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People and Society






In 1603, after decades of civil warfare, the Tokugawa shogunate (a military-led, dynastic government) ushered in a long period of relative political stability and isolation from foreign influence. For more than two centuries this policy enabled Japan to enjoy a flowering of its indigenous culture. Japan opened its ports after signing the Treaty of Kanagawa with the US in 1854 and began to intensively modernize and industrialize. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Japan became a regional power that was able to defeat the forces of both China and Russia. It occupied Korea, Formosa (Taiwan), and southern Sakhalin Island. In 1931-32 Japan occupied Manchuria, and in 1937 it launched a full-scale invasion of China. Japan attacked US forces in 1941 - triggering America's entry into World War II - and soon occupied much of East and Southeast Asia. After its defeat in World War II, Japan recovered to become an economic power and an ally of the US. While the emperor retains his throne as a symbol of national unity, elected politicians hold actual decision-making power. Following three decades of unprecedented growth, Japan's economy experienced a major slowdown starting in the 1990s, but the country remains a major economic power. In March 2011, Japan's strongest-ever earthquake, and an accompanying tsunami, devastated the northeast part of Honshu island, killing thousands and damaging several nuclear power plants. The catastrophe hobbled the country's economy and its energy infrastructure, and tested its ability to deal with humanitarian disasters.


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Airports World Ranking: 34
175 (2012)

Airports - with paved runways
Total 143
Over 3,047 m 6
2,438 to 3,047 m 45
1,524 to 2,437 m 38
914 to 1,523 m 29
Under 914 m 25 (2012)

Airports - with unpaved runways
Total 32
1,524 to 2,437 m 1
914 to 1,523 m 3
Under 914 m 28 (2012)

15 (2012)

Gas 4,135 km; oil 171 km; oil/gas/water 53 km (2010)

Railways World Ranking: 11
Total 27,182 km
Standard gauge
4,251 km 1.435-m gauge (4,251 km electrified)
Dual gauge
486 km 1.435-1.067-m gauge (486 km electrified)
Narrow gauge
96 km 1.372-m gauge (96 km electrified); 22,301 km 1.067-m gauge (15,222 km electrified); 48 km 0.762-m gauge (48 km electrified) (2009)

Roadways World Ranking: 5
Total 1,210,251 km
973,234 km (includes 7,803 km of expressways)
Unpaved 237,017 km (2008)

Waterways World Ranking: 45
1,770 km (seagoing vessels use inland seas) (2010)

Merchant marine World Ranking: 16
Total 684
By type
Bulk carrier 168, cargo 34, carrier 3, chemical tanker 29, container 2, liquefied gas 58, passenger 11, passenger/cargo 117, petroleum tanker 152, refrigerated cargo 4, roll on/roll off 52, vehicle carrier 54
Registered in other countries
3,122 (Bahamas 88, Bermuda 2, Burma 1, Cambodia 1, Cayman Islands 23, China 2, Cyprus 16, Honduras 4, Hong Kong 79, Indonesia 8, Isle of Man 19, Liberia 110, Luxembourg 3, Malaysia 2, Malta 5, Marshall Islands 59, Mongolia 2, Netherlands 1, Panama 2372, Philippines 77, Portugal 9, Saint Kitts and Nevis 2, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 3, Sierra Leone 4, Singapore 164, South Korea 14, Tanzania 1, UK 5, Vanuatu 39, unknown 7) (2010)

Ports and terminals
Chiba, Kawasaki, Kobe, Mizushima, Moji, Nagoya, Osaka, Tokyo, Tomakomai, Yokohama


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  Japan (Tokyo):

  GPS points from Japan (Tokyo)

Etomo-ko Japan (general)

Funadomari-ko Japan (general)

Asuwa-cho Japan (general)

Yokoneyama Yamagata-ken

Yokoo Hiroshima-ken

Hayatomono-seto Yamaguchi-ken

Koyaishi Hiroshima-ken

Onaga-yama Japan (general)
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