's leading center for porcelain and ceramic production. Imari and Arita, in nearby Saga Prefecture, are home to Japan's most famous porcelain makers Imaemon and Kakiemon.

There are numerous pottery areas and antique shops in and around Fukuoka City. The region also is noted for its historic and scenic spots. Fukuoka City has numerous excavation sites such as Korokan, an ancient site underscoring Fukuoka's historic importance as a major trading center for the region. Nagasaki City is a well-known tourist destination, noted for its historic setting and tragic wartime experience. Kyushu is also famous for its "onsen," or hot spring. Yufuin and Beppu in neighboring Oita Prefecture, as well as Kumamoto and Kagoshima, are popular destinations. Hiking is another popular activity in the region.

The Fukuoka Dome, Japan's largest retractable sports stadium, hosts international concerts, sports programs, and trade promotional events. The Daiei Hawks professional baseball team plays at the Dome. Fukuoka City is the center for the arts as well as shopping, Nagasaki hosts the Huis Ten Bosch Dutch theme park, Miyazaki has the world's largest indoor swimming complex, and Kitakyushu has the Space-World Amusement Park. All locations are accessible by train or car.

Entertainment

Fukuoka City hosts the spectacular annual Dontaku (May) and Yamakasa (July) festivals, which attract national attention. "Yatai" or outdoor food vendors, are also popular, serving a variety of local cuisine, including "Hakata ramen" noodles.

Current American films in English with Japanese subtitles attract large audiences. In April 1996, AMC opened a 13-theater complex in the new Canal City Hakata mall complex in downtown Fukuoka. Fukuoka is now a major stopping area for internationally known performers, since the opening of several large entertainment facilities. Jazz, country and western, western, and Japanese classical music concerts are popular in Fukuoka. Kumamoto hosts a major Country and Western music concert each October, "Country Gold," which attracts famous performers from the U.S. and Japan. In Fukuoka, there are also restaurants such as the Blue Note which feature live jazz and popular music. The November Sumo wrestling tournament also adds to Fukuoka's visibility and appeal.

Fukuoka has a wide range of excellent Japanese and Western restaurants. Although more expensive than those restaurants in the U.S., the quality is high.

Social Activities

Opportunities for meeting Japanese from all walks of life are virtually unlimited. Fukuoka's residents are noted in Japan as being friendly and hospitable to guests. Although growing, the foreign community is small, and a minimal knowledge of Japanese is essential.

Sapporo

Sapporo is a modern city of 1.8 million people and the capital of Hokkaido, the northernmost major island of Japan. The city is the governmental and commercial center of Hokkaido, which is the size of Austria and has a population a bit larger than that of Finland or Denmark (5.7 million).

Sapporo is renowned for its winter events and sports facilities. The city has hosted the Winter Olympics (1972), many other world-class skiing events, and holds the world's largest Snow Festival each year in February.

Within easy driving of the city are breathtaking volcanic lakes and gorges, white water rivers, mountains dressed with cedar, pine, birch, and aspen, and spectacular views of both the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Japan.

Sapporo is located in a snow belt and has a "subarctic" climate. But, despite over 20 feet of snow each year, winter temperatures are moderate, seldom dropping below 20° at night and staying just below freezing during the day. Spring is short but pleasant and summer is delightful, with temperatures in the 70s-15 to 20 degrees cooler than in Tokyo or Osaka.

The special attachment the people of Hokkaido have for Americans is unique. In the early 1870s when the Japanese Government began a crash program to develop Hokkaido, Japanese officials called on President Grant for advice. Grant responded by recommending his own Secretary of Agriculture, Horace Capron, as a candidate to-organize a group of American and foreign experts to assist in the opening Hokkaido. After accepting the Japanese offer, Capron left his post in the U.S. and worked for the Government of Japan for 5 years as a senior advisor in charge of developing Hokkaido. The American educators, engineers, and agricultural experts who joined Capron are remembered fondly in Hokkaido even today; and are honored with statues and museums in and around Sapporo.

Utilities

The electric current in Sapporo is 100v, 50-cycle, AC. Except for appliances with synchronous motors, such as electric clocks, phonographs, and tape recorders, standard American electrical appliances run well. Cable and satellite television are available for a reasonable monthly fee.

Food

You can get most foods, including delicious Hokkaido crab and other seafood delicacies, on the open market. Department stores, supermarkets, and specialty food shops sell a variety of foodstuffs; however, most food prices in the local markets are considerably higher than they are in Washington, D.C.

Clothing

Bring an adequate supply of clothing. Though department stores carry a variety of clothing and shoes, sizes are limited, and prices are very high. Local tailors and dressmakers are good but extremely expensive. Fashion for men is fairly conservative, i.e., dark suits for business.

In the long winters here, lined, knee-high snow boots, warm gloves, caps and warm winter clothing, including snow suits for children, are necessities. If you plan to ski, snowboard, or skate, bringing the necessary equipment from the U.S. could cut costs by more than 50%.

Supplies and Services

Sapporo has nearly every kind of specialty shop and repair facility. Barbers and beauticians are adequate. Drycleaning is available though somewhat more expensive than in the U.S. Local auto mechanics are competent, but parts for foreign-made cars must be specially ordered and are expensive.

Domestic Help

Live-in domestic help is almost impossible to find and very expensive. Hourly maid services are available. A cook and a maid staff the consul general's home.

Religious Activities

Sapporo has Catholic and Protestant churches and Baha'i and Islamic communities. Some services and activities are conducted in English. There is no synagogue, but a small group of Jewish residents gather to celebrate Passover and other observances.

Education

The Hokkaido International School is the only English-language school in Sapporo and offers courses from kindergarten through grade 12, with a student population of about 170 children. Though small, the school has improved considerably since moving into an impressive new building built with the aid of the Hokkaido Government in 1995. HIS is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Recent graduates have been accepted by such universities as Cornell and the University of Virginia.

Sports

Hokkaido is a sports fan's paradise. In the winter one can ski, ice skate, and cross-country ski; in the summer one can play golf (very expensive compared to the U.S.) and tennis, hike, camp, boat, and swim (both in summer and in winter at indoor public pools near the Consulate General and at various resorts). Hunting for bear, deer, pheasant, duck, and rabbit is available. However, obtaining a hunting license is a difficult and complicated procedure.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

Jozankei, a hot-spring resort, lies on the banks of a swiftly flowing stream in a beautiful valley, 17 miles southwest of Sapporo. Jozankei has many large hotels, some with Western-style accommodations. Noboribetsu hot springs is about 80 miles southeast of Sapporo. Its outstanding feature is a valley filled with sulfur pools known as the Valley of Hell.

The Ainu Village at Shiraoi, about 1 hour south of Noboribetsu, is one of the few places in Hokkaido where you can see an exhibition of Ainu customs and culture.

Lake Toya and Lake Shikotsu were formed by ancient volcanic eruptions. Both offer pleasant mountain scenery and opportunities for hiking and boating. They are 2-3 hours' drive from Sapporo. For a long weekend or holiday, Akan National Park in the eastern part of the island offers the famous lakes of Akan, Kutcharo, and Mashu as well as pleasant drives through beautiful mountain and forest scenery. Sounkyo Gorge, about a 5-hour drive from Sapporo, is also famous for its scenery.

Entertainment

Sapporo is a modern city with excellent restaurants, first-class hotels serving international cuisine, modern theaters featuring American movies in English with Japanese subtitles, a zoo, a municipal symphony orchestra, a modern art museum, and well-stocked department stores.

Social Activities

Hokkaido has a small but growing American business community. There is an American missionary community and the number of American English teachers in Hokkaido is increasing. Aside from these groups, social activities among Americans are limited.

Social and recreational opportunities here for a foreigner not willing to plunge into the Japanese culture and language are much more limited than in cosmopolitan cities with larger foreign communities.

Only a limited number of Sapporo citizens can carry on a conversation in English, but many people are eager to befriend foreigners. A basic speaking knowledge of Japanese is essential in broadening friendships

Nagasaki

Nagasaki, capital of the eponymous and westernmost prefecture of the Japanese archipelago, faces China across the China Sea. One of Japan's most prosperous commercial cities, it also is the site of early Christianity in the country. The Jesuit, St. Francis Xavier, arrived in Nagasaki in 1549 bearing Christianity.

Nagasaki was insignificant until 1571, when Portuguese traders first arrived, and thereafter became a port of call not only for Portuguese ships, but for Spanish and Dutch as well. The city was the only port of contact kept open to the outside world between the mid-17th and mid-19th centuries, the long interval when Japan enforced its isolationist policy.

Chinese temples and Western structures are among the many historical sites in Nagasaki. On Dejima (Deshima), an artificial island, is a scale model of the quarters where representatives of the Dutch East India Company once lived. In the central city is the authentically reconstructed Uragami Cathedral, built by a French missionary with help from Japanese Christiansit was totally destroyed in the second atomic bombing of August 9, 1945, which leveled one-third of the city and killed an estimated 40,000 people; nearly as many more were critically injured. Peace Park and the Statue of Peace, at the core site of the bombing, are memorials to that devastation.

Nagasaki today is a center of shipbuilding, fishing, and coal mining industries, as well as the heart of a large agricultural area. It has grown considerably as a tourist attraction, and boasts Japan's first seaborne airport, built in 1975. The city was used as a setting for the novel by John Luther Long which later became the Puccini opera, Madame Butterfly.

The current population of Nagasaki is approximately 442,000.

OTHER CITIES

CHIBA , the seat of Chiba Prefecture, is situated on the eastern shore of Tokyo Bay. Once a poor fishing village, it is now a prosperous commercial city of 887,000 residents. Large-scale industry and the opening of major railway lines have contributed heavily toward the development of the city, which is now the 13th largest in Japan. Chiba dates to 1126; it evolved around a castle built by a local warlord but, when the castle burned two centuries later, the clan collapsed and the community was all but deserted. It was only after the Meiji Restoration of the mid-19th century that Chiba again began to achieve significance.

The city of GIFU is located 19 miles north of Nagoya in central Honshū. It lies on the edge of the Nobi Plain at the foot of the Japan Alps. Situated in a region that once had 516 earthquakes in one year, not many of this ancient city's old buildings survived the 1891 earthquake. The fertile farmland on the Nobi Plain enables residents to grow rice and vegetables. Gifu is noted for its paper products which include fans, umbrellas, and lanterns. It also manufactures cutlery and textiles. Tourists in Gifu enjoy boating on the Nagara River in the evening to see the cormorant (aquatic birds) fishing. The use of tame cormorants to catch fish is an old technique called ukai. The population of Gifu is 407,000.

HAMAMATSU , with a current population of 582,000, is situated in southern Honshū, about 56 miles southeast of Nagoya and 145 miles southwest of Tokyo. Historically an old castle town, Hamamatsu today is an industrial city whose chief products include musical instruments, motorcycles, compact automobiles, tea, and textiles. Allied forces bombed the city in May and June 1945.

HIMEJI is located on Honshū Island, 50 miles west of Ōsaka. It is a commercial city whose old craft industries produce leather, toys, and dolls. Since World War II, Himeji has acquired new integrated iron and steel works, a large petro-chemical complex, and heavy engineering plants. The city, whose population exceeds 453,000 is one of the many towns built by Japan's feudal lords. Japan's most spectacular castle is located here; it commands a view of the city from a hill. Completed in the early 17th century, it is called "Egret Castle" because of its resemblance to the white bird and has been the site of many Japanese samurai movies.

KAGOSHIMA is a seaport city situated in a well-protected harbor on the southern coast of Kyūshū. Historically important as a castle town, Kagoshima was the site where the first Christian missionary, St. Francis Xavier, landed in 1549. The city was bombarded by British warships in 1863, destroyed by fire in 1877, damaged by a volcano eruption in 1914, and severely bombed by Allied forces during World War II from June through August 1945. Today, Kagoshima is an important port, the site of a naval yard, and since 1961, the home of a major Japanese rocket base. The center for the manufacture of Satsuma porcelain ware, Kagoshima also produces silk and cotton clothing, wood products, and tinware. There are two universities in Kagoshima; the city has a current population of 552,000.

KANAZAWA is situated near the coast of west-central Honshū, about 80 miles north of Gifu. A historic city, Kanazawa became an industrial and cultural headquarters after 1580. Its power deteriorated with the decline of feudal political units in 1871 and the growth of modern industry on the opposite coast of Honshū. Kanazawa is best known for manufacturing Kutani porcelain and Kaga silk. Recently added products include textiles and textile machinery. The present city, with a population of about 428,000, was built around the Maeda Castle, which was destroyed in 1881 by fire. Kanazawa is home to the country's renowned landscape garden, Kenrokuen. The sacred Hakusan Mountain of five peaks can be seen and easily reached from here.

KAWASAKI , with a population of 1.2 million, is one of the nation's 10 largest cities. Lying on the west coast of Tokyo Bay, it is a major industrial center surrounded by an extensive farming area. The city was severely damaged during World War II. Kawasaki is the site of a renowned temple called Kawasaki Daishi, and of an exhibit garden of typical Japanese folk housesboth spots are widely visited by tourists.

KITA-KYŪSHŪ is another city with more than one million residents. It was formed in 1963 by the amalgamation of the five northern Kyūshū cities in Fukuoka Prefecture. It is the center of the prefecture's production, and is one of the cities which has grown dramatically with Japan's development as a major industrial nation. Among Kita-Kyūshū's many and diverse industries are shipbuilding; coal shipping; iron, steel, glass, and chemical factories; fishing; and the production of specialized textiles. A well-known technical institute is located here. International School Kita-Kyūshū, coeducational day school, was founded in 1990. Serving students pre-kindergarten through grade eight, the enrollment is 13. A U.S. curriculum is followed; both English and Japanese are used for instruction. The address is Yahata Higashi-ku Takami 2-chome Shinnittetsu Shijo Kaikan, Kita-Kyūshū.

KUMAGAYA , with a population over 150,000, lies on the Ara River, about 40 miles northwest of Tokyo in central Japan. Many of its residents work in Tokyo even though Kumagaya is a commercially vibrant city. While silk reeling was the traditional industry, heavy industries have been established here today.

An important 17th-century castle town, KUMAMOTO today is a market center for the surrounding agricultural region. It is situated on the west coast of Kyūshū on an extensive plain near the Shira River. The city was founded in the 16th century at the site where a magnificent castle was built, and became a stronghold during feudal times. Although it was partially destroyed in 1877, the remains of the castle are still visited by tourists. Pilgrims are attracted to Kumamoto's Buddhist temple as well as the city's several shrines. Industries in the city include food processing, textiles, and chemicals. Kumamoto has two universities and a current population of 662,000.

KURASHIKI , with 417,000 residents, is located 10 miles west of Okayamaso close that the two cities blend into one population center. Kurashiki was a rice-trading center in the Edo period (1603-1867), and many of the warehouses used then for storage line the streets of the modern city. Textile manufacturing is the main industry today. Among Kurashiki's cultural facilities are Ohara Museum, with a fine collection of Western art; a folk-craft museum, built from old rice warehouses, and containing exhibits of pottery, woodwork, Japanese papers, and rush mats; and archaeological and historical museums.

MIYAZAKI , with a population of 287,000, is located on the Hyuga Sea in southeast Kyūshū, 150 miles southeast of Fukuoka. The Oyodo River traverses the city, and the nearby volcano, Sakurajima, occasionally spews its ash. Inhabited for nearly 8,000 years, the city has managed to retain some of the elements from its past. There is virtually no heavy industry in Miyazaki; the resultant clean air, along with secluded parks, tree-lined boulevards, and an accessible riverfront have made the city a popular tourist and resort center. Miyazaki is the site of the great Shinto shrineMiyazaki-jingudedicated to Japan's first emperor, Jimmu; the shrine also houses an archaeological museum. Ageless Japanese traditions may be found throughout the city. At the Miyazaki Cultural Center, the fine arts of calligraphy, koto music, tea preparation, and flower arrangement are taught by masters. Several summer festivals are held each year in Miyazaki. The city accessible by all forms of transportation. A runway expansion at Miyazaki Airport is expected to handle some diversions from the Tokyo and Ōsaka airports. A university was founded here in 1949.

Situated in west-central Honshū, the major seaport of NIIGATA lies on the estuary of the Shinano River, about 30 miles north of Nagaoka. Divided into two sections by the river, the city has an industrial side and a residential side which features shopping areas and Niigata University. Niigata was established by the Nagaoka clan as an outpost in 1616. It became the capital of Niigata Prefecture in 1870. The city has a population of over 500,000.

Located on the island of Honshū, NISHINOMIYA has a population of approximately 413,500. It is situated between Kōbe and Amagasaki on Ōsaka Bay. The city is known for its manufacture of saki, an alcoholic beverage of fermented rice usually served hot. Kōbe Women's College is located here.

OKAYAMA is a seaport city of 627,000 and capital of Okayama Prefecture on western Honshū. It developed from a jokamachi, or castle town, founded in 1573, and is now a market hub in an area that is devoted to large-scale mechanized farming. One of Japan's most beautiful parks, Okayama Korakuen, lies nearby on an island in the Asahikawa River. The park, and a popular youth festival held at the Saidaiji Temple in the city each February, are major attractions in Okayama.

SAKAI is a satellite city on Ōsaka Bay in west-central Honshū. It developed mainly after World War II, and now stands 14th on the list
of Japan's large cities, with a population exceeding 800,000. It is a center of industrial importance, producing machinery, automobile parts, and chemicals. In the 16th century, Sakai was a leading port, or minatomachi.

SENDAI , the Mori-no-miyako, or city of trees, is located in Mayagi Prefecture of northern Honshū, about 180 miles north of Tokyo. It is a center for branch offices of many government agencies and major corporations. The largest city in the Tohoku district, it has a population over 1 million, and is the site of Tohoku University; several technical schools also are located here. The Japanese National Railways and other rail lines converge in the city. Sendai is known for Sendaihira silk, and also for the production of beautiful Sendai cabinets and other wood products. The famous Tanabata festival is held here in early August. Close to the city is a hot-spring resort called Aiku Spa.

UTSUNOMIYA is the capital of Tochigi Prefecture, situated about 60 miles north of Tokyo. Previously, it was called Ikebenogo; once the road leading to northeastern Japan was opened, it was also known as Otabashi Station. About 1059 it was named Utsunomiya. A processing center for the grain and tobacco grown in the region, Utsunomiya also manufactures knit goods, wood products, and paper. The ruins of Utsunomiya Castle may be seen on the south side of the city. Utsunomiya has a population of over 425,000 and is home to Utsunomiya University.

Located in Kanagawa Prefecture, on Honshū Island, at the southwest end of Tokyo Bay, YOKOSUKA is about 20 miles south of Yokohama and 40 miles south of the capital. In 1868 the city became an important naval base. Its only major industry is shipbuilding. Yokosuka developed into a city by 1907 and slowly expanded into the nearby towns and villages. Japan's first modern lighthouse is located at Cape Kannon, which is east of the naval base. There are a few small fishing villages along the nearby coast. The city has a population of more than 450,000.

COUNTRY PROFILE

Geography and Climate

Japan, a country of islands, extends along the eastern or Pacific coast of Asia. The main islands, running from north to south, are Hokkaido, Honshu or the mainland Shikoku, Kyushu, and Okinawa, which 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 71% of the country is mountainous, with a chain running through each of the main islands. Japan's highest mountain is world famous Mt. Fuji (12,385 feet). Since so little flat area exists, many hills and mountainsides are cultivated all the way to the top. Situated as it is in a volcanic zone along the Pacific deeps, frequent low intensity earth tremors and occasional volcanic activity are felt throughout the islands. Hot springs are numerous; some have been developed as resorts.

Temperature extremes are fewer than in the U.S. 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. Sapporo, on the northern island, has warm summers and long, cold winters with heavy snowfall. Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka, and Kobe, on the southern part 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, D.C. with mild winters and short summers. Okinawa is subtropical.

Spring, with its profusion of cherry blossoms and other flowering trees and shrubs, and autumn, with its gold and flaming red trees and lovely fall flowers, are the most pleasant seasons. The hot, humid summers are difficult in the cities, but the sandy beaches along the coast and the many fine mountain resorts provide pleasant relief. The rather mild and dry winters are not as severe as the U.S. East Coast; it rarely snows or rains in the Tokyo area at this time of year. The climate causes no more of a problem with mildew, mold, moths, mosquitoes, or other pests than is experienced in Washington, D.C.

Population

Japan's population, currently some 125 million, has experienced a phenomenal growth rate during the past 100 years as a result of scientific, industrial, and sociological changes. High sanitary and health standards produce a life expectancy exceeding that of the U.S.

The Japanese are a Mongoloid people, closely related to the major groups of East Asia. However, some evidence of a mixture with Malayan and Caucasoid strains is present. The latter is still represented in pure form by a very small group of Ainu in Hokkaido, the remains of the Caucasoid people who inhabited Japan in prehistoric times, and who perhaps formed a portion of a circumpolar culture extending across Siberia to European Russia.

The Japanese usually are described as group-oriented rather than individually oriented. Geography is the main reason for this group orientation. Many people confined in a small land area poorly endowed with natural resources traditionally work together for the good of the whole.

In premodern Japan the extended family or clan system provided security for the component families. Industrialization and urbanization broke up this type of family system, but the paternalistic tradition has continued through government social welfare agencies and, to a greater degree, through large companies that provide more fringe benefits than their Western counterparts.

The Japanese are always conscious of their uniqueness as a people. They are proud of their country, its great natural beauty, distinct culture, and the important role it plays in the modern world. Because the Japanese are polite and cautious in approaching social situations, they often impress foreigners as being shy and reserved, but beneath this they are always interested and curious to learn about foreign ideas and attitudes.

Japan's communication with the rest of the world, from commerce to the arts, has been hampered by a language barrier. Japanese is a difficult language with a complicated writing system. Relatively few non-Japanese are completely bilingual. Although English has been for many years the international language of Japan, and the study of English is compulsory in Japanese junior and senior high schools, the Japanese have as difficult a time with English as non-Japanese speakers do with Japanese. The average person can speak only a few words, and business representatives and government officials are constantly trying to improve their command of the language. Instruction in English conversation is in great demand, and it is a common experience for an American to be stopped on the street by someone who just wants to practice a few sentences of English.

Japan is an urban society with only about 7% 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 are heavily concentrated on the Pacific shore of Honshu and in northern Kyushu. Metropolitan Tokyo with approximately 14 million, Yokohama with 3.3 million, Osaka 2.6, Nagoya 2.1, Kyoto 1.5, Sapporo 1.6, Kobe 1.4, and Kitakyushu, Kawasaki, and Fukuoka with 1.2 million each account for part of this population. 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. 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. Although still important, it is a relatively inactive religious form today. Monasteries and temples, large and small, dot the landscape but usually play only subdued background role in the life of the community. Most funerals are conducted by Buddhist priests, and burial grounds attached to temples are used by both faiths.

Shintoism is founded on myths and legends emanating from the early animistic worship of natural phenomena. Since it was unconcerned with problems of afterlife that dominated 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, eventually seeking unity under a symbolic imperial rule. 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 after birth and on certain anniversary dates; special shrine days are celebrated for specific occasions, and numerous festivals are held throughout the year. Many homes have " god shelves" where offerings can be made to Shinto deities.

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 strain in Japanese thought and values.

Christianity, first introduced into Japan in 1549, was virtually stamped out a century later; it was reintroduced in the late 1800s and has spread slowly. Today, it has 1.4 million adherents, which includes a high percentage of important persons in education and public affairs.

Beyond these 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.

Public Institutions

Japan's parliamentary government constitutional monarchy-operates within the framework of a constitution that took effect on May 3, 1947. Sovereignty is vested in the Japanese people by constitutional definition, and the Emperor is the symbol of the state, "deriving his position from the will of the people with whom resides sovereign power."

Japan has universal adult suffrage with secret ballot for all elective offices, national and local. The government has an executive responsible to the legislature and an independent judiciary.

The seven major political parties represented in the National Diet are the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), the Clean Government Party (Komeito), the Liberal Party (LP), the Japan Communist Party (JCP), the Social Democratic Party (SDP), and the Conservative Party (CP).

Arts, Science, and Education

Japan's educational system is based on 6 years of elementary and 3 years of middle or junior high school. Schooling is compulsory and free. More than 97% of children finishing middle school go on for 3 years of upper or senior high school. Japan has over 1,174 universities, colleges, and junior colleges and over 3 million college students, making it second only to the U.S. in the proportion of its college-age population that are students. Nevertheless, the most prestigious Japanese universities can accept only a fraction of the applicants. About half of the Japanese university students study in the Tokyo area. Before senior high school and college, students must take extremely rigorous competitive entrance examinations. The most difficult college entrance examinations are for national universities like Tokyo and Kyoto.

Despite the difficulty of the written language, Japan has one of the world's highest literacy rates. It is a country of readers, ranking second only to the U.S. in book publishing. Japan's unique culture includes centuries-old graphic and performing arts.

Modern theater forms and modern graphic arts are very popular, and Japanese artists and designers are among the world's best. Institutions like Tokyo's National Theater continue to preserve and encourage traditional art forms. Flower arranging (ikebana), one of the unique cultural heritages, originated in the 1300s with the advent of the tea ceremony; today Japan has 3,000-4,000 ikebana schools with millions of followers. The tea ceremony (chanoyu), perfected in the 16th century, fascinates both participants and spectators by its simplicity and elegance, designed to create peace of mind in both the performer and the partaker. Kabuki, one of the most colorful forms of traditional Japanese entertainment, a bustling, exaggerated drama accompanied by music and song, and Noh, a form of Japanese court dance characterized by use of masks, are performed regularly in cities throughout Japan. Martial arts which include judo, karate, kendo, aikido, and Japanese long-bow archery draw on Zen philosophy and traditionally have as their objective the achievement of self-discipline and inner peace. Martial arts performances can be seen regularly in the leading cities.

Commerce and Industry

Japan's industrialized free market economy is the world's second largest, after the U.S. Together the two countries comprise over 30% of global output. Japan's economy provides the Japanese people with a high standard of living: per capita GDP in 1999 was $24,075.

With only one-sixth of its land arable, Japan produces roughly half of the food required for its population. Food self-sufficiency rates continue to fall, however, with the Agriculture Ministry predicting a rate of 40% by 2005. Fish is a staple of the Japanese diet, and Japan maintains one of the world's largest fishing fleets. It currently ranks third among the top fishing countries, accounting for almost 6% of global fishery production. Demand for imported food has increased yearly as Japanese dietary preferences change toward meat, bread, and dairy products. Japan imported over $47 billion in foodstuffs in 1997.

Japan's natural resources can supply only a fraction of the raw materials needed by industry. For example, Japan imports more than 80% of its primary energy supply. Foreign trade is therefore vital; reliable sources of raw materials and stable export markets are essential to continued economic prosperity. With close government-industry cooperation, a strong work ethic, and a mastery of high technology, Japan's industries have risen to become household names and world leaders in the production of autos, electronics, and machinery.

The U.S. is Japan's leading trade partner; Japan is our third largest foreign market, and the largest for U.S. agricultural products. Japan's exports to the U.S. are primarily motor vehicles, machinery, and electronic products. The bulk of U.S. exports to Japan are agricultural products, raw materials, and high-technology products, such as aircraft and computers.

Transportation

Automobiles

A personally owned vehicle is not absolutely essential in view of the excellent public transportation systems in Tokyo and throughout most of Japan.

All vehicles must be registered with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. To obtain registration, you must provide proof of ownership (factory invoice or bill of sale) and a valid insurance policy. Third-party insurance is compulsory. Premiums for third-party insurance differ by the age of owner and capacity of engine displacement and are currently Y60,340 for age 26 with 1,500 cc-2,500 cc.

Many people purchase a used car for use while in Japan since these vehicles are in good supply and available at relatively reasonable prices. Traffic moves on the left and most cars are right-hand drive. Gasoline costs more than in the U.S.

Japanese streets and roads are generally congested with cars, trucks, buses, motorbikes, and bicycles. Japanese cars are small by American standards but are advantageous in the narrow streets and limited parking areas. Driving is complicated by the fact that many road signs are written in Japanese kanji, and most Tokyo streets are not numbered or marked at all. Maps are essential for getting around in the city. Rental cars are available, but the charges are exorbitant.

Apply for a Japanese driver's license issued by the Public Safety Commission. In order to have your U.S. driver's license converted to a Japanese driver's license, you must appear in person at the licensing office and submit official documents to prove that you had been in the US. for a minimum of three full months during the time your U.S. driver's license was effective.

The Japanese driving licensing office will check the issuance date and expiration date on your US. driver's license and also check the issuance date, embarkation/disembarkation stamp dates, date of entry permit on your passport and compare the two. They will accept your application if it reflects that you have been in the U.S. for 3 months anytime your US. driver's license was effective.

If your U.S. driver's license was renewed recently, and you were not physically present for 3 months in the US. before your initial arrival date to Japan, you will be required to submit an original document issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles of the State where your license was issued that lists your previous driver's license records. The authorities will compare the DMV records with your passport entry/exit stamps and issuance date in an attempt to verify your physical presence in the U.S. for 3 months in total.

Necessary items to apply for a Japanese driver's license:

1. Japanese translation of your U.S. driver's license. 2. Diplomatic/official and tourist passport (s) or any official document that will certify that you have been in the U.S. for 3 months (e.g., expired passports, school records, letter from prior employer, copies of travel orders indicating a stateside tour.) 3. One photo (size must be 3 cm x 2.4 cm).

Yokohama: Most students, especially those bringing families to Yokohama, find it worthwhile to have a car for shopping trips and sightseeing on weekends. Others get by without a car, relying on travel by foot, bicycle, motorcycle, taxi, or the region's excellent public transportation network. Used cars are available fairly cheaply.

Roads are usually congested, and expressway tolls are high. Parking in downtown areas often costs around Y500 per hour, although shopping centers usually discount parking for customers who spend over a certain amount. Bus lines offer frequent service to downtown Yokohama and to the nearest train stations. The rail network offers extensive and efficient, though not cheap, service from Yokohama throughout the Kanto area.

Sapporo: Reasonably priced used cars are available in Sapporo. Four-wheel drive is useful, particularly outside the city in winter. Since Japanese drive on the left, right-hand drive cars make passing and turning hazardous.

Okinawa: The limitations of public transportation make a car essential on Okinawa. A small car is appropriate for the many narrow and congested roads. Compared to elsewhere in Japan, cars here tend to be less costly to maintain, and probably easier to sell on departure. Cars deteriorate rapidly on Okinawa due to the humid climate and salt air, and regular steam cleaning and undercoating are advised. Spare parts for many foreign cars, including some of the more popular American models, are limited and expensive. Good used cars can be purchased from departing American personnel or from local used car dealers. Financing and insurance are available from American firms here. Insurance rates are considerably higher than in the U.S.

Public buses are a clean, safe and reliable, though expensive option. Taxis are numerous and less expensive than in Tokyo.

New cars are readily available but not recommended. Although Okinawa has a Ford dealer, repairs and spare parts for U.S.-made cars, including American-made Japanese models, are difficult to obtain. Reliable used Japanese cars can be purchased for about $2,000-$3,000, but may be expected to require substantial upkeep and repair expenditures during a 3-year tour. The high humidity, heavy with salt from the ocean, and blowing coral dust are hard on metal, and cars rust quickly.

Local

The public transportation systems of Japan's major cities are among the most modern in Asia and include excellent trains, extensive subway systems, and buses. All cities have an abundance of taxis. As in all heavily populated areas, transportation facilities are over-taxed, particularly during rush hours. Japan Railway (JR) electric trains link the major parts of Tokyo with outlying towns and cities, and the subway system crisscrossing Tokyo is the most inexpensive transportation in the city. Osaka has a JR loop line, and subway systems are also located in Yokohama, Nagoya, Osaka, Fukuoka, and Sapporo. Bus service links subway and loop train lines in Tokyo and is the system of local transportation in cities and towns throughout Japan. Signs and directions in subway and railway stations in the major cities usually appear in English as well as Japanese, making subway and rail travel relatively simple for the non-Japanese-speaking traveler.

Cruising taxis are plentiful. Taxis are safe and clean, though not inexpensive. Most taxi drivers do not speak English, so have directions to your destination written in Japanese, Most hotels have these instructions at the front desk to assist their guests in returning to the hotel. Taxi doors are operated by the driver, opening and closing automatically. Taxis are metered; the charge in Tokyo is Y660 for the first 2 kilometers plus Y80 for each additional 274 meters. There are additional charges for slow movement in traffic and late-night service. Consumption tax is added to the total fare amount. It is not customary to tip taxi drivers.

Regional

Most of the country is served by the JR system. The Shinkansen (popularly known as the bullet train) is a familiar sight speeding across the Japanese countryside connecting Tokyo and many of the larger cities throughout Japan. These and other express and local trains combine to form a vast rail network that is heavily used. Sleeping, dining, and first-class (green) coaches are available on the main lines. Trains maintain strict schedules, and the personnel are polite and efficient. Porters or redcaps are available at all principal stations although they are extremely few in number. Their charges range from Y200 to Y300 per piece of baggage or more if the baggage is extremely heavy.

Most of the major international airlines and a number of steamship companies provide service to Japan. Domestic air travel is quite extensive. Several domestic airlines operate to all the major cities in Japan; airbus service has been instituted between Tokyo and several cities. The airport used for domestic travel is Haneda, 23 kilometers from Tokyo. Rapid monorail or bus service is available from Haneda to downtown Tokyo locations, and taxis are plentiful. The taxi fare is around Y6,500.

The new Tokyo International Airport at Narita, about 77 kilometers from Tokyo, is used for all international flights (except those of China Airlines, the Republic of China national carrier that operates from Haneda). Surface transportation from Narita into the city is commonly via limousine bus directly to the Tokyo City Air Terminal (TCAT) or by taxi. Train service is also available, but its use is not recommended for the newcomer due to the complicated connections. Transit time by bus and taxi can be time consuming, at least 1-1/2 hours, often more, depending on traffic conditions on the heavily congested highways serving the airport from central Tokyo. The airport limousine bus fare is Y3,000, and taxi fare is approximately Y27,000, including toll charges.

Many express toll roads are excellent. Almost all roads are paved. The main roads are generally in good condition, the secondary roads are more inclined to be narrow and winding.

Communications

Telegraph and Telephone

To obtain the lowest possible rates, bring a telephone credit card from AT&T, MCI, or SPRINT. These carriers also provide International Long Distance service from any phone within Japan.

International telegrams can be sent from any Kokusai Denshin Denwa (KDD) office in any leading city, any local telegraph or telephone office, and most hotels.

Mail

Postal rates for ordinary letters addressed within Japan are Y80 and for ordinary postcards Y50. International postal rates to the U.S. for airmail letters are Y110 for the first 25 grams; postcards Y70, aerogram Y90, and printed matter up to 20 grams Y80 plus Y40 for each additional 2 grams.

Radio & TV

The Far East Network (FEN) is an affiliate of the U.S. Armed Forces Radio Network. FEN broadcasts 24 hours daily in English with the latest news, music, and sports events (AM 810).

Japanese radio stations present a variety of classical and popular music on both AM and FM. Japanese FM radios operate on a lower frequency spectrum of 76 MHz to 90 MHz rather than the U.S. frequencies of 88 MHz to 108 MHz. It is impossible to convert a U.S. receiver for Japanese frequencies; so if you wish to receive most Japanese stations, you will need to buy a domestic receiver.

TV in Japan has reached the highest levels of technical sophistication. TV is broadcast in stereo, bilingual multiplex, high-definition, and direct broadcast satellite (DBS). Of the many channels available, two government non-commercial channels (NHK) broadcast high quality programs that include public service, sports, and music events. The program content of the commercial networks varies little from channel to channel with a large emphasis on entertainment, musicals, and quiz programs. They do broadcast in stereo.

Movies and U.S. TV series are often transmitted with a unique bilingual soundtrack, Several hours of bilingual programming, including live news broadcasts are transmitted daily.

Residents often have access to satellite TV companies, including "Direct TV" and "Perfect TV" as well as the Japanese broadcast stations.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals

Five English-language daily newspapers are published in Tokyo-the Japan Times, the Daily Yomiuri, the Mainichi Daily News, the Asahi Evening News, and the U.S. Army's Stars and Stripes. Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Japan's major financial daily, has a weekly English-language edition. Home delivery is available for all of these newspapers. The Asian Wall Street Journal, published in Hong Kong, is also available daily.

American magazines arrive from a few days to a month after publication. The most popular periodicals are available in Stars and Stripes bookstores, military exchanges, major hotels, or by subscription. Asian editions of Newsweek and Time are published in Tokyo and are promptly available by subscription or at major newsstands.

Large Japanese bookstores and bookstores in major hotels carry a wide selection of English-language books. Books also can be purchased at the Sanno Hotel.

Health & Medicine

Medical Facilities

Many English-speaking Japanese physicians, with US. post-graduate training, as well as Western doctors, maintain private practices in Tokyo. Local hospitals and clinics range from older facilities to very modern medical centers. Language continues to be a frustrating barrier in many facilities.

Completing the following "to do" list will make your transition to Japan easier:

  • Do not pack prescription medications in your check-in luggage. Hand carry your prescription medications.
  • Individuals enrolled in a preferred provider organization (PPO) or health maintenance organization (HMO) will find it difficult to use this coverage overseas. Individuals that are members of a PPO or HMO should consider changing insurance policies before arriving to Tokyo.
  • Bring a hot-steam humidifier (s) for dry winter weather. *Bring a dehumidifier (s) for the hot and humid summer weather.
  • Bring flashlights and emergency firstaid kit (s) for your home and car.
  • Enroll in a first aid and CPR course.
  • Visit your dentist for cleaning and dental check-up before arriving to Tokyo. Dental care in Tokyo is expensive.

Okinawa: The Adventist Medical Center provides an alternative for dental and medical care at Camp Lester. It is a modern, well-run facility staffed by American or American-trained missionary physicians and dentists from the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Full payment in yen at the time of service is expected.

Osaka-Kobe: There are excellent medical resources in Osaka-Kobe. Physical exams can be done at Kobe Kaisei Hospital. Serious medical problems are referred to appropriate medical specialists.

Sapporo: Sapporo has two university hospitals for emergency and routine care.

Community Health

General health conditions in Japan are similar to those in the U.S. The city water supply, in all major cities, is potable. Sewage and garbage disposal facilities are adequate. The country has no special pest or vermin problems.

Air pollution has been a problem in Tokyo over the years, but an active anti-pollution program has reduced the problem significantly. Nevertheless, the summer heat and humidity will exacerbate respiratory ailments such as asthma.

In recent years, tuberculosis (TB) has been on a sharp increase in Japan. Employees and eligible family members are encouraged to have annual TB skin testing (PPD).

Preventive Measures

Endemic diseases are not prevalent and no particular preventive measures need be taken beyond updating routine immunizations. The water is not fluoridated.

No immunizations are required to enter Japan.

OKINAWA

Okinawa is the largest of the Ryukyu Islands, a chain that extends from Kyushu to Taiwan. Okinawa Prefecture (which includes the southern part of the archipelago) derives its name from the main island. Naha, the prefectural capital, is also located on the main island. The island of Okinawa is 70 miles long and on average 7 miles wide. It has over 1 million inhabitants, including about 50,000 U.S. military personnel and their families. Another 200,000 people live on the outlying islands. Naha is 800 miles southwest of Tokyo, 350 miles northeast of Taipei, and 750 miles north of Manila.

Although it is part of Japan, Okinawa has a distinct history and identity. It was once an independent kingdom, with a language and culture of its own, and paid tribute to the Chinese emperors. Even today, it differs from mainland Japan as climate, diet, customs, and other aspects of life shade into those of Southeast Asia. Okinawa officially became a part of Japan in the 1870s, and many of the Japanese emigrants to Hawaii and South America at the turn of the century actually came from Okinawa.

The island was the scene of the last major U.S.-Japanese battle of the Second World War, a battle in which about one-third of the Okinawan population was killed. From 1945 to 1972, Okinawa was under U.S. administration. The war and occupation left the Okinawan people with strong reservations about the use of military force. It is a source of friction that this small, crowded island is home to a large concentration of U.S. and-to a much lesser extent-Japan Self Defense Forces.

Climate

Okinawa's climate resembles that found along the South Carolina coast. Winters are comfortable but cool at night and at the shore. Spring and fall are delightful. Summers are long, hot, and humid. Okinawa often experiences typhoons or strong tropical storms in the fall and occasionally heavy weather in the spring. Accordingly, most buildings are low and built of concrete.

Whenever annual rainfall is less than the normal 80 inches, water rationing is necessary. As of late 2000, there had been no rationing since a 21-day period in the winter of 1994.

Okinawa has a full complement of semitropical insects and reptiles, including the habu, a very aggressive, poisonous species of snake. Although Okinawan field workers and small animals are occasional snakebite victims, no consular personnel have experienced problems with snakes in recent memory. Prudence, however, especially at night, is the watchword; 200 to 250 snake-bites are reported annually. Ants, spiders, fleas, ticks, rodents, and other small pests have from time to time caused minor problems. Small lizards called geckos are a standard part of the exterior and interior landscapes.

History

Ryukyuan history has had its legendary heroes, fine artists and patrons of the arts, sages, diplomats, philosophers, the rise and fall of dynasties, and alternating periods of foreign domination and vigorous independence. Written records, beginning about A.D. 600, mention several unsuccessful attempts by China and Japan in the seventh century to require tribute and submission from this diminutive Oriental state.

The first significant date in Ryukyuan history is 1187, when Shunten, the son of a Japanese hero and an Okinawan princess, established himself as king of Okinawa. Out of respect for his legendary father, Shunten gave Japan titular jurisdiction over the islands, thus providing a basis for later Japanese claims to the Ryukyus. Under the dynasty of Eiso, who reigned from 1260 to 1299, the unified kingdom made rapid strides in cultural development, achieved economic order, and enjoyed internal peace. Tradition also ascribes to his reign the introduction of Buddhism into Okinawa.

During the first half of the 14th century, the kingdom collapsed and the island reverted to feudalism. In 1372, King Satto, usurper of the Shuri throne, reunified the kingdom, acknowledged the suzerainty of the Ming dynasty, and brought in Chinese traders and teachers. Under his rule, Ryukyuans became enterprising, prosperous sea traders, voyaging as far as Korea and the Indies. During this period, the people also became students and imitators of Chinese art, philosophy, and craft.

Okinawa's "golden age" began in 1477 with the reign of King Sho-shin, whose successors carried on the grand tradition until 1609, when the good fortune came to an abrupt, disastrous end. Japan, having suffered defeat in Korea, invaded the defenseless island as punishment for Okinawa's refusal to aid the shogun. During the next few years, King Shonei was held hostage while the Japanese exploited the island and monopolized the trade with China. In 1611, Shonei was permitted to return to Okinawa, but only after acknowledging the suzerainty of the Lord of Satsuma and pledging that the Ryukyus would always remain a dependency of Japan.

The next two centuries marked a continuous struggle for economic survival. The Satsuma clan dominated Okinawa, controlling its foreign affairs, many aspects of its internal administration, and its overseas trade, particularly trade with China. The people were left to make their living from the meager resources of the countryside. By chance, the sweet potato was introduced in 1606, and sugarcane in 1623. These became major crops and alleviated, to some degree, the Okinawans' struggle for survival in that era.

In 1853, Americans arrived in Naha harbor under the command of Commodore Matthew C. Perry, whose objective was to establish a base in the Ryukyus in order to open Japan to foreign trade and commerce. In 1854, Perry proposed that the U.S. assume territorial jurisdiction over Okinawa to prevent other nations from seizing it, and to provide a continuing base for American shipping in the event negotiations with Japan failed. His proposal was rejected by Washington. Perry successfully carried out his mission to Japan in March 1854, and his interest in the Ryukyus rapidly waned. However, before his departure for the U.S., he sought to preserve American interests in Naha against outside intrusion. He drafted a covenant of friendship between Okinawa and America, and the compact was signed on July 11, 1854.

Japan began to exert greater control over the Ryukyus and, in March 1879, the king abdicated. Tokyo proclaimed Okinawa a prefecture and appointed a governor and other officials to administer the islands.

Okinawa remained a prefecture of Japan, eventually with elected representatives in the Japanese national Diet, until shortly before the end of World War II in 1945. U.S. military forces invaded the island on April 1 of that year. In the Battle of Okinawa, which lasted almost three months, American casualties totalled 12,000 dead and 35,000 wounded. Japanese losses approached 100,000. A high percentage of the Okinawan civilian population lost their lives, and the Battle of Okinawa has remained a major determinant of Okinawan attitudes towards the presence of either U.S. military forces or the Japanese Self-Defense Forces on Okinawa.

The U.S. administered the Ryukyus (except for the Amami Oshima Islands, which were returned to Japan in 1953) under the provisions of the Treaty of Peace with Japan until May 15, 1972; America then returned the administration of the islands to Japan in what is referred to as the Okinawa Reversion. The island reverted to its former status as a prefecture of Japan, and the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty and Status of Forces Agreement and Japanese national laws became applicable to Okinawa.

Public Institutions

As a Japanese prefecture, Okinawa elects a governor and legislative assembly every 4 years. Local branches of conservative and reformist political parties vie for power, with the electorate divided roughly between the two broad persuasions. Anti-base sentiments and desires for base reductions are widespread among the Okinawan people, but anti-Americanism is very rare. Individual Americans rarely encounter expressions of hostility.

Okinawa receives the largest part of its income from the Japanese central government as transfer payments; tourism contributes about 12%; and direct, military-related spending accounts for about 6% of prefectural income. The U.S. military presence is less important to Okinawa's prosperity than it once was, and some Okinawans argue that in fact it hinders the island's development prospects.

The conduct and stationing of U.S. military personnel on Okinawa are subject to the US. Japan Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). All four services are represented. These forces assist in the defense of Japan according to the terms of the Mutual Security Treaty and have regional responsibilities that take them throughout the western Pacific area on exercises and training missions.

U.S. Military

American life on Okinawa is heavily influenced by the presence of 50,000 U.S. military personnel and their families. The military bases offer a full range of American-style conveniences, shopping, education, and leisure activities. Some neighborhoods just outside the larger bases resemble similar communities in the U.S., with shops, restaurants, car lots, and bars catering to service members.

Although many Americans make an effort to experience Okinawan culture, most focus the vast majority of their activities on base and within the American community. This is partly attributable to the fact that, despite many years of association with Americans, relatively few Okinawans can converse easily in English. The decline of the dollar against the yen has also made it more expensive to venture off base for shopping or entertainment. At the same time, few Americans-most of them on short assignments-acquire a working competence in Japanese.

The U.S. Navy operates a hospital, and the Air Force a clinic, but the cost for civilians for nearly all forms of treatment is higher than at local hospitals. Off-base, only one hospital-Adventist Medical Center-has an English-speaking medical staff. For dental care, the only reasonable option is at an off-base clinic, such as Adventist's, because civilians are a low priority at military facilities and prices are far higher than off base.

Utilities

Electricity on Okinawa is 100 volt, 60 cycles, with American standard wiring. American appliances such as fans, microwaves, radios, lamps, TVs and VCRs usually operate without problem.

Although some TV programs on Japanese stations are bilingual, a U.S. bilingual set will not work. A special FM receiver can be purchased locally for about $100. Locally available rental videotapes are VHS. Telephone calls to the U.S. are relatively inexpensive, but internet service is somewhat cost-lier than in other countries since local calls are charged by the minute. During water shortages, water is rationed, and the tap water is not potable.

Food

Dairy products such as milk, cottage cheese, and sour cream are ultra-pasteurized for extended shelf life but still sometimes spoil prior to their expiration date. Japanese grocery stores offer a better selection of high-quality produce but at much higher prices. There is no need to import anything except perhaps ethnic or specialty cooking ingredients and spices. American and other wines and liquors are available.

Clothing

Bring clothing suitable for the Carolinas, including warm jackets. Clothes can be purchased at the exchange (akin to Walmart or Sears in selection, but with slightly higher prices), at local shops catering to foreigners (where prices are very high), or through catalog mail orders. Bring special sizes or brand names, or plan to shop by mail. Japanese adult clothing is expensive and comes only in small sizes. Dry-cleaning and laundry service is available on the military bases through Japanese concessions, so prices are the same as at off-base facilities.

Men: Normal US. leisure clothing is fine, bearing in mind that Japanese tend to dress conservatively.

Women: Cotton and other lightweight dresses and accessories are suitable for summer wear. Afternoon and evening wear is similar to that worn in the U.S., though depending on the occasion, more variety and less formality is seen. Scarves, jackets, and wraps are practical during the cool months. Lightweight wool suits and dresses are worn, as well as coats, jackets, and sweaters.

Children: Children dress as they would in the U.S. As with adults, shopping for children's clothing is best accomplished through local stores, and mail order. The supplies available on the island are adequate, but the range of choice in both style and pace is often limited. Kids have the most luck in Japanese department stores, although prices are higher than in the U.S.

Religious Activities

Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Orthodox, and Muslim services are offered on the military bases. Protestant services offered off-base in English include Episcopalian, Lutheran, Baptist, Evangelical, and other denominations. There are a number of Catholic churches off-base, but not all offer masses in English.

Education

Several English-language school choices are available for children. The Department of Defense operates two senior high schools, two middle schools, and several elementary schools, offering a standard kindergarten through grade 12 American public school curriculum, athletic program, and after school activities, as well as a range of special education facilities.

The Okinawa Christian School is U.S. accredited and Protestant affiliated, and offers a kindergarten through grade 12 curriculum with American teachers and texts. It functions as the de facto international school here for students who do not have access to DOD schools, but want an English-language education; nearly half of the students come from non-Christian homes. The school is located in Yomitan village, a fair distance from the Consulate General residential areas; busing is available.

New Life Academy, which is not U.S. accredited, offers a kindergarten through grade 6 academic curriculum with a Christian focus. It is located in Okinawa City near Kadena Air Base.

Several Montessori pre-schools and kindergartens for children age 2-6 have been used by recent employees. All of the military bases have day care facilities for younger children, but waiting lists are long and military dependents are given preference. Some off-Llay care facilities include teaching components.

Special Educational Opportunities

The following universities offer undergraduate and graduate degrees on Okinawa through military base education offices:

  • Central Texas College: Associate of Applied Science (business management, child development, computer technology, legal assistant, other)
  • University of Maryland: Associate of Arts (accounting, Japanese studies, management, other); Bachelor of Arts (Asian studies, business management, English, history, psychology, sociology, other); Master of Education (counseling and personnel services); teaching certification (secondary teaching)
  • Michigan State University: Master of Science (community service)
  • University of Oklahoma: Master of Arts (economics); Master of Human Relations; Master of Public Administration
  • Troy State University: Master of Science (educational leadership, management).

Sports

Okinawa offers a variety of excellent facilities for anyone interested in taking up or playing a personal sport. Okinawan bullfighting (bloodless, between two bulls), Japanese professional baseball games during spring training, and marathon running are options. There is an active Hash House Harriers organization, with several runs/walks weekly.

The military bases offer a selection of youth activities: Cub/Boy Scouts, Brownie/Girl Scouts, soccer, peewee basketball, Little League baseball or t-ball, touch football, dance, gymnastics, cheerleading, etc.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

Although many of the Okinawan beaches consist of ground coral mixed with sand, they are still one of the main attractions of a tour here. The better beaches on Okinawa charge an admission fee, but the military beaches are free. Wonderful islands just an hour away and accessible by ferry boats are great for snorkeling and diving. The northern half of Okinawa is sparsely populated and features a beautiful coastline of mountains and coral 'reefs. Unfortunately, all historical sites with the exception of ancient castle ruins were leveled in the 1945 battle. Shuri Castle, home of the most recent Okinawan monarch, has been rebuilt and is a major tourist attraction, as are other, older castle ruins. A large botanical garden and many well-maintained parks make Okinawa a family-friendly place.

Okinawa is a small, crowded island far from the mainland, so island fever can be a serious problem, especially given the prohibitively high cost of traveling off island. Northwest Airlines operates a ticketing office on Okinawa, but connections must be 'made in Tokyo or Osaka.

Entertainment

Japanese movie theaters show recent foreign films in the original language with Japanese subtitles, but admission is quite expensive. Video rental shops offer wide selections. A military TV station with standard U.S. programming, three Japanese TV commercial stations, and one Japanese pubic TV station, may be picked up offse with roof antennas. The military also operates AM and FM radio stations. Numerous cable TV packages are available but more expensive than such services in the U.S.

Other eating establishments are found of-base at higher prices and include numerous steak houses, Mexican, Korean, Chinese, Indian, Thai, Italian, French, Argentine, pizza, fast food, and Japanese restaurants. Prices are slightly lower than in Tokyo for comparable meals. Bars and discos abound,

though some refuse to cater to non-Japanese. American musical groups sometimes visit Okinawa, but these activities receive limited English-language publicity. Several large and impressive concert halls offer cultural events throughout the year.

Social Activities

The 50,000 military personnel and family members on Okinawa focus most of their activities on the bases. Contacts with most Americans, DOD personnel and others come from work, church, or through children's school activities. There is a small expatriate community and international women's clubs where English is spoken are active. Other international contacts are more difficult, though not impossible, without Japanese language ability.

NOTES FOR TRAVELERS

Passage, Customs & Duties

Northwest and United Airlines offer several flights daily from the U.S. to Tokyo. American, Delta, and Continental Airlines also provide service. Flight time varies from 9 to 14 hours, depending on the route.

All international flights (except China Airlines, which operates between Japan and Taiwan out of Haneda) arrive and depart from the Tokyo International Airport at Narita. American airlines, Northwest and United are served at terminal 1. Continental Airlines and Delta Air Lines are served at Terminal 2. Clearance at Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine (CIQ) is fast and courteous.

Public transportation via airport limousine bus is recommended; it can be take to a number of downtown hotels, including the Okura and ANA. Train routing is complicated and taxi fares are prohibitive. Person using public transportation facilities into Tokyo are encouraged to limit accompanying baggage to two pieces plus one carry-on in view of limited baggage space available on the carriers.

Travelers arriving from the U.S. need no special immunizations. Those arriving directly from other areas of the world must make certain they have appropriate inoculations to enter Japan.

A valid passport and an onward/return ticket are required. A visa is not required for tourist/business stays up to 90 days. For information about the Japanese visa waiver for tourists, Japan's strict rules on work visas, special visas to take depositions, and other visa issues, travelers should consult the Consular Section of the Embassy of Japan at 2520 Massachusetts Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, tel. (202) 238-6700, or the nearest Japanese consulate. In the United States, there are Japanese consulates in the following cities: Agana (Guam), Anchorage, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Honolulu, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Portland (Oregon), Saipan (Northern Marianas), San Francisco and Seattle. Additional information is available via the Internet on the Embassy of Japan home page at http://www.embjapan.org/.

U.S. citizens transiting Japan should ensure that their passports and visas are up to date before leaving the United States. Many Asian countries deny entry to travelers whose passports are valid for less than six months. It is not usually possible to obtain a new U.S. passport and foreign visa during a brief stopover while transiting Japan. Airlines in Japan will deny boarding to Americans who seek to transit Japan without the required travel documents for their final destinations in Asia.

It is illegal to bring into Japan some over-the-counter medicines commonly used in the United States, including inhalers and some allergy and sinus medications. Japanese customs officials have detained travelers carrying prohibited items, sometimes for several weeks. Some U.S. prescription medications cannot be imported into Japan, even when accompanied by a customs declaration and a copy of the prescription. Japanese physicians can often prescribe similar, but not identical, substitutes. Lists of Japanese physicians are available from the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo through its web site, from U.S. consulates in Japan, and from the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of American Citizens Services. Persons traveling to Japan carrying prescription medication that must be taken daily should consult the Japanese Embassy in the United States before leaving the U.S. to confirm whether they will be allowed to bring the particular medication into Japan. Japanese customs officials do not make on-the-spot "humanitarian" exceptions for medicines that are prohibited entry into Japan.

U.S. citizens resident in or visiting Japan are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo or one of the five U.S. Consulates in Japan, where they may also obtain updated information on travel and security within Japan. Registration forms are available via the home pages or by fax from the U.S. Embassy or one of the U.S. Consulates. Online registration is available for the areas served by the Embassy and our Consulate in Naha, Okinawa through the respective web sites. Travelers and residents can also sign up for an e-mail Community Security Update newsletter through the Embassy web site at http://www.tokyoacs.com. Alien registration formalities required under Japanese immigration law are separate from U.S. citizen registration, which is voluntary but allows U.S. consular officials to better assist American citizens in distress. Registration information is protected by the Privacy Act.

The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo is located at 1-10-5 Akasaka, Minatoku, Tokyo 107-8420 Japan; telephone 81-3-3224-5000; fax 81-3-3224-5856. Recorded visa information for non-U.S. citizens is available at the following 24-hour toll phone number: 0990-526-160. The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo's web site is http://www.tokyoacs.com. Please see also the U.S. Commercial Service in Japan's web site at http://www.csjapan.doc.gov.

The U.S. Consulate General in Osaka-Kobe is located at 2-11-5 Nishitenma, Kita-ku, Osaka 530-8543; telephone 81-6-6315-5900; fax 81-6-6315-5914. Recorded information for U.S. citizens concerning U.S. passports, notarials and other American citizens services is available 24 hours at 81-6-6315-5900. Recorded visa information for non-U.S. citizens is available at the following 24-hour toll phone number: 0990-526-160. Its web site is http://synapse.senri-i.or.jp/amcon/.

The U.S. Consulate General in Naha is located at 2564 Nishihara, Urasoe, Okinawa 901-2101; telephone 81-98-876-4211; fax 81-98-876-4243. Its web site is http://www.congennaha.org.

The U.S. Consulate General in Sapporo is located at Kita 1-Jo Nishi 28-chome, Chuo-ku, Sapporo 064-0821; telephone 81-11-641-1115, fax 81-11-643-1283. Its web site is http://usembassy.state.gov/sapporo/.

The U.S. Consulate in Fukuoka is located at 2-5-26 Ohori, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka 810-0052; telephone 81-92-751-9331; fax 81-92-713-9222. Its web site is http://usembassy.state.gov/fukuoka/.

The U.S. Consulate in Nagoya is located at the Nishiki SIS Building, 6th Floor, 3-10-33 Nishiki, Naka-ku, Nagoya 460-0003; telephone 81-52-203-4011; fax 81-52-201-4612. The U.S. Consulate in Nagoya offers only limited emergency consular services for U.S. citizens. The U.S. Consulate General in Osaka-Kobe handles all routine matters. A consular officer from the U.S. Consulate General in Osaka-Kobe visits the U.S. Consulate in Nagoya on the second Wednesday of every month. During those visits the consular officer provides consular services to U.S. citizens by appointment. To make an appointment for consular services in Nagoya, please contact the U.S. Consulate in Nagoya at the number listed above. The U.S. Consulate in Nagoya's web site is http://usembassy.state.gov/nagoya

Pets

All dogs and cats imported into Japan are subject to a minimum quarantine of 14 days to a maximum of 180 days at the Animal Quarantine Facility of the arrival airport (Shin-Chitose, Narita, Haneda, Kansai, Fukuoka, Kagoshima, Naha airports).

Upon arrival, you must present two types of documents to the Animal Quarantine Office at the airport: 1. Health Certificate issued or endorsed by the government agency, indicating that your pet is rabies-or leptospirosis-free. 2. Rabies Vaccination Certificate, including the date, type and validity of the vacci-nation. The vaccination must be administered over 30 days prior to entry into Japan and still be within the valid period. You will also need to fill in an import quarantine application form at the Animal Quarantine Office.

When your pet is not hand carried, the importers need to notify the Animal Quarantine Services in charge of the importing airport from 70 to 40 days prior to the arrival. Advance information about the pet should include the following: species of animal, total number, sex, age, weight and country of origin, estimated date of arrival, name and address of consignee and consignor, date and port of embarkation, flight information, and any remarks you would like to put for their information.

The owner of the dog/cat is not required to be present in order to apply for quarantine inspection. Such application may be made by proxy. The Quarantine Service charges a detention fee for pets, which includes boarding, food and care while in quarantine, at a rate of around Y2,000-Y2,500 per day for a cat and Y3,000-Y3,500 for a dog, depending on the size. In relation to your pet import, other costs such as transportation fee to kennel custom clearances and import tax will be involved.

Importing pets from countries other than the U.S. may have different requirements. Please contact the Animal Quarantine Office at Narita at 81-476-32-6664 or http://www.animal-quarantine-service.go.jp.

Firearms and Ammunition

Local law prohibits the purchase and/or importation of personally owned firearms.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures

The unit of currency in Japan is the yen. Bills are in denominations of Y10,000, Y1,000. Coins are Y500, Y100, Y50, Y10 and Y1. Japanese currency floats on international markets so exchange rates can vary dramatically. In calendar year 2000, the exchange rate has averaged about Y107 to the U.S. dollar.

The use of credit cards is not widespread, particularly outside major cities. While there are ATMs in Japan, most are not open 24 hours a day or do not accept a U.S.-based card.

Japan uses the metric system of weights and measures.

Disaster Preparedness

Japan is faced with the ever-present danger of deadly earthquakes and typhoons. Japan is one of the most seismically-active locations in the world; minor tremors are felt regularly throughout the islands. While responsibility for caring for disaster victims, including foreigners, rests with the Japanese authorities, one of the first things a traveler should do upon arriving in Japan is to learn about earthquake and disaster preparedness from hotel or local government officials. Additional details on self-preparedness are available via the Internet on Embassy Tokyo's web site at http://www.tokyoacs.com

LOCAL HOLIDAYS

Jan. 1 New Year's Day

Jan. (2nd Mon Coming of Age Day (Adults Day)*

Feb. 3 Beginning of Spring

Feb. 5 Martyr Day

Feb. 11 National Foundation Day

Feb. 14 Valentine's Day

Mar. 3 Doll's Festival (Girl's Festival)

Mar. 14 White Day

Mar. 21 Vernal Equinox

Apr. 29 Green Day

May 1 May Day

May 3 Constitution Day

May 5 Children's Day (Boy's Festival)

July 7 Star Festival

July 20 Ocean Day

July/Aug. Obon (Commerates deceased ancestors)

Sept. 16 Respect for the Aged Day

Sept. 21/22 Autumnal Equinox

Oct.(2nd Mon) Sports Day

Nov. 3 Culture Day

Nov. 23 Labor Thanksgiving Day

Dec. 23 Emperor's Birthday

Dec. 25 Christmas

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RECOMMENDED READING

The following titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country:

Benedict, Ruth. The Chrysanthemum and the Sword: Patterns of Japanese Culture. New York: Fawcett, 1983.

Bingman, Charles F. Japanese Government Leadership and Management. New York: St. Martin's, 1989.

Challenges and Opportunities in United States-Japan Relations. Report of the United States-Japan Advisory Commission. GPO, 1984.

Choate, Pat. Agents of Influence. New York: Knopf, 1990.

Christopher, Robert C. The Japanese Mind: The Goliath Explained. New York: Ballantine and Fawcett, 1984.

De Mente, Boye L. Japan Made Easy. Passport Books: 1990.

De Mente, Boye L. The Kata Factor. Phoenix Books/Publishers.

Gibney, Frank. Japan: The Fragile Superpower. 2nd rev. ed. New York: New American Library, 1985.

Hamabata, Matthews Masayuki. Crested Kimono: Power & Love in the Japanese Business Family. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1990.

Iriye, Akira, and Warren I. Cohen, eds. The United States and Japan in the Post-War World. Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky Press, 1989.

Ishinomori, Shotaro. Japan, Inc. Berkeley, CA: Univ. of California, 1988.

Johnson, Chalmers. MITI and the Japanese Miracle. Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 1982.

Kitahara, Michio. Children of the Sun: The Japanese and the Outside World. New York: St. Martin's, 1989.

Kosaka, Masataka ed. Japan's Choices: New Globalism & Cultural Orientation in an Industrial State. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989.

Lauren, Paul Gordon, and Raymond F. Wylie, eds. Destinies Shared: U.S.-Japanese Relations. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1989.

Moon, Okpyo. From Paddy Field To Ski Slope: The Revitalization of Tradition in Japanese Village Life. New York: St. Martin's, 1989.

Morris-Suzuki, Tessa. A History of Japanese Economic Thought. New York/London: Routledge, 1989.

Nakane, Chie. Japanese Society. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1970.

Ohmall, K. Beyond National Boundaries: Reflections on Japan and the World. New York: Dow-Jones, 1987.

Pascale, Richard T., and Anthony G. Athos. The Art of Japanese Management. New York: Warner Books, 1982.

Prestowicz, C.V., Jr. Trading Places: How We Allowed Japan To Take the Lead. New York: Basic, 1988.

Reischauer, Edwin O. Japan: Tradition & Transformation. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1989.

Reischauer, Edwin O. The Japanese. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1981.

-, Edwin O. The Japanese Today. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988.

Rosenbluth, Frances M. Financial Politics in Contemporary Japan. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1989.

Sanson, George. Japan, A Short Cultural History. New York: D. Appleton-Century Co., 1943.

Schonberger, Howard B. Aftermath of War: Americans and the Remaking of Japan. Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 1989.

Seidensticker, Edward. Low City, High City. Tokyo From Edo to the Earthquake: How the Shogun's Ancient Capital Became a Great Modern City, 1867-1923. New York: Knopf, 1983.

Shiraishi, Takashi. Japan's Trade Policies 1945 to the Present Day. London/Atlantic Highland, NJ: Atholone Press, 1989.

Spector, Ronald. Eagle Against the Sun: The American War with Japan. Free Press. 1984.

Statler, Oliver. Japanese Inn. Honolulu: Univ. of Hawaii, 1982.

Toland, John. The Rising Sun. New York: Ballantine Books. 1971.

Tsuchiyanka, J. Japan's Alliance Policy: Past, Present and Future. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1988.

Ward, Robert E. Japan's Political System. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1978.

Watt, J.A. Truth about Japan. Rutland, VT: C.E. Tuttle, 1988.

Weimstein, Martin E. The Human Face of Japan's Leadership: Twelve Portraits. New York: Praeger, 1989.

Whiting, Robert. The Chrysanthemum and the Bat. New York: Macmillan, 1984.

Zimmerman, Mark. How to Do Business with the Japanese. New York: Random House, 1985.

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Japan

Basic Data
Official Country Name: Japan
Region: East & South Asia
Population: 126,549,976
Language(s): Japanese
Literacy Rate: 99%
Academic Year: April-March
Number of Primary Schools: 24,376
Compulsory Schooling: 9 years
Public Expenditure on Education: 3.6%
Foreign Students in National Universities: 53,511
Libraries: 3,561
Educational Enrollment: Primary: 7,855,387
  Secondary: 9,878,568
  Higher: 3,917,709
Educational Enrollment Rate: Primary: 101%
  Secondary: 103%
  Higher: 40%
Teachers: Primary: 420,901
  Secondary: 702,575
  Higher: 401,509
Student-Teacher Ratio: Primary: 19:1
  Secondary: 14:1
Female Enrollment Rate: Primary: 101%
  Secondary: 104%
  Higher: 37%



History & Background


The Japanese people consider the love of learning to be one of life's main virtues. That fact has led to education playing a crucial role in their culture, especially since the Meiji Restoration in 1868. Virtually all Japanese people complete education through the high school (also called upper secondary) level, and most go on to further technical or university training. This emphasis on the value of education has contributed to the success of Japan in the modern world.

Despite its overall exemplary record in education, Japan does face some serious challenges in the new century. For example, minorities such as the native Ainu and the Korean-Japanese still do not participate adequately in the educational system. Also, the system has been criticized for focusing too much on test-taking and not enough on critical-thinking skills. Because many parents believe public school fails to prepare students adequately, they send their students to juku (private academies), after school and on weekends, to prepare for the next level within or beyond the public school system. But the Japanese educational system does satisfy the needs of the vast majority of the population and has helped the nation compete on the international scene for over 100 years.


The Ancient Period: Formal education in Japan started when the Chinese language system was introduced into Japan in about 500 A.D. At that time only the aristocracy had access to education through schools that primarily taught Confucianism and Buddhist thought and practice. The first real school, the Daigakuryo (the university), was started by Emperor Tenji during this period. Located in the capital of Kyoto, the Daigakuryo focused mainly on providing prospective government officials with a background in Confucian practice that would relate to their future jobs. Later the school became an official institution under the Taiho Code of 701. Young men usually entered the university in their early to mid-teens. When they graduated, they were placed in government positions at levels that corresponded to their success at the university. The Taiho Code also called for establishing colleges called kokugaku, located in each of the country's provincial areas. Besides teaching the Chinese classics, these early provincial schools provided training in medicine and in divination.

During the Heian Period (794-1185 A.D.), the height of Japan's aristocratic age, educational institutions continued to be focused on the nobility and were located in the capital of Kyoto. However, the curriculum of the Daigakuryo made a transition from Confucianism to the arts, reflecting the great emphasis on aesthetics during the Heian Period. Perhaps more than any other time in Japanese history, this period placed the highest value on the ideal of courtly love through the medium of poetry, music, visual art, calligraphy, and dance. Such refinements were of course reserved for those privileged to be educated in the court. Education also continued to take place in the Buddhist temples, both in the capital and in the provinces. After completing their training, priests became the primary means for providing education to those who were not among the aristocracy.

Thus education and religion were intertwined during the ancient period. Two of the most prominent figures in religious education were Saicho (767-822) and Kukai (774-835). Saicho established the Enryakuji Temple at Mt. Hiei near Kyoto. Besides being the center during the Heian Period for educating monks in the Tendai sect of Buddhism, it became a focal point for Japanese religious education for hundreds of years. Saicho's friend and rival, Kukai, established a monastery on Mt. Koya, which became the educational center for Shingon Buddhism. Kukai's central role in the history of Japanese education is evidenced by his having invented Kana, the Japanese alphabet, and by his effort to establish a school that addressed the needs of commoners, a group not enrolled in the Daigakuryo or the kokugaku. His private academy, the Shugei Shuchiin, did not exclude the lower classes and promoted the personal, moral, spiritual, and intellectual development of its students.


Medieval Period: During the Kamakura Period (1185-1333) and the Muromachi Period (1333-1573), Japanese education paralleled the militarism of the times. With the rise to power of the bushi (warrior class, made up of samurai) and the shogun (chief lord and military dictator), education in the cities and countryside added skills for warfare to the religious training. A departure from the aesthetics of the Heian Period, the medieval education for warriors included training in weaponry and horseback ridingwhile still teaching young samurai the importance of good manners and knowledge of their culture. Schooling revolved around the warrior's home, the estate of his lord, and the local temples. As for the shogunate and the ruling families, there continued to be educational opportunities unavailable to commoners.

Rather than start new schools, however, the shogunate established several major learning centers that contained libraries open to scholars and members of the priesthood. A famous one called the Kanazawa Library opened in 1275 and remains open today as a museum. Another medieval Japanese educational center, the Ashikaga School, opened in 1439 and offered curricula in Confucianism and military science. Thus even schools and libraries for the ruling class focused on traditional Confucian values and on military education, matching the cultural themes of the age.

Toward the end of the medieval period, Japan's educational system was subjected to a new influenceJesuit Catholic missionaries, beginning with the arrival of Francis Xavier in 1549. These missionaries established schools and churches that emphasized general education, vocational training, Western technology, andof courseChristianity. Although Christianity was banned less than a century after Xavier came to Japan, and wasn't permitted back into the country for more than two centuries, it did help shape education in late medieval Japan.


Early Modern Period: The early modern period in Japan comprises the years of the Tokugawa Period (1600-1868), during most of which Japan remained isolated from the rest of the world. One positive byproduct of this isolation was that the country could focus on the development of its own culture, including the educational system. Although the very best education remained open only to the upper classes, the period did witness the spread of education among the commoners in a way that had not occurred previously in Japan. By the end of the period, about 40 percent of the boys and 10 percent of the girls were provided education outside the home. These figures probably meant Japan's education opportunities and literacy rate were ahead of most countries in the world, with the exception of two or three nations in the West.

The Tokugawa educational system included several main types of schools such as the hanko, terakoya, Shoheiko, and shijuku. Established in each of the domains of the daimyo (lords), the hanko mainly educated the children of the lord's samurai on topics related to Confucianism. Only later in the Tokugawa Period did the schools enroll a wider range of social classes and expand their curriculum to include non-Confucian topics such as medicine, Japanese studies, and Western science.

Unlike the hanko, the terakoya were independent schools intended mainly for the children of the merchants and townspeoplenot the samurai. Usually set up in Buddhist temples, they offered instruction in a wide range of basic subjects such as penmanship, reading, and arithmetic. Children entered at the age of seven or eight and stayed for about three or four years. In addition to the terakoya were the shijuku, private academies that often were housed in the homes of the teachers and that focused on subjects usually considered to be the favorite fields of the teacher. Finally, the Tokugawa Period also had an official school of the shogunate called the Shoheiko, located in Edo (Tokyo). Here the children of the nation's leaders were educated by Confucian scholars.

Thus far our discussion of educational opportunity in Japan has mostly included only male children. Girls generally were not sent to schools and instead were trained at home in matters of homemaking and etiquette. Although a few girls may have been exposed to education in literature and the arts, most were not. However, opportunities for girls to receive an education did increase in the closing years of the period, with an increase in female students in terakoya and even the start of a few schools exclusively for girls. But the curriculum in these schools was slanted toward nonintellectual subjects such as tea ceremony, flower arranging, and etiquette.


Modern Period: The modern period in Japan began with the restoration of the emperor in 1868, about 15 years after the country had been "opened" to the outside world by the expeditionary tour of U.S. Admiral Matthew Perry. This period saw a tremendous amount of educational reform as the country sought to catch up to the West after more than 200 years of virtual isolation. Although World War II, including its prelude and aftermath, certainly devastated Japan's educational system, the country has witnessed unparalleled educational advancement from the Meiji Period to the present.

Educational goals in the modern period were reflected in the Gokajono Goseimon, the Imperial Oath of Five Articles (or Charter Oath) issued by the emperor in 1868. Article 5 best articulated Japan's international objectives for education that would become the theme of the modern era: "knowledge shall be sought all over the world, and the foundations of imperial rule shall be strengthened." The document also made it clear that "the common people... shall all achieve their aspirations," thus setting out a second basic theme of education in Japan's modern era: availability of the appropriate level of education to all the people.

Four years into the Meiji Period, the government issued the Educational Order of 1872 (Gakusei, ) which formed the basis for the modern public system of education in Japan. The Gakusei called for strong control of education by the central government and integrated many of the Tokugawa-era schools into the new system. For example, the terakoyapreviously the schools in the provinces for commonerswere transformed into the new primary schools. These primary schools formed the core of the new public school system and numbered 25,000 by the mid-1870s. Students throughout the nation were required to attend primary school. Although schooling was compulsory, the cost still had to be paid by the students' families. Resentment toward the new system led to several later revisions, including Kyoikurei, the Education Order of 1879. It permitted more local control of the curriculum and school policies, and it also relaxed the compulsory requirements.

Despite these revisions, the trend toward national standards for public education continued throughout the rest of the modern era, as did the effort to bring basic education to all the people. The end of the shogunate in 1868 meant an end to the class system that had created significant differences between education for the lords and samurai families and the common people. Now the four former classessamurai, farmers, artisans, and merchantswere viewed as equal participants in the new schooling.

Besides the new primary (also called elementary) schools, Japan's modern educational system included two other main elements: secondary schools and universities. Secondary school was not yet compulsory and was intended for children deserving of additional training. Then, an even smaller group of highly qualified candidates would proceed on to the university system. The most distinguished university of the period was Tokyo University, which had its roots in the elite shogunate institutions of the past. It became the forerunner of other imperial universities such as those established in Kyoto, Tohohu, Kyusha, Hokkaido, Osaka, and Nagoya. Private universities that began during the period include Keio, Waseda, Doshisha, Meiji Gakuin, and Tsudajuku.

During the early years of the Meiji Period, there was a strong and intentional reliance on Western assistance in the development of all levels of education. The government sent emissaries abroad to learn as much as possible about all elements of Western culture, including education, so that Japan could achieve Western-style success in technological advancement. The most famous group to go abroad was the Iwakura Mission, a large group of high-ranking government officials and students that traveled to the United States and Europe from 1871 to 1873. Such missions had a strong influence over the curricula adopted at all levels of schooling in Japan.

Just as important as the Japanese missions to the West were the Western experts who traveled to Japan in the 1870s and 1880s. David Murray, hired to serve as an advisor to the Ministry of Education, came to Japan in 1873 and worked on a wide range of new educational initiatives, including the Education Order of 1872. He also was instrumental in having the government establish the Tokyo Women's Normal School, as well as being heavily involved in planning Tokyo University. Like other Western experts, Murray faced the challenge of deciding what combination of Western and native Japanese features would produce the best educational system for modern Japan. That's the challenge Japan faced throughout the period during which Western influence was strong.

Another Western contributor to the development of Japanese education was James Curtis Hepburn, a missionary doctor who came to Japan in 1859, just six years after Admiral Perry's arrival. Hepburn founded Meiji Gakuin University, became the university's first president, invented a system of Romanizing the Japanese language, and took part in translating the Bible into Japanese. Many other Western Christians were instrumental in promoting education in Meiji Japan, including those who established the so-called "Schools of Western Learning." The three most famous such schools, or "bands" as they were called, were located in Kumamoto, Sapporo, and Yokohama. The Kumamoto Band was led by an American teacher, L. L. Janes, who taught a Western curriculum of mathematics, history, and English, but who also exposed his young sons-of-samurai students to the tenets of Christianity. These young men in the Western bands learned about Western science, technology, and religion. Some of the early leaders of modern Japan were Christian, even though Christianity remained a minority religion in Japan, never gaining more than 1 percent to 2 percent of the population.

Perhaps Japan's best-known private university, Doshisha University, was founded in 1875 by Niijima Jo, a former member of the Kumamoto Band, and by Jerome Davis, a Congregational minister. Niijima was one of the first Japanese to be educated in the United States (at Amherst College). Like some other private universities in Japan, Doshisha adopted curricula similar to that of Western educational institutions. It has six main academic groupingstheology, law, economics, letters, commerce, and engineeringwith over 25,000 students enrolled.

Doshisha also was the first university in Japan to admit women. Private universities served an important role in coeducation in that the government, in 1879, restricted coeducation to the primary (or elementary) schools. It was only through the support of private groups that high schools and university-level education became available to women. Christian missionaries were particularly active in supporting coeducational and women's high schools and colleges. Also serving an important role in the development of women's education during the Meiji Period was Tsuda Umeko, who had been a student member of the Iwakura Mission in 1871 and became one of the first Japanese women to study in the United States. After completing studies at Bryn Mawr College and also working as a tutor and teacher of young women in Japan for many years, Tsuda founded the Women's English School (now called Tsuda College) in Tokyo in 1900. The government did strongly support coeducation in primary schools in the Meiji Period, but it took support from many dedicated individuals and private groups to maintain educational opportunities for women at the high school and postsecondary levels.

Notwithstanding the efforts Japan was making to pattern much of its modern education after Western content and procedures, by 1890 there was strong sense among many leaders that the nation also needed to emphasize "moral education" that was unique to Japan. The document that resulted from this concern for morality in education was the Imperial Rescript on Education, issued on October 30, 1890, in the name of the Emperor Meiji. Written with the advice and counsel of the Confucian scholar, Nagazane Motoda, the Rescript made clear the essential connection between the education of the people and the tenets of Confucian thought and loyalty to the emperor. A few excerpts from the 315-word document follow:


Know ye, Our subjects: Our Imperial Ancestors have founded Our Empire on a broad basis and everlasting... Our subjects, ever united in loyalty and filial piety, have from generation to generation illustrated the beauty thereof. This is the glory of the fundamental character of Our Empire, and herein lies the source of Our education. Ye, Our subjects, be filial to your parents, affectionate to your brothers and sisters; as husbands and wives be harmonious, as friends true; bear yourselves in modesty and moderation; extend your benevolence to all; pursue learning and cultivate arts, and thereby develop intellectual faculties and perfect moral powers; furthermore advance public good and promote common interests; always respect the Constitution and observe the laws... and thus guard and maintain the prosperity of Our Imperial Throne coeval with heaven and earth.

The promulgation of this document served as a corrective measure to the more liberal Western influences on education since the beginning of the Meiji Restoration. Distributed throughout the country by the Ministry of Education, the Rescript reminded the populace that education was inextricably connected to the nation's needs, to traditional Confucian values, and to an Imperial House descended from Heaven. It was read during ceremonial events in schools throughout the nation, with the appropriate bowing required. Though generally accepted by the people, one famous incident of an inappropriate response remains well known in Japan even today. Uchimura Kanzo, a high school teacher who had been educated in Japan and in the United States, apparently failed to bow deferentially enough to the Emperor's signature on the Rescript when it was read at his school. This incident led to his leaving the school, after which he became a famous journalist and religious figure until his death in 1930. In about 1900 Uchimura founded what became the largest branch of indigenous Christianity in Japan, Mukyokai, or nonchurch Christianity.

By the end of the 1900s, Japan had seen considerable development of all parts of its education systemboth under the influence of Western experts and under the watchful eye of nationalists who made certain the country retained its Confucian and imperial focus. With direction from the Ministry of Educationand its influential first minister, Mori Arinorithe country had a compulsory primary school system throughout the country; about 500 secondary schools throughout the country, with some providing technical training and others providing traditional academic subjects; and an elite system of public and private universities that prepared students for teaching, medicine, law, government service, and other professions.

In the early years of the twentieth century, attendance in primary schools continued to rise to over 90 percent, and in 1907 the years of compulsory education were increased from three to six. From the 1890s to the start of World War I, Japan's rush to industrialize and to create a strong military led to a greater focus on industrial education and training than in the past. Victories in the Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895) and Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) had stimulated this change in direction. Japanese education came somewhat under the influence of the democratic, socialistic, and related worldwide movements that were "in the air" after World War I and after the Russian Revolution. One example was the Shin Kyoiku Undo (New Education Movement), which emphasized the individuality of children and encouraged each child's effort to demonstrate initiative in ways that were largely not reflected in conventional Confucian education. Although this movement lost favor when a more conservative climate returned during the militarism of the 1930s, it did significantly influence the direction of Japanese education during the Taisho Period (1912-1926). Another noteworthy trend of the period after World War I was the expansion in the number of colleges and universities. The University Order of 1918 stimulated this growth by extending government recognition to postsecondary institutions that were not associated with the government. Students surged into the private schools as a result of this change.

The militarism of the 1930s and the beginning of World War II ended Japan's brief period during which progressive ideas had been promoted in education. Now the schools could best be characterized as tools of the state. Even the name of primary schools was changed to kokumin gakko, or national people's schools, reflecting their mission of training loyal subjects for the Japanese empire. Graduates of the kokumin gakko were obligated to attend seinen gakko, schools that emphasized the kinds of vocational skills that would serve the country in its effort to marshal a major militaristic expansion. Even textbooks were used during the wartime period to reinforce the ultranationalistic objectives of the state. One set of texts, called the Kokutai No Hongi (Cardinal Principles of the National Entity), served the government's purpose to control the people's thinking and their access to a full range of historical information.

After its defeat in World War II, Japan was occupied by the Allied Forces under the command of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP), General Douglas MacArthur. From 1945 until 1952, the Occupation forces aimed to transform Japan into a democracy and to demilitarize the country. A significant part of the plan involved altering the educational system that had been part of the prewar and wartime culture. The socalled "moral education," central to the ultranationalism of the wartime period, was ended. The major catalyst for all changes was the United States Educational Missions to Japan, which took place from 1946 to 1950. The recommendations of these missions formed the plans by which education was reformed after the War.

The centerpiece of the postwar educational transformation in Japan was a series of reforms that took place in 1947. They were overseen by SCAP and by the Education Reform Council, consisting of Japanese civilians. At the core of the reforms was the Fundamental Law of Education, which replaced the 1890 Imperial Rescript on Education that had been issued by the Emperor Meiji. Consisting of a preamble and 11 articles, the law replaced the former emphasis on training to be a loyal subject of the emperor with a new focus on the following principles: equal opportunity to education for all citizens, coeducation, the full development of one's personality, an appreciation and respect for truth and justice, and a new emphasis on academic freedom for faculty. Following are some specific features of the reformed system:

  1. The 6-3-3-4 structure with six years of primary school (also called elementary school), three years of lower secondary school (also called middle school or junior high school), three years of upper secondary school (also called high school), and four years of university
  2. Compulsory education for nine yearsthat is, both for primary and lower secondary school
  3. Education of handicapped persons
  4. Replacement of government-produced textbooks with texts that were published privately, with less involvement by the government than in the past
  5. New emphasis on the training of public school teachers at the university level
  6. Shift from total central control of education to much greater autonomy in villages, cities, and prefectures
  7. Permission to have teacher unions and other support organizations such as parent-teacher groups

Most reforms were retained after the Occupation ended, but there was some backtracking when a conservative government came to power in 1956. For example, the government increased its efforts to review textbooks, influence appointments to local school boards, place restrictions on leftist teachers' unions, and reestablish some level of moral education in the school system.

The decades since the 1950s have brought few structural changes to Japanese education. However, a number of social and political events have related to education, such as the following: criticism of government influence on textbooks in the 1960s; student demonstrations in 1968 against rising costs of a university education; the introduction in 1979 of a common general admission exam for public universities; and concern that private academies are needed to supplement a child's public education if he or she is to have a good chance of being accepted to a university.


Constitutional & Legal Foundations

In 1946, the Allied forces orchestrated the effort to write the new Constitution of Japan, which replaced the Meiji Constitution of 1889. Based on the U.S. and British constitutions, the new document included a level of freedom and democracy that was unprecedented in Japan. Effective May 3, 1947, it perhaps is best known for Article 9, which states that "the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat of use of force as a means of settling international disputes." Also noteworthy is the restriction of the emperor to being only a "symbol of the State and of the unity of the people, deriving his position from the will of the people with whom resides sovereign power." So certainly the new Constitution would never again permit approval of a document like the 1890 Imperial Rescript on Education, which in a sense mainly viewed education as a means of respect for, and praise of, the Japanese emperor.

The new Constitution also specifically addressed the rights of children to be educated. Article 26 reads as follows:

All people shall have the right to receive an equal education correspondent to their ability, as provided by law. All people shall be obligated to have all boys and girls under their protection receive ordinary educations as provided for by law. Such compulsory education shall be free.

For the first time in its history, the Japanese people acquired constitutional rights to an education. These rights were further defined by the 1947 Fundamental Law of Education. This law replaced the 1890 Prescript on Education and articulated a variety of legal educational rights in its Preamble and 11 articles.

A related law was the School Education Law of 1947, which outlined the general structure of the Japanese school system. Another lawthe 1956 Law Concerning the Organization and Functions of Local Educational Administrationregulates the operations of local schools around the country. For example, it covers operational details related to boards of education, superintendents, attendance policies for students, and the appointment of teachers. It tended to reestablish some of the previous centralized authority over local school districts, though certainly not to the degree of the pre-World War II system.


Educational SystemOverview


Since the end of World War II education has been compulsory for all children in Japan for nine years, which includes six years of primary school (also called elementary school) and three years of lower secondary school (also called middle school or junior high school). Children start their schooling at the age of six. After graduating from primary school six years later, and then lower secondary school three years after that, they have completed their compulsory educational period by the age of 15. At that point, most students move along to upper secondary school (high school) for three additional years, followed by four years of university education for an even more select group. Because of changes in the population patterns of Japan, the number of students in primary school has declined steadily since 1980, though the number of students enrolled in universities has increased every year since the end of World War II.


Academic Year: The academic year in Japan begins in April and ends the following March. Students have a summer vacation of several weeks starting in July, as well as a two-week break at New Year's. The year is broken down into three main terms beginning in April, September, and January, respectively. School generally starts at 8:30 a.m. and ends about 3:00 or 3:30 p.m. on weekdays. There was a half day of additional schooling on Saturday morning, but schools have gradually been dropping the Saturday schedule and moving instead to a five-day school week.

Language of Instruction: The language used most predominantly in Japanese schools is, of course, the Japanese language. Dominant features of this language are the high dependence on context to determine meaning, the precise ordering of words in a sentence, and the use of three different types of character systems in the written language (kanji, hiragana, and katakana ). The complexity of the written language means that Japanese students spend many years studying their own language.

Although Japanese is the dominant language of instruction, there is no law declaring it the official language of the country. In fact, a school could use other languages. There are now a few schools that use English to teach science and mathematics classes. Although English is usually not the language of instruction, it is now studied by almost all students in Japanmaking it the most commonly used foreign language in the country. The entrance exams for high school and for universities test for English ability.

It appears that the question of the role of English in the school systemand, indeed, in the entire culturewill remain a controversial subject for some years to come. A report entitled "Japan's Vision for the 21st Century," submitted to the Japanese prime minister's office in early 2000, suggests that the government consider establishing English as Japan's official second language. Given the need to increase the "global literacy" of the population, the report went on to urge that all students should be able to speak English before they start working after their schooling. Although the reading and writing of English is taught in schools, speaking and listening skills lag behind. So the recommendation of the report would require a significant upgrading of English language training in Japan.

A final point about the language of instruction concerns the minority populations in Japan. Although Japanese remains the dominant language in the classroom, there are significant numbers of Japanese residents whose native language is not Japanese. The native Ainu population, located mainly in the northern island of Hokkaido, is not permitted to receive courses in the Ainu language and culture in the public schools. Other linguistic minorities include Chinese and Ryukyuan (Okinawa). The teaching of ethnic languages and cultures remains a politically charged subject in Japan, though the debate has not yet presented any significant challenge to the dominance of Japanese as the language of instruction in the school system.


Use of Technology: Japan continues to emphasize the use of technology in education at all levels. In 1998 the Curriculum Council submitted a major recommendation report to the Ministry of Education, in which it advocated the use of computers throughout the educational system. Apparently that report has brought even more attention to the need to increase the exposure of Japanese students to instructional technology.

Statistics from 1999 suggest that although almost all public schools have computers, many teachers have not yet learned to use them in their teaching. As of March 1999, computers were used in 97.7 percent of primary schools, 99.9 percent of lower secondary schools, and 100 percent of upper secondary schools. The average number per school was 12.9, 32.1, and 76.4, respectively. Contrasted to these figures are the relatively low percentages of teachers who can use the technology effectively: 28.7 percent in primary schools, 26.1 percent in lower secondary, and 26.0 percent for upper secondary.

More traditional audiovisual media are widely used in Japan, especially in the primary schools. Television, audiotapes, and videotapes are common support for teaching. Especially popular is the use of broadcasts of educational programming produced by NHK, the Japan Broadcasting Corporation. Also, in July 1999 the Ministry of Education started a television station devoted exclusively to the education of Japan's children. Called the Children's Broadcasting Station, the channel beams programs by communications satellite to receiving stations that have telephone links. When the station broadcasts programs on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month (school holidays), children can send faxes back to the television guests and take part in videoconferences.

Another technology Japan has started to use is distance education. Although the country is probably behind the United States in the development of distance education, some educational institutions are now becoming quite active in the field. One prestigious institution, Waseda University, has linked up with five universities around the country to offer real-time online classes, as part of a trial program. What has enabled universities like Waseda to begin such programs is the relaxing of previously strict standards for transferring credit from one institution to another. As of 1998 college and junior college students have been allowed to earn up to almost half the credits for a degree from institutions other than their home institution. That change, as well as the spread of Internet and related technology, suggests that Japan will be a major player in distance education in years to come.

Entrance Exams: The Japanese system places great emphasis on the use of exams as qualifiers for all levels of schooling. Exams exist for students entering preschool, primary, lower secondary, upper secondary, and universities. Yet clearly the most crucial tests are those given for entrance to the upper secondary schools (high school) and universities. The high school entrance tests are mainly for determining what type of school students will attendnot if they will attend, because well over 90 percent of middle school students go on to high school. Both private and public high schools require such tests and usually test students in five main fields: English, mathematics, Japanese, social studies, and science.

For admission to most public universities and some private ones, students are required to take the University Entrance Examination Center Tests. These standardized tests comprise mostly objective questions in the Japanese language, social studies, mathematics, science, and foreign languages. When students receive the test results, they then have a much better idea of the range of colleges and universities to which they would likely be admitted. The final decision for admission to a particular institution may depend on the standardized test results, the test given by the individual college or university, and the student's high school record.


International Issues: A major international issue related to education in Japan concerns Japanese who are living, or used to live, abroad. The number of children of Japanese who have lived overseas has grown considerably in recent decades because of the large number of government and industry employees who have been assigned to positions outside Japan.

In the 1998 school year, for example, the following number of students lived overseas for at least one year and returned to Japan: 7,700 at the primary school level, 2,908 at middle school level, and 7,700 at the high school level. Returning elementary and middle school students do not have to take entrance exams, but returning high school students do. Often students are given special consideration in testing, but they also may need to take additional course workespecially in reading and writing Japanese. Language proficiency can be a problem if students did not regularly attend Japanese schools overseas.


Curriculum Reform: It is important to observe that there are serious efforts taking place to analyze and respond to problems with the curriculum in Japanese schools. Of particular note is a recommendation report submitted in 1998 by the Curriculum Council to the Minister of Education. The report suggests that the public school system should do a better job of emphasizing problem-solving activities, independent thinking, the use of computers in all subjects at all levels, and interdisciplinary courses that integrate content from diverse content areas. It also suggests that the school day be reduced to weekdays only. Some of these recommendations, such as the shorter school week, are being implemented. The report reflects the interest of the Japanese to improve an educational system that, overall, has worked well for them.


Preprimary & Primary Education


Over 95 percent of Japanese students enroll in some form of preschool, which is not compulsory. These schools are intended to develop the cognitive skills of infants from age three and up, and thus to prepare them for the six years of compulsory elementary school that follow. Preschool education is provided either through a kindergarten, which is considered to be an educational institution, or through a day care center, which is considered a type of welfare institution as defined by the Child Welfare Law.

One indication of the extreme competitiveness of Japanese education is a phenomenon called ojuken. "O" is a prefix that means "politeness" or "childishness," and juken means "taking entrance exam." The complete term refers to parents who are so eager to have their children be accepted into the most competitive schools at every level that they seek to enroll them in a top-notch preschool. Graduates of these prestigious preschools are usually permitted to go all the way to a prestigious high school without having to take entrance exams. These kindergartens are extremely competitive, in some cases admitting only 1 in every 20 applicants. Parents sometimes pay as much as $10,000 to educate their children so that they can take the entrance test for just private preschools or primary schools.

Ojuken has become a well-publicized issue in the media. Some critics point out that young mothers have equated the success of their infants in being admitted to prestigious private schools with their own success as mothers. Others see it as one more sign that Japan places too much emphasis on testing in the education process. But there are also those who view the ojuken phenomenon as a sign of the mediocrity of public schools, resulting in parents willing to pay heavily for private schooling.

After preschool, children begin six years of compulsory primary (or elementary) school. The curriculum of the elementary school has three main groupings: regular subjects, moral education, and extracurricular activities. Regular subjects comprise the following nine topics: Japanese language, social studies, arithmetic, science, life environmental studies, music, arts and crafts, physical education, and homemaking. Although there is some room for local control in organizing subjects, the actual content of the academic areas flows from national standards that are imposed on the schools. In any particular year, the curriculum is the same for all students in the same grade across the country. Students cannot skip grades, nor are there special groupings of students according to abilities.

Besides academic subjects, elementary school students are taught the importance of personal values through what is called "moral education." For those schools that are funded privately, religious education is permitted to substitute in this area. After academic and moral education, the final emphasis in primary schools is extracurricular work. These include activities such as clubs, festivals, competitions, class trips, athletics, and entrance and graduation ceremonies.


Secondary Education

Secondary education in Japan comprises two main divisions: lower secondary (also called middle school or junior high school) and upper secondary (also called high school or senior high school). Included here is information on juku, the private schools that many students attend in addition to public school.


Junior High School: After completing their six years of elementary school, students shift to the last three years of compulsory educationcalled variously junior high school, middle school, or lower secondary schoolusually when they are between the ages of 12 and 15. One significant change is that their curriculum is now divided by subject matter, creating a more regimented environment than elementary school. Classes last longer than in elementary school50 minutes as opposed to 45 minutes. Unlike many U.S. schools, the Japanese junior high schools require the teachers to move from classroom to classroom instead of the students. Teachers generally teach only one of the three grade levels. Thus both students and teachers acquire a sense of community in their grade, and students view themselves as part of a home-room class.

The curriculum of middle school includes four main groupings: required subjects, elective subjects, moral education, and extracurricular activities. The eight required subjects are as follows: Japanese language, social studies, mathematics, science, music, fine arts, health and physical education, and industrial arts or homemaking. Students are exposed to courses that provide vocational and technical classes as well as academic subjects. This feature is especially important because classes at this level include a broad range of students, not just those who are likely to attend college or even high school.

Elective subjects include a foreign language or another special subject such as music or art. But almost all students in middle school choose to take English. Like primary school, the middle school schedule includes one hour of moral education each week, but there is no specific religious education in public schools. The final category of the curriculumextracurricular activitiesincludes sports, clubs, assemblies, ceremonies, plays, musical events, field trips away from school, and educational guidance, such as instruction for using the library and safety advice for walking in traffic-congested streets. Such activities may take place on or off the school campus.

A curious phenomenon seen among both primary and middle school Japanese childrenbut more among the latteris called "school allergy." This term describes an emotional condition whereby a child develops fever, headaches, nausea, or other medical symptoms that make him or her stay home from school. The numbers of affected students have risen sharply in recent decades. A Ministry of Education survey determined that in 1991, 54,112 middle school children missed 30 or more days of school in a year as a result of emotional problems. That was up from 7,310 students in 1974. The numbers for primary school students were 2,651 in 1974 and 12,637 in 1991. Reasons vary for this "allergy," but three notable ones are as follows: fear of being bullied by other students, which has been a growing problem in Japanese schools; anxiety about entrance examinations; and reaction to the strict administration of the schools. Though physical bullying is said to have decreased since the late 1980s, both physical and verbal bullying and other forms of violence continue to be a larger problem in middle schools that in any other component of the educational system.


Senior High School: The term upper secondary school, also called high school or senior high school, is used to indicate the noncompulsory education beyond middle school. High school provides general or specialized education in three main formats: full-time, part-time, or correspondence. Although the full-time option generally lasts three years, part-time or correspondence school usually takes additional time for completion. Over 95 percent of junior high school graduates enter some form of high school, and about 70 percent of these students attend a public high school.

Admission to high school is based on the results of a test, and competition for acceptance into the best schools is incredibly fierce. To prepare for the exams, many students attend what are called yobiko (cram schools) in the eveningto gain admission both to high school and also to the university. With a full school day and evening obligations such as yobiko, many secondary school students have little if any time remaining for personal activities beyond the routine of schooling. This phenomenon worries many Japanese leaders and has led to a reevaluation of the average number of hours students spend in school each year.

Most high school students follow an academic track that prepares them to apply for entrance to universities. Once in an academic high school, students discover that their school day resembles that of junior high in that class periods last 50 minutes, courses are given in essentially the same subjects, and the extracurricular activities are similar. However, students in vocational high schools have a different routine. They often take on part-time employment, and they almost always enter the workplace after graduation.

The curriculum of academic high schools commonly includes courses in the following subjects: Japanese language, geography and history, civics, mathematics, science, health and physical education, the arts, and home economics. The vast majority of students also take English, with a lesser number taking European languages such as French or German. As for the particular content level of the coursework, here is an overview:

  • Japanese language: The focus in high school is on classical Japanese. Students are expected to enter high school having learned the 1,945 kanji characters known as the joyo kanji.
  • Social Studies: Geography and history are taught as one course in high school, along with a civics course. Students at this level have gone beyond local and regional issues to study Japan and East Asia in an international context.
  • Mathematics: High school math courses include general math, algebra, geometry, basic analysis, differentiation and integration, and probability and statistics.
  • Science: High school students are required to take two from the following list of courses: comprehensive science, basic science, physics, chemistry, biology, or earth science.
  • Health and Physical Education: Options in physical education classes include gymnastics, track and field, swimming, ball games of different types, kendo, sumo, judo, and dancing. Health classes focus on the prevention of disease and on the cultivation of healthy habits as a young adult.
  • The Arts: High school students generally select two of the following courses: music, art, calligraphy, or crafts. Art course offerings may include painting, drawing, sculpture, or graphic design.
  • Home Economics: As in lower schools, high school home economics comprises courses for both boys and girls that stress skills such as cooking, sewing, consumer skills, and computer use. Courses for boys tend to be called "Industrial Arts."

As mentioned earlier, the Curriculum Council submitted a report to the Ministry of Education that included a number of substantive recommendations for changing the public school system. This 1998 report suggested that secondary schools should offer a new required course called "Information Study." Such a course would help students learn to think independently, to process and send information via computers, and to fully participate in an information-driven society. Recommendation reports like this one are commissioned by the Ministry of Education as part of its periodic review of the Japanese education system.


Juku: Japanese education includes a "shadow" system of private schooling that students use to supplement the conventional education they receive. In addition to the yobiko (cram schools), the umbrella term juku is often used by Japanese students and teachers to encompass the full range of academic options outside the school system. The two main types of juku, other than cram schools, are as follows: naraigato/okeikogoto, courses that provide personal enrichment such as calligraphy or piano; and gakushu, (academic) juku, courses and tutoring that are directly related to academics. Academic juku can be taken to gain remedial help in particular courses or to provide advanced learning in preparation for entrance exams. These courses are to be distinguished from the specific type of juku called yobiko, which exclusively prepares students for particular exams. Although ideally juku are taken while a student is still in school, students who fail to gain admission to colleges of their choice may spend a year or two after high school studying in yobiko in hopes of being admitted on their next try.

A very high percentage of students attend juku. In 1998 it amounted to 71.8 percent of public junior high students, 54.9 percent of private junior high students, 35.1 percent of public senior high students, and 40.9 percent or private senior high students. These schools have turned into a huge business in Japan. In the mid-1990s, the largest such school in the country, called Yoyogi Seminar, had 27 branches, 2,000 employees, and a gross revenue of tens of millions of dollars.

Opinions about juku vary widely in Japan. The public has generally accepted them as a "second" school system that complements the public system and fills the gap between what the conventional schools teach and what the next level of schooling and related exams require. Even many educators recognize the value of juku in this respect. Of course, the juku employees and owners would agree that they provide an essential service. Critics of juku use the same argument to point out that the popularity of juku reflects the absolute failure of the Japanese educational system to prepare students for an academically rigorous future. Others note that juku focus primarily on rote memory learning. The time devoted to the schooling on nights and weekends keeps youth from balancing both work and play in their lives. But there are others who claim that juku in fact create an environment for social interaction of children, much like high school clubs do. You can find almost as many opinions about juku as there are people ready to talk about them. The fact is that juku are a part of the educational landscape that provide a necessary service and are not about to disappear.


Higher Education


Students who complete high school have these main options available to them: colleges or universities, junior colleges, technical colleges, special training, or employment.


Universities & Colleges: Japan has over 500 four-year colleges and universities. No special distinction is made between institutions called "college" and those called "university." (The term university is used here to indicate both.) There are basically three types of four-year institutions: (1) national universities that are supported by the central government, such as Tokyo University; (2) public universities that are supported by governments at the municipal or prefecture level; and (3) privately funded institutions. Approximately 75 percent of all universities in Japan are private.

The quality of education varies widely among Japan's four-year colleges and universities, which accounts in part for the stiff competition among students who wish to enter the best schools. Generally, universities aim to expose students to a broad range of knowledge while providing a context for research to be conducted by faculty. As of 1999 there were 99 national universities, 66 nonnational public universities, 457 private universities, altogether enrolling about 2,700,000 students, including graduate students. Overall, about 40 percent major in social sciences, 19 percent in engineering, and 17 percent in humanities. When just considering national universities, however, the proportions change to 31 percent in engineering, 18 percent in education, and 17 percent in social science. Most students do not have a "minor" field in their university studies.

Most university programs are completed in four years, with the exception of medical, dental, and veterinary undergraduate preprofessional programs, which take six years. Universities establish graduate programs in areas where they aim to provide opportunities for profound research and scholarship for both their faculty and their students. For admission to a graduate school, an applicant must have completed an undergraduate degree program or its equivalent. Most master's programs require two years of study beyond the undergraduate degree, whereas most doctoral degrees require five years. Exceptions are medical, dental, and veterinary graduate programs, which last four years. About 10 percent of university students went on to graduate school in 1999. The number has continually increased since 1980, when it was about 4 percent. In 1999 about 65,000 students began master's programs, and about 16,000 began doctoral programs.

The academic environment in Japanese universities and colleges has come under criticism in recent decades. It is extremely difficult for students to gain admission to universities, and they often only do so after taking a particular university's admission test two or three times. Having been admitted, however, many students often lapse into what are sometimes called "leisure lands" in Japanthat is, universities where little real academic work is completed. For example, students may dedicate a good portion of their time to extracurricular activities such as sports, music, arts, or even a part-time job. In the 1960s many students were extremely politically active and spent much of their time on leftist causes. Although that is not so much the reason for the leisure lands today, the result in that period is similar to the result today students often skip class and fail to spend much time on their studies. Some reasons often given for this phenomenon are as follows: first, many students do not get admitted into the school of their first choice and are less motivated to work hard; second, they have not yet grasped the significance of the course of study they have selected and its importance to their future; third, many of the professors have given in to the phenomenon and are less than inspiring teachers, preferring instead to conduct their research and other duties; and fourth, there remains the perception that companies or government agencies traditionally hire their employees from the same universities, with little regard for the degree of academic achievement of graduates. Some aspects of this approach to university life have changed in recent years. The educational and working culture has changed as a result of globalization and as a result of Japan's economic downturns, creating a more competitive atmosphere in universities and in companies. But there is still work to be done to raise academic standards in universities.

Junior Colleges: Established during the Occupation after World War II, junior colleges usually involve two or three years of training and traditionally have enrolled mostly women. In fact, about two-thirds of the women who go on to higher education after high school enroll in junior colleges, though that number is decreasing as women gain access to more professional careers and attend universities in greater numbers. Taken together, about 12 percent of men and women who participate in higher education attend junior colleges. As of 1999 there were a total of 585 junior colleges in Japan, with 503 being private and 82 being public. Some of the most popular majors in junior college are as follows: home economics or domestic science (24 percent of students), humanities (23 percent), education (17 percent), and social science (13 percent).


Technical Colleges: Technical colleges were established in 1962 as five-year institutions for students who had completed their lower secondary (middle) schooling. These colleges emphasize specialized subjects that prepare students for a vocational life. Japan's technical colleges can be grouped into two main categories: industrial and merchant marine. For the industrial track, students can take courses in subjects such as industrial chemistry, public works, metalworking, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, electronic control, information technology, material/bio-engineering, civil engineering, and management information. The merchant marine track focuses on various aspects of marine studies and takes an additional six months, for a total of 5.5 years. In 1999 there were 62 technical colleges, 59 of which were national or public and 3 of which were private. A total of 56,436 students were enrolled, up from 52,930 students in 1990. Technical education continues to be a solid option for students who enjoy skilled labor and do not plan to advance to a university.


Special Training Schools: Another postsecondary option is "special training schools" and other miscellaneous schools that focus on specific vocational needs. Started in 1976 to fill particular niches in the industrial community, these schools are required to enroll at least 40 students and to last for at least one year, offering 800 hours of training for that one-year course. The courses at special training colleges can be grouped into three categories: advanced courses designed for graduates of upper secondary school (high school), high school level courses for graduates of middle school, and other courses. Courses in the high school group usually comprise two-year programs of study in business, engineering, foreign languages, hygiene, or medicine. As of 1999, there were 3,565 special training colleges, 3,206 of which were private and 359 of which were public or national. That year there were 753,740 students enrolled, up from about 40,000 in 1989.

Sometimes grouped with special training schools are "miscellaneous schools," a category that included special training colleges until they were declared a special type of institution in 1976. After the higher category of special training colleges was established, the miscellaneous schools began to be recategorized and thus declined precipitously in number. From 1980 to 1989 the number dropped from about 5,400 to 3,570, and the enrollment dropped from 724,000 to 442,186.


Administration, Finance, & Educational Research

The Ministry of Education, Science, Sports and Culture (often shortened to Ministry of Education) represents the central educational authority in Japan. It is headed by the minister of education, who is appointed by the prime minister and serves on the prime minister's cabinet. The Ministry oversees many national institutions such as universities, museums, research institutes, and youth centers. It gives assistance to all levels of education throughout the country, especially at the municipal and prefecture level. Following are some of the specific responsibilities of the Ministry:

  1. Plans and coordinates educational projects at all levels
  2. Provides advice upon request from educational units around the country
  3. Gives financial assistance to enhance education
  4. Operates many educational institutions including universities, junior colleges, and technical colleges
  5. Gives final approval for establishing public and private higher education institutions
  6. Promotes lifelong learning throughout the country, because Japan has been making the cultural shift to this sort of system
  7. Requires heads of municipal and prefecture governments to submit reports about their organizations, as deemed necessary
  8. Orders local authorities to make adjustments in policies, procedures, or situations that may be in violation of regulations or laws
  9. Oversees the curricula
  10. Coordinates the selection of textbooks
  11. Controls the programs for the training of teachers
  12. Establishes standards for various types of equipment used in the schools

The Ministry has purview over essentially all educational institutions and serves as a central clearinghouse for proposals that aim to improve the national system of education.

Japan is composed of 47 prefectures. Every prefecture has a board of education that coordinates education in that geographic unit. Each board comprises five members who are appointed by that prefecture's governor, approved by the legislative assembly, and serve for a four-year term. Some of the main responsibilities of the board are as follows:

  1. Manage the wide variety of educational units in the prefecture, from secondary schools and schools for the handicapped to museums and public libraries
  2. Promote events and activities related to physical education and the social education of youth
  3. Provide advice and financial assistance to the mayors and municipal boards within the prefecture
  4. Establish or close down kindergartens, upper secondary schools, special education schools, special training schools, and miscellaneous schools
  5. Issue certificates to teachers

In addition to the board having a wide range of responsibilities, the governors of the prefectures are charged with the following tasks: managing universities and junior colleges in the prefecture, approving the establishment of a variety of schools, and overseeing the drafting of budgets for a variety of educational activities.

Education administration at the municipal level is handled by a municipal board of education. Each board includes five members selected by the mayor of the municipality with the agreement of the elected assembly. Holding office for four years, these board members have the following responsibilities: selecting a municipal superintendent of education from among its own membership, managing a variety of educational institutions in the municipality, promoting cultural activities, and selecting textbooks for elementary and middle schools. Then the municipal mayor has the responsibility to oversee the municipal universities and junior colleges and the process of preparing educational budgets.

Several advisory councils assist the minister of education. The most important is the Central Council for Education, established in 1952 for the purpose of studying possible changes related to education, culture, and the arts and sciences. Composed of up to 20 members appointed by the minister of education, with the approval of the cabinet, the council has taken on a variety of issuessome of them quite controversialduring its tenure. In its first few years its work was primarily related to instituting compulsory education, maintaining the teaching profession as a politically neutral group, and improving the system by which textbooks are compiled. In the 1960s the council issued reports on subjects such as the junior college system, technical and scientific education, and financial aid for students.

In 1984 the Central Council for Education suspended its work and was temporarily replaced by the Provisional Council on Educational Reform, an advisory group installed by the cabinet to address serious issues related to the reform of the entire educational system in Japan. It consisted of 25 members, a strong staff of technical specialists, and a chairman, Okamoto Michio, a well-known figure in Japanese education and the former president of the prestigious Kyoto University. All four major reports completed by the Provisional Council focused on the importance of reinforcing a respect for individuality at all levels of education. The council offered proposals to improve adult and continuing education; create new university admission tests that would apply to national, public, and private universities alike; convert the separate three-year middle school and three-year high school systems into a six-year secondary school system; initiate a more flexible system for high schools whereby students could graduate after completing three years of work and a prescribed number of credits; and improve the training provided to teachers during their first year on the job. In the late 1980s the Ministry of Education began working to put a number of the group's recommendations into practice throughout the country. After the Provisional Council completed its work, the Central Council for Education was reconvened in 1989 and issued several important documents at that time.

In 1995 the Central Council for Education was reorganized by the Ministry of Education and asked to consider the educational challenges ahead for Japan in the twenty-first century. In its first report, issued in July 1996, the council showed that it was willing to take on many of the difficult challenges that would confront Japanese education in the new century. Following are a few of its observations and recommendations:

  1. Advancements in information technology will change the nature of education in the coming years, and Japan must be prepared to incorporate these new technologies into the classroom.
  2. Excessive focus on completion, especially for entrance to many levels of schooling, is a problem that must be addressed because it works against the need to nurture "competencies for positive living"or balancein the lives of children of all ages.
  3. The family, schools, and community must do a better job of working together to solve growing problems such as school truancy and bullying within the schools.
  4. The curriculum of schools should be reformed to include less straight memorization and more emphasis on critical thinking and independence of mind.
  5. Schools should supplement the traditional classroom activities with additional programs in sports, volunteer work, nature studies, and other means of developing the full personality of the child.
  6. There should be more emphasis on the importance of the home in the education of children, for example, with the use of new media and with the expansion of networking among groups of parents.
  7. All elementary and secondary schools should begin to make the transition to the five-day school week, and "special attention should be paid to the following needs: the enrichment of children's out-of-school activities; an increase in the educational functions of the home and community; the mitigation of excessive competition for entrance examinations; the securing of some latitude in children's life; and the implementation of the five-day school week for all schools irrespective of different categories: national, local public or private" (Outline of Education in Japan 1997 ).

As a result of the council's 1996 report and the many other recommendations for reform in the years leading up to and following the report, the Ministry of Education has implemented a number of significant changes in all levels of education. The last few decades have witnessed serious efforts to reform education by the administrative units charged with overseeing the Japanese educational system.

Finances: Three main entities share financial responsibility for supporting public education: the national, prefectural, and municipal governments. Through the use of taxes and other means of acquiring income, each of these units funds a diverse array of educational programs at its level.

At the national level, the Ministry for Education funds two main units: first, the national educational establishments, such as universities; and second, various public and private educational institutions at the prefecture and municipal level. In 1999, the budget for the Ministry of Education was a little over 7 percent of the entire national budget. About half of that amount was related to liability of the cost of compulsory education, about a quarter was devoted to subsidizing national institutions such as universities, and the remainder was devoted to programs such as life-long education. At the level of the local governments, the relative expenditures for education are as follows for a typical year, in this case 1997: 35 percent for elementary schools, 20.8 percent for junior high schools, 18.3 percent for senior high schools, 17.3 percent for social education, and 5.6 percent for education administration.

Special mention should be made about the significant level of financial support provided to private institutions by the national government. The part that private institutions play in Japanese education is huge. In 1995, for example, the following percentages of Japanese students were enrolled in private schools: 74 percent of students in universities and junior colleges, about 30 percent of high school students, and about 80 percent of kindergarten students. Because of this major contribution, and the important research that goes on in many of these organizations, the government provides major subsidies under the provisions of the Private School Promotion Subsidy Law. Assistance is given to private universities, junior colleges, colleges of technology, secondary schools, and elementary schools.

As for scholarship aid, student aid programs are available through many private and public organizations. The primary benefactor is the Japan Scholarship Foundation, a public corporation supported by the national government, by prefectural and municipal governments, and by not-for-profit organizations. The foundation provides students with loans, either with or without interest. The no-interest loans are mainly directed to students attending upper secondary schools, universities, junior colleges, graduate schools, colleges of technology, and special training schools. The loans with interest generally are geared for students in universities, junior colleges, master's degree programs in graduate school, and specialized training schools. These loans do not accrue interest while the students are enrolled. Upon graduating, students begin to repay the loans, which have a relatively low annual interest rate. The heads of educational institutions have authority to choose the students who will receive loans in their respective institutions. In fiscal 1996, about 484,000 students received such loans.


Educational Research: Research on education in Japan is conducted both by government agencies and by private academic societies. The first main unit to support such research was formed in 1949 by the Ministry of Education. Originally called the National Institute for Educational Research, this agency had nine departments and had a wide range of official duties both within and outside the country. In particular, it coordinated research work being done by both private and public organizations throughout the country. Also, it linked up with research institutes in other Asian countries. In 2001 the institute was reorganized by the government and also renamed. Now called the National Institute for Educational Research, the organization has added to its agenda of research topics the study of educational policy.

In addition to the National Institute sponsored by the Ministry of Education, there are many other consortiums and academic societies that support educational research. A prominent one is the National Federation of Educational Policy Research Institutes, which in 2001 had a membership totaling 279 educational institutes throughout Japan. As for academic societies that support research in education, the most well known one is the Japan Society for the Study of Education. Founded in 1941, as of May 1999 it had 2,920 individual members and 340 organization members, of which 255 are universities and research institutes and 85 are bookstores.

Besides the Japan Society for the Study of Education, many other groups are involved with research in education, such as the following:

  • Council for Improvement of Education through Computers (CIEC)
  • History of Educational Thought Society (HETS)
  • The Japanese Association of Educational Psychology (JAEP)
  • The Japanese Association for Methods of Moral Education (JAMME)
  • The Japanese Association for the Study of Educational Administration (JASEA)
  • The Japan Academic Society for Educational Policy (JASEP)
  • Japan Association for Women's Education (JAWE)
  • The Japan Educational Administration Society (JEAS)
  • Japan Society of Educational Information (JSEI)
  • The Japan Society for Education System and Organization (JSESO)
  • The Japanese Society for the Education of Young Children (JSEYC)

In addition to the above organizations, each subject taught within the school system is represented by its own society of education.


Nonformal Education

Japanese nonformal education comprises the various forms of learning that are not covered under the Fundamental Education Law of 1947 (which established the 6-3-3-4 system that extended from primary school through university education). Nonformal education includes the types of learning that occur outside the formal educational system. Though still under the oversight of the Ministry of Education, these forms of learning include supplemental learning quite unlike what is included in the formal system. Examples of nonformal education includes the following: juku or yobiko, social education, adult education, correspondence courses, and English language training.

"Social education" (or community education) generally refers to a wide range of organized activities beyond the structured school curriculum, aimed especially for adults and young people. Facilities often used for these activities include public halls, libraries, museums, youth houses, children's centers, women's education centers, and sports facilities, as described below.

Citizens' public halls exist in over 90 percent of Japanese communities and serve as centers for various activities. Besides lending books to members of the community, they provide a venue for lectures, exhibitions, meetings, physical training, and other forms of recreation. Public libraries and museums also serve as centers of learning, both by giving citizens access to their collections and by opening their facilities to community groups. Youth houses and children's centers give young people an opportunity to participate in activities that involve an overnight stay. Often located in areas with beautiful natural surroundings, these facilities focus on teaching young people skills such as self-discipline, collaboration, and service. Women's education centers aim to provide an opportunity for women to gain experience in leadership skills and to get together to share experiences and develop networks for support. Most of these centers are nongovernmental organizations or are run by local governments. Finally, there are many facilities throughout the country that encourage physical education of people of all ages. Besides playgrounds, swimming pools, and gymnasiums that are open to public use, many colleges and schools permit their physical education facilities to be used by members of the general public when not scheduled for students.

Adult education can also take the form of courses that are taken outside the classroom through correspondence or through other media such as radio, television, satellite transmission, or the Internet. Traditional correspondence course work was introduced in the 1880s at Waseda University, one of the most prestigious universities in the nation. Generally, two main options are available in correspondence work. First, the courses can be taken for actual course credit that applies to degrees, certificates, or diplomas given by the institution. Second, the curricula offered through correspondence may have no credit attached to it and instead can be taken to gain vocational background, to advance in cultural understanding, or to develop an outside interest or hobby. Courses range widely in content and include topics such as bookkeeping, drafting, calligraphy, childcare, and computer literacy.

One type of correspondence course of special note is the so-called Hoso Daigaku "University of the Air," a college that is operated by the Broadcast College Special Corporation and that is administered from an office in the city of Chiba. This organization was established in 1983 to provide university-level curricula on television and radio. Generally, students are required to have graduated from high school; however, students who are 18 or older and who have not received a high-school education can participate in the program. The system works in this fashion: a participant gets two credits by listening to 15, 45-minute lectures and then by completing some on-site work at local study centers located throughout the country. The course work falls into three main groups: domestic science, business/social science, and humanities/natural science. Once a student gains enough credit, he or she receives a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Students of all ages participate in the University of the Air, but about half the students are over the age of 40. The University of the Air is just one example, therefore, of the shift in Japan away from a strictly traditional student body receiving traditional professional degrees. Now certificates or nontraditional degrees, such as those gained through the University of the Air, are gaining credibility as mechanisms for seeking new employment or promotions in current positions.

One type of nonformal education that is extremely popular is training in the English language. An entire private industry has developed to teach English to those who feel they need more language preparation than they received in public school. As of the mid-1990s there were more than 400 such schools around the country, usually offering courses of one year or more. Much of the popularity of such courses arises from the fact that English has become the language of business and industry throughout the world, including Japan. Many of the Japanese people feel that the kind of English training they received in public school was inadequate for their purposes in the workplace, thus requiring nonformal courses later in life. Yet the subject of English language teaching certainly is not without controversy in contemporary Japan. In the year 2000 the prime minister's office received a report from a prestigious advisory group that suggested much more emphasis on English literacy in Japan's universities. Entitled "Japan's Vision for the 21st Century," the report even noted that it may be time to consider declaring English to be the country's official second language. Such a change would help provide the impetus for giving young people an adequate working knowledge of English before they enter the workforce, reducing the need for so much extra training after exiting the school system. Although establishing English as an official second language would be a controversial subject in a country that takes such pride in its own linguistic inheritance, there continues to be a strong demand for English training in nonformal education.


Teaching Profession


The aftermath of World War II saw significant changes in teacher training that had been in existence since the Meiji Restoration of 1868. Prompted by the recommendations of the 1946 U.S. Education Mission to Japan, the education of teachers was upgraded. Previously, most teachers received their training at "normal schools" or gained a certificate by passing an exam. The postwar reform grouped teacher training curricula into three main areas: general education, professional courses related to the subject matter being taught, and professional courses related to the practice of teaching. Other changes included the restructuring of the normal schools into professional teachers' colleges that required four years of education and the introduction of teacher training programs into traditional universities.

Teacher training today occurs at various types of institutions, depending on the level. Preschool or kindergarten teachers are educated at private junior colleges or at special institutes approved by the Ministry of Education. Teachers in primary schools or in special schools (e.g., schools for the handicapped) are trained in education departments of universities and at national teachers' colleges. Finally, middle and high school teachers are educated mainly at regular universities.

Teaching certificates, which are required for the profession, are divided into two groups, first class and second class, according to the amount of education received and the level of education being taught. Teachers can sometimes be given temporary certificates. They may advance from temporary to second class or from second class to first class by taking additional coursework, such as through in-service training while they are employed. Japanese educators have three main types of in-service training available to them:

  1. Training done on their own or through the school where they work
  2. In-service training completed at designated education centers operated by the Ministry of Education
  3. In-service training at regular universities

A variety of opportunities exist for teachers to upgrade their skills. In addition, teachers who strive to advance their skills through such training often are selected for midlevel management positions within their school systems.

Teachers' incomes tend to be comparable to employees in other industries and actually slightly higher than other types of government workers. They have a standardized pay scale that is based primarily on their level of education, and middle school teachers have a separate salary scale than do high school teachers; however, beginning teachers in both groups with the same educational level start their career at the same salary. Besides their basic salary, teachers receive family allowances, bonuses, and other types of special pay adjustments. All teachers receive their bonuses three times each year. The amount of these bonuses is considerable, possibly totaling five times the individual's monthly salary. Teachers certainly deserve all the salary they earn because they are charged with a wide range of responsibilities within their schools.

Besides teaching in their subject areas or grades, teachers are responsible for guidance counseling, student activities such as clubs, homeroom supervision, and oversight of field activities conducted outside the school. Like teachers in many other countries, they also are obliged to commit time to tasks associated with their parent-teacher associations. One way that the system attempts to reduce "burn out" and stagnation in the profession is by periodically transferring teachers among schools within the same prefecture.

Teachers are appointed in various ways, depending on level and affiliation. If they teach at schools associated with national universities, the minister of education is responsible for appointing or dismissing them. If they teach at public elementary or middle schools, they are appointed or dismissed by the board of education in their prefecture. And if they teach in public high schools, they are appointed or dismissed by either the prefecture or municipal board of education. Oversight of the profession corresponds to the general administrative hierarchy for the national prefectural, and municipal governments.

Unions continue to play a role in the Japanese education system, with well over half of the teachers belonging. The largest teachers' union is Nikkyoso (the Japan Teachers' Union, or JTL), founded in 1947. Over the years it has tended to oppose the educational policies of the Ministry of Education. There are also more conservative teachers' unions such as the Nihon Kyoshokuin Remmei (Japan Federation of Teachers) and the Nihon Kyoshokuin Kumiai Rengo (New Japan Federation of Teachers Union). Union membership among teachers is most prevalent in the public schools at compulsory levels, but certainly unions are also represented in the high schools and even in the universities.


Summary

In many ways, Japanese education can be considered an overall success story, though certainly not without its problems in the early part of the twenty-first century. Highlights of what has worked well in Japanese education follow:

  1. The nation is almost universally literate, with a high level of fluency and with a large amount of shared cultural knowledge among the populace.
  2. About 96 percent of students who complete the nine years of compulsory education proceed on to the optional three years of upper secondary school.
  3. Students completing high school enjoy a wide range of education options that include universities, junior colleges, technical colleges, and special training schools.
  4. The organization overseeing the system, the Ministry of Education, has helped to promote a fairly high level of student standards and achievement, teacher training, and educational funding over the years.
  5. The nation has remained reflective enough to recognize the problems in its education system and thus to initiate reform movements at critical periods in its history.

There are many nations throughout the world that are envious of the educational achievements in Japan. Japan's success seems especially remarkable in light of the huge efforts that had to be mounted at two particularly significant historical junctures: after the "opening" of Japan in 1853, when the country raced to modernize following over 200 years of virtual cultural isolation; and after World War II, when much of the countries' infrastructure lay in ruins.

Its overall success in education notwithstanding, Japan now confronts a number of heady challenges that will once again require the nation to overcome major obstacles. Here are five needs that are most prominent:

  1. Need to Reduce Regimentation: The very quality that helped Japan's educational system take its part in the technological success of the country has come under criticism. One main result of recent reform movements has been to introduce more creativity and critical thinking skills into the curriculum. But the nation still has challenges ahead in reducing the emphasis on memorized learning, entrance exams, and outside "cram" schools.
  2. Need to Reduce Rebelliousness and Related Problems: Figures from 1999 show some downturn in the bullying cases that were a large problem in the 1980s. However, statistics from 1999 also reveal troubling numbers of cases that involve problems such as general acts of violence, truancy, and violence against teachersat least when compared with early data. Violence against teachers increased markedly in the last 15 years of the 1900s, a fact of particular concern in a culture with a history of Confucian respect for teachers and others in authority.
  3. Need to Respond to Issues of Minority Communities: Some minority communities feel that the overwhelming sense of homogeneity in the Japanese culture affects the culture of the classroom as well. More sensitivity to the linguistic, social and intellectual needs of minority children is needed.
  4. Need to Enhance the Intellectual Atmosphere in Universities: Although there have been some positive changes in the academic and social structure of universities, many of them still fail to challenge students intellectually. The system needs to rid itself of the perception, and in some cases reality, that a university education is more a reward for the hard work of completing high school and scoring well on entrance exams than it is a chance to take advantage of a stimulating intellectual environment.
  5. Need to Increase Opportunities for Women Students: There have been significant advances in Japanese culture in general, and education in particular, with regard to gender equity. But work remains in ensuring that women are not expected, by their families or by the culture, to attend a certain type of postsecondary school or to enter a certain type of profession.

These needs notwithstanding, Japan has an enviable education system that has served the culture and its people quite well. If its history and the industry of its people are any indication, then one should expect that Japan will continue to reform its educational system to meet the needs of the future.


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Minoru Moriguchi and William Sanborn Pfeiffer

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Japan

PROFILE
GEOGRAPHY
PEOPLE
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
ECONOMY
FOREIGN RELATIONS
U.S.-JAPAN RELATIONS
TRAVEL

Compiled from the October 2007 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:

Japan

PROFILE

Geography

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.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Japanese.

Population: (2007 est.) 127.5 million.

Population growth rate: (2007 est.) -0.088%.

Ethnic groups: Japanese; Korean (0.5%).

Religions: Shinto and Buddhist; Christian (about 0.7%).

Languages: Japanese.

Education: Literacy—99%.

Health: (2007 est.) Infant mortality rate—2.8/1,000. Life expectancy—males 78 yrs., females 85 yrs.

Work force: (67 million, 2003) services—42%; trade, manufacturing, mining, and construction—46%; agriculture, forestry, fisheries—5%; government—3%.

Government

Type: Constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary government.

Constitution: May 3, 1947.

Government 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.

Political subdivisions: 47 prefectures.

Political parties: Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), New Clean Government Party (Komeito), Japan Communist Party (JCP), Social Democratic Party (SDP).

Suffrage: Universal at 20.

Economy

GDP: (2006 est.) $4.883 trillion (official exchange rate); $3.902 trillion (PPP).

Real growth rate: (2006) 2.2%.

Per capita GDP: (2006 est. PPP) $34,155.

Natural resources: Fish and few mineral resources.

Agriculture: Products—rice, vegetables, fruit, milk, meat, silk.

Industry: Types—machinery and equipment, metals and metal products, textiles, autos, chemicals, electrical and electronic equipment.

GEOGRAPHY

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, but 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.

PEOPLE

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. In 2005, Japan's population declined for the first time, two years earlier than predicted. High sanitary and health standards produce a life expectancy exceeding that of the United States.

Japan is an urban society with only about 4% 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; Sapporo with 1.6 million; Kyoto with 1.5 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 roads, 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 temples 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, Shintoism 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 many Japanese visit family graves and Buddhist temples to pay respects to ancestors.

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.

HISTORY

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 negotiated 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 and educational system and constitutional government along 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 potential threat to 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 Pesca-dores 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 Man-chukuo. In 1933, Japan resigned from the League of Nations. The Japanese invasion of China in 1937 followed Japan's signing of the “anti-Comin-tern 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 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. 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 judiciary is independent.

The five 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), and the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

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 in July 1993, in which the LDP failed for the first time to win a majority. The LDP returned to power in 1994, with majorities in both houses of the Diet. In elections in July 2007, the LDP lost its majority in the upper house, with the DPJ now holding the largest number of seats but with no party possessing a clear majority. Currently, the LDP maintains a majority in the lower house.

Shinzo Abe was elected Prime Minister in a Diet vote in September 2006. Abe was the first prime minister to be born after World War II and the youngest prime minister since the war. However, Abe resigned abruptly on September 12, 2007, not long after the LDP lost control of the upper house in the July 2007 elections in which the LDP's handing of domestic issues was a leading issue. Yasuo Fukuda of the LDP was elected Prime Minister by the Diet on September 25, 2007 to replace Abe. Fukuda, whose father served as Prime Minister in the late 1970s, is known as a moderate and for his experience building consensus behind the scenes.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 2/1/2008

Emperor: AKIHITO

Prime Min.: Yasuo FUKUDA

Chief Cabinet Sec.: Nobutaka MACHIMURA

Min. of Agriculture, Forestry, & Fisheries: Masatoshi WAKABAYASHI

Min. of Defense: Shigeru ISHIBA

Min. of Economy, Trade, & Industry: Akira AMARI

Min. of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, & Technology: Kisaburo TOKAI

Min. of Environment: Ichiro KAMOSHITA

Min. of Finance: Fukushiro NUKAGA

Min. of Foreign Affairs: Masahiko KOMURA

Min. of Health, Labor, & Welfare: Yoichi MASUZOE

Min. of Internal Affairs & Communications: Hiroya MASUDA

Min. of Justice: Kunio HATOYAMA

Min. of Land, Infrastructure, & Transport: Tetsuzo FUYUSHIBA

Min. of Ocean Policy: Tetsuzo FUYUSHIBA

State Min. for Disaster Management & Food Safety: Shinya IZUMI

State Min. for Economic & Fiscal Policy: Hiroko OTA

State Min. for Financial Services & Admin. Reform: Yoshimi WATANABE

State Min. for Gender Equality & Social Affairs: Yoko KAMIKAWA

State Min. for Okinawa & Northern Territories Affairs, Quality of Life, Science & Technology Policy, Second Chances, & Regulatory Reform: Fumio KISHIDA

Chmn., National Public Safety Commission: Shinya IZUMI

Governor, Bank of Japan: Toshihiko FUKUI

Ambassador to the US: Ryozo KATO

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Yukio TAKASU

Japan maintains an embassy in the United States at 2520 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel: 202-238-6700; fax: 202-328-2187).

ECONOMY

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 protected 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, marked by plummeting stock and real estate prices.

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 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.

Japan's long-term economic prospects are considered good, and it has largely recovered from its worst period of economic stagnation since World War II. 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. The Japanese economy is now in its longest postwar expansion after more than a decade of stagnation. Real growth in 2005 was 2.7% and was 2.2% in 2006.

Agriculture, Energy, and Minerals

Only 15% of Japan's land is arable. 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 40% 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, corn, 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.

Labor

Japan's labor force consists of some 67 million workers, 40% of whom are women. Labor union membership is about 12 million.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Japan is the world's second-largest economy and 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 and Iraq in 2005-2006. 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. Prime Minister Abe made revising or reinterpreting the Japanese constitution a priority of his administration. 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. In recent years, however, Chinese exploitation of gas fields in the East China Sea has raised Japanese concerns given disagreement over the demarcation of their maritime boundary. Prime Minister Abe’ October 2006 visits to Beijing and Seoul helped improve relations with China and South Korea that had been strained following Prime Minister Koizumi's visits to Yasukuni Shrine. At the same time, Japan maintains economic and cultural but not diplomatic relations with Taiwan, with which a strong bilateral trade relationship thrives.

Territorial disputes and historical animosities continue to strain Japan's political relations with South Korea despite growing economic and cultural ties. 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 responded to North Korea's missile launches and nuclear tests by imposing sanctions and working with the United Nations Security Council. 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 (Southern Kuriles) seized by the U.S.S.R. at the end of World War II. In August 2006, a Russian patrol shot at a Japanese fishing vessel, claiming the vessel was in Russian waters, killing one crewmember and taking three seamen into custody. The stalemate over territorial issues 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.

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. In 2006, Japan's Ground Self Defense Force completed a successful two-year mission in Iraq, and the Diet extended the Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law which allowed for Japan's Mari-time Self Defense Force refueling activities in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in the Indian Ocean. On July 10, 2007 the Japanese Government decided to extend the Air Self-Defense Force's (ASDF) airlift support mission in Iraq to July 31, 2008. Under the Iraq Special Measures Law a wing of the ASDF's C-130 transport planes, based in Kuwait, will continue to carry personnel and supplies for the U.S.-led multinational forces and the United Nations in Iraq. The law has been extended to July 31, 2009 and will be voted on again in 2008.

Japan increasingly is active in Africa and Latin America—recently concluding negotiations with Mexico and Chile 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 the Philippines, and its ongoing negotiations for EPAs with Thailand and Malaysia.

In May 2007, just prior to the G8 Summit in Heiligendamm, Prime Minister Abe announced an initiative to address greenhouse gas emissions and seek to mitigate the impact of energy consumption on climate. Japan will host the G8 Summit in 2008.

U.S.-JAPAN RELATIONS

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 elements of the Army's I Corps. The United States currently maintains approximately 50,000 troops in Japan, about half of whom are stationed in Okinawa.

Over the past decade the alliance has been strengthened through revised Defense Guidelines, which expand Japan's noncombatant role in a regional contingency, the renewal of our agreement on Host Nation Support of U.S. forces stationed in Japan, and an ongoing process called the Defense Policy Review Initiative (DPRI). The DPRI redefines roles, missions, and capabilities of alliance forces and outlines key realignment and transformation initiatives, including reducing the number of troops stationed in Okinawa, enhancing interoperability and communication between our respective commands, and broadening our cooperation in the area of ballistic missile defense.

Implementation of these agreements will strengthen our capabilities and make our alliance more sustainable. 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.

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 avian influenza, 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 the second largest contributor to the UN budget. Japan 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.

Economic Relations

U.S. economic policy toward Japan is aimed at increasing access to Japan's markets and two-way investment, stimulating domestic demand-led economic growth, promoting economic restructuring, improving the climate for U.S. investors, 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. products, including chemicals, pharmaceuticals, films and music, 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 $9.7 billion, excluding forestry products. Revenues from Japanese tourism to the United States reached nearly $13 billion in 2005.

Trade between the United States and Japan remained strong in 2006. Total trade grew about 7.3% year-on-year. U.S. exports to Japan reached $59.6 billion in 2006, up from $55.4 billion in 2005. U.S. imports from Japan totaled $148.1 billion in 2006 ($138.1 billion in 2005).

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

Last Updated: 2/19/2008

TOKYO (E) 10-5 Akasaka 1-chome, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-8420, APO/ FPO Unit 45004 Box 258 APO, AP 96337-5004, 81-3-3224-5000, Fax 81-3-3505-1862, Workweek: 0830am-1730pm, Website: http://tokyo.usembassy.gov.

DCM OMS:Barbara J. Hayden
AMB OMS:Kathryn M. Decker
DHS/ICE:Michael R. Cox
ECO:Robert F. Cekuta
FCS:John E. Peters
FM:Perry Groves
HRO:Elenita M. Shorter
MGT:David F. Davison
AMB:John Thomas Schieffer
CG:Raymond R. Baca
CON:Laurie Trost
DCM:Joseph R. Donovan
PAO:Ronald J. Post
RSO:Donald W. Weinberg
AFSA:Laurie Trost
AGR:Daniel K. Berman
AID:Charles R. Aanenson
APHIS:Angel Cielo
ATO:Michael Conlon
CLO:Robin S. Skinner, Melissa M. Frandsen & Sonia A. Smith
DAO:Capt. James R. White
DEA:Daniel G. Moore
EEO:Sheena R. Driscoll & Scott W. Hansen
FAA:Carl V. Strombom
FIN:Maureen Grewe
FMO:Joseph C. Johnson
IMO:Robert L. Adams
IPO:Daniel L. Reagan
ISO:David G. Mango
ISSO:David G. Mango & Paul Lewis
LEGATT:Lawrence J. Futa
MLO:Eric A. Jackson
POL:W Michael Meserve

NAHA (CG) 2-1-1 Toyama Urasoe City, Okinawa Japan 901-2104, APO/ FPO PSC 556 BOX 840 FPO-AP 96386-0840, (81) (98) 876-4211, Fax (81) (98) 876-4243, INMARSAT Tel 872-76-344-9547, Workweek: 08:00 ~17:00, Website: http://naha.usconsulate.gov.

ECO:Thomas Kreutzer
MGT:Dan O. Fulwiler
CG:Kevin Maher
CON:Philip Roskamp
PAO:Thomas Kreutzer
GSO:Dan O. Fulwiler
RSO:Dan O. Fulwiler
CLO:Dan Fulwiler
EEO:Carmela Conroy
IMO:Dan O. Fulwiler
ISSO:Dan O. Fulwiler
POL:Carmela Conroy

OSAKA KOBE (CG) American Consulate General, 11-5, Nishitenma 2-Chome, Kita-ku, Osaka 530-8543, Japan, APO/FPO AmConGen Osaka-Kobe, Unit 45004 Box 239, APO, AP 96337-5004, 81-6-6315-5900, Fax 81-6 6315 5915, INMARSAT Tel 76 344 9547, Workweek: Mon-Fri/0800-1700, Website: http://osaka.usconsulate.gov.

FCS:Brad Harker
MGT:Bob Kingman
POL ECO:Phil Cummings
PO:Daniel R. Russel
CON:Paul J. Howard
PAO:Ida Heckenbach
COM:Brad Harker
CLO:Kumi Miyawaki
EEO:Todd Katschke
IPO:Ron Yonashiro
ISSO:Ron Yonashiro

SAPPORO (CG) Kita 1-Jo Nishi 28-Chome, Chuo-Ku, SapPOro 064-0821, APO/FPO Unit 45004, Box 276, APO, AP 96337-0003, 81-11-641-1115, Fax 81-11-643-1283, Work-week: 8:30 a.m.—5:30 p.m. except designated holidays, Website: http://sapPOro.usconsulate.gov.

MGT:Ian T. Hillman
CG:Marrie Y. Schaefer
CON:Ian T. Hillman
PAO:Marrie Y. Schaefer
IMO:Shinji Hosokawa (Fsn)
ISO:Dave G. Mango

FUKUOKA (C) 5-26 Ohori 2-chome, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka 810-0052, APO/ FPO Unit 45004, Box 242, APO, AP 96337-5004, 81-92-751-9331, Fax 81-92-713-9222, INMARSAT Tel 38 313 2643, Workweek: 8:45 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Mon-Friday, Website: http://fukuoka.usconsulate.gov.

ECO:James T. Crow
MGT:Mark D. Baron
PO:Joyce S. Wong
CON:Mark D. Baron
PAO:John A. Dyson
GSO:Mark D. Baron
FMO:Mark D. Baron
IMO:Mark D. Baron
ISSO:Mark D. Baron

NAGOYA (C) Nagoya Kokusai Center Bldg., 6th Fl., 1-47-1, Nagono, Nakamura-ku, Nagoya, Japan 450-0001, APO/FPO Embassy Tokyo (for Nagoya), Unit 45004, Box 280, APO, AP 96337-5004, 81-52-581-4501, Fax 81-52-581-3190, INMARSAT Tel 00763449534, Workweek: 8:30-17:30 M-F, Website: http://nagoya.usconsulate.gov.

DHS/CIS:Joni Jarus
FCS:Edward Yagi
PO:Daniel A. Rochman
CON:Jonas Stewart
PAO:Jonas Stewart

YOKOHAMA 152-3 Yamate-cho, Naka-ku, Yokohama, Japan 231-0862, APO/FPO PSC 472 Box 2, FPO, AP 96348, (81) (45) 622-6514, Fax (81) (45) 622-6516, INMARSAT Tel 8816 2145-4473 (iridium), Workweek: 08:30-17:30

PO:Rob Kuntz

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

January 23, 2008

Country Description: Japan is a stable, highly developed parliamentary democracy with a modern economy. Tourist facilities are widely available. Find information quickly and easily on consular services for all of Japan, including registration, passport renewal, legal matters and safety and security, using convenient, alphabetized links at http://japan.usembassy.gov/acs.

Entry Requirements: A valid passport and, for tourist/business “visa free” stays up to 90 days, an onward/ return ticket are required. Passports must be valid for the intended period of stay in Japan. A visa is not required for tourist/business stays up to 90 days. Americans cannot work on a 90-day “visa free” entry. As a general rule, “visa free” entry status may not be changed to another visa status without departing and then re-entering Japan with the appropriate visa such as a spouse, work or study visa.

All foreign nationals entering Japan, with the exemption of certain categories listed below, are required to provide fingerprint scans and be photographed at the port of entry. This requirement does not replace any existing visa or passport requirements. Foreign nationals exempt from this new requirement include special permanent residents, persons under 16 years of age, holders of diplomatic or official visas, and persons invited by the head of a national administrative organization. U.S. travelers on official business must have a diplomatic or official visa specifying the nature of travel as “As Diplomat,” “As Official,” or “In Transit” to be exempt from biometric collection. All other visa holders, including those with diplomatic and official visas stating “As Temporary Visitor,” are subject to this requirement. SOFA personnel are exempt from the new biometrics entry requirements under SOFA Article 9 (2).

U.S. citizens entering or transiting Japan should ensure that their passports and visas are up to date before leaving the United States. Airlines have mistakenly boarded U.S. citizens coming to Japan, even though their passports had already expired. The U.S. Embassy or our consulates cannot “vouch for” a U.S. citizen without a valid passport, and passport services are not available at the airport. In some instances, travelers have been returned immediately to the U.S., while in other cases, they have been issued 24-hour “shore passes” and were required to return the next day to Japanese Immigration for lengthy processing.

Airlines in Japan will deny boarding to Americans who seek to transit Japan without the required travel documents for their final destinations in Asia. Many Asian countries require that travelers hold passports valid for a minimum of six months. It is not usually possible to obtain a new U.S. passport and foreign visa during a brief stopover while transiting Japan, as tourist passport processing in Japan can take approximately two weeks.

Airlines in Japan will deny boarding to Americans for onward flights to China if the U.S. passport holder does not have a Chinese visa. Transit visas in China are required for any stop (even if the traveler does not exit the plane or train). Without preplanning the entire trip, the traveler is faced with having to obtain a Chinese visa in Japan, which can be a lengthy and complex process. The Chinese Embassy requires at least one full, blank page to be available in the passport. The U.S. Embassy and Consulates cannot assist in obtaining Chinese visas.

Military/SOFA Travelers: While active-duty U.S. military personnel may enter Japan under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with proper Department of Defense (DOD) identification and travel orders, all SOFA family members, civilian employees and contractors must have a valid passport and, in some cases, a SOFA visa to enter Japan. Active-duty military personnel should obtain a tourist passport prior to leaving the United States to accommodate off-duty travel elsewhere in Asia as obtaining one while in Japan can take several weeks. Personnel whose duties will include official travel should also obtain an Official Passport before coming to Japan to avoid delays of up to two months, as these overseas applications must be referred to a special office in Washington, adding to processing times. DOD travelers should consult the DOD Foreign Clearance Guide, DOD 4500.54 before leaving the United States.

New Long Term Residency Requirements: Japan recently modified its Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act. The law now requires that certain long-term residents who obtained their status by being of Japanese descent (Nikkei or sansei, etc) provide satisfactory evidence that they do not have a criminal record in their home country when renewing their resident card. However, because Japanese requirements do not appear to be a clear-cut, the Embassy highly recommends that residents consult with their local immigration office before starting the process of obtaining their U.S. criminal record. For more details about the Japanese requirements, check with the nearest immigration office in Japan, http://www.moj.go.jp/ENGLISH/information/ib-09.html. U.S. citizens with long-term resident status in Japan who are required to provide evidence that they do not have criminal records should contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and provide it with a copy of their fingerprints. To request such service, please follow the guidance listed at http://www.fbi.gov/hq/cjisd/fprequest.htm.

Also, it is important to remember that “Long Term Resident” (Teijusha) and “Permanent Resident” (Eijusha) are different and are subject to different requirements.

For more information about the Japanese visa waiver for tourists, Japan's strict rules on work visas, special visas to take depositions, and other visa issues, travelers should consult the Consular Section of the Embassy of Japan at 2520 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008, tel. (202) 238-6800, or the nearest Japanese consulate. Our posts in Japan cannot assist in obtaining visas for Japan.

Safety and Security: The events of September 11, 2001, serve as a reminder of the continuing threat from terrorists and extremist groups to Americans and American interests worldwide. There have been no major terrorist incidents in Japan since 1995; however, since terrorists can strike at any time and at any place, U.S. citizens should be aware of the potential risks and take these into consideration when making travel plans. The security situation in Japan remains the same with no new credible threat information. The Government of Japan has maintained heightened security measures at key facilities and ports of entry, as counter terrorism precautions linked to the increased tensions in the Middle East.

Our offices in Japan disseminate threat information through our nationwide email warden system and post current threat information on the U.S. Embassy's American Citizens Services (ACS) web site at http://japan.usembassy.gov/acs. The Department of State will continue to develop information about potential threats to U.S. citizens overseas, and to share threat information through its consular information program documents, available from the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page. The government of Japan is vigilant in tracking terrorist threat indicators and remains at a high state of alert. Local police substations (Koban) and police emergency dispatchers (tel. 110) should be contacted to report suspicious activity.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's web site, where the current World-wide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found. Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States and Canada, or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas.

Crime: Crimes against U.S. citizens in Japan usually only involve personal disputes, theft or vandalism. The general crime rate in Japan is at levels well below the U.S. national average. Violent crime is rare, but does exist. Incidents of pick pocketing of foreigners in crowded shopping areas, on trains and at airports have been a sporadic concern. Every year, a number of Americans report their passports lost or stolen at Narita Airport, especially passports being carried in pockets. Some Americans report that Japanese police procedures appear to be less sensitive and responsive to a victim's concerns than would be the case in the United States, particularly in cases involving domestic violence, sexual assault, and when both the victim and the perpetrator are foreigners. Few victim's assistance resources or battered women's shelters exist in major urban areas, and are generally unavailable in rural areas. Investigations of sexual assault crimes are often conducted without women police officers present and typically involve inquiries into the victim's sexual history and previous relationships. Quality of translations can vary significantly, and has proven unsettling to some American victims.

Concerns Regarding Roppongi, Tokyo: The majority of crimes reported by Americans have occurred in Roppongi, an entertainment district that caters to foreign clientele. Incidents involving U.S. Citizens since spring 2004 include murder, assault, overdoses on heroin allegedly purchased in Roppongi, theft of purses and wallets at bars in clubs, exorbitant bar tabs and drugs allegedly slipped into drinks. A number of Americans have also been arrested over the past year in Roppongi for various offenses. You can read about these reported incidents in our monthly newsletter by subscribing to it or by reading it on http://japan.usembassy.gov/acs. Please be aware that Roppongi has also been the scene of recent violence between criminal syndicates. Americans are urged to keep these incidents in mind and exercise caution should they choose to visit Roppongi.

Police can be summoned throughout Japan by dialing 110. Fire and ambulance services can be summoned by dialing 119. These numbers may not work from cell phones, however, and English-speaking dispatchers may not be available. Advice on how to call for an ambulance in Japan is available at http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-call.html. Persons seeking assistance should be able to describe their address/location in Japanese or enlist a friend who can do so, as few police officers speak English.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney, if needed.

Except for emergencies, a replacement passport takes two to three weeks to process. Travelers will then need to contact Japanese Immigration to have their Japanese visas reissued. “Lost” passports will not disguise an over-stay of one's 90-day entry, as Japanese Immigration records are computerized. Information on replacing a lost passport, included the necessary forms, is available at http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-7130e.html.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: While medical care in Japan is good, English-speaking physicians and medical facilities that cater to Americans’ expectations are expensive and not very widespread. Japan has a national health insurance system, which is available only to foreigners with long-term visas for Japan. National health insurance does not pay for medical evacuation or medical care outside of Japan. Medical caregivers in Japan require payment in full at the time of treatment or concrete proof of ability to pay before treating a foreigner who is not a member of the national health insurance plan.

U.S.-style and standard psychiatric care can be difficult to locate in major urban centers in Japan, and generally is not available outside of Japan's major cities. Extended psychiatric care for foreigners in Japan is difficult to obtain at any price; see http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-psychadmissions.html for more information.

U.S. prescriptions are not honored in Japan, so travelers with ongoing prescription medicine needs should arrive with a sufficient supply to see them through their stay in Japan, or enough until they are able to see a local care provider. Certain medications, including some commonly prescribed for depression and Attention Deficient Disorder (ADD), are not widely available. Please see the section below entitled, “Confiscation of Prescription Drugs and Other Medication,” regarding the importation of medicine into Japan. More information on importing medicines into Japan is also available at http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-medimport.html.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); or via the CDC's Internet site at http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) web site at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. It can be both difficult and expensive for foreigners not insured in Japan to receive medical care. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation can cost anywhere from $30,000 to $120,000. Private U.S. citizens are ineligible for treatment at U.S. military hospitals in Japan or U.S. military medical evacuation to the U.S. Access to military facilities is controlled solely by the military; veterans with service-connected disabilities should contact the appropriate U.S. military hospital before traveling to Japan. In the event of death, the cost of preparation and shipment of remains to the U.S is over $15,000. Almost no health care providers accept U.S.-based health insurance “up front”; patients pay in cash and then seek reimbursement from their insurance company once they return home. Most small clinics and some large hospitals do not accept credit/debit cards. No facility accepts checks drawn on U.S. bank accounts.

The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Japan is provided for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Driving in Japan is quite complicated and expensive. Those who cannot read the language will have trouble understanding road signs. Highway tolls are assessed at about $1 (U.S.) per mile. City traffic is often very congested. A 20-mile trip in the Tokyo area may take two hours. There is virtually no legal roadside parking. In mountainous areas, roads are often closed during the winter, and cars should be equipped with tire chains. Roads in Japan are much narrower than those in the United States. Japanese compulsory insurance (JCI) is mandatory for all automobile owners and drivers in Japan. Most short-term visitors choose not to drive in Japan. Vehicular traffic moves on the left. Turns at red lights are forbidden, unless specifically authorized.

Japanese law provides that all persons who drive in Japan are held liable in the event of an accident, and assesses fault in an accident on all parties. Drivers stopped for driving under the influence of intoxicants will have their licenses confiscated. Persons found guilty of “drunken, speeding or blatantly careless driving resulting in injury” are subject to up to 15 years in prison. The National Police Agency (NPA) oversees the administration and enforcement of traffic laws. Further information in English is available on the NPA's web site at http://www.npa.go.jp/english/index.htm.

Emergency Assistance: Within Japan, please dial 110 for police, and 119 for ambulance. For roadside assistance, please contact JAF (Japan Automobile Federation) at 03-5730-0111 in Tokyo, 072-645-0111 in Osaka, 011-857-8139 in Sapporo, 092-841-5000 in Fukuoka, or 098-877-9163 in Okinawa.

For specific information concerning Japanese driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the Japan National Tourist Organization offices in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York or San Francisco via the Internet at http://www.jnto.go.jp. In addition, information about roadside assistance, rules of the road and obtaining a Japanese driver's license is available in English from the Japan Automobile Federation (JAF) web site at http://www.jaf.or.jp/e/index.htm.

International Driving Permits (IDP): An international driving permit issued in the United States by the American Automobile Association (AAA) or the American Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA) is required of short-term visitors who drive in Japan. International driving permits are not issued by the U.S. Embassy or by its Consulates and must be obtained prior to arriving in Japan. IDPs issued via the Internet and/or by other organizations are not considered valid in Japan. IDPs issued to Americans in third countries where they are not resident are often considered invalid, or are subject to close scrutiny.

“Residents” are expected to convert to or obtain a Japanese drivers license. Persons using an international driver's license who are resident in Japan can be subject to fines or arrest. The exact boundary between “resident” and “non-resident” is unclear. In practice it seems to involve more than simply visa status or length of stay in Japan and is determined by the police. In short, an international license is not a permanent or expedient substitute for a valid Japanese license. You can learn more at http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-drive.html.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Japan's Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Japan's air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may visit the FAA web site at http://www.faa.gov.

Customs Regulations: Japan has very strict laws regarding the importation and possession of firearms and other weapons. Persons bringing a firearm or sword into Japan (including target and trophy pistols, air guns, some pocket knives and Japanese-origin swords) may have these items confiscated by Japanese customs authorities, and may be arrested, prosecuted and deported or jailed. Some prescription medications, as well as some over-the-counter medications, cannot be imported into Japan. Please contact the Japanese Embassy or nearest Japanese Consulate in the United States, or visit the Japan Customs web site in English online at http://www.customs.go.jp for specific information regarding import restrictions and customs requirements.

Japanese customs authorities encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet for the temporary importation into Japan of professional equipment, commercial samples and/or goods for exhibitions and trade fairs. ATA Carnet Headquarters located at the U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036 issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet in the United States. For additional information, please call (212) 354-4480, or send an email to [email protected], or visit http://www.uscib.org/ for details.

Confiscation of Prescription Drugs and Other Medication: Decisions on what medications may be imported legally into Japan are made by the Japanese Government, and unfortunately the limited information available at the American Embassy and Consulate does not include comprehensive lists of specific medications or ingredients.

It is illegal to bring into Japan some over-the-counter medicines commonly used in the United States, including inhalers and some allergy and sinus medications. Specifically, products that contain stimulants (medicines that contain pseudoephe-drine such as Actifed, Sudafed, and Vicks inhalers) or codeine are prohibited. Up to a two-month supply of allowable over-the-counter medication and up to a four-month supply of allowable vitamins can be brought into Japan duty-free. Some U.S. prescription medications cannot be imported into Japan, even when accompanied by a customs declaration and a copy of the prescription. Generally, up to one month's supply of allowable prescription medicine can be brought into Japan. Travelers must bring a copy of their doctor's prescription as well as a letter stating the purpose of the drug. Travelers should not mail prescription medicine including insulin and injectors without obtaining an import certification called “Yakkan-Syoumei” from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. More information on importing medicines into Japan is also available at http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-medimport.html.

Japanese physicians can often prescribe similar, but not identical, substitutes to medicines available in the United States. A Japanese doctor, consulted by phone in advance, is also a good source of information on medications available and/or permitted in Japan. A list of English-speaking medical facilities throughout Japan is available on our web site at http://japan.usembassy.gov. Some popular medications legal in the U.S., such as Prozac and Viagra, are sold illegally in Japan on the black market. You are subject to arrest and imprisonment if you purchase such drugs illegally while in Japan.

Persons traveling to Japan carrying prescription and non-prescription medications should consult the Japanese Embassy, or a Japanese Consulate, in the United States before leaving the U.S. to confirm whether they will be allowed to bring the particular medication into Japan. A full listing of phone numbers and email addresses is available at www.us.emb-japan.go.jp/jicc/consulat.htm.

Pets: The Japanese Animal Quarantine Service (AQS) http://www.maff-aqs.go.jp/english/index.htm has radically revised its procedures for importing pets. In most instances, the process will take at least seven (7) months from the date of the first rabies vaccination before a pet may enter Japan, so advance planning is critical. More information about importing a pet into Japan is available at http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-petsi.html. More information about exporting a pet from Japan is available at http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-petse.html.

Consular Access: U.S. citizens must carry their U.S. passports or Japanese alien registration cards with them at all times so that, if questioned by local officials, the U.S. citizen can establish proof of identity and citizenship. Under Japanese law, the police may stop any person on the street at any time and demand to see an ID. If a foreigner does not have with him/her either a passport or valid Japanese Alien Registration Card, s/he is subject to arrest. Due to recent crackdowns by the police, such random stops for ID are becoming increasingly more common, especially in areas frequented by foreigners. In accordance with the U.S.-Japan Consular Convention, U.S. consular officers are generally notified within 24 hours of the arrest of a U.S. citizen, if the U.S. citizen requests consular notification.

Conditions at Prisons and Detention Facilities: Japanese prisons and detention facilities maintain internal order through a regime of very strict discipline. American-citizen prisoners often complain of stark, austere living conditions and psychological isolation. A prisoner can become eligible for parole only after serving about 60-70% of his/her sentence. Early parole is not allowed for any reason—humanitarian, medical or otherwise. Access to competent interpreters is not required at all times under Japanese criminal law. More information is available at http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-7110a.html. Japan acceded to the Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons on June 1, 2003.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking Japanese law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Japanese law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Persons arrested in Japan, even for a minor offense, may be held in detention without bail for two to three months during the investigation and legal proceedings. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States. A list of English-speaking lawyers throughout Japan is available on our web site at http://japan.usembassy.gov.

Illegal Drugs: Penalties for possession or use of, or trafficking in illegal drugs, including marijuana, in Japan are strict, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and fines. In most drug cases, suspects are detained incommunicado, which bars them from receiving visitors or corresponding with anyone other than a lawyer or U.S. consular officer until after indictment, which may take several months. Solitary confinement is common.

People can be convicted of drug use based on positive blood or urine tests alone, and multiple Americans are now serving time in Japanese prisons as the result of sting operations and the use of informants. The Japanese police routinely share information on drug arrests with Interpol, assuring that notice of the arrest will reach U.S. law enforcement agencies. About half of all Americans now in prison in Japan are incarcerated for drug-related crimes.

Japanese authorities aggressively pursue drug smugglers with sophisticated detection equipment, “sniffing” dogs and other methods. Travelers and their luggage entering Japan are screened at ports of entry; incoming and outgoing mail, as well as international packages sent via DHL or FEDEX, is also checked carefully. The Japanese police make arrests for even the smallest amounts of illegal drugs. Several Americans are now in custody after having mailed illegal drugs to themselves from other countries. Other Americans are serving time for having tried to bring drugs into Japan as paid couriers working out of Southeast Asia or Europe.

Immigration Penalties: Japanese work visas are issued outside of Japan for a specific job with a specific employer at a specific place of employment, and are not transferable. It is illegal for U.S. citizens to work in Japan while in tourist or visa-waiver status. Japanese authorities do not allow foreigners to change their immigration status from visa-waiver status to work status while in Japan. Japanese immigration officers may deny entry to travelers who appear to them to have no visible means of support. Please contact the Japanese Embassy or nearest Japanese Consulate in the United States for guidance on what constitutes adequate financial support for a specific period of time. A U.S. citizen who works in Japan without a work visa may be subject to arrest, which can involve several weeks or months of incarceration, followed by conviction and imprisonment or deportation. The deportee must bear the cost of deportation, including legal expenses and airfare.

Due to recent changes in the law, penalties for overstaying one's visa or working illegally have toughened substantially. Fines can run into thousands of dollars, and in some cases re-entry bans can be as long as ten years or indefinite for drug offenders.

Employment Issues: Although the Japanese economy is emerging slowly from a prolonged recession, U.S. citizens are advised against coming to work in Japan without the proper working visa arranged ahead of time, or in the hopes of earning a large salary. Teaching English, even with private students, and serving as a hostess, are both considered “work” in Japan and are illegal without the proper visa.

Some U.S.-based employment agencies and Japanese employers do not fully discuss, or correctly represent, the true nature of employment terms and conditions. U.S. consular officers in Japan receive numerous complaints from U.S. citizens who come to Japan to work as English teachers, carpenters, models, actors, entertainers, exotic dancers and bar hostesses. These complaints include contract violations, non-payment of salary for months at a time, sexual harassment, intimidation and threats of arrest, deportation and physical assault.

A minimum requirement for effectively seeking the protection of Japanese labor law is a written and signed work contract. Without such a contract, Japanese authorities do not intervene on behalf of foreign workers. It is prudent for U.S. citizens coming to work in Japan to carefully review their contracts and the bona fides of their Japanese employer before traveling to Japan. U.S. consular officers generally are unable to confirm the bona fides of prospective Japanese employers, although they may be familiar with organizations about which they have received complaints in the past. If asked to do something they find troubling, U.S. citizens may wish to reassess their reason for being in Japan and consider terminating their employment and returning to the United States. Complaints against U.S.-based employment agencies or recruiters may be directed to the Better Business Bureau at http://welcome.bbb.org or the Office of the Attorney General of the state in question.

Living Expenses: Japan's cost of living is one of the highest in the world. The use of credit/debit cards is not widespread, particularly outside major cities. While there are ATMs in Japan, most are not open 24 hours a day or do not accept a U.S.-based card. ATMs at major airports, foreign bank branches and Japanese Post Offices are more likely to accept foreign cards than other locations. Taxi fares from airports to downtown Osaka and Tokyo can cost hundreds of dollars; bus fare can run US$25 or more. The airport departure fee is generally included in the ticket prices of flights departing from both Narita (Tokyo) International Airport and Kansai (Osaka) International Airport.

English Help And Information Lines: Tourists and foreign residents in Japan have access to valuable information, including professional counseling, via help and information telephone hotlines. The Tokyo English Lifeline (http://www.telljp.com/) provides English-speaking counseling and referrals at 03-5774-0992. The Japan Help Line provides similar assistance nationwide at 0570-000-911 (domestic), 813-3435-8017 (international) (http://www.jhelp.com/).

Disaster Preparedness: Japan is faced with the ever-present danger of deadly earthquakes and typhoons. Japan is one of the most seismically active locations in the world; minor tremors are felt regularly throughout the islands. While responsibility for caring for disaster victims, including foreigners, rests with the Japanese authorities, one of the first things a traveler should do upon arriving in Japan is to learn about earthquake and disaster preparedness from hotel or local government officials. Additional details on self-preparedness are available via the Internet at http://japan.usembassy.gov/acs and on the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) home page at http://www.fema.gov

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family. Japan is not a Hague Convention signatory, and U.S. court custody decisions are not enforceable in Japan. Almost all children born to a Japanese parent since the 1980s are Japanese citizens and may travel on Japanese passports issued in the U.S. even if the left-behind parent in the U.S. does not agree to the issuance of a U.S. passport. The Embassy and our Consulates do not have access to Japanese Immigration records and cannot confirm that a child has entered or departed Japan. The Japanese government will not refuse entry to one of its citizens, even if that citizen is a dual-national child subject to a U.S. court-based custody decision. The Embassy and our Consulates cannot serve process, appear in court on a U.S.-based parent's behalf or carry out US.-based arrest warrants. Parents who attempt to re-abduct their children may be subject to kidnapping charges.

Registration and Embassy Locations: Americans living in or visiting Japan are encouraged to register through the State Department's travel registration web site or through the Embassy's web site at http://japan.usembassy.gov/acs where they may also obtain updated information on travel and security within Japan. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, U.S. citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. U.S. citizens resident in or visiting Japan are encouraged to sign up for an e-mail newsletter at http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/tacs-main.html. Alien registration formalities required under Japanese immigration law are separate from U.S. citizen registration. In accordance with the Privacy Act, information on your welfare or whereabouts may not be released to inquirers without your expressed written authorization.

All consular information for Japan is available at http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/tacs-main.html.

A full list of our holiday closings is available at http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-holidays.html. Subscribers to our monthly email newsletter (available from http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/tacs-main.html#newsletter) receive regular updates on holiday closings.

The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo is located at 1-10-5 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-8420 Japan; telephone 81-3-3224-5000; fax 81-3-3505-1862; American Citizen Services fax81-3-3224-5856. Recorded visa information for non-U.S. citizens is available at the following 24-hour toll phone number: 03-5354-4033.

The U.S. Consulate General in Osaka-Kobe is located at 2-11-5 Nish-itenma, Kita-ku, Osaka 530-8543; telephone 81-6-6315-5900; fax 81-6-6315-5914. Recorded information for U.S. citizens concerning U.S. passports, notarials and other American citizen services is available 24 hours at 81-6-6315-5900.

The U.S. Consulate General in Naha is located at 2-1-1 Toyama, Urasoe, Okinawa 901-2104; telephone 81-98-876-4211; fax 81-98-876-4243.

The U.S. Consulate General in Sapporo is located at Kita 1-Jo Nishi 28-chome, Chuo-ku, Sapporo 064-0821; telephone 81-11-641-1115, fax 81-11-643-1283.

The U.S. Consulate in Fukuoka is located at 2-5-26 Ohori, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka 810-0052; telephone 81-92-751-9331; fax 81-92-713-9222.

The U.S. Consulate in Nagoya is located at Nagoya International Center Bldg. 6th floor, 1-47-1 Nagono, Nakamura-ku, Nagoya 450-0001; telephone 81-52-581-4501; fax 81-52-581-3190.

The U.S. Consulate in Nagoya offers limited emergency consular services for U.S. citizens. Consular officers from Osaka also travel to Nagoya on the second Wednesday of each month to provide Americans with notarial services, passport renewals, and report of birth and passport applications for newborn children on an appointment basis.

To schedule an appointment for these American Citizen Services, contact Consulate General Osaka-Kobe at [email protected], fax 06-6315-5914, or call 06-6315-5912 between 9:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Maps to all our offices in Japan, along with directions on using public transportation to reach us, are available at http://japan.usembassy.gov.

International Adoption

March 2007

The information in this section has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

General: The following is a guide for U.S. citizens who are interested in adopting a child in Japan and applying for an immigrant visa for the child to come to the United States. U.S. consular officers give each petition careful consideration on a case-by-case basis to ensure that the legal requirements of both countries are met, for the protection of the prospective adoptive parent(s), the biological parents(s) and the child. Interested U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to contact U.S. consular officials in Japan before formalizing an adoption agreement to ensure that they have followed appropriate procedures which will make it possible for the Embassy to issue the child a U.S. immigrant visa.

Please Note: There are two types of Japanese adoptions, known as “regular” and “special.” Regular adoptions do not completely sever the ties between a child and his/her birth family, and therefore may not be sufficient basis for a U.S. immigrant visa. American prospective adoptive parents considering pursuing a “regular” adoption in Japan are strongly advised to consult with the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo before completing the Japanese adoption process.

Availability Of Japanese Children For Adoption: Both Japanese and foreign children are available for adoption in Japan. Most of the orphans adopted in Japan by foreigners are Japanese. Among the cases of foreign children adopted by foreigners in Japan, many of the children are related to the adoptive U.S. parents and may have lived with the adoptive parents in Japan for more than two years.

Adoption Authorities: The Family Court and the Child Guidance Center (CGC)—often located in the City or Ward Office—are the government offices responsible for adoption in Japan. They have jurisdiction over the placement of children, home studies, and adoptions.

Eligibility Requirements for Prospective Adoptive Parents: Japanese law allows two types of adoptions: special and regular. In special adoptions, one of the adoptive parents must be over the age of 25 and the other must be at least 20 years old. Depending on the applicable U.S. State law, the Family Court may allow single parents to adopt on a case-by-case basis.

Residency Requirements: The Court will not consider adoption applications by prospective parents who are in Japan on temporary visitor visas. At least one prospective parent must show evidence of long-term residence in Japan. When the adoption is finalized, at least one adoptive parent must appear before the court. Japanese law does not permit proxy adoptions.

Eligibility Requirements For Adoptable Children: Japanese law does not define “orphan.” Rather, a “child who requires protection” is defined as:

  • A child born out of wedlock;
  • An abandoned infant;
  • A child whose parent(s) has/have died or disappeared;
  • A child whose parents are incapable of providing support; or
  • An abused child.

The Child Guidance Center (CGC) is the local government authority responsible for determining whether a child requires protection. The CGC may issue a certificate to a “child who requires protection,” but only if the child has been placed under the care of the child welfare authorities. The CGC will not issue a certificate if the child is to be adopted abroad or if the child will benefit from a privately arranged adoption.

Under Japanese law, an adoptable child is any minor who has been irrevocably released for adoption by his/ her sole surviving parent, legal guardian, both parents (if both are living and remain married), the biological mother (in the case of an out-of-wedlock birth), or the institution that has custody of the child. If the child is not Japanese, the Family Court with jurisdiction over the adoption will consider an adoptable child to be any child who has met the pre-adoption requirements of the child's country of nationality. The surviving parent has the legal capacity to transfer custody of the child to a second party by signing a “statement of release of orphan for emigration and adoption.” If the surviving biological parent is a minor, i.e., under 20 years old, then the biological parent's own parent or guardian must also sign a similar statement.

Time Frame: Adopting a child through the Family Court requires at least nine months, sometimes longer. The Family Court imposes no time limit on when an adoption must be completed.

Adoption Fees: Although costs can vary widely, the average total cost of adoption in Japan is approximately $20,000. This includes fees for the Family Court, adoption agency, immigration processing, airfare, lodging, and document translations and authentications. Adoption agency fees range from $2000 to $60,000, so the overall cost of the adoption often depends on which agency the parents choose. Parents may incur additional costs when adopting non-Japanese children or children with medical problems

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys: Neither adoption agencies nor attorneys are required to process an intercountry adoption in Japan. However, Japanese attorneys specializing in adoptions do exist, and the Japanese government does maintain a list of recommended adoption agencies. All adoption agencies in Japan are privately operated. American prospective adoptive parents who would like to contact adoption agencies in Japan can obtain a list of adoption agencies on the U.S. Embassy's website.

Adoption Procedures: Prospective adoptive parents may find children available for adoption either through the Child Guidance Center (CGC) or private parties such as missionaries, social welfare organizations or adoption agencies. Once a child has been identified, the adoptive parents may apply to adopt the child through the local Family Court. When an adoption involves at least one foreign citizen—either parent or child—the Family Court applies the home country law of the foreign party. For U.S. citizen adoptive parents, the Court will consider the law governing inter-country adoptions in the parents’ state of legal domicile. When the child is non-Japanese, the Family Court decides whether the case meets the pre-adoption requirements of the child's home country. If, for example, the home country adoption law requires a third party or home country government authority to approve or consent to the child's adoption, the Family Court requires this approval.

Regular adoptions: Regular adoptions occur with or without the court's consent if the minor child is a descendant of one of the adoptive parents. The City Office may register a regular adoption without the Family Court's consent. If the child is not a lineal descendant of the adoptive parents, the Family Court must adjudicate the adoption before the City Office will legally register the adoption decree. Unlike a special adoption, these adoptions in Japan do not fully sever ties between the adopted child and the biological parents. For example, Japanese inheritance law recognizes that a child adopted in a regular adoption may still have inheritance rights from the biological parents. In addition, regular adoptions can be easily dissolved. Thus, a regular adoption may not permanently create the distinctly new family relationship envisioned by most American adoptive parents.

Special Adoptions: As in U.S. adoptions, this procedure severs the child's ties, rights, and privileges with regard to the birth parent(s) and any prior adoptive parent(s).

When the child and adoptive parents are not blood relatives, the adoptive parents must petition the Family Court with jurisdiction over the child's residence in Japan. After reviewing the documents, the Court informs the adoptive parents of the date of their court hearing. Typically, the Court will schedule the first hearing at the end of a trial six-month period. During this trial period, the court-appointed investigator visits the family's home an average of three times, observing the interaction between the parents and the child. On the designated date, the child, the prospective parents, and the court-appointed investigator must attend a hearing in front of the judge. In most cases, the Court requires only one hearing, but the judge may call for additional hearings if necessary. Approximately two to three weeks after the final hearing, the judge will decide whether or not to approve the adoption. If the judge approves the petition, the Court issues a certificate allowing “Permission to adopt” (yoshi to suru koto o kyoka-suru). The adoptive parents must then register the adoption at the City or Ward Office. If the biological parents or any interested parties do not object within two weeks of the registration, the adoption is considered final.

Prospective parents filing for a special adoption should be aware of the following:

  • The child must be under the age of six at the time the adoption petition is filed OR under the age of eight and must have been placed under the continuous care and custody of the prospective adoptive parents since before the child's sixth birthday.
  • Two adoptive parents must jointly consent to the adoption. Single parents may only pursue a special adoption with the Family Court's consent.
  • One of the adoptive parents must be over 25 years of age and the other must be over 20 years old.

All persons with legal custody of the child, including the biological and adoptive parents, must consent to the adoption, EXCEPT IF:

  • The biological parents are incapable of declaring their intent;
  • Family Court rules that the biological parents have treated the child with “cruelty;”
  • The biological parents have abandoned the child; or
  • Any other cause “seriously harmful to the benefits of the person to be adopted” exists.

The child must be in the custody of, and residing with, the adoptive parents for at least six months before the Family Court will render a final judgment and issue an adoption decree.

Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Japanese Birth and Adoption Records: The Japanese extract of the family register (koseki shohon) generally contains all current information that might otherwise be available in separate birth, adoption, marriage, divorce, or death records. In a special adoption, the koseki shohon only shows the name of the adoptive parents, as if they were the biological parents. In a regular adoption, both the biological and adoptive parents’ names appear on the child's koseki shohon.

Evidence of a full and final Japanese adoption may take one of two basic forms. In regular adoptions where the Family Court gives permission to adopt, the certificate of “permission to adopt” together with the child's family register showing the adoption, serves as proof of legal adoption. In special adoptions were the Family Court grants the adoption, the final adoption decree issued by the Court serves as proof of legal adoption.

Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Registering the Adoption: When one or both of the adoptive parents is Japanese, that parent must enter the adoption on his/her family register. In the case of a regular adoption, adoptive parents may need to register the adoption with the municipal office in order to complete the adoption. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Documentary Requirements: Prospective parents must assemble and present several documents, notarized, certified, or authenticated as appropriate, to the Family Court, including:

  • Birth certificate and/or family register of all parties;
  • Copy of passport, Japanese visa, and Alien Registration card;
  • Copy of U.S. military ID (where applicable);
  • Marriage, divorce, and death certificates (where applicable);
  • Medical examination certificates;
  • Certificate of foster parent registration (where applicable);
  • Certificate of good conduct/no criminal record for each adoptive parent, issued by their home city or state police department;
  • Certificate of legal address, employment, and income;
  • Copy of any property ownership deeds and/or bank statements;
  • Biographic history of all parties;
  • Statement of consent to adopt by the child's biological parent(s) or guardian;
  • Statement of prospective parent(s) intent to adopt the identified child;
  • Pictures of all parties, preferably of parent(s) with the child;
  • Home Study approved by an authorized and licensed adoption agency;
  • Two character references.

Japanese translations are required. The Family Court or City Office will require certified Japanese translations of all documents.

U.S. Immigration Requirements: Prospective adopting parents are strongly encouraged to consult USCIS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Embassy of Japan
2520 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20008-2869
Tel: (202) 939-6700

Japan also has Consulates in Anchorage, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Honolulu, Houston, Miami, Kansas City (MO), Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, Portland (OR), Saipan (Mariana Islands), San Francisco, Seattle and Tamuning (Guam).

U.S. Embassy Tokyo
Box 205
1-10-5 Akasaka Minato-ku
Tokyo 107-8420, Japan
Tel: (81)(3) 3224-5000
Fax: (81)(3) 3224-5929

The United States also has Consulates in Naha, Osaka-Kobe, Sapporo, Fukuoka, and Nagoya.

Additional Information: Specific questions about adoption in Japan may be addressed to U.S. Embassy Tokyo at the numbers listed in this flyer. General questions regarding intercountry adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/ OCS/CI, SA-29, 4th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-407-4747.

International Parental Child Abduction

February 2008

The information in this section has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Parental Child Abduction section of this book and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is provided for general information only. Questions involving interpretation of specific foreign laws should be addressed to foreign legal counsel.

Japan is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Japanese civil law stresses that in cases where custody cannot be reached by agreement between the parents, the Japanese Family Court will resolve the issue based on the best interests of the child. However, compliance with Family Court rulings is essentially voluntary, which renders any ruling unenforceable unless both parents agree. The Civil Affairs Bureau of the Japanese Ministry of Justice states that, in general, redress in child custody cases is sought through habeas corpus proceedings in the court. There is no preferential treatment based on nationality or gender. Although visitation rights for non-custodial parents are not expressly stipulated in the Japanese Civil Code, court judgments often provide visitation rights for non-custodial parents. In practical terms, however, in cases of international parental child abduction, foreign parents are greatly disadvantaged in Japanese courts, both in terms of obtaining the return of children to the United States, and in achieving any kind of enforceable visitation rights in Japan.

The Department of State is not aware of any case in which a child taken from the United States by one parent has been ordered returned to the United States by Japanese courts, even when the left-behind parent has a United States custody decree. In the past, Japanese police have been reluctant to get involved in custody disputes or to enforce custody decrees issued by Japanese courts.

In order to bring a custody issue before the Family Court, the left-behind parent will require the assistance of a Japanese attorney. A parent holding a custody decree issued in U.S. courts must retain local Japanese counsel to apply to the Japanese courts for recognition and enforcement of the U.S. decree. For more information, please read the International Parental Child Abduction section of this book and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Criminal Remedies: For information on possible criminal remedies, please contact your local law enforcement authorities or the nearest office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Information is also available on the Internet at the web site of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, at http://www.ojjdp.ncjrs.org. Contact the country officer in the Office of Children's Issues for specific information.

For further information on international parental child abduction, contact the Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State at 1-888-407-4747 or visit its web site on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov/family. You may also direct inquiries to: Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC 20520-4811; Phone: (202) 736-9090; Fax: (202) 312-9743.

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JAPAN

Compiled from the August 2005 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Japan


PROFILE

Geography

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.

People

Nationality:

Noun and adjective—Japanese.

Population (2005 est.):

127.4 million.

Population growth rate (2005 est.):

0.05%.

Ethnic groups:

Japanese; Korean (0.6%).

Religion:

Shinto and Buddhist; Christian (about 0.7%).

Language:

Japanese.

Education:

Literacy—99%.

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%.

Government

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.

Economy

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.


GEOGRAPHY

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.


PEOPLE

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.


HISTORY

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 out-side 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-Comin-tern 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 preelection 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

Last Updated: 11/10/2005

Emperor: AKIHITO
Prime Minister: Junichiro KOIZUMI
Chief Cabinet Sec.: Shinzo ABE
Min. of Agriculture, Forestry, & Fisheries: Shoichi NAKAGAWA
Min. of Economy, Trade, & Industry: Toshihiro NIKAI
Min. of Education, Culture, Sport, Science, & Technology: Kenji KOSAKA
Min. of Environment & State Min. of Okinawa & Northern Territories Affairs: Yuriko KOIKE
Min. of Finance: Sadakazu TANIGAKI
Min. of Foreign Affairs: Taro ASO
Min. of Health, Labor, & Welfare: Jiro KAWASAKI
Min. of Internal Affairs & Communications & State Min. of Postal Reform: Heizo TAKENAKA
Min. of Justice: Seiken SUGIURA
Min. of Land, Infrastructure, & Transport: Kazuo KITAGAWA
State Min. of Administrative Reform: Koki CHUMA
State Min. of Economic & Fiscal Policy & of Financial Services: Kaoru YOSANO
State Min. of Science & Technology Policy, of Food Safety, & of Information Technology: Iwao MATSUDA
State Min. of Youth Affairs, of Measures for the Declining Birthrate, & of Gender Equality: Kuniko INOGUCHI
State Min., Japan Defense Agency: Fukushiro NUKAGA
Chmn., National Public Safety Commission: Tetsuo KUTSUKAKE
Governor, Bank of Japan: Toshihiko FUKUI
Ambassador to the US: Ryozo KATO
Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: 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).


ECONOMY

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 leader-ship 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.

Labor

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.


FOREIGN RELATIONS

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 abduct-ees 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.


U.S.-JAPAN RELATIONS

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.

Economic Relations

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

TOKYO (E) Address: 10-5 Akasaka 1-chome, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-8420; APO/FPO: Unit 45004 Box 258 APO AP 96337-5004; Phone: 81-3-3224-5000; Fax: 81-3-3505-1862; Work-week: 0830am-1730pm; Website: http://www.usembassy.state.gov/tokyo.

AMB:John Thomas Schieffer
DCM:Joseph R. Donovan
CG:Edward McKeon
POL:Michael Meserve
CON:Patty L. Hill
MGT:Kay E. Gotoh
AFSA:Joel Ehrendreich
AGR:Daniel Berman
AID:Charles R. Aanenson
APHIS:Robert Tanaka
ATO:Mark A. Dries
CLO:Marilynn Fulcher & Raul Alferez
CUS:Michael R. Cox
DAO:Mark Welch
DEA:Daniel Moore
ECO:James P. Zumwalt
EEO:Sheila Pannell
EST:Joyce Rabens
FAA:Christopher S. Metts
FAA/CASLO:Cornell Russell
FCS:Samuel H. Kidder
FIN:Richard Johnston
FMO:Francis M. Conte
GSO:Paul Wedderien
ICASS Chair:Christopher S. Metts
IMO:Kay E. Gotoh
IPO:Robert L. Adams
ISO:David Mango
ISSO:David Mango
LAB:Ann M. Kambara
LEGATT:Lawrence J. Futa
MLO:Eric A. Jackson
PAO:William M. Morgan
RSO:Gentry Smith
Last Updated: 12/28/2005

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.


TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

September 2, 2005

Country Description:

Japan is a stable, highly developed parliamentary democracy with a modern economy. Tourist facilities are widely available. Information on consular services for all of Japan, including registration, passport renewal, legal matters and safety and security, is available at http://www.tokyoacs.com/. An alphabetical listing of services is at http://japan.usembassy.gov/.

Entry Requirements:

A valid passport and an onward/return ticket are required. Passports must be valid for the intended period of stay in Japan. A visa is not required for tourist/business stays up to 90 days. Americans cannot work on a 90-day "visa free" entry. As a general rule, "visa free" entry status may not be changed to other visa status without departing and then re-entering Japan with the appropriate visa such as a spouse, work or study visa.

Japanese Visas:

For information about the Japanese visa waiver for tourists, Japan's strict rules on work visas, special visas to take depositions, and other visa issues, travelers should consult the Consular Section of the Embassy of Japan at 2520 Massachusetts Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, tel. (202) 238-6800, or the nearest Japanese consulate. Posts in Japan cannot assist in obtaining visas for Japan.

Military/SOFA Travelers:

While active-duty U.S. military personnel may enter Japan under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with proper Department of Defense (DOD) identification and travel orders, all SOFA family members, civilian employees and contractors must have a valid passport and, in some cases, a SOFA visa to enter Japan. Active-duty military personnel should obtain a tourist passport prior to leaving the United States to accommodate off-duty travel elsewhere in Asia as obtaining one while in Japan can take several weeks. Personnel whose duties will include official travel should also obtain an Official Passport before coming to Japan to avoid delays of up to two months, as from overseas these applications must be referred to a special office in Washington, adding to processing times. DOD travelers should consult the DOD Foreign Clearance Guide, DOD 4500.54 before leaving the United States.

Passport Validity:

U.S. citizens entering or transiting Japan should ensure that their passports and visas are up to date before leaving the United States. Many Asian countries deny entry to travelers whose passports are valid for less than six months. It is not usually possible to obtain a new U.S. passport and foreign visa during a brief stopover while transiting Japan, as tourist passport processing in Japan can take approximately two weeks. Airlines in Japan will deny boarding to Americans who seek to transit Japan without the required travel documents for their final destinations in Asia.

Expired Passports:

Airlines have mistakenly boarded U.S. citizens coming to Japan, even though that person's passport has already expired. The U.S. Embassy or Consulates cannot "vouch for" a U.S. citizen without a valid passport, and passport services are not available at the airport. In some instances, travelers have been returned immediately to the U.S., while in other cases, they have been issued 24-hour "shore passes" and were required to return the next day to Japanese Immigration for lengthy processing.

Visas for China:

Americans need visas to visit China. Transit visas are required for any stop (even if you do not exit the plane or train) in China. Americans will be denied boarding in Japan for onward flights to China if they do not have a Chinese visa. Obtaining a Chinese visa in Japan can be a lengthy and complex process without preplanning. The Chinese Embassy requires at least one full, blank page to be available in your passport. The U.S. Embassy and Consulates cannot assist in obtaining Chinese visas.

Citizens and nationals of the United States of America must have either a valid passport or a combination of a valid identification document containing a photograph of the holder issued by the United States of America or any of its states, cities, counties, towns or other political subdivisions, and a document containing proof of citizenship of the United States of America.

Safety and Security:

The events of September 11, 2001, serve as a reminder of the continuing threat from terrorists and extremist groups to Americans and American interests worldwide. There have been no major terrorist incidents in Japan since 1995; however, since terrorists can strike at any time and at any place, U.S. citizens should be aware of the potential risks and take these into consideration when making travel plans. Following the recent London bombings in July 2005, the security situation in Japan remains unchanged, with no new credible threat information.

State Department offices in Japan disseminate threat information through our nationwide email warden system and posts current threat information on our American Citizens Services (ACS) website at http://www.tokyoacs.com. Anyone may sign up for our emailed warden system messages through our web site. The Department of State will continue to develop information about potential threats to U.S. citizens overseas and to share threat information through its consular information program documents available on the Internet at the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov. The government of Japan is vigilant in tracking terrorist threat indicators and remains at a high state of alert. Local police substations (Koban) and police emergency dispatchers (tel. 110) should be contacted to report suspicious activity.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov/, where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found. Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or, for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime:

Crimes against U.S. citizens in Japan usually only involve personal disputes, theft or vandalism. The general crime rate in Japan is at levels well below the U.S. national average. Violent crime is rare, but does exist. Incidents of pick pocketing of foreigners in crowded shopping areas, on trains and at airports have been a sporadic concern. Narita Airport lists airport theft statistics on its website at http://www.narita-airport.jp/en/news/tounan.html. In summer 2005, a number of Americans reported their passports lost or stolen at Narita Airport, especially passports being carried in pockets. Some Americans report that Japanese police procedures appear to be less sensitive and responsive to a victim's concerns than would be the case in the United States, particularly in cases involving domestic violence, sexual assault, and when both the victim and the perpetrator are foreigners. Few victim's assistance resources or battered women's shelters exist in major urban areas, and are generally unavailable in rural areas. Investigations of sexual assault crimes are often conducted without women police officers present and typically involve inquiries into the victim's sexual history and previous relationships. Quality of translations can vary significantly, and has proven unsettling to some American victims.

Concerns Regarding Roppongi, Tokyo:

The majority of crimes reported by Americans have occurred in Roppongi, an entertainment district that caters to foreign clientele. Incidents involving U.S. Citizens since spring 2004 include a murder, overdoses on heroin allegedly purchased in Roppongi, thefts of purses and wallets at bars in clubs, exorbitant bar tabs and drugs allegedly slipped into drinks. A number of Americans have also been arrested over the past year in Roppongi for various offenses. You can read about these reported incidents in our monthly newsletter by subscribing to it or by reading it on www.tokyoacs.com. Americans are urged to keep these incidents in mind and exercise caution should they choose to visit Roppongi.

Police can be summoned throughout Japan by dialing 110. Fire and ambulance services can be summoned by dialing 119. These numbers may not work from cell phones, however, and English-speaking dispatchers may not be available. Advice on how to call for an ambulance in Japan is available at http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-call.html. Persons seeking assistance should be able to describe their address/location in Japanese or enlist a friend who can do so, as few police officers speak English.

Information for Victims of Crime:

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney, if needed.

Except for emergencies, a replacement passport takes two to three weeks to process. Travelers will then need to contact Japanese Immigration to have their Japanese visas reissued. "Lost" passports will not disguise an overstay of one's 90-day entry, as Japanese Immigration records are computerized. Information on replacing a lost passport, included the necessary forms, is available at http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs7130e.html.

Medical Facilities and Health Information:

While medical care in Japan is good, English-speaking physicians and medical facilities that cater to Americans' expectations are expensive and not very widespread. Japan has a national health insurance system, which is available only to foreigners with long-term visas for Japan. National health insurance does not pay for medical evacuation or medical care outside of Japan. Medical caregivers in Japan require payment in full at the time of treatment or concrete proof of ability to pay before treating a foreigner who is not a member of the national health insurance plan.

U.S.-style and standard psychiatric care can be difficult to locate in major urban centers in Japan, and generally is not available outside of Japan's major cities. Extended psychiatric care for foreigners in Japan is difficult to obtain at any price; see http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacspsychadmissions.html for more information.

U.S. prescriptions are not honored in Japan, so travelers with ongoing prescription medicine needs should arrive with a sufficient supply to see them through their stay in Japan, or enough until they are able to see a local care provider. Certain medications, including some commonly prescribed for depression and Attention Deficient Disorder (ADD), are not widely available. Please see the section below entitled, "Confiscation of Prescription Drugs and Other Medication," regarding the importation of medicine into Japan. More information on importing medicines into Japan is also available at http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-medimport.html. A list of English-speaking medical facilities throughout Japan is available on the web site.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance:

U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. It can be both difficult and expensive for foreigners not insured in Japan to receive medical care. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation can cost anywhere from $30,000 to $120,000. Private U.S. citizens are ineligible for treatment at U.S. military hospitals in Japan or U.S. military medical evacuation to the U.S. Access to military facilities is controlled solely by the military; veterans with service-connected disabilities should contact the appropriate U.S. military hospital before traveling to Japan. In the event of death, the cost of preparation and shipment of remains to the U.S is over $15,000. Almost no care providers accept U.S.-based health insurance "up front"; patients pay in cash and then seek reimbursement from their insurance company once they return home. Most small clinics and some large hospitals do not accept credit/debit cards. No facility accepts checks drawn on U.S. bank accounts.

The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions:

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Japan is provided for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Driving in Japan is quite complicated and expensive. Those who cannot read the language will have trouble understanding road signs. Highway tolls are assessed at about $1 (U.S.) per mile. City traffic is often very congested. A 20-mile trip in the Tokyo area may take two hours. There is virtually no legal roadside parking. In mountainous areas, roads are often closed during the winter, and cars should be equipped with tire chains. Roads in Japan are much narrower than those in the United States. Japanese compulsory insurance (JCI) is mandatory for all automobile owners and drivers in Japan. Most short-term visitors choose not to drive in Japan. Vehicular traffic moves on the left. Turns at red lights are forbidden, unless specifically authorized.

Japanese law provides that all persons who drive in Japan are held liable in the event of an accident, and assesses fault in an accident on all parties. Drivers stopped for driving under the influence of intoxicants will have their licenses confiscated. Persons found guilty of "drunken, speeding or blatantly careless driving that results in death" are subject to up to 15 years in prison. The National Police Agency (NPA) oversees the administration and enforcement of traffic laws. Further information in English is available on the NPA's web site at http://www.npa.go.jp/.

Emergency Assistance:

Within Japan, please dial 110 for police, and 119 for ambulance. For roadside assistance, please contact JAF (Japan Automobile Federation) at 03-5395-0111 in Tokyo, 06-6577-0111 in Osaka, 011-857-8139 in Sapporo, 092-841-5000 in Fukuoka, or 098-877-9163 in Okinawa.

For specific information concerning Japanese driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the Japan National Tourist Organization offices in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York or San Francisco via the Internet at http://www.jnto.go.jp/. In addition, information about roadside assistance, rules of the road and obtaining a Japanese driver's license is available in English from the Japan Automobile Federation (JAF) web site at http://www.jaf.or.jp/e/index_e.htm.

International Driving Permits (IDP):

An international driving permit issued in the United States by the American Automobile Association (AAA) or the American Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA) is required of short-term visitors who drive in Japan. International driving permits are not issued by the U.S. Embassy or by its Consulates, and must be obtained prior to arriving in Japan. IDP's issued via the Internet and/or by other organizations are not considered valid in Japan. IDP's issued to Americans in third countries where they are not resident are often considered invalid, or are subject to close scrutiny.

"Residents" are expected to convert to or obtain a Japanese drivers license. Persons using an international drivers license who are resident in Japan can be subject to fines or arrest. The exact boundary between "resident" and "non-resident" is unclear. In practice it seems to involve more than simply visa status or length of stay in Japan and is determined by the police. In short, an international license is not a permanent or expedient substitute for a valid Japanese license. You can learn more at http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacsdrive.html.

Aviation Safety Oversight:

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Japan's Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards for oversight of Japan's air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. At 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA website at http://www.faa.gov/safety/programs_initiatives/oversight/iasa.

Special Circumstances:

Japan has very strict laws regarding the importation and possession of firearms and other weapons. Persons bringing a firearm or sword into Japan (including target and trophy pistols, air guns, some pocket knives and Japanese-origin swords) may have these items confiscated by Japanese customs authorities, and may be arrested, prosecuted and deported or jailed. Some prescription medications, as well as some over-thecounter medications, cannot be imported into Japan. Please contact the Japanese Embassy or nearest Japanese Consulate in the United States, or visit the Narita Airport (Tokyo) Customs web site in English at http://www.narita-airport-customs. go.jp/e/index_e.html, for specific information regarding import restrictions and customs requirements.

Japanese customs authorities encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Car net for the temporary importation into Japan of professional equipment, commercial samples and/or goods for exhibitions and trade fairs. 0ATA Carnet Headquarters, located at the U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet in the United States. For additional information, please call (212) 354-4480, or send an email to [email protected], or visit http://www.uscib.org/ for details.

Confiscation of Prescription Drugs and other Medication:

Decisions on what medications may be imported legally into Japan are made by the Japanese Government, and unfortunately the limited information we have available at the American Embassy and Consulates does not include comprehensive lists of specific medications or ingredients.

It is illegal to bring into Japan some over-the-counter medicines commonly used in the United States, including inhalers and some allergy and sinus medications. Specifically, products that contain stimulants (medicines that contain Pseudoephedrine, such as Actifed, Sudafed, and Vicks inhalers), or Codeine are prohibited. Up to a two-months' supply of allowable over-the-counter medication and up to a four-months' supply of allowable vitamins can be brought into Japan duty-free. Some U.S. prescription medications cannot be imported into Japan, even when accompanied by a customs declaration and a copy of the prescription. Generally, up to one month's supply of allowable prescription medicine can be brought into Japan. Travelers must bring a copy of their doctor's prescription as well as a letter stating the purpose of the drug.

Japanese physicians can often prescribe similar, but not identical, substitutes to medicines available in the U.S. A Japanese doctor, consulted by phone in advance, is also a good source of information on medications available and/or permitted in Japan. A list of English-speaking medical facilities throughout Japan is available on our web site at http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-7119.html. Some popular medications legal in the U.S., such as Prozac and Viagra, are sold illegally in Japan on the black market. You are subject to arrest and imprisonment if you purchase such drugs illegally while in Japan.

Persons traveling to Japan carrying prescription and non-prescription medications should consult the Japanese Embassy, or a Japanese Consulate, in the United States before leaving the U.S. to confirm whether they will be allowed to bring the particular medication into Japan. A full listing of phone numbers and email addresses is available at http://www.us.emb-japan.go.jp/jicc/consulat.htm.

Pets:

The Japanese Animal Quarantine Service (AQS) http://www.maffaqs.go.jp/english/ryoko/ba.htm has radically revised its procedures for importing pets. In most instances, the process will take at least seven (7) months from the date of the first rabies vaccination before a pet may enter Japan, so advance planning is critical. More information about importing a pet into Japan is available at http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-petsi.html. More information about exporting a pet from Japan, is available at http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-petse.html.

Consular Access:

U.S. citizens must carry their U.S. passports or Japanese alien registration cards with them at all times so that, if questioned by local officials, the U.S. citizen can establish proof of identity and citizenship. Under Japanese law, the police may stop any person on the street at any time and demand ID. If a foreigner does not have with him/her either a passport or valid Japanese Alien Registration Card, s/he is subject to arrest. Due to recent crack-downs by the police, such random stops for ID are becoming increasingly more common, especially in areas frequented by foreigners. In accordance with the U.S.-Japan Consular Convention, U.S. consular officers are generally notified within 24 hours of the arrest of a U.S. citizen, if the U.S. citizen requests consular notification.

Conditions at Prisons and Detention Facilities:

Japanese prisons and detention facilities maintain internal order through a regime of very strict discipline. American-citizen prisoners often complain of stark, austere living conditions and psychological isolation. A prisoner can become eligible for parole only after serving about 60-70% of his/her sentence. Early parole is not allowed for any reason—humanitarian, medical or otherwise. Access to competent interpreters is not required at all times under Japanese criminal law. More information is available at http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-7110a.html.

Criminal Penalties:

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking Japanese law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Japanese law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Persons arrested in Japan, even for a minor offense, may be held in detention without bail for two to three months during the investigation and legal proceedings. Information about Japanese criminal law is available in English at the National Police Agency (NPA) web site at http://www.npa.go.jp/. A list of English-speaking lawyers throughout Japan is available on the web site at http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-7113.html.

Illegal Drugs:

Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Japan are strict, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and fines. In most drug cases, suspects are usually detained incommunicado, which bars them from receiving visitors or corresponding with anyone other than a lawyer or U.S. consular officer until after indictment, which may take as long as several months. Solitary confinement is common.

People can be convicted of drug use based on positive blood or urine tests alone, and multiple Americans are now serving time in Japanese prisons as the result of sting operations and the use of informers. The Japanese police routinely share information on drug arrests with Interpol, assuring that notice of the arrest will reach U.S. law enforcement agencies. About half of all Americans now in prison in Japan are incarcerated for drug-related crimes.

Japanese authorities aggressively pursue drug smugglers with sophisticated detection equipment, "sniffing" dogs and other methods. Travelers and their luggage entering Japan are screened at ports of entry; incoming and outgoing mail, as well as international packages sent via DHL or FEDEX, is also checked carefully. The Japanese police make arrests for even the smallest amounts of illegal drugs. Several Americans are now in custody after having mailed illegal drugs to themselves from other countries. Other Americans are serving time for having tried to bring drugs into Japan as paid couriers working out of Southeast Asia or Europe.

Immigration Penalties:

Japanese work visas are issued outside of Japan for a specific job with a specific employer at a specific place of employment, and are not transferable. It is illegal for U.S. citizens to work in Japan while in tourist or visa-waiver status. Japanese authorities do not allow foreigners to change their immigration status from visa-waiver status to work status while in Japan. Japanese immigration officers may deny entry to travelers who appear to them to have no visible means of support. Please contact the Japanese Embassy or nearest Japanese Consulate in the United States for guidance on what constitutes adequate financial support for a specific period of time. A U.S. citizen who works in Japan without a work visa may be subject to arrest, which can involve several weeks or months of incarceration, followed by conviction and imprisonment or deportation. The deportee must bear the cost of deportation, including legal expenses and airfare.

Due to recent changes in the law, penalties for overstaying one's visa or working illegally have toughened substantially. Fines can run into thousands of dollars, and in some cases re-entry bans can be as long as ten years. See http://www.moj.go.jp/ENGLISH/IB/ib-78.html for additional information.

Employment Issues:

The Japanese economy remains in recession, and no U.S. citizen should come to work in Japan without the proper working visa arranged ahead of time, or in the hopes of earning a large salary. Teaching English, even with private students, and serving as a hostess, are both considered "work" in Japan and are illegal without the proper visa.

Assessing Employment Offers:

Some U.S.-based employment agencies and Japanese employers do not fully discuss, or correctly represent, the true nature of employment terms and conditions. U.S. consular officers in Japan receive numerous complaints from U.S. citizens who come to Japan to work as English teachers, carpenters, models, actors, entertainers, exotic dancers and bar hostesses. These complaints include contract violations, non-payment of salary for months at a time, sexual harassment, intimidation and threats of arrest, deportation and physical assault.

A minimum requirement for effectively seeking the protection of Japanese labor law is a written and signed work contract. Without such a contract, Japanese authorities do not intervene on behalf of foreign workers. It is prudent for U.S. citizens coming to work in Japan carefully to review their contracts and the bona fides of their Japanese employer before traveling to Japan. U.S. consular officers generally are unable to confirm the bona fides of prospective Japanese employers, although they may be familiar with organizations about which they have received complaints in the past. If asked to do something they find troubling, U.S. citizens may wish to reassess their reason for being in Japan, and consider terminating their employment and returning to the United States. Complaints against U.S.-based employment agencies or recruiters may be directed to the Better Business Bureau at http://www.bbb.org/or the Office of the Attorney General of the state in question.

Living Expenses:

Japan's cost of living is one of the highest in the world. The use of credit/debit cards is not widespread, particularly outside major cities. While there are ATMs in Japan, most are not open 24 hours a day or do not accept a U.S.-based card. ATMs at major airports, foreign bank branches and Japanese Post Offices are more likely to accept foreign cards than other locations. Taxi fares from airports to downtown Osaka and Tokyo can cost hundreds of dollars; bus fare can run $25 (U.S.) or more. The airport departure fee is generally included in the ticket prices of flights departing from both Narita (Tokyo) International Airport and Kansai (Osaka) International Airport.

English Help and Information Lines:

Tourists and foreign residents in Japan have access to valuable information, including professional counseling, via help and information telephone hotlines. The Tokyo English Lifeline (http://www.telljp.com/) provides English-speaking counseling and referrals at 03-5774-0992. The Japan Help Line provides similar assistance nationwide at 0570-000-911 (domestic), 813-3435-8017 (international) (http://www.jhelp.com/).

Disaster Preparedness:

Japan is faced with the ever-present danger of deadly earthquakes and typhoons. Japan is one of the most seismically active locations in the world; minor tremors are felt regularly throughout the islands. While responsibility for caring for disaster victims, including foreigners, rests with the Japanese authorities, one of the first things a traveler should do upon arriving in Japan is to learn about earthquake and disaster preparedness from hotel or local government officials. Additional details on self-preparedness are available via the Internet at http://www.tokyoacs.com/ on the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) home page at http://www.fema.gov/.

Children's Issues:

For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, please refer to the Internet website at http://www.travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html. Japan is not a Hague Convention signatory, and U.S. court custody decisions are not enforceable in Japan. Almost all children born to a Japanese parent since the 1980's are Japanese citizens, and may travel on Japanese passports issued in the U.S. even if the left-behind parent in the U.S. does not agree to the issuance of a U.S. passport. The Embassy and the Consulates do not have access to Japanese Immigration records and cannot confirm that a child has entered or departed Japan. The Japanese government will not refuse entry to one of its citizens, even if that citizen is a dual-national child subject to a U.S. court-based custody decision. The Embassy and the Consulates cannot serve process, appear in court on your behalf or carry out U.S.-based arrest warrants.

Registration/Embassy Location:

Americans living in or visiting Japan are encouraged to register through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov/, or through the Embassy's website at www.tokyoacs.com where they may also obtain updated information on travel and security within Japan. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, U.S. citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. U.S. citizens resident in or visiting Japan are encouraged to sign up for an e-mail newsletter at www.tokyoacs.com. Alien registration formalities required under Japanese immigration law are separate from U.S. citizen registration. Registration information is protected by the Privacy Act.

All Consular information for all of Japan is now available on a single web site at http://www.tokyoacs.com.

A full list of holiday closings is available at http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-holidays.html. Subscribers to our monthly email newsletter (available from http://www.tokyoacs.com) receive regular updates on holiday closings.

The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo is located at 1-10-5 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-8420 Japan; telephone 81-3-3224-5000; fax 81-3-3224-5856. Recorded visa information for non-U.S. citizens is available at the following 24-hour toll phone number: 03-5354-4033.

The U.S. Consulate General in Osaka-Kobe is located at 2-11-5 Nishitenma, Kita-ku, Osaka 530-8543; telephone 81-6-6315-5900; fax 81-6-6315-5914. Recorded information for U.S. citizens concerning U.S. passports, notarials and other American citizens services is available 24 hours at 81-6-6315-5900.

The U.S. Consulate General in Naha is located at 2564 Nishihara, Urasoe, Okinawa 901-2101; telephone 81-98-876-4211; fax 81-98-876-4243.

The U.S. Consulate General in Sapporo is located at Kita 1-Jo Nishi 28-chome, Chuo-ku, Sapporo 064-0821; telephone 81-11-641-1115, fax 81-11-643-1283.

The U.S. Consulate in Fukuoka is located at 2-5-26 Ohori, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka 810-0052; telephone 81-92-751-9331; fax 81-92-713-9222.

The U.S. Consulate in Nagoya is located at Nagoya International Center Bldg. 6th floor, 1-47-1 Nagono, Nakamura-ku, Nagoya 450-0001; telephone 81-52-581-4501; fax 81-52-581-3190.

The U.S. Consulate in Nagoya offers only limited emergency consular services for U.S. citizens. The U.S. Consulate General in Osaka-Kobe handles all routine matters. A consular officer from the U.S. Consulate General in Osaka-Kobe visits the U.S. Consulate in Nagoya on the second Wednesday of every month. During those visits, the consular officer provides consular services to U.S. citizens by appointment. To make an appointment for consular services in Nagoya, please contact the U.S. Consulate in Nagoya at the number listed above.

Maps to all our offices in Japan, along with directions on using public transportation to reach us, are available at http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-7123.html.

International Adoption

January 2006

The information below has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer:

The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and our current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

General:

The following is a guide for U.S. citizens who are interested in adopting a child in Japan and applying for an immigrant visa for the child to come to the United States. U.S. consular officers give each petition careful consideration on a case-by-case basis to ensure that the legal requirements of both countries are met, for the protection of the prospective adoptive parent(s), the biological parents(s) and the child. Interested U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to contact U.S. consular officials in Japan before formalizing an adoption agreement to ensure that they have followed appropriate procedures which will make it possible for the Embassy to issue the child a U.S. immigrant visa.

Availability of Children for Adoption:

Both Japanese and foreign children are available for adoption in Japan. Most of the orphans adopted in Japan by foreigners are Japanese. Among the cases of foreign children adopted by foreigners in Japan, many of the children are related to the adoptive U.S. parents and may have lived with the adoptive parents in Japan for more than two years. Recent U.S. immigrant visa statistics in Japan reflect the following pattern for visa issuance to orphans:

FY-1996: IR-3 immigrant visas issued to Japanese orphans adopted abroad -9; IR-4 immigrant visas issued to Japanese orphans adopted in the U.S. -24
FY-1997: IR-3 Visas - 31; IR-4 Visas - 24
FY-1998: IR-3 Visas - 15; IR-4 Visas - 31
FY-1999: IR-3 Visas - 18; IR-4 Visas - 24
FY-2000: IR-3 Visas - 9; IR-4 Visas - 31

Japan Adoption Authorities:

The Family Court and the Child Guidance Center (often located in the City or Ward Office) are the government office responsible for adoption in Japan. They have jurisdiction over the placement of children, home studies, and adoptions.

Japan Adoption Procedure:

Prospective adoptive parents may find children available for adoption either through the CGC or private parties such as missionaries, social welfare organizations, or adoption agencies. It is important to remember that the CGC will only issue a certificate identifying a "child who requires protection" if the adoption is arranged through them. If the adoption is arranged privately, the adoptive parents must present the appropriate statement of release for emigration and adoption to prove the child is adoptable. Even if the Japanese government certifies a child as requiring protection or considers a child legally adoptable, however, it is possible that the child may still not meet the U.S. definition of an orphan.

Child requirements:

Japanese law does not define an orphan. Rather, a "child who requires protection" is defined as:

  • A child born out of wedlock;
  • An abandoned infant;
  • A child whose parent(s) has/have died or disappeared;
  • A child whose parents are incapable of providing support; or
  • An abused child.

The Child Guidance Center (CGC) is the local government authority responsible for determining whether a child requires protection.

Once a child has been identified, the adoptive parents may apply to adopt the child through the local Family Court. Under Japanese law, a child can be adopted in one of two ways: regular and special. Regular adoption, with or without the court's consent-if the minor child is a descendant of one of the adoptive parents, the City Office may register a regular adoption without the Family Court's consent. If the child is not a lineal descendant of the adoptive parents, the Family Court must adjudicate the adoption before the City Office will legally register the adoption decree. Unlike a special adoption, this procedure does not necessarily sever the child's ties, rights, and privileges with regard to the birth parent(s) and any prior adoptive parent(s).

When the child and adoptive parents are not blood relatives, the adoptive parents must petition the Family Court with jurisdiction over the child's residence in Japan.

Regular adoptions in Japan do not fully sever ties between the adopted child and the biological parents. For example, Japanese inheritance law recognizes that a child adopted in a regular adoption may still have inheritance rights from the biological parents. In addition, regular adoptions can be easily dissolved. Thus, a regular adoption may not permanently create the distinctly new family relationship envisioned by most American adoptive parents. If the adopted child later obtains U.S. citizenship and abandons Japanese nationality, the legal effect on the child's ties to the biological parents is unclear.

Special Adoption

As in U.S. adoptions, this procedure severs the child's ties, rights, and privileges with regard to the birth parent(s) and any prior adoptive parent(s).

Prospective parents filing for a special adoption should be aware of the following guidelines:

  • The child must be under the age of six at the time the adoption petition is filed OR under the age of eight and must have been placed under the continuous care and custody of the prospective adoptive parents since before the child's sixth birthday.
  • Two adoptive parents must jointly consent to the adoption. Single parents may only pursue a special adoption with the Family Court's consent.
  • One of the adoptive parents must be over 25 years of age and the other must be over 20 years old.

All persons with legal custody of the child, including the natural and adoptive parents, must consent to the adoption, EXCEPT IF:

  • The natural parents are incapable of declaring their intent;
  • Family Court rules that the natural parents have treated the child with "cruelty;"
  • The natural parents have abandoned the child; or
  • Any other cause "seriously harmful to the benefits of the person to be adopted" exists.

The child must be in the custody of, and residing with, the adoptive parents for at least six months before the Family Court will render a final judgement and issue an adoption decree.

Registering for Japanese Adoption

adoptive parents may need to register the adoption with the municipal office in order to complete the adoption. If registration is required, the adoptive parents must submit their marriage certificate, birth certificates (for themselves and the adopted child), passports, alien registration cards, the Family Court's final adoption decree or certificate of "permission to adopt," and a completed registration application to the City or Ward Office. The natural parents (or the child's pre-adoption legal guardian) and two adult witnesses must also sign the registration application. Registration is usually final soon after applying.

Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at travel.state.gov/family.

Age and Civil Status Requirements:

Japanese law allows two types of adoptions: special and regular. (Please see details above.) In special adoptions, one of the adoptive parents must be over the age of 25 and the other must be at least 20 years old. Depending on the applicable U.S. State law, the Family Court may allow single parents to adopt on a case-by-case basis.

Adoption Agencies in Japan:

All adoption agencies in Japan are privately operated. There are attorneys; however, they aren't necessarily recommended and aren't required for processing adoptions. As far as adoption agencies, they are not necessary; however they are only used if recommended/required by the host county government. If prospective adoptive parents would like to obtain a list of adoption agencies, they can contact the Embassy of Tokyo.

Doctors:

The U.S. Embassy maintains current lists of doctors and sources for medicines, should either you or your child experience health problems while in Japan.

Japanese Documentary Requirements:

Prospective parents must assemble and present several documents, notarized, certified, or authenticated as appropriate, to the Family Court, including:

  • Birth certificate and/or family register of all parties;
  • Copy of passport, Japanese visa, and Alien Registration card;
  • Copy of U.S. military ID (where applicable);
  • Marriage, divorce, and death certificates (where applicable);
  • Medical examination certificates;
  • Certificate of foster parent registration (where applicable);
  • Certificate of good conduct/no criminal record for each adoptive parent, issued by their home city or state police department;
  • Certificate of legal address, employment, and income;
  • Copy of any property ownership deeds and/or bank statements;
  • Biographic history of all parties;
  • Statement of consent to adopt by the child's natural parent(s) or guardian;
  • Statement of prospective parent(s) intent to adopt the identified child;
  • Pictures of all parties, preferably of parent(s) with the child;
  • Home Study approved by an authorized and licensed adoption agency;
  • Two character references.

*Note:

This list is not definitive. The Family Court may require additional documents when it sees fit*

Japanese translations are required. The state government office should use an "apostille" certificate to authenticate the document. Tax returns, medical reports, and police certificates should also be notarized and authenticated. For more information about The Hague Legalization Convention "apostille" certificate, please contact the U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS, Washington, DC 20522 or look up http://travel.state.gov.

If the document's country of origin does not provide apostille services, the U.S. Embassy in that country may be able to authenticate a civil document, followed by an authentication by the U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS, Washington, DC 20522. All authenticated documents must be accompanied by a Japanese translation.

Residence Requirements:

The Court will not consider adoption applications of those prospective parents who are in Japan on temporary visitor visas. At least one prospective parent must show evidence of long-term residence in Japan. When the adoption is finalized, at least one adoptive parent must appear before the court. Japanese law does not permit proxy adoptions.

U.S. Immigration Requirements:

A Japanese child adopted by an American citizen must obtain an immigrant visa before he or she can enter the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at travel.state.gov/family.

Japanese Embassy (and Consulates) in the United States:

Embassy of Japan
2520 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20008-2869
Tel: (202) 939-6700

Japan also has Consulates in Tamuning, Guam; Anchorage, Alaska; Atlanta, Georgia; Boston, Massachusetts; Chicago, Illinois; Detroit, Michigan; Honolulu, Hawaii; Houston, Texas; Miami, Florida; Kansas City, Missouri; Los Angeles, California; New Orleans, Louisiana; New York, New York; Portland, Oregon; San Francisco, California; Seattle, Washington; and Saipan, Mariana Islands.

U.S. Embassy (and Consulates) in Japan:

The Consular Section is located at:

Mailing Addresses
U.S. Embassy Tokyo
Immigrant and Nonimmigrant Visas
Unit 45004 Box 205
APO AP 96337-5004

Box 205
1-10-5 Akasaka Minato-ku
Tokyo 107-8420, Japan
Tel: (81)(3) 3224-5000
Fax: (81)(3) 3505-1862

The United States also has Consulates in Naha, Osaka-Kobe, Sapporo, Fukuoka, and Nagoya.

Time Frame:

Adopting a child through the Family Court requires at least nine months, sometimes longer. The Family Court imposes no time limit on when an adoption must be completed.

Costs:

Although costs can vary widely, the average total cost of adoption in Japan is approximately $20,000. This includes fees for the Family Court, adoption agency, immigration processing, airfare, lodging, and document translations and authentications. Adoption agency fees range from $800 to $60,000, so the overall cost of the adoption often depends on which agency the parents choose. Parents may incur additional costs when adopting non-Japanese children or children with medical problems.

Dissolving a Japanese Adoption:

For regular adoptions anyone fifteen years old and above can apply to dissolve a regular adoption. If the adopted child and the adoptive parents agree to dissolve the adoption, they must file a request for dissolution at the City or Ward office. Most dissolutions are by mutual consent and involve adult adopters. Over 90 percent of adoptions in Japan involve non-minors, stepchildren, or prominent sonless families who adopt sons-in-law to pass on the family name. When a regular adoption is dissolved, the formerly adopted child reacquires the legal obligation to care for the natural parents.

For special adoptions an adopted child, the natural parents, or a prosecutor may apply to the Family Court to dissolve a special adoption. According to the Civil Code, the Family Court may only dissolve a special adoption under the following circumstances: (1) "the fact that there is cruel treatment or malicious desertion by an adopter, or other cause seriously harmful to the benefits of an adopted child; and (2) the fact that the birth parents can take proper care and custody." If a special adoption is dissolved, the child will acquire the same civil status and rights held prior to the adoption.

Obtaining a Passport for an Adopted Child:

An adopted foreign child is not a U.S. citizen from the moment of adoption. If the child is a Japanese citizen, adoptive parents must obtain a Japanese passport for the child from Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Only the child's natural or adoptive parent or legal guardian may apply for a passport on behalf of the minor child. Japanese passports issued to minors are normally valid for five years from the date of issue and may be renewed at a Japanese Embassy or Consulate abroad.

If the child is not a Japanese citizen, the child will need to apply for a passport from his/her home country's embassy. If the adopted child is stateless or from a country that does not share diplomatic relations with Japan, the child may apply for a re-entry permit from Japan's Ministry of Justice. The Japanese government does not control the international movement of children who hold Japanese citizenship or legal residency.

Additional Information:

Prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to consult BCIS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions.

Questions:

Specific questions regarding adoption in Japan may be addressed to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Japan. You may also contact the Office of Children's Issues, SA-29, 2201 C Street, NW, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC 20520-2818, Tel: 1-888-407-4747 with specific questions.

International Parental Child Abduction

January 2006

The information below has been edited from the report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Child Abduction section of this book and review current reports online at travel.state.gov.

Disclaimer:

The information in this circular relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is provided for general information only. Questions involving interpretation of specific foreign laws should be addressed to foreign counsel

Japan is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

Japanese civil law stresses that in cases where custody cannot be reached by agreement between the parents, the Japanese Family Court will resolve the issue based on the best interests of the child. However, compliance with Family Court rulings is essentially voluntary, which renders any ruling unenforceable unless both parents agree.

The Civil Affairs Bureau of the Japanese Ministry of Justice states that, in general, redress in child custody cases is sought through habeas corpus proceedings in the court. There is no preferential treatment based on nationality or gender. Although visitation rights for non-custodial parents are not expressly stipulated in the Japanese Civil Code, court judgments often provide visitation rights for non-custodial parents.

In practical terms, however, in cases of international parental child abduction, foreign parents are greatly disadvantaged in Japanese courts, both in terms of obtaining the return of children to the United States, and in achieving any kind of enforceable visitation rights in Japan. The Department of State is not aware of any case in which a child taken from the United States by one parent has been ordered returned to the United States by Japanese courts, even when the left-behind parent has a United States custody decree. In the past, Japanese police have been reluctant to get involved in custody disputes or to enforce custody decrees issued by Japanese courts.

In order to bring a custody issue before the Family Court, the left-behind parent will require the assistance of a Japanese attorney. A parent holding a custody decree issued in U.S. courts must retain local Japanese counsel to apply to the Japanese courts for recognition and enforcement of the U.S. decree.

Lists of Japanese attorneys and other information are available on the web at http://www.tokyoacs.com or from the Office of Children's Issues at the address shown below. Links to the web sites of our other consulates in Japan can also be found at this web site.

U.S. consular officers are prohibited by law from providing legal advice, taking custody of a child, forcing a child to be returned to the United States, providing assistance or refuge to parents attempting to violate local law, or initiating or attempting to influence child custody proceedings in foreign courts. They generally cannot obtain civil documents (such as marriage registrations and family registers) on behalf of a parent, although an attorney can.

The American Embassy in Tokyo and the Consulates in Naha, Osaka-Kobe, Sapporo, Fukuoka and Nagoya are able to provide other valuable assistance to left-behind parents, however, including visits to determine the welfare of children. If a child is in danger or if there is evident abuse, consular officers will request assistance from the local authorities in safeguarding the child's welfare.

Important Note:

In view of the difficulties involved in seeking the return of children from Japan to the United States, it is of the greatest importance that all appropriate preventive legal measures be taken in the United States if there is a possibility that a child may be abducted to Japan.

Criminal Remedies:

For information on possible criminal remedies, please contact your local law enforcement authorities or the nearest office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Information is also available on the Internet at the web site of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, at http://www.ojjdp. ncjrs.org. Contact the country officer in the Office of Children's Issues for specific information.

For further information on international parental child abduction, contact the Office of Children's Issues at 202-736-7000, visit the State Department website on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov, or send a nine-by-twelve-inch, self-addressed envelope to: Office of Children's Issues, SA-29, U.S. Department of State, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, DC 20520-2818; Phone: (202) 736-9090; Fax: (202) 312-9743.

views updated

Japan

Compiled from the November 2006 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Japan

PROFILE

GEOGRAPHY

PEOPLE

HISTORY

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

ECONOMY

FOREIGN RELATIONS

U.S.-JAPAN RELATIONS

TRAVEL

PROFILE

Geography

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.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Japanese.

Population: (2006 est.) 127.5 million.

Population growth rate: (2006 est.) -0.02%.

Ethnic groups: Japanese; Korean (0.6%).

Religions: Shinto and Buddhist; Christian (about 0.7%).

Language: Japanese.

Education: Literacy—99%.

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%.

Government

Type: Constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary government.

Constitution: May 3, 1947.

Government 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.

Political subdivisions: 47 prefectures.

Political parties: Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), New Clean Government Party (Komeito), Japan Communist Party (JCP), Social Democratic Party (SDP).

Suffrage: Universal at 20.

Economy

GDP: (2005 est.) $4.559 trillion (official exchange rate); $3.902 trillion (PPP).

Real growth rate: (2006 est.) 2.8%.

Per capita GDP: (2005 est. PPP) $30,541.

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.

GEOGRAPHY

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, but 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.

PEOPLE

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. In 2005, Japan’s population declined for the first time, two years earlier than predicted. High sanitary and health standards produce a life expectancy exceeding that of the United States.

Japan is an urban society with only about 4% 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; Sapporo with 1.6 million; Kyoto with 1.5 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 roads, 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 temples 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, Shintoism 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 many Japanese visit family graves and Buddhist temples to pay respects to ancestors.

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.

HISTORY

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 negotiated 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 and educational system and constitutional government along 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 potential threat to 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 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. 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 judiciary is independent.

The five 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), and the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

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. The LDP returned to power in 1994.

Shinzo Abe was elected Prime Minister in a Diet vote in September 2006. Abe is the first Prime Minister to be born after World War II and the youngest Prime Minister since the war. Abe comes from one of Japan’s political families. His grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, was elected Prime Minister in 1957 and his father, Shin-taro Abe, was a former foreign minister. Abe took over his father’s parliamentary seat after his death in 1993 and gained national popularity for his firm stance against North Korea for its abductions of Japanese citizens. Despite a reputation as a conservative nationalist, Shinzo Abe has taken positive steps to improve relations with South Korea and China. He visited Beijing and Seoul during his first trip overseas as Prime Minister.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 1/24/2007

Emperor: AKIHITO

Prime Min.: Shinzo ABE

Chief Cabinet Sec.: Yasuhisa SHIOZAKI

Min. of Agriculture, Forestry, & Fisheries: Toshikatsu MATSUOKA

Min. of Defense: Fumio KYUMA

Min. of Economy, Trade, & Industry: Akira AMARI

Min. of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, & Technology: Bunmei IBUKI

Min. of Environment: Masatoshi WAKABAYASHI

Min. of Finance: Koji OMI

Min. of Foreign Affairs: Taro ASO

Min. of Health, Labor, & Welfare: Hakuo YANAGISAWA

Min. of Internal Affairs & Communications: Yoshihide SUGA

Min. of Justice: Jinen NAGASE

Min. of Land, Infrastructure, & Transport: Tetsuzo FUYUSHIBA

State Min. for Disaster Management: Kensei MIZOTE

State Min. for Economic & Fiscal Policy: Hiroko OTA

State Min. for Financial Services: Yuji YAMAMOTO

State Min. for Okinawa & Northern Territories Affairs, Science & Technology Policy, Innovation, Gender Equality, Social Affairs, & Food Safety: Sanae TAKAICHI

State Min. for Privatization of the Postal Services: Yoshihide SUGA

State Min. for Regulatory Reform, Admin. Reform, Civil Service Reform, & Regional Revitalization: Yoshimi WATANABE

Chmn., National Public Safety Commission: Kensei MIZOTE

Governor, Bank of Japan: Toshihiko FUKUI

Ambassador to the US: Ryozo KATO

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: 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).

ECONOMY

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 protected 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, marked by plummeting stock and real estate prices.

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.

Japan’s long-term economic prospects are considered good, and it has largely recovered from its worst period of economic stagnation since World War II. 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. The Japanese economy is now in its longest postwar expansion after more than a decade of stagnation. Real growth in 2005 was 2.7% and is expected to reach 2.8% in 2006.

Agriculture, Energy, and Minerals

Only 15% of Japan’s land is arable. 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 40% 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, corn, 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.

Labor

Japan’s labor force consists of some 67 million workers, 40% of whom are women. Labor union membership is about 12 million.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Japan is the world’s second-largest economy and 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 and Iraq in 2005-2006. 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. Prime Minister Abe has made revising or reinterpreting the Japanese constitution a priority of his administration. 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. In recent years, however, Chinese exploitation of gas fields in the East China sea has raised Japanese concerns given disagreement over the demarcation of their maritime boundary. Prime Minister Abe’s October 2006 visits to Beijing and Seoul helped improve relations with China and South Korea that had been strained following Prime Minister Koizumi’s visits to Yasukuni Shrine. At the same time, Japan maintains economic and cultural but not diplomatic relations with Taiwan, with which a strong bilateral trade relationship thrives.

Territorial disputes and historical animosities continue to strain Japan’s political relations with South Korea despite growing economic and cultural ties. 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 responded to North Korea’s missile launches and nuclear tests by imposing sanctions and working with the United Nations Security Council. 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 (Southern Kuriles) seized by the U.S.S.R. at the end of World War II. In August 2006, a Russian patrol shot at a Japanese fishing vessel, claiming the vessel was in Russian waters, killing one crewmember and taking three seamen into custody. The stalemate over territorial issues 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.

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’s Ground Self Defense Force completed a successful two-year mission in Iraq in 2006 and the Diet in October extended the Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law which allowed for Japan’s Maritime Self Defense Force refueling activities in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in the Indian Ocean.

Japan increasingly is active in Africa and Latin America—recently concluding negotiations with Mexico and Chile 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 the Philippines, and its ongoing negotiations for EPAs with Thailand and Malaysia.

U.S.-JAPAN RELATIONS

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 elements of the Army’s I Corps. The United States currently maintains approximately 50,000 troops in Japan, about half of whom are stationed in Okinawa.

Over the past decade the alliance has been strengthened through revised Defense Guidelines, which expand Japan’s noncombat role in a regional contingency, the renewal of our agreement on Host Nation Support of U.S. forces stationed in Japan, and an ongoing process called the Defense Policy Review Initiative (DPRI). The DPRI redefines roles, missions, and capabilities of alliance forces and outlines key realignment and transformation initiatives, including reducing the number of troops stationed in Okin awa, enhancing interoperability and communication between our respective commands, and broadening our cooperation in the area of ballistic missile defense.

Implementation of these agreements will strengthen our capabilities and make our alliance more sustainable. 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.

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 avian influenza, 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 the second largest contributor to the UN budget. Japan 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.

Economic Relations

U.S. economic policy toward Japan is aimed at increasing access to Japan’s markets and two-way investment, stimulating domestic demand-led economic growth, promoting economic restructuring, improving the climate for U.S. investors, 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. products, including chemicals, pharmaceuticals, films and music, 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 $9.7 billion, excluding forestry products. Revenues from Japanese tourism to the United States reached nearly $13 billion in 2005.

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 $55.4 billion in 2005, up slightly from 2004 ($54 billion). U.S. imports from Japan were about $138.1 billion in 2005 ($130 billion in 2004), up from $118 billion in 2003.

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

TOKYO (E) Address: 10-5 Akasaka 1-chome, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-8420; APO/FPO: Unit 45004 Box 258 APO AP 96337-5004; Phone: 81-3-3224-5000; Fax: 81-3-3505-1862; Workweek: 0830am–1730pm; Website: http://www.usembassy.state.gov/tokyo.

AMB:John Thomas Schieffer
AMB OMS:Kathryn M. Decker
DCM:Joseph R. Donovan
DCM OMS:Barbara J. Hayden
CG:Edward McKeon
POL:W. Michael Meserve
CON:Laurie Trost
MGT:David F. Davison
AFSA:Laurie Trost
AGR:Daniel K. Berman
AID:Charles R. Aanenson
APHIS:Ralph H. Iwamoto
ATO:Michael Conlon
CLO:Marilynn F. Fulcher & Raul Alferez
CUS:Michael R. Cox
DAO:Mark S. Welch
DEA:Daniel G. Moore
ECO:Hans G. Klemm
EEO:Carol T Reynolds & Zia S. Syed
EST:Joyce B. Rabens
FAA/CASLO:Kirk P. Skinner
FCS:John E. Peters
FIN:Maureen Grewe
FMO:Francis M. Conte
GSO:Paul A. Wedderien
HHS:Elenita M. Shorter
ICASS Chair:Mark S. Welch
IMO:Kay E. Gotoh
IPO:Daniel L. Reagan
ISO:David G. Mango
ISSO:David G. Mango, Sheryl Ann Galchutt & Paul Lewis
LEGATT:Lawrence J. Futa
MLO:Eric A. Jackson
PAO:William M. Morgan
RSO:Gentry O. Smith

Last Updated: 12/27/2006

NAHA (CG) Address: 2-1-1 Toyama Urasoe City, Okinawa Japan 901-2104; APO/FPO: PSC 556 BOX 840 FPO-AP 96386-0840; Phone: (81) (98) 876-4211; Fax: (81) (98) 876-4243; INMARSAT Tel: 872-76-344-9547; Workweek: 08:00~17:00; Website: www.usembassy.state.gov/naha.

CG:Thomas G. Reich
POL:Carmela Conroy
CON:Jason McInerney
MGT:Dan O. Fulwiler
EEO:Dan O. Fulwiler
IMO:Dan O. Fulwiler
ISSO:Dan O. Fulwiler
PAO:Frank W. Stanley

Last Updated: 12/5/2005

OSAKA KOBE (CG) Address: American Consulate General, 11-5, Nishitenma 2-Chome, Kita-ku, Osaka 530-8543, Japan; APO/FPO: AmConGen Osaka-Kobe, Unit 45004 Box 239, APO AP 96337-5004; Phone: 81-6-6315-5900; Fax: 81- 6 6315 5915; INMARSAT Tel: 76 344 9547; Workweek: Mon-Fri/0830-1730; Website: USEMBASSY.STATE.GOV/KANSAI.

PO:Daniel R. Russel
POL/ECO:Phil Cummings
COM:Brad Harker
CON:Paul J. Howard
MGT:Bob Kingman
IPO:Ron Yonashiro
ISSO:Ron Yonashiro
PAO:John (Chris) Laycock

Last Updated: 8/14/2006

SAPPORO (CG) Address: Kita 1-Jo Nishi 28-Chome, Chuo-Ku, Sapporo 064-0821; APO/FPO: Unit 45004, Box 276, APO AP 96337-0003; Phone: 81-11-641-1115; Fax: 81-11-643-1283; Workweek: 8:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. except designated holidays; Website: usembassy.state.gov/Sapporo.

CG:Marrie Y. Schaefer
CON:Ian T. Hillman
MGT:Ogier P. Hugues
IMO:Shinji Hosokawa (FSN)
ISO:Dave G. Mango
PAO:Marrie Y. Schaefer

Last Updated: 1/21/2007

FUKUOKA (C) Address: 5-26 Ohori 2-chome, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka 810-0052; APO/FPO: Unit 45004, Box 242, APO AP 96337-5004; Phone: 81-92-751-9331; Fax: 81-92-713-9222; INMARSAT Tel: 38 313 2643; Workweek: 8:45 a.m.–5:30 p.m., Mon–Friday; Website: http://japan.usembassy.gov/fukuoka/wwwhmain.html.

PO:Joyce S. Wong
CON:Mark D. Baron
MGT:Mark D. Baron
ECO:James T. Crow
FMO:Mark D. Baron
GSO:Mark D. Baron
IMO:Mark D. Baron
ISSO:Mark D. Baron
PAO:John A. Dyson

Last Updated: 10/3/2006

NAGOYA (C) Address: Nagoya Kokusai Center Bldg., 6th Fl., 1-47-1, Nagono, Nakamura-ku, Nagoya, Japan 450-0001; APO/FPO: Embassy Tokyo (for Nagoya), Unit 45004, Box 280, APO, AP 96337-5004; Phone: 81-52-581-4501; Fax: 81-52-581-3190; INMARSAT Tel: 00763449534; Workweek: 8:30–17:30 M-F; Web site: http://nagoya.usconsulate.gov/.

PO:Daniel A. Rochman
CUS:David Stewart
FCS:vacant
PAO:Michael R. Turner

Last Updated: 10/23/2006

YOKOHAMA Address: 152-3 Yamate-cho, Naka-ku, Yokohama, Japan 231-0862; APO/FPO: PSC 472 Box 2, FPO, AP 96348; Phone: (81)(45) 622-6514; Fax: (81)(45) 622-6516; INMARSAT Tel: 8816 2145-4473 (iridium); Workweek: 08:30-17:30.

PO:Rob Kuntz

Last Updated: 2/14/2006

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet : September 6, 2006

Country Description: Japan is a stable, highly developed parliamentary democracy with a modern economy. Tourist facilities are widely available. Information on consular services for all of Japan, including registration, passport renewal, legal matters and safety and security, is available at http://japan.usembassy.gov/acs. An alphabetical listing of our services is at http://japan.usembassy.gov/.

Entry Requirements: A valid passport and an onward/return ticket are required. Passports must be valid for the intended period of stay in Japan. A visa is not required for tourist/business stays up to 90 days. Americans cannot work on a 90-day “visa free” entry. As a general rule, “visa free” entry status may not be changed to other visa status without departing and then re-entering Japan with the appropriate visa such as a spouse, work or study visa.

Japanese Visas: For information about the Japanese visa waiver for tourists, Japan’s strict rules on work visas, special visas to take depositions, and other visa issues, travelers should consult the Consular Section of the Embassy of Japan at 2520 Massachusetts Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, tel. (202) 238-6800, or the nearest Japanese consulate. Our posts in Japan cannot assist in obtaining visas for Japan.

Military/SOFA Travelers: While active-duty U.S. military personnel may enter Japan under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with proper Department of Defense (DOD) identification and travel orders, all SOFA family members, civilian employees and contractors must have a valid passport and, in some cases, a SOFA visa to enter Japan. Active-duty military personnel should obtain a tourist passport prior to leaving the United States to accommodate off-duty travel elsewhere in Asia as obtaining one while in Japan can take several weeks. Personnel whose duties will include official travel should also obtain an Official Passport before coming to Japan to avoid delays of up to two months, as from overseas these applications must be referred to a special office in Washington, adding to processing times. DOD travelers should consult the DOD Foreign Clearance Guide, DOD 4500.54 before leaving the United States.

Passport Validity: U.S. citizens entering or transiting Japan should ensure that their passports and visas are up to date before leaving the United States. Many Asian countries deny entry to travelers whose passports are valid for less than six months. It is not usually possible to obtain a new U.S. passport and foreign visa during a brief stopover while transiting Japan, as tourist passport processing in Japan can take approximately two weeks. Airlines in Japan will deny boarding to Americans who seek to transit Japan without the required travel documents for their final destinations in Asia.

Expired Passports: Airlines have mistakenly boarded U.S. citizens coming to Japan, even though that person’s passport has already expired. The U.S. Embassy or our Consulates cannot “vouch for” a U.S. citizen without a valid passport, and passport services are not available at the airport. In some instances, travelers have been returned immediately to the U.S., while in other cases, they have been issued 24-hour “shore passes” and were required to return the next day to Japanese Immigration for lengthy processing.

Visas for China: Americans need visas to visit China. Transit visas are required for any stop (even if you do not exit the plane or train) in China. Americans will be denied boarding in Japan for onward flights to China if they do not have a Chinese visa. Obtaining a Chinese visa in Japan can be a lengthy and complex process without preplanning. The Chinese Embassy requires at least one full, blank page to be available in your passport. The U.S. Embassy and Consulates cannot assist in obtaining Chinese visas.

Citizens and nationals of the United States of America must have either a valid passport or a combination of a valid identification document containing a photograph of the holder issued by the United States of America or any of its states, cities, counties, towns or other political subdivisions, and a document containing proof of citizenship of the United States of America.

Safety and Security: The events of September 11, 2001, serve as a reminder of the continuing threat from terrorists and extremist groups to Americans and American interests worldwide. There have been no major terrorist incidents in Japan since 1995; however, since terrorists can strike at any time and at any place, U.S. citizens should be aware of the potential risks and take these into consideration when making travel plans. Following the recent London bombings in July 2005, the security situation in Japan remains unchanged, with no new credible threat information.

Our offices in Japan disseminate threat information through our nationwide email warden system and post current threat information on our American Citizens Services (ACS) website at http://japan.usembassy.gov/acs. Anyone may sign up for our emailed warden system messages through our web site. The Department of State will continue to develop information about potential threats to U.S. citizens overseas, and to share threat information through its consular information program documents, available on the Internet at the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page. The government of Japan is vigilant in tracking terrorist threat indicators and remains at a high state of alert. Local police substations (Koban) and police emergency dispatchers (tel. 110) should be contacted to report suspicious activity.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Internet web site, where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found. Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or, for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime: Crimes against U.S. citizens in Japan usually only involve personal disputes, theft or vandalism. The general crime rate in Japan is at levels well below the U.S. national average. Violent crime is rare, but does exist. Incidents of pick pocketing of foreigners in crowded shopping areas, on trains and at airports have been a sporadic concern. Narita Airport lists airport theft statistics on its website at http://www.narita-airport.jp/en/news/tounan.html. In summer 2005, a number of Americans reported their passports lost or stolen at Narita Airport, especially passports being carried in pockets. Some Americans report that Japanese police procedures appear to be less sensitive and responsive to a victim’s concerns than would be the case in the United States, particularly in cases involving domestic violence, sexual assault, and when both the victim and the perpetrator are foreigners. Few victim’s assistance resources or battered women’s shelters exist in major urban areas, and are generally unavailable in rural areas. Investigations of sexual assault crimes are often conducted without women police officers present and typically involve inquiries into the victim’s sexual history and previous relationships. Quality of translations can vary significantly, and has proven unsettling to some American victims.

Concerns Regarding Roppongi, Tokyo: The majority of crimes reported by Americans have occurred in Roppongi, an entertainment district that caters to foreign clientele. Incidents involving U.S. Citizens since spring 2004 include a murder, overdoses on heroin allegedly purchased in Roppongi, thefts of purses and wallets at bars in clubs, exorbitant bar tabs and drugs allegedly slipped into drinks. A number of Americans have also been arrested over the past year in Roppongi for various offenses. You can read about these reported incidents in our monthly newsletter by subscribing to it or by reading it on http://japan.usembassy.gov/acs. Americans are urged to keep these incidents in mind and exercise caution should they choose to visit Roppongi.

Police can be summoned throughout Japan by dialing 110. Fire and ambulance services can be summoned by dialing 119. These numbers may not work from cell phones, however, and English-speaking dispatchers may not be available. Advice on how to call for an ambulance in Japan is available at http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-call.html. Persons seeking assistance should be able to describe their address/location in Japanese or enlist a friend who can do so, as few police officers speak English.

Information for Victims of Crime:

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney, if needed.

Except for emergencies, a replacement passport takes two to three weeks to process. Travelers will then need to contact Japanese Immigration to have their Japanese visas re-issued. “Lost” passports will not disguise an over-stay of one’s 90-day entry, as Japanese Immigration records are computerized. Information on replacing a lost passport, included the necessary forms, is available at http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-7130e.html.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: While medical care in Japan is good, English-speaking physicians and medical facilities that cater to Americans’ expectations are expensive and not very widespread. Japan has a national health insurance system, which is available only to foreigners with long-term visas for Japan. National health insurance does not pay for medical evacuation or medical care outside of Japan. Medical caregivers in Japan require payment in full at the time of treatment or concrete proof of ability to pay before treating a foreigner who is not a member of the national health insurance plan. U.S.-style and standard psychiatric care can be difficult to locate in major urban centers in Japan, and generally is not available outside of Japan’s major cities. Extended psychiatric care for foreigners in Japan is difficult to obtain at any price.

U.S. prescriptions are not honored in Japan, so travelers with ongoing prescription medicine needs should arrive with a sufficient supply to see them through their stay in Japan, or enough until they are able to see a local care provider. Certain medications, including some commonly prescribed for depression and Attention Deficient Disorder (ADD), are not widely available. Please see the section below entitled, “Confiscation of Prescription Drugs and Other Medication,” regarding the importation of medicine into Japan. More information on importing medicines into Japan is also available at http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-medimport.html. A list of English-speaking medical facilities throughout Japan is available on our web site.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); or via the CDC’s Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. It can be both difficult and expensive for foreigners not insured in Japan to receive medical care. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation can cost anywhere from $30,000 to $120,000. Private U.S. citizens are ineligible for treatment at U.S. military hospitals in Japan or U.S. military medical evacuation to the U.S. Access to military facilities is controlled solely by the military; veterans with service-connected disabilities should contact the appropriate U.S. military hospital before traveling to Japan. In the event of death, the cost of preparation and shipment of remains to the U.S is over $15,000. Almost no care providers accept U.S.-based health insurance “up front”; patients pay in cash and then seek reimbursement from their insurance company once they return home. Most small clinics and some large hospitals do not accept credit/debit cards. No facility accepts checks drawn on U.S. bank accounts.

The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Japan is provided for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Driving in Japan is quite complicated and expensive. Those who cannot read the language will have trouble understanding road signs. Highway tolls are assessed at about $1 (U.S.) per mile. City traffic is often very congested. A 20-mile trip in the Tokyo area may take two hours. There is virtually no legal roadside parking. In mountainous areas, roads are often closed during the winter, and cars should be equipped with tire chains. Roads in Japan are much narrower than those in the United States. Japanese compulsory insurance (JCI) is mandatory for all automobile owners and drivers in Japan. Most short-term visitors choose not to drive in Japan. Vehicular traffic moves on the left. Turns at red lights are forbidden, unless specifically authorized.

Japanese law provides that all persons who drive in Japan are held liable in the event of an accident, and assesses fault in an accident on all parties. Drivers stopped for driving under the influence of intoxicants will have their licenses confiscated. Persons found guilty of “drunken, speeding or blatantly careless driving that results in injury” are subject to up to 15 years in prison. The National Police Agency (NPA) oversees the administration and enforcement of traffic laws. Further information in English is available on the NPA’s web site at http://www.npa.go.jp/english/index.htm.

Emergency Assistance: Within Japan, please dial 110 for police, and 119 for ambulance. For roadside assistance, please contact JAF (Japan Automobile Federation) at 03-5730-0111 in Tokyo, 072-645-0111 in Osaka, 011-857-8139 in Sapporo, 092-841-5000 in Fukuoka, or 098-877-9163 in Okinawa.

For specific information concerning Japanese driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the Japan National Tourist Organization offices in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York or San Francisco via the Internet at http://www.jnto.go.jp/. In addition, information about roadside assistance, rules of the road and obtaining a Japanese driver’s license is available in English from the Japan Automobile Federation (JAF) web site at http://www.jaf.or.jp/e/index.htm.

International Driving Permits (IDP): An international driving permit issued in the United States by the American Automobile Association (AAA) or the American Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA) is required of short-term visitors who drive in Japan. International driving permits are not issued by the U.S. Embassy or by its Consulates, and must be obtained prior to arriving in Japan. IDP’s issued via the Internet and/or by other organizations are not considered valid in Japan. IDP’s issued to Americans in third countries where they are not resident are often considered invalid, or are subject to close scrutiny.

“Residents” are expected to convert to or obtain a Japanese drivers license. Persons using an international drivers license who are resident in Japan can be subject to fines or arrest. The exact boundary between “resident” and “non-resident” is unclear. In practice it seems to involve more than simply visa status or length of stay in Japan and is determined by the police. In short, an international license is not a permanent or expedient substitute for a valid Japanese license. You can learn more at http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacsdrive.html.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Japan’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Japan’s air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. At 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA website at http://www.faa.gov.

Special Circumstances: Japan has very strict laws regarding the importation and possession of firearms and other weapons. Persons bringing a firearm or sword into Japan (including target and trophy pistols, air guns, some pocket knives and Japanese-origin swords) may have these items confiscated by Japanese customs authorities, and may be arrested, prosecuted and deported or jailed. Some prescription medications, as well as some over-the-counter medications, cannot be imported into Japan. (Please see the “Confiscation of Prescription Drugs and other Medication” section in this Consular Information Sheet.) Please contact the Japanese Embassy or nearest Japanese Consulate in the United States, or visit the Narita Airport (Tokyo) Customs web site in English at http://www.narita-airport-customs.go.jp/e/index_e.html, for specific information regarding import restrictions and customs requirements.

Japanese customs authorities encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Car net for the temporary importation into Japan of professional equipment, commercial samples and/or goods for exhibitions and trade fairs. ATA Carnet Headquarters located at the U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036 issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet in the United States. For additional information, please call (212) 354-4480, or send an email to [email protected], or visit http://www.uscib.org/ for details.

Confiscation of Prescription Drugs and Other Medication: Decisions on what medications may be imported legally into Japan are made by the Japanese Government, and unfortunately the limited information we have available at the American Embassy and our Consulates does not include comprehensive lists of specific medications or ingredients. It is illegal to bring into Japan some over-the-counter medicines commonly used in the United States, including inhalers and some allergy and sinus medications. Specifically, products that contain stimulants (medicines that contain Pseudoephedrine, such as Actifed, Sudafed, and Vicks inhalers), or Codeine are prohibited. Up to a two-month supply of allowable over-the-counter medication and up to a four-month supply of allowable vitamins can be brought into Japan duty-free. Some U.S. prescription medications cannot be imported into Japan, even when accompanied by a customs declaration and a copy of the prescription. Generally, up to one month’s supply of allowable prescription medicine can be brought into Japan. Travelers must bring a copy of their doctor’s prescription as well as a letter stating the purpose of the drug.

Japanese physicians can often prescribe similar, but not identical, substitutes to medicines available in the U.S. A Japanese doctor, consulted by phone in advance, is also a good source of information on medications available and/or permitted in Japan. A list of English-speaking medical facilities throughout Japan is available on our web site at http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-7119.html. Some popular medications legal in the U.S., such as Prozac and Viagra, are sold illegally in Japan on the black market. You are subject to arrest and imprisonment if you purchase such drugs illegally while in Japan. Persons traveling to Japan carrying prescription and non-prescription medications should consult the Japanese Embassy, or a Japanese Consulate, in the United States before leaving the U.S. to confirm whether they will be allowed to bring the particular medication into Japan. A full listing of phone numbers and email addresses is available at http://www.us.emb-japan.go.jp/jicc/consulat.htm.

Pets: The Japanese Animal Quarantine Service (AQS) http://www.maffaqs.go.jp/english/ryoko/ba.htm has radically revised its procedures for importing pets. In most instances, the process will take at least seven (7) months from the date of the first rabies vaccination before a pet may enter Japan, so advance planning is critical. More information about importing a pet into Japan is available at http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-petsi.html. More information about exporting a pet from Japan is available at http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-petse.html.

Consular Access: U.S. citizens must carry their U.S. passports or Japanese alien registration cards with them at all times so that, if questioned by local officials, the U.S. citizen can establish proof of identity and citizenship. Under Japanese law, the police may stop any person on the street at any time and demand ID. If a foreigner does not have with him/her either a passport or valid Japanese Alien Registration Card, s/he is subject to arrest. Due to recent crackdowns by the police, such random stops for ID are becoming increasingly more common, especially in areas frequented by foreigners. In accordance with the U.S.-Japan Consular Convention, U.S. consular officers are generally notified within 24 hours of the arrest of a U.S. citizen, if the U.S. citizen requests consular notification.

Conditions At Prisons and Detention Facilities: Japanese prisons and detention facilities maintain internal order through a regime of very strict discipline. American-citizen prisoners often complain of stark, austere living conditions and psychological isolation. A prisoner can become eligible for parole only after serving about 60-70% of his/her sentence. Early parole is not allowed for any reason—humanitarian, medical or otherwise.

Access to competent interpreters is not required at all times under Japanese criminal law. More information is available at http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-7110a.html. Although a signatory to the Council of Europe Prisoner transfer treaty, Japan requires that prisoners wishing to transfer from Japan to serve at least 1/3 of their sentences before considering their applications. Please see information on Prisoner Transfer Treaties. Information is also, available at http://tokyo.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-transfer.html.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country’s laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking Japanese law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Japanese law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Persons arrested in Japan, even for a minor offense, may be held in detention without bail for two to three months during the investigation and legal proceedings. Information about Japanese criminal law is available in English at the National Police Agency (NPA) web site at http://www.npa.go.jp/english/index.htm. A list of English-speaking lawyers throughout Japan is available on our web site at http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-7113.html.

Illegal Drugs: Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Japan are strict, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and fines. In most drug cases, suspects are usually detained incommunicado, which bars them from receiving visitors or corresponding with anyone other than a lawyer or U.S. consular officer until after indictment, which may take as long as several months.

Solitary confinement is common. People can be convicted of drug use based on positive blood or urine tests alone, and multiple Americans are now serving time in Japanese prisons as the result of sting operations and the use of informers. The Japanese police routinely share information on drug arrests with Interpol, assuring that notice of the arrest will reach U.S. law enforcement agencies. About half of all Americans now in prison in Japan are incarcerated for drug-related crimes.

Japanese authorities aggressively pursue drug smugglers with sophisticated detection equipment, “sniffing” dogs and other methods. Travelers and their luggage entering Japan are screened at ports of entry; incoming and outgoing mail, as well as international packages sent via DHL or FEDEX, is also checked carefully. The Japanese police make arrests for even the smallest amounts of illegal drugs. Several Americans are now in custody after having mailed illegal drugs to themselves from other countries. Other Americans are serving time for having tried to bring drugs into Japan as paid couriers working out of Southeast Asia or Europe.

Immigration Penalties: Japanese work visas are issued outside of Japan for a specific job with a specific employer at a specific place of employment, and are not transferable. It is illegal for U.S. citizens to work in Japan while in tourist or visa-waiver status. Japanese authorities do not allow foreigners to change their immigration status from visa-waiver status to work status while in Japan. Japanese immigration officers may deny entry to travelers who appear to them to have no visible means of support. Please contact the Japanese Embassy or nearest Japanese Consulate in the United States for guidance on what constitutes adequate financial support for a specific period of time. A U.S. citizen who works in Japan without a work visa may be subject to arrest, which can involve several weeks or months of incarceration, followed by conviction and imprisonment or deportation. The deportee must bear the cost of deportation, including legal expenses and airfare.

Due to recent changes in the law, penalties for overstaying one’s visa or working illegally have toughened substantially. Fines can run into thousands of dollars, and in some cases re-entry bans can be as long as ten years. See http://www.moj.go.jp/ENGLISH/information/icrr-01.html for additional information.

Employment Issues: Although the Japanese economy is emerging slowly from a prolonged recession, U.S. citizens are advised against coming to work in Japan without the proper working visa arranged ahead of time, or in the hopes of earning a large salary. Teaching English, even with private students, and serving as a hostess, are both considered “work” in Japan and are illegal without the proper visa.

Assessing Employment Offers: Some U.S.-based employment agencies and Japanese employers do not fully discuss, or correctly represent, the true nature of employment terms and conditions. U.S. consular officers in Japan receive numerous complaints from U.S. citizens who come to Japan to work as English teachers, carpenters, models, actors, entertainers, exotic dancers and bar hostesses. These complaints include contract violations, non-payment of salary for months at a time, sexual harassment, intimidation and threats of arrest, deportation and physical assault.

A minimum requirement for effectively seeking the protection of Japanese labor law is a written and signed work contract. Without such a contract, Japanese authorities do not intervene on behalf of foreign workers. It is prudent for U.S. citizens coming to work in Japan carefully to review their contracts and the bona fides of their Japanese employer before traveling to Japan. U.S. consular officers generally are unable to confirm the bona fides of prospective Japanese employers, although they may be familiar with organizations about which they have received complaints in the past. If asked to do something they find troubling, U.S. citizens may wish to reassess their reason for being in Japan, and consider terminating their employment and returning to the United States. Complaints against U.S.-based employment agencies or recruiters may be directed to the Better Business Bureau at http://www.bbb.org/ or the Office of the Attorney General of the state in question.

Living Expenses: Japan’s cost of living is one of the highest in the world. The use of credit/debit cards is not widespread, particularly outside major cities. While there are ATMs in Japan, most are not open 24 hours a day or do not accept a U.S.-based card. ATMs at major airports, foreign bank branches and Japanese Post Offices are more likely to accept foreign cards than other locations. Taxi fares from airports to downtown Osaka and Tokyo can cost hundreds of dollars; bus fare can run $25 (U.S.) or more. The airport departure fee is generally included in the ticket prices of flights departing from both Narita (Tokyo) International Airport and Kansai (Osaka) International Airport.

English Help and Information Lines: Tourists and foreign residents in Japan have access to valuable information, including professional counseling, via help and information telephone hotlines. The Tokyo English Lifeline (http://www.telljp.com/) provides English-speaking counseling and referrals at 03-5774-0992. The Japan Help Line provides similar assistance nationwide at 0570-000-911 (domestic), 813-3435-8017 (international) (http://www.jhelp.com/)

Disaster Preparedness: Japan is faced with the ever-present danger of deadly earthquakes and typhoons. Japan is one of the most seismically active locations in the world; minor tremors are felt regularly throughout the islands. While responsibility for caring for disaster victims, including foreigners, rests with the Japanese authorities, one of the first things a traveler should do upon arriving in Japan is to learn about earthquake and disaster preparedness from hotel or local government officials.

Children’s Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children’s Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html. Japan is not a Hague Convention signatory, and U.S. court custody decisions are not enforceable in Japan. Almost all children born to a Japanese parent since the 1980’s, are Japanese citizens, and may travel on Japanese passports issued in the U.S. even if the left-behind parent in the U.S. does not agree to the issuance of a U.S. passport. The Embassy and our Consulates do not have access to Japanese Immigration records and cannot confirm that a child has entered or departed Japan. The Japanese government will not refuse entry to one of its citizens, even if that citizen is a dual-national child subject to a U.S. court-based custody decision. The Embassy and our Consulates cannot serve process, appear in court on your behalf or carry out U.S.-based arrest warrants. Please be aware you may be subject to arrest on kidnapping charges if you attempt to re-abduct your child from Japan.

Registration/Embassy Location: Americans living in or visiting Japan are encouraged to register through the State Department’s travel registration website, or through the Embassy’s website at http://japan.usembassy.gov/acs where they may also obtain updated information on travel and security within Japan. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, U.S. citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. U.S. citizens resident in or visiting Japan are encouraged to sign up for an email newsletter at http://japan.usembassy.gov/acs. Alien registration formalities required under Japanese immigration law are separate from U.S. citizen registration. Registration information is protected by the Privacy Act.

All Consular information for all of Japan is now available on a single web site at http://japan.usembassy.gov/acs.

A full list of our holiday closings is available at http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-holidays.html. Subscribers to our monthly email newsletter (available from http://japan.usembassy.gov/acs) receive regular updates on holiday closings.

The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo is located at 1-10-5 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-8420 Japan; telephone 81-3-3224-5000; fax 81-3-3224-5856. Recorded visa information for nonU.S. citizens is available at the following 24-hour toll phone number: 03-5354-4033.

The U.S. Consulate General in Osaka-Kobe is located at 2-11-5 Nishitenma, Kita-ku, Osaka 530-8543; telephone 81-6-6315-5900; fax 81-6-6315-5914. Recorded information for U.S. citizens concerning U.S. passports, notarials and other American citizens services is available 24 hours at 81-6-6315-5900.

The U.S. Consulate General in Naha is located at 2-1-1 Toyama, Urasoe, Okinawa 901-2104; telephone 81-98-876-4211; fax 81-98-876-4243

The U.S. Consulate General in Sapporo is located at Kita 1-Jo Nishi 28-chome, Chuo-ku, Sapporo 064-0821; telephone 81-11-641-1115, fax 81-11-643-1283.

The U.S. Consulate in Fukuoka is located at 2-5-26 Ohori, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka 810-0052; telephone 81-92-751-9331; fax 81-92-713-9222.

The U.S. Consulate in Nagoya is located at Nagoya International Center Bldg. 6th floor, 1-47-1 Nagono, Nakamura-ku, Nagoya 450-0001; telephone 81-52-581-4501; fax 81-52-581-3190.

The U.S. Consulate in Nagoya offers only limited emergency consular services for U.S. citizens. The U.S. Consulate General in Osaka-Kobe handles all routine matters. A consular officer from the U.S. Consulate General in Osaka-Kobe visits the U.S. Consulate in Nagoya on the second Wednesday of every month. During those visits, the consular officer provides consular services to U.S. citizens by appointment. To make an appointment for consular services in Nagoya, please contact the U.S. Consulate in Nagoya at the number listed above.

Maps to all our offices in Japan, along with directions on using public transportation to reach us, are available at http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-7123.html.

International Adoption : February 2007

The information below has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Availability of Children for Adoption: Both Japanese and foreign children are available for adoption in Japan. Most of the orphans adopted in Japan by foreigners are Japanese. Among the cases of foreign children adopted by foreigners in Japan, many of the children are related to the adoptive U.S. parents and may have lived with the adoptive parents in Japan for more than two years. For patterns of immigration, Please review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Adoption Authorities: The Family Court and the Child Guidance Center (often located in the City or Ward Office) are the government office responsible for adoption in Japan. They have jurisdiction over the placement of children, home studies, and adoptions.

Adoption Procedure: Prospective adoptive parents may find children available for adoption either through the CGC or private parties such as missionaries, social welfare organizations, or adoption agencies. It is important to remember that the CGC will only issue a certificate identifying a “child who requires protection” if the adoption is arranged through them. If the adoption is arranged privately, the adoptive parents must present the appropriate statement of release for emigration and adoption to prove the child is adoptable. Even if the Japanese government certifies a child as requiring protection or considers a child legally adoptable, however, it is possible that the child may still not meet the U.S. definition of an orphan.

Japanese law does not define an orphan. Rather, a “child who requires protection” is defined as:

  • A child born out of wedlock;
  • An abandoned infant;
  • A child whose parent(s) has/have died or disappeared;
  • A child whose parents are incapable of providing support; or
  • An abused child.

Under Japanese law, a child can be adopted in one of two ways: regular and special.

Regular adoptions in Japan do not fully sever ties between the adopted child and the biological parents. For example, Japanese inheritance law recognizes that a child adopted in a regular adoption may still have inheritance rights from the biological parents. In addition, regular adoptions can be easily dissolved. Thus, a regular adoption may not permanently create the distinctly new family relationship envisioned by most American adoptive parents. If the adopted child later obtains U.S. citizenship and abandons Japanese nationality, the legal effect on the child’s ties to the biological parents is unclear.

As in U.S. adoptions, a Special Adoption severs the child’s ties, rights, and privileges with regard to the birth parent(s) and any prior adoptive parent(s). In 1988, Japan introduced the special adoption to make Japanese adoptions more compatible with international adoptions and to give more protection to adopted children under six years of age. Special adoptions appear to comply more fully with the provisions of Sections 101(b)(1)(E) and (F) of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) that: “no birth parent or prior adoptive parent of any such child thereafter, by virtue of such parentage, be accorded any right, privilege, or status.”

Prospective parents filing for a special adoption should be aware of the following guidelines:

  • The child must be under the age of six at the time the adoption petition is filed OR under the age of eight and must have been placed under the continuous care and custody of the prospective adoptive parents since before the child’s sixth birthday.
  • Two adoptive parents must jointly consent to the adoption. Single parents may only pursue a special adoption with the Family Court’s consent.
  • One of the adoptive parents must be over 25 years of age and the other must be over 20 years old.

All persons with legal custody of the child, including the natural and adoptive parents, must consent to the adoption, EXCEPT IF:

  • The natural parents are incapable of declaring their intent;
  • Family Court rules that the natural parents have treated the child with “cruelty;”
  • The natural parents have abandoned the child; or
  • Any other cause “seriously harmful to the benefits of the person to be adopted” exists.

The child must be in the custody of, and residing with, the adoptive parents for at least six months before the Family Court will render a final judgement and issue an adoption decree.

For more detailed information, Please review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Registering for Japanese Adoption: Adoptive parents may need to register the adoption with the municipal office in order to complete the adoption. For more detailed information, Please review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Age and Civil Status Requirements: Japanese law allows two types of adoptions: special and regular. In special adoptions, one of the adoptive parents must be over the age of 25 and the other must be at least 20 years old. Depending on the applicable U.S. State law, the Family Court may allow single parents to adopt on a case-by-case basis.

Adoption Agencies: All adoption agencies in Japan are privately operated. There are attorneys; however, they aren’t necessarily recommended and aren’t required for processing adoptions. As far as adoption agencies, they are not necessary; however they are only used if recommended/required by the host county government. If prospective adoptive parents would like to obtain a list of adoption agencies, they can contact the Embassy of Tokyo.

Doctors: The U.S. Embassy maintains current lists of doctors and sources for medicines, should either you or your child experience health problems while in Japan.

Documentary Requirements: Prospective parents must assemble and present several documents, notarized, certified, or authenticated as appropriate, to the Family Court, including:

  • Birth certificate and/or family register of all parties;
  • Copy of passport, Japanese visa, and Alien Registration card;
  • Copy of U.S. military ID (where applicable);
  • Marriage, divorce, and death certificates (where applicable);
  • Medical examination certificates;
  • Certificate of foster parent registration (where applicable);
  • Certificate of good conduct/no criminal record for each adoptive parent, issued by their home city or state police department;
  • Certificate of legal address, employment, and income;
  • Copy of any property ownership deeds and/or bank statements;
  • Biographic history of all parties;
  • Statement of consent to adopt by the child’s natural parent(s) or guardian;
  • Statement of prospective parent(s) intent to adopt the identified child;
  • Pictures of all parties, preferably of parent(s) with the child;
  • Home Study approved by an authorized and licensed adoption agency;
  • Two character references.

This list is not definitive. The Family Court may require additional documents when it sees fit. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Residency Requirements: The Court will not consider adoption applications of those prospective parents who are in Japan on temporary visitor visas. At least one prospective parent must show evidence of long-term residence in Japan. When the adoption is finalized, at least one adoptive parent must appear before the court. Japanese law does not permit proxy adoptions.

U.S. Immigration Requirements: A Japanese child adopted by an American citizen must obtain an immigrant visa before he or she can enter the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Embassy of Japan:
2520 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20008-2869
Tel: (202) 939-6700

Japan also has Consulates in Tamuning, Guam; Anchorage, Alaska; Atlanta, Georgia; Boston, Massachusetts; Chicago, Illinois; Detroit, Michigan; Honolulu, Hawaii; Houston, Texas; Miami, Florida; Kansas City, Missouri; Los Angeles, California; New Orleans, Louisiana; New York, New York; Portland, Oregon; San Francisco, California; Seattle, Washington; and Saipan, Mariana Islands.

U.S. Embassy Tokyo:
Immigrant and Nonimmigrant Visas
Unit 45004 Box 205
APO AP 96337-5004
Box 205
1-10-5 Akasaka Minato-ku
Tokyo 107-8420, Japan
Tel: (81)(3) 3224-5000
Fax: (81)(3) 3505-1862

The United States also has Consulates in Naha, Osaka-Kobe, Sapporo, Fukuoka, and Nagoya.

Time Frame: Adopting a child through the Family Court requires at least nine months, sometimes longer. The Family Court imposes no time limit on when an adoption must be completed.

Costs: Although costs can vary widely, the average total cost of adoption in Japan is approximately $20,000. This includes fees for the Family Court, adoption agency, immigration processing, airfare, lodging, and document translations and authentications. Adoption agency fees range from $800 to $60,000, so the overall cost of the adoption often depends on which agency the parents choose. Parents may incur additional costs when adopting non-Japanese children or children with medical problems.

Dissolving A Japanese Adoption: For regular adoptions anyone fifteen years old and above can apply to dissolve a regular adoption. Most dissolutions are by mutual consent and involve adult adopters. Over 90 percent of adoptions in Japan involve non-minors, stepchildren, or prominent son-less families who adopt sons-in-law to pass on the family name. When a regular adoption is dissolved, the formerly adopted child reacquires the legal obligation to care for the natural parents.

For special adoptions an adopted child, the natural parents, or a prosecutor may apply to the Family Court to dissolve a special adoption. According to the Civil Code, the Family Court may only dissolve a special adoption under the following circumstances:

  • “the fact that there is cruel treatment or malicious desertion by an adopter, or other cause seriously harmful to the benefits of an adopted child; and
  • the fact that the birth parents can take proper care and custody.” If a special adoption is dissolved, the child will acquire the same civil status and rights held prior to the adoption.

Additional Information: Prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to consult USCIS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Questions: Specific questions regarding adoption in Japan may be addressed to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Japan. You may also contact the Office of Children’s Issues, SA-29, 2201 C Street, NW, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC 20520-2818, Tel: 1-888-407-4747 with specific questions.

International Parental Child Abduction : February 2007

The information below has been edited from the report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Child Abduction section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is provided for general information only. Questions involving interpretation of specific foreign laws should be addressed to foreign legal counsel.

Japan is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

Japanese civil law stresses that in cases where custody cannot be reached by agreement between the parents, the Japanese Family Court will resolve the issue based on the best interests of the child. However, compliance with Family Court rulings is essentially voluntary, which renders any ruling unenforceable unless both parents agree.

The Civil Affairs Bureau of the Japanese Ministry of Justice states that, in general, redress in child custody cases is sought through habeas corpus proceedings in the court. There is no preferential treatment based on nationality or gender. Although visitation rights for non-custodial parents are not expressly stipulated in the Japanese Civil Code, court judgments often provide visitation rights for non-custodial parents.

In practical terms, however, in cases of international parental child abduction, foreign parents are greatly disadvantaged in Japanese courts, both in terms of obtaining the return of children to the United States, and in achieving any kind of enforceable visitation rights in Japan. In the past, Japanese police have been reluctant to get involved in custody disputes or to enforce custody decrees issued by Japanese courts.

In order to bring a custody issue before the Family Court, the left-behind parent will require the assistance of a Japanese attorney. A parent holding a custody decree issued in U.S. courts must retain local Japanese counsel to apply to the Japanese courts for recognition and enforcement of the U.S. decree. Lists of Japanese attorneys and other information are available on the web at http://www.tokyoacs.com or from the Office of Children’s Issues at the address shown below. Links to the web sites of our other consulates in Japan can also be found at this web site.

Criminal Remedies: For information on possible criminal remedies, please contact your local law enforcement authorities or the nearest office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Information is also available on the Internet at the web site of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, at http://www.ojjdp.ncjrs.org. Contact the country officer in the Office of Children’s Issues for specific information.

For further information on international parental child abduction, contact the Office of Children’s Issues, U.S. Department of State at 1-888-407-4747 or visit its web site on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov. You may also direct inquiries to: Office of Children’s Issues; U.S. Department of State; Washington, DC 20520-4811; Phone: (202) 736-9090; Fax: (202) 312-9743.

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JAPAN

Compiled from the October 2004 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Japan


PROFILE

Geography

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.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Japanese.

Population: (2004 est.) 127.7 million.

Population growth rate: (2003 est.) 0.11%.

Ethnic groups: Japanese; Korean (0.6%).

Religions: Shinto and Buddhist; Christian (about 0.7%).

Language: Japanese.

Education: Literacy—99%.

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%.

Government

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.

Economy

GDP: (2003 est.) $4.2 trillion ($3.57 trillion on a purchasing power parity-PPP basis).

Real growth rate: (2003 est.) 2.4%;

Per capita GDP: (2003 est.) $32,859 (PPP—$28,100).

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.


GEOGRAPHY

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.


PEOPLE

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.


HISTORY

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.

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.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 12/29/04

Emperor: AKIHITO
Prime Minister: Junichiro KOIZUMI
Chief Cabinet Sec.: Hiroyuki HOSODA
Min. of Agriculture, Forestry, & Fisheries: Yoshinobu SHIMAMURA
Min. of Economy, Trade, & Industry: Shoichi NAKAGAWA
Min. of Education, Culture, Sport, Science, & Technology: Nariaki NAKAYAMA
Min. of Environment, Okinawa, & Northern Territories Affairs: Yuriko KOIKE
Min. of Finance: Sadakazu TANIGAKI
Min. of Foreign Affairs: Nobutaka MACHIMURA
Min. of Health, Labor, & Welfare: Hidehisa OTSUJI
Min. of Internal Affairs & Communications: Taro ASO
Min. of Justice: Chieko NONO
Min. of Land, Infrastructure, & Transport: Kazuo KITAGAWA
State Min. of Administrative Reform: Seiichiro MURAKAMI
State Min. of Economic & Fiscal Policy: Heizo TAKENAKA
State Min. of Finance: Tatsuya ITO
State Min. in Charge of Information Technology: Yasufumi TANAHASHI
State Min. in Charge of Postal Reform: Heizo TAKENAKA
Chmn., National Public Safety Commission: Kiyoko ONO
Dir. Gen., Defense Agency: Yoshinori ONO
Governor, Bank of Japan: Toshihiko FUKUI
Ambassador to the US: Ryozo KATO
Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Koichi HARAGUCHI

Japan maintains an embassy in the United States at 2520 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel: 202-238-6700; fax: 202-328-2187).


ECONOMY

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.

Labor

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.


FOREIGN RELATIONS

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.


U.S.-JAPAN RELATIONS

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. forwarddeployed 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.

Economic Relations

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 $52 billion in 2003, up only slightly from 2002 and down from $65 billion in 2001. U.S. imports from Japan were about $118 billion in 2003, down from $121 billion in 2002 and $146 billion in 2000.

The U.S. also has held 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-7 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 $65.6 billion in 2002, up from $58.2 billion in 2001. 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

TOKYO (E) Address: 10-5 Akasaka 1-chome, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-8420; APO/FPO: Unit 45004 Box 258 APO AP 96337-5004; Phone: 81-3-3224-5000; Fax: 81-3-3505-1862; Workweek: 0830am-1730pm; Website: http://www.usembassy.state.gov/tokyo

AMB:Howard H. Baker, Jr.
DCM:Michael W. Michalak
CG:Edward McKeon
POL:David B. Shear
CON:Patty L. Hill
MGT:James Van Derhoff
AFSA:to be filled
AGR:Daniel Berman
AID:Charles R. Aanenson
APHIS:Robert Tanaka
ATO:Mark A. Dries
CLO:Maria T. Flatt/Eun Young Summe
CUS:Cox, Michael R.
DAO:Mark Welch
DEA:Peter M. Shigeta
ECO:James P. Zumwalt
EEO:Mary F. Martinez
EST:Kevin K. Maher
FAA:Christopher S. Metts
FAA/CASLO:Cornell Russell
FCS:Samuel H. Kidder
FIN:Richard Johnston
FMO:Francis M. Conte
GSO:Mary F. Martinez
ICASS Chair:Christopher S. Metts
IMO:Kay E. Gotoh
INS:Kathy Glenn
IPO:Robert L. Adams
ISO:James F. Ryan
ISSO:James F. Ryan
LAB:Ann M. Kambara
LEGATT:Lawrence J. Futa
MLO:John V. Robson
PAO:William M. Morgan
RSO:Gentry Smith
Last Updated: 11/23/2004

NAHA (CG) Address: 2564 Nishihara, Urasoe City, Okinawa 901-2101; APO/FPO: PSC 556 BOX 840 FPO-AP 96386-0840; Phone: (81) (98) 876-4211; Fax: (81) (98) 876-4243; INMARSAT Tel: 872-76-344-9547; Workweek: 08:00 ~ 17:00; Website: www.usembassy.state.gov/naha

PO:Thomas G. Reich
POL:Patricia M. Stigliani
CON:Jason McInerney
MGT:Susan Reinert
EEO:Patricia M. Stigliani
ISSO:Susan L. Reinert
PAO:Bruce R. Nelson
Last Updated: 4/22/2004

OSAKA KOBE (CG) Address: American Consulate General, 11-5, Nishitenma 2-Chome, Kita-ku, Osaka 530-8543, Japan; APO/FPO: AmConGen Osaka-Kobe, Unit 45004 Box 239, APO AP 96337-5004; Phone: 81-6-6315 5900; Fax: 81-6 6315 5915; INMARSAT Tel: 76 344 9547; Workweek: Mon–Fri/0830-1730; Website: USEMBASSY.STATE.GOV/KANSAI

PO:Alexander Almasov
POL:Patrick L. Chow
COM:Alan Long
CON:Paul J. Howard
MGT:Robert J. Dupalo
ATO:Emiko Purdy
ECO:Patrick L. Chow
IPO:Peter A Steitz
ISSO:Peter A Steitz/Stephen S Wheeler
PAO:John (Chris) Laycock
Last Updated: 7/21/2003

SAPPORO (CG) Address: Kita 1-Jo Nishi 28-Chome, Chuo-Ku, Sapporo 064-0821; APO/FPO: Unit 45004, Box 276, APO AP 96337-0003; Phone: 81-11-641-1115; Fax: 81-11-643-1283; Workweek: 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. except designated holidays; Website: usembassy.state.gov/sapporo

CG:Marrie Y. Schaefer
CON:Elise J. Fox
MGT:Elise J. Fox
IMO:Shinji Hosokawa (FSN)
ISO:Elise J. Fox
PAO:Marrie Y. Schaefer
Last Updated: 10/4/2004

FUKUOKA (C) Address: 5-26 Ohori 2-chome, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka 810-0052; APO/FPO: Unit 45004 Box 242, APO AP 96337-5004; Phone: 81-92-751-9331; Fax: 81-92-713-9222; INMARSAT Tel: 38 313 2643; Workweek: 8:45 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Mon–Friday; Website: usembassy.state.gov/fukuoka

PO:Joyce S. Wong
CON:Eric R. Kettner
MGT:Eric R. Kettner
ECO:Blair L. Labarge
FMO:Eric R. Kettner
GSO:Eric R. Kettner
IMO:Eric R. Kettner
ISSO:Eric R. Kettner
PAO:John A. Dyson
Last Updated: 10/4/2004

NAGOYA (C) Address: Nishiki SIS Bldg. 6F, 10-33 Nishiki 3-chome, Naka-ku, Nagoya 460-0003; APO/FPO: Embassy Tokyo (for Nagoya), Unit 45004, Box 280, APO, AP 96337-5004; Phone: 81-52-203-4011; Fax: 81-52-201-4612; INMARSAT Tel: 00763449534; Workweek: 8:30-17:30

PO:Gary G. Oba
CUS:George Wakayama
FCS:Stephen J. Anderson
PAO:Michael R. Turner
Last Updated: 10/4/2004

YOKOHAMA Address: 152-3 Yamate-cho, Naka-ku, Yokohama, Japan 231-0862; APO/FPO: PSC 472 Box 2, FPO, AP 96348; Phone: (81)(45) 622-6514; Fax: (81)(45) 622-6516; INMARSAT Tel: 8816 7631 0819 (iridium); Workweek: 08:30-17:30

PO: Lawrence J. Mire

Last Updated: 1/15/2003


TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

February 10, 2005

Country Description: Japan is a stable, highly developed parliamentary democracy with a modern economy. Tourist facilities are widely available. Information on consular services for all of Japan, including registration, passport renewal, legal matters and safety and security, is available at www.tokyoacs.com. An alphabetical listing of our services is at http://japan.usembassy.gov/.

Entry/Exit Requirements: A valid passport and an onward/return ticket are required. Passports must be valid for the intended period of stay in Japan. A visa is not required for tourist/business stays up to 90 days. Americans cannot work on a 90-day "visa free" entry. As a general rule, "visa free" entry status may not be changed to other visa status without departing and then re-entering Japan with the appropriate visa such as a spouse, work or study visa.

Japanese Visas: For information about the Japanese visa waiver for tourists, Japan's strict rules on work visas, special visas to take depositions, and other visa issues, travelers should consult the Consular Section of the Embassy of Japan at 2520 Massachusetts Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, tel. (202) 238-6800, or the nearest Japanese consulate. Our posts in Japan cannot assist in obtaining visas for Japan. See our Foreign Entry Requirements brochure for more information on Japan and other countries.

Military/SOFA Travelers: While active-duty U.S. military personnel may enter Japan under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with proper Department of Defense (DOD) identification and travel orders, all SOFA family members, civilian employees and contractors must have a valid passport and, in some cases, a SOFA visa to enter Japan. Active-duty military personnel should obtain a tourist passport prior to leaving the United States to accommodate off-duty travel elsewhere in Asia as obtaining one while in Japan can take several weeks. Personnel whose duties will include official travel should also obtain an Official Passport before coming to Japan to avoid delays of up to two months, as from overseas these applications must be referred to a special office in Washington, adding to processing times. DOD travelers should consult the DOD Foreign Clearance Guide, DOD 4500.54, http://www.fcg.pentagon.mil/, before leaving the United States.

Passport Validity: U.S. citizens entering or transiting Japan should ensure that their passports and visas are up to date before leaving the United States. Many Asian countries deny entry to travelers whose passports are valid for less than six months. It is not usually possible to obtain a new U.S. passport and foreign visa during a brief stopover while transiting Japan, as tourist passport processing in Japan can take two to three weeks. Airlines in Japan will deny boarding to Americans who seek to transit Japan without the required travel documents for their final destinations in Asia.

Expired Passports: Airlines have mistakenly boarded American citizens coming to Japan, even though that person's passport has already expired. The U.S. Embassy or our Consulates cannot "vouch for" an American citizen without a valid passport, and passport services are not available at the airport. In some instances, travelers have been returned immediately to the U.S., while in other cases, they have been issued 24-hour "shore passes" and were required to return the next day to Japanese Immigration for lengthy processing.

Visas for China: Americans need visas to visit China. Transit visas are required for any stop (even if you do not exit the plane or train) in China. Americans will be denied boarding in Japan for onward flights to China if they do not have a Chinese visa. Obtaining a Chinese visa in Japan can be a lengthy and complex process without preplanning. The Chinese Embassy requires at least one full, blank page to be available in your passport. The U.S. Embassy and Consulates cannot assist in obtaining Chinese visas.

Citizens and nationals of the United States of America must have either a valid passport or a combination of a valid identification document containing a photograph of the holder issued by the United States of America or any of its states, cities, counties, towns or other political subdivisions, and a document containing proof of citizenship of the United States of America.

Safety and Security: The events of September 11, 2001 serve as a reminder of the continuing threat from terrorists and extremist groups to Americans and American interests worldwide. There have been no major terrorist incidents in Japan since 1995; however, since terrorists can strike at any time and at any place, American citizens should be aware of the potential risks and take these into consideration when making travel plans.

Our offices in Japan disseminate threat information through our nationwide email warden system and posts current threat information on our ACS website at www.tokyoacs.com. Anyone may sign up for our emailed warden system messages through our web site. The Department of State will continue to develop information about potential threats to American citizens overseas and to share threat information through its consular information program documents available on the Internet at the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov. The government of Japan is vigilant in tracking terrorist threat indicators and remains at a high state of alert. Local police substations (Koban) and police emergency dispatchers (tel. 110) should be contacted to report suspicious activity.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States, or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-317-472-2328. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas. For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State's pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad.

Crime: Crimes against U.S. citizens in Japan are rare and usually only involve personal disputes, theft or vandalism. Crime is at levels well below the U.S. national average. Violent crime is rare, but does exist. Incidents of pick-pocketing of foreigners in crowded shopping areas, on trains and at airports have been a sporadic concern. Some Americans believe that Japanese police procedures appear to be less sensitive and responsive to a victim's concerns than would be the case in the United States, particularly in cases involving domestic violence and sexual assault. Few victim's assistance resources or battered women's shelters exist in major urban areas, and are generally unavailable in rural areas. Investigations of sexual assault crimes are often conducted without women police officers present and typically involve inquiries into the victim's sexual history and previous relationships. Quality of translations can vary significantly, and has proven unsettling to some American victims.

Concerns Regarding Roppongi, Tokyo: We note that an American Citizen was murdered in early December 2004 in the Roppongi district of Tokyo. The murder occurred in an office building within walking distance of the local police station. A second foreigner (not an American) was stabbed to death in Roppongi in January 2005. We previously advised Americans of six reports of western foreigners (including Americans) allegedly overdosing on heroin, resulting in three deaths. The heroin was allegedly purchased in Roppongi. We note that several Americans reported the theft of their purses and wallets, stolen from them while in bars and clubs in Roppongi. A number of Americans have also been arrested over the past year in Roppongi for various offenses. Americans are strongly advised to exercise caution should they choose to visit the Roppongi area.

Police can be summoned throughout Japan by dialing 110. Fire and ambulance services can be summoned by dialing 119. These numbers may not work from cell phones, however, and English-speaking dispatchers may not be available. Advice on how to call for an ambulance in Japan is available at http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-call.html. Persons seeking assistance should be able to describe their address/location in Japanese or enlist a friend who can do so, as few police officers speak English.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney, if needed.

Except for emergencies, a replacement passport takes two to three weeks to process. Travelers will then need to contact Japanese Immigration to have their Japanese visas reissued. "Lost" passports will not disguise an over-stay of one's 90-day entry, as Japanese Immigration records are computerized. Information on replacing a lost passport, included the necessary forms, is available at http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-7130e.html. See our information on Victims of Crime at http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/emergencies/emergencies_1748.html.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: While medical care in Japan is good, English-speaking physicians and medical facilities that cater to Americans' expectations are expensive and not very widespread. Japan has a national health insurance system, which is only available to foreigners with long-term visas for Japan. National health insurance does not pay for medical evacuation or medical care outside of Japan. Medical caregivers in Japan require payment in full at the time of treatment or concrete proof of ability to pay before treating a foreigner who is not a member of the national health insurance plan.

U.S.-style and standard psychiatric care can be difficult to locate in major urban centers in Japan, and generally is not available outside of Japan's major cities. Extended psychiatric care for foreigners in Japan is difficult to obtain at any price; see http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-psychadmissions.html for more information.

U.S. prescriptions are not honored in Japan, so travelers with ongoing prescription medicine needs should arrive with a sufficient supply to see them through their stay in Japan, or enough until they are able to see a local care provider. Certain medications, including some commonly prescribed for depression and Attention Deficient Disorder (ADD), are not widely available. Please see the section below entitled, "Confiscation of Prescription Drugs and Other Medication," regarding the importation of medicine into Japan. More information on importing medicines into Japan is also available at http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-medimport.html. A list of English-speaking medical facilities throughout Japan is available on our web site.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. It can be both difficult and expensive for foreigners not insured in Japan to receive medical care. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation can cost anywhere from $30,000 to $120,000. Private U.S. citizens are ineligible for treatment at U.S. military hospitals in Japan or U.S. military medical evacuation to the U.S. Access to military facilities is controlled solely by the military; veterans with service-connected disabilities should contact the appropriate U.S. military hospital before traveling to Japan. In the event of death, the cost of preparation and shipment of remains to the U.S is over $15,000. Almost no care providers accept U.S.-based health insurance "up front"; patients pay in cash and then seek reimbursement from their insurance company once they return home. Most small clinics and some large hospitals do not accept credit/debit cards. No facility accepts checks drawn on U.S. bank accounts.

The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Japan is provided for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Driving in Japan is quite complicated and expensive. Those who cannot read the language will have trouble understanding road signs. Highway tolls are assessed at about $1 (U.S.) per mile. City traffic is often very congested. A 20-mile trip in the Tokyo area may take two hours. There is virtually no legal roadside parking. In mountainous areas, roads are often closed during the winter, and cars should be equipped with tire chains. Roads in Japan are much narrower than those in the United States. Japanese compulsory insurance (JCI) is mandatory for all automobile owners and drivers in Japan. Most short-term visitors choose not to drive in Japan. Vehicular traffic moves on the left. Turns at red lights are forbidden, unless specifically authorized.

Japanese law provides that all persons who drive in Japan are held liable in the event of an accident, and assesses fault in an accident on all parties. Drivers stopped for driving under the influence of intoxicants will have their licenses confiscated. Persons found guilty of "drunken, speeding or blatantly careless driving that results in death" are subject to up to 15 years in prison. The National Police Agency (NPA) oversees the administration and enforcement of traffic laws. Further information in English is available on the NPA's web site at http://www.npa.go.jp/.

Emergency Assistance: Within Japan, please dial 110 for police, and 119 for ambulance. For roadside assistance, please contact JAF (Japan Automobile Federation) at 03-5395-0111 in Tokyo, 06-577-0111 in Osaka, 011-857-8139 in Sapporo, 092-841-5000 in Fukuoka, or 098-877-9163 in Okinawa. Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information at http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/safety/safety_1179.html.

For specific information concerning Japanese driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the Japan National Tourist Organization offices in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York or San Francisco via the Internet at http://www.jnto.go.jp/. In addition, information about roadside assistance, rules of the road and obtaining a Japanese driver's license is available in English from the Japan Automobile Federation (JAF) web site at http://www.jaf.or.jp/e/index_e.htm.

International Driving Permits (IDP): An international driving permit issued in the United States by the American Automobile Association (AAA) or the American Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA) is required of short-term visitors who drive in Japan. International driving permits are not issued by the U.S. Embassy or by its Consulates, and must be obtained prior to arriving in Japan. IDP's issued via the Internet and/or by other organizations are not considered valid in Japan. IDP's issued to Americans in third countries where they are not resident are often considered invalid, or are subject to close scrutiny.

"Residents" are expected to convert to or obtain a Japanese drivers license. Persons using an international drivers license who are resident in Japan can be subject to fines or arrest. The exact boundary between "resident" and "non-resident" is unclear. In practice it seems to involve more than simply visa status or length of stay in Japan and is determined by the police. In short, an international license is not a permanent or expedient substitute for a valid Japanese license. You can learn more at http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacsdrive.html.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Japan's Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards for oversight of Japan's air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. At 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's web site, http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.cfm.

Special Circumstances: Japan has very strict laws regarding the importation and possession of firearms and other weapons. Persons bringing a firearm or sword into Japan (including target and trophy pistols, air guns, some pocket knives and Japanese-origin swords) may have these items confiscated by Japanese customs authorities, and may be arrested, prosecuted and deported or jailed. Some prescription medications, as well as some over-thecounter medications, cannot be imported into Japan. (Please see the "Confiscation of Prescription Drugs and other Medication" section in this Consular Information Sheet.) Please contact the Japanese Embassy or nearest Japanese Consulate in the United States, or visit the Narita Airport (Tokyo) Customs web site in English at http://www.narita-airportcustoms.go.jp/e/index_e.html, for specific information regarding import restrictions and customs requirements.

Japanese customs authorities encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Car net for the temporary importation into Japan of professional equipment, commercial samples and/or goods for exhibitions and trade fairs. ATA Carnet Headquarters, located at the U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet in the United States. For additional information, please call (212) 354-4480, or send an e-mail to [email protected], or visit http://www.uscib.org/ for details.

Confiscation of Prescription Drugs and Other Medication: Decisions on what medications may be imported legally into Japan are made by the Japanese Government, and unfortunately the limited information we have available at the American Embassy and our Consulates does not include comprehensive lists of specific medications or ingredients.

It is illegal to bring into Japan some over-the-counter medicines commonly used in the United States, including inhalers and some allergy and sinus medications. Specifically, products that contain stimulants (medicines that contain Pseudoephedrine, such as Actifed, Sudafed, and Vicks inhalers), or Codeine are prohibited. Up to a two-months' supply of allowable over-the-counter medication and up to a four-months' supply of allowable vitamins can be brought into Japan duty-free. Some U.S. prescription medications cannot be imported into Japan, even when accompanied by a customs declaration and a copy of the prescription. Generally, up to one month's supply of allowable prescription medicine can be brought into Japan. Travelers must bring a copy of their doctor's prescription as well as a letter stating the purpose of the drug.

Japanese physicians can often prescribe similar, but not identical, substitutes to medicines available in the U.S. A Japanese doctor, consulted by phone in advance, is also a good source of information on medications available and/or permitted in Japan. A list of English-speaking medical facilities throughout Japan is available on our web site at http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-7119.html. Some popular medications legal in the U.S., such as Prozac and Viagra, are sold illegally in Japan on the black market. You are subject to arrest and imprisonment if you purchase such drugs illegally while in Japan.

Persons traveling to Japan carrying prescription and non-prescription medications should consult the Japanese Embassy, or a Japanese Consulate, in the United States before leaving the U.S. to confirm whether they will be allowed to bring the particular medication into Japan. A full listing of phone numbers and email addresses is available at http://www.us.emb-japan.go.jp/jicc/consulat.htm.

Consular Access: U.S. citizens must carry their U.S. passports or Japanese alien registration cards with them at all times so that, if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship is readily available. In accordance with the U.S.-Japan Consular Convention, U.S. consular officers are generally notified within 24 hours of the arrest of a U.S. citizen, if the U.S. citizen requests consular notification.

Under Japanese law, the police may stop any person on the street at any time and demand ID. If a foreigner does not have with him/her either a passport or valid Japanese Alien Registration Card, s/he is subject to arrest. Due to recent crackdowns by the police, such random stops for ID are becoming increasingly more common, especially in areas frequented by foreigners.

Conditions at Prisons and Detention Facilities: Japanese prisons and detention facilities maintain internal order through a regime of very strict discipline. American-citizen prisoners often complain of stark, austere living conditions and psychological isolation. A prisoner can become eligible for parole only after serving about 60-70% of his/her sentence. Early parole is not allowed for any reason—humanitarian, medical or otherwise. Access to competent interpreters is not required at all times under Japanese criminal law.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking Japanese law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Japanese law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Persons arrested in Japan, even for a minor offense, may be held in detention without bail for two to three months during the investigation and legal proceedings. Information about Japanese criminal law is available in English at the National Police Agency (NPA) web site at http://www.npa.go.jp/. A list of English-speaking lawyers throughout Japan is available on our web site at http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-7113.html.

Illegal Drugs: Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Japan are strict, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and fines. In most drug cases, suspects are usually detained incommunicado, which bars them from receiving visitors or corresponding with anyone other than a lawyer or U.S. consular officer until after indictment, which may take as long as several months. Solitary confinement is common.

People can be convicted of drug use based on positive blood or urine tests alone, and multiple Americans are now serving time in Japanese prisons as the result of sting operations and the use of informers. The Japanese police routinely share information on drug arrests with Interpol, assuring that notice of the arrest will reach U.S. law enforcement agencies. About half of all Americans now in prison in Japan are incarcerated for drug-related crimes.

Japanese authorities aggressively pursue drug smugglers with sophisticated detection equipment, "sniffing" dogs and other methods. Travelers and their luggage entering Japan are screened at ports of entry; incoming and outgoing mail, as well as international packages sent via DHL or FEDEX, is also checked carefully. The Japanese police make arrests for even the smallest amounts of illegal drugs. Several Americans are now in custody after having mailed illegal drugs to themselves from other countries. Other Americans are serving time for having tried to bring drugs into Japan as paid couriers working out of Southeast Asia or Europe.

Immigration Penalties: Japanese work visas are issued outside of Japan for a specific job with a specific employer at a specific place of employment, and are not transferable. It is illegal for U.S. citizens to work in Japan while in tourist or visa-waiver status. Japanese authorities do not allow foreigners to change their immigration status from visa-waiver status to work status while in Japan. Japanese immigration officers may deny entry to travelers who appear to them to have no visible means of support. Please contact the Japanese Embassy or nearest Japanese consulate in the United States for guidance on what constitutes adequate financial support for a specific period of time. A U.S. citizen who works in Japan without a work visa may be subject to arrest, which can involve several weeks or months of incarceration, followed by conviction and imprisonment or deportation. The deportee must bear the cost of deportation, including legal expenses and airfare.

Due to recent changes in the law, penalties for overstaying one's visa or working illegally have toughened substantially. Fines can run into thousands of dollars, and in some cases re-entry bans can be as long as ten years.

Employment Issues: The Japanese economy remains in recession, and no American citizen should come to work in Japan without the proper working visa arranged ahead of time, or in the hopes of earning a large salary. Teaching English, even with private students, and serving as a hostess, are both considered "work" in Japan and are illegal without the proper visa.

Assessing Employment Offers: Some U.S.-based employment agencies and Japanese employers do not fully discuss, or correctly represent, the true nature of employment terms and conditions. U.S. consular officers in Japan receive numerous complaints from U.S. citizens who come to Japan to work as English teachers, carpenters, models, actors, entertainers, exotic dancers and bar hostesses. These complaints include contract violations, non-payment of salary for months at a time, sexual harassment, intimidation and threats of arrest, deportation and physical assault.

A minimum requirement for effectively seeking the protection of Japanese labor law is a written and signed work contract. Without such a contract, Japanese authorities do not intervene on behalf of foreign workers. It is prudent for U.S. citizens coming to work in Japan carefully to review their contracts and the bona fides of their Japanese employer before traveling to Japan. U.S. consular officers generally are unable to confirm the bona fides of prospective Japanese employers, although they may be familiar with organizations about which they have received complaints in the past. If asked to do something they find troubling, U.S. citizens may wish to reassess their reason for being in Japan, and consider terminating their employment and returning to the United States. Complaints against U.S.-based employment agencies or recruiters may be directed to the Better Business Bureau at http://www.bbb.org/, or the Office of the Attorney General of the state in question.

Living Expenses: Japan's cost of living is one of the highest in the world. The use of credit/debit cards is not widespread, particularly outside major cities. While there are ATMs in Japan, most are not open 24 hours a day or do not accept a U.S.-based card. ATMs at major airports, foreign bank branches and Japanese Post Offices are more likely to accept foreign cards than other locations. Taxi fares from airports to downtown Osaka and Tokyo can cost hundreds of dollars; bus fare can run $25 (U.S.) or more. The airport departure fee is generally included in the ticket prices of flights departing from both Narita (Tokyo) International Airport and Kansai (Osaka) International Airport.

English Help and Information Lines: Tourists and foreign residents in Japan have access to valuable information, including professional counseling, via help and information telephone hotlines. The Tokyo English Lifeline (http://www.telljp.com/) provides English-speaking counseling and referrals at 03-5774-0992. The Japan Help Line provides similar assistance nationwide at 0120-461-997 (http://www.jhelp.com/)

Disaster Preparedness: Japan is faced with the ever-present danger of deadly earthquakes and typhoons. Japan is one of the most seismically active locations in the world; minor tremors are felt regularly throughout the islands. While responsibility for caring for disaster victims, including foreigners, rests with the Japanese authorities, one of the first things a traveler should do upon arriving in Japan is to learn about earthquake and disaster preparedness from hotel or local government officials. Additional details on self-preparedness are available via the Internet at http://www.tokyoacs.com/ and on the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) home page at http://www.fema.gov/.

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html. Japan is not a Hague Convention signatory, and U.S. court custody decisions are not enforceable in Japan. Almost all children born to a Japanese parent since the 1980s are Japanese citizens, and may travel on Japanese passports issued in the U.S. even if the left-behind parent in the U.S. does not agree to the issuance of a U.S. passport.

The Embassy and our Consulates do not have access to Japanese Immigration records and cannot confirm that a child has entered or departed Japan. The Japanese government will not refuse entry to one of its citizens, even if that citizen is a dual-national child subject to a U.S. court-based custody decision. The Embassy and our Consulates cannot serve process, appear in court on your behalf or carry out U.S.-based arrest warrants.

Registration/Embassy Location: Americans living in or visiting Japan are encouraged to register through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, or through the Embassy's website at www.tokyoacs.com where they may also obtain updated information on travel and security within Japan. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. U.S. citizens resident in or visiting Japan are encouraged to sign up for an e-mail newsletter at www.tokyoacs.com. Alien registration formalities required under Japanese immigration law are separate from U.S. citizen registration. Registration information is protected by the Privacy Act.

The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo is located at 1-10-5 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-8420 Japan; telephone 81-3-3224-5000; fax 81-3-3224-5856. Recorded visa information for non-U.S. citizens is available at the following 24-hour toll phone number: 03-5354-4033.

The U.S. Consulate General in Osaka-Kobe is located at 2-11-5 Nishitenma, Kita-ku, Osaka 530-8543; telephone 81-6-6315-5900; fax 81-6-6315-5914. Recorded information for U.S. citizens concerning U.S. passports, notarials and other American citizens services is available 24 hours at 81-6-6315-5900. Recorded visa information for non-U.S. citizens is available at the following 24-hour toll phone number: 0990-526-160.

The U.S. Consulate General in Naha is located at 2564 Nishihara, Urasoe, Okinawa 901-2101; telephone 81-98-876-4211; fax 81-98-876-4243

The U.S. Consulate General in Sapporo is located at Kita 1-Jo Nishi 28-chome, Chuo-ku, Sapporo 064-0821; telephone 81-11-641-1115, fax 81-11-643-1283.

The U.S. Consulate in Fukuoka is located at 2-5-26 Ohori, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka 810-0052; telephone 81-92-751-9331; fax 81-92-713-9222.

The U.S. Consulate in Nagoya is located at the Nishiki SIS Building, 6th Floor, 3-10-33 Nishiki, Naka-ku, Nagoya 460-0003; telephone 81-52-203-4011; fax 81-52-201-4612. The U.S. Consulate in Nagoya offers only limited emergency consular services for U.S. citizens. The U.S. Consulate General in Osaka-Kobe handles all routine matters. A consular officer from the U.S. Consulate General in Osaka-Kobe visits the U.S. Consulate in Nagoya on the second Wednesday of every month. During those visits, the consular officer provides consular services to U.S. citizens by appointment. To make an appointment for consular services in Nagoya, please contact the U.S. Consulate in Nagoya at the number listed above.

Maps to all our offices in Japan, along with directions on using public transportation to reach us, are available at http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-7123.html.

International Adoption

January 2005

The information below has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The information in this circular relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is provided for general information only. Questions involving interpretation of specific foreign laws should be addressed to foreign legal counsel.

Availability of Children for Adoption: Both Japanese and foreign children are available for adoption in Japan. Most of the orphans adopted in Japan by foreigners are Japanese. Among the cases of foreign children adopted by foreigners in Japan, many of the children are related to the adoptive U.S. parents and may have lived with the adoptive parents in Japan for more than two years. Recent U.S. immigrant visa statistics in Japan reflect the following pattern for visa issuance to orphans:

FY-1996: IR-3 immigrant visas issued to Japanese orphans adopted abroad – 9, IR-4 immigrant visas issued to Japanese orphans adopted in the U.S. – 24
FY-1997: IR-3 Visas—31,
IR-4 Visas – 24
FY-1998: IR-3 Visas—15,
IR-4 Visas – 31
FY-1999: IR-3 Visas—18,
IR-4 Visas – 24
FY-2000: IR-3 Visas—9,
IR-4 Visas—31

Japan Adoption Authorities: The Family Court and the Child Guidance Center (often located in the City or Ward Office) are the government office responsible for adoption in Japan. They have jurisdiction over the placement of children, home studies, and adoptions.

Japan Adoption Procedure: Prospective adoptive parents may find children available for adoption either through the CGC or private parties such as missionaries, social welfare organizations, or adoption agencies. It is important to remember that the CGC will only issue a certificate identifying a "child who requires protection" if the adoption is arranged through them.

If the adoption is arranged privately, the adoptive parents must present the appropriate statement of release for emigration and adoption to prove the child is adoptable. Even if the Japanese government certifies a child as requiring protection or considers a child legally adoptable, however, it is possible that the child may still not meet the U.S. definition of an orphan. For more detailed information on adoption procedures, please review current reports online at travel.state.gov/family.

Age and Civil Status Requirements: Japanese law allows two types of adoptions: special and regular. (Please see details above.) In special adoptions, one of the adoptive parents must be over the age of 25 and the other must be at least 20 years old. Depending on the applicable U.S. State law, the Family Court may allow single parents to adopt on a case-by-case basis.

Adoption Agencies in Japan: All adoption agencies in Japan are privately operated. There are attorneys; however, they aren't necessarily recommended and aren't required for processing adoptions. As far as adoption agencies, they are not necessary; however they are only used if recommended/required by the host county government. If prospective adoptive parents would like to obtain a list of adoption agencies, they can contact the Embassy of Tokyo.

Doctors: The U.S. Embassy maintains current lists of doctors and sources for medicines, should either you or your child experience health problems while in Japan.

Japanese Documentary Requirements: Prospective parents must assemble and present several documents, notarized, certified, or authenticated as appropriate, to the Family Court, including:

  • Birth certificate and/or family register of all parties;
  • Copy of passport, Japanese visa, and Alien Registration card;
  • Copy of U.S. military ID (where applicable);
  • Marriage, divorce, and death certificates (where applicable);
  • Medical examination certificates;
  • Certificate of foster parent registration (where applicable);
  • Certificate of good conduct/no criminal record for each adoptive parent, issued by their home city or state police department;
  • Certificate of legal address, employment, and income;
  • Copy of any property ownership deeds and/or bank statements;
  • Biographic history of all parties;
  • Statement of consent to adopt by the child's natural parent(s) or guardian;
  • Statement of prospective parent(s) intent to adopt the identified child;
  • Pictures of all parties, preferably of parent(s) with the child;
  • Home Study approved by an authorized and licensed adoption agency;
  • Two character references.

*Note: This list is not definitive. The Family Court may require additional documents when it sees fit*

Japanese translations are required. The Family Court or City Office will require certified Japanese translations of all documents. The translator must execute a statement before a notary public attesting to the validity of the translation. The notary's seal must be authenticated, as well.

Certified and Authenticated Documents: All civil documents must be certified and authenticated by the issuing authorities. All authenticated documents must be accompanied by a Japanese translation. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at travel.state.gov/family.

Residence Requirements: The Court will not consider adoption applications of those prospective parents who are in Japan on temporary visitor visas. At least one prospective parent must show evidence of long-term residence in Japan. When the adoption is finalized, at least one adoptive parent must appear before the court. Japanese law does not permit proxy adoptions.

U.S. Immigration Requirements: A Japanese child adopted by an American citizen must obtain an immigrant visa before he or she can enter the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details.

Japanese Embassy (and Consulates) in the United States:
Embassy of Japan
2520 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20008-2869
Tel: (202) 939-6700

Japan also has Consulates in Tamuning, Guam; Anchorage, Alaska; Atlanta, Georgia; Boston, Massachusetts; Chicago, Illinois; Detroit, Michigan; Honolulu, Hawaii; Houston, Texas; Miami, Florida; Kansas City, Missouri; Los Angeles, California; New Orleans, Louisiana; New York, New York; Portland, Oregon; San Francisco, California; Seattle, Washington; and Saipan, Mariana Islands.

U.S. Embassy (and Consulates) in Japan:
Mailing Addresses
U.S. Embassy Tokyo
Immigrant and Nonimmigrant Visas
Unit 45004 Box 205
APO AP 96337-5004

Box 205
1-10-5 Akasaka Minato-ku
Tokyo 107-8420, Japan
Tel: (81)(3) 3224-5000; Fax: (81)(3)
3505-1862

The United States also has Consulates in Naha, Osaka-Kobe, Sapporo, Fukuoka, and Nagoya.

Time Frame: Adopting a child through the Family Court requires at least nine months, sometimes longer. The Family Court imposes no time limit on when an adoption must be completed.

Costs: Although costs can vary widely, the average total cost of adoption in Japan is approximately $20,000. This includes fees for the Family Court, adoption agency, immigration processing, airfare, lodging, and document translations and authentications. Adoption agency fees range from $800 to $60,000, so the overall cost of the adoption often depends on which agency the parents choose. Parents may incur additional costs when adopting non-Japanese children or children with medical problems

Dissolving a Japanese Adoption: For regular adoptions anyone fifteen years old and above can apply to dissolve a regular adoption. If the adopted child and the adoptive parents agree to dissolve the adoption, they must file a request for dissolution at the City or Ward office. The Family Court does not get involved. If an adopted child is under the age of fifteen, the child's legal representative must file the request. If the parties cannot agree to dissolve a regular adoption, the Family Court may consider the dissolution. In this case, the natural parent(s) or anyone with legal responsibility over the child may apply for the dissolution. The Family Court is likely to dissolve a regular adoption if it finds that one of the parties has maliciously deserted the others, the whereabouts of the adopted child or adoptive parents has been unknown for three years, or there are "grave reasons" for dissolving the adoption.

Obtaining a Passport for an Adopted Child: An adopted foreign child is not a U.S. citizen from the moment of adoption. If the child is a Japanese citizen, adoptive parents must obtain a Japanese passport for the child from Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Only the child's natural or adoptive parent or legal guardian may apply for a passport on behalf of the minor child. Japanese passports issued to minors are normally valid for five years from the date of issue and may be renewed at a Japanese Embassy or Consulate abroad.

If the child is not a Japanese citizen, the child will need to apply for a passport from his/her home country's embassy. If the adopted child is stateless or from a country that does not share diplomatic relations with Japan, the child may apply for a reentry permit from Japan's Ministry of Justice. The Japanese government does not control the international movement of children who hold Japanese citizenship or legal residency.

Questions: Specific questions regarding adoption in Japan may be addressed to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Japan. You may also contact the Office of Children's Issues, SA-29, 2201 C Street, NW, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC 20520-2818, Tel: 1-888-407-4747 with specific questions.

International Parental Child Abduction

January 2005

The information below has been edited from the report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Parental Child Abduction section of this book and review current reports online at travel.state.gov

Disclaimer: The information in this circular relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is provided for general information only. Questions involving interpretation of specific foreign laws should be addressed to foreign counsel

Japan is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

Japanese civil law stresses that in cases where custody cannot be reached by agreement between the parents, the Japanese Family Court will resolve the issue based on the best interests of the child. However, compliance with Family Court rulings is essentially voluntary, which renders any ruling unenforceable unless both parents agree.

The Civil Affairs Bureau of the Japanese Ministry of Justice states that, in general, redress in child custody cases is sought through habeas corpus proceedings in the court. There is no preferential treatment based on nationality or gender. Although visitation rights for non-custodial parents are not expressly stipulated in the Japanese Civil Code, court judgments often provide visitation rights for non-custodial parents.

In practical terms, however, in cases of international parental child abduction, foreign parents are greatly disadvantaged in Japanese courts, both in terms of obtaining the return of children to the United States, and in achieving any kind of enforceable visitation rights in Japan. The Department of State is not aware of any case in which a child taken from the United States by one parent has been ordered returned to the United States by Japanese courts, even when the left-behind parent has a United States custody decree. In the past, Japanese police have been reluctant to get involved in custody disputes or to enforce custody decrees issued by Japanese courts.

In order to bring a custody issue before the Family Court, the left-behind parent will require the assistance of a Japanese attorney. A parent holding a custody decree issued in U.S. courts must retain local Japanese counsel to apply to the Japanese courts for recognition and enforcement of the U.S. decree.

Lists of Japanese attorneys and other information are available on the web at http://www.tokyoacs.com or from the Office of Children's Issues at the address shown below. Links to the web sites of our other consulates in Japan can also be found at this web site.

Important Note: In view of the difficulties involved in seeking the return of children from Japan to the United States, it is of the greatest importance that all appropriate preventive legal measures be taken in the United States if there is a possibility that a child may be abducted to Japan.

Criminal Remedies: For information on possible criminal remedies, please contact your local law enforcement authorities or the nearest office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Information is also available on the Internet at the web site of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, at http://www.ojjdp.ncjrs.org. Contact the country officer in the Office of Children's Issues for specific information.

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