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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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Economy - overview
In the years following World War II, government-industry cooperation, a strong work ethic, mastery of high technology, and a comparatively small defense allocation (1% of GDP) helped Japan develop a technologically advanced economy. Two notable characteristics of the post-war economy were the close interlocking structures of manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors, known as keiretsu, and the guarantee of lifetime employment for a substantial portion of the urban labor force. Both features are now eroding under the dual pressures of global competition and domestic demographic change. Japan's industrial sector is heavily dependent on imported raw materials and fuels. A tiny agricultural sector is highly subsidized and protected, with crop yields among the highest in the world. Usually self-sufficient in rice, Japan imports about 60% of its food on a caloric basis. Japan maintains one of the world's largest fishing fleets and accounts for nearly 15% of the global catch. For three decades, overall real economic growth had been spectacular - a 10% average in the 1960s, a 5% average in the 1970s, and a 4% average in the 1980s. Growth slowed markedly in the 1990s, averaging just 1.7%, largely because of the after effects of inefficient investment and an asset price bubble in the late 1980s that required a protracted period of time for firms to reduce excess debt, capital, and labor. Measured on a purchasing power parity (PPP) basis that adjusts for price differences, Japan in 2011 stood as the fourth-largest economy in the world after second-place China, which surpassed Japan in 2001, and third-place India, which edged out Japan in 2011. A sharp downturn in business investment and global demand for Japan's exports in late 2008 pushed Japan further into recession. Government stimulus spending helped the economy recover in late 2009 and 2010, but the economy contracted again in 2011 as the massive 9.0 magnitude earthquake in March disrupted manufacturing. Electricity supplies remain tight because Japan has temporarily shut down almost all of its nuclear power plants after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors were crippled by the earthquake and resulting tsunami. Estimates of the direct costs of the damage - rebuilding homes, factories, and infrastructure - range from $235 billion to $310 billion, and GDP declined almost 0.5% in 2011. Prime Minister Yoshihiko NODA has proposed opening the agricultural and services sectors to greater foreign competition and boosting exports through membership in the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks and by pursuing free-trade agreements with the EU and others, but debate continues on restructuring the economy and reining in Japan's huge government debt, which exceeds 200% of GDP. Persistent deflation, reliance on exports to drive growth, and an aging and shrinking population are other major long-term challenges for the economy.

Gdp (purchasing power parity) World Ranking: 5
$4.497 trillion (2011 est.)
$4.531 trillion (2010 est.)
$4.339 trillion (2009 est.)
Note Data are in 2011 US dollars

Gdp (official exchange rate)
$5.869 trillion (2011 est.)

Gdp - real growth rate World Ranking: 204
-0.7% (2011 est.)
4.4% (2010 est.)
-5.5% (2009 est.)

Gdp - per capita (ppp) World Ranking: 36
$35,200 (2011 est.)
$35,500 (2010 est.)
$34,000 (2009 est.)
Note Data are in 2011 US dollars

Gdp - composition by sector
Agriculture 1.2%
Industry 27.3%
Services 71.6% (2011 est.)

Labor force World Ranking: 9
65.93 million (2011 est.)

Labor force - by occupation
Agriculture 3.9%
Industry 26.2%
Services 69.8% (2010 est.)

Unemployment rate World Ranking: 47
4.6% (2011 est.)
5.1% (2010 est.)

Population below poverty line
16% (2007)
Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) press release, 20 October 2009 (2010)

Household income or consumption by percentage share
Lowest 10% 1.9%
Highest 10% 27.5% (2008)

Distribution of family income - gini index World Ranking: 75
37.6 (2008)
24.9 (1993)

Investment (gross fixed) World Ranking: 86
20.9% of GDP (2011 est.)

Revenues $1.971 trillion
Expenditures $2.495 trillion (2011 est.)

Taxes and other revenues World Ranking: 72
33.6% of GDP (2011 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) World Ranking: 191
-8.9% of GDP (2011 est.)

Public debt World Ranking: 2
211.7% of GDP (2011 est.)
200% of GDP (2010 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices) World Ranking: 3
-0.3% (2011 est.)
-0.7% (2010 est.)

Central bank discount rate World Ranking: 141
0.3% (31 December 2009)
0.3% (31 December 2008)

Commercial bank prime lending rate World Ranking: 181
1.5% (31 December 2011 est.)
1.475% (31 December 2010 est.)

Stock of narrow money World Ranking: 1
$6.97 trillion (31 December 2011 est.)
$6.045 trillion (31 December 2010 est.)

Stock of broad money World Ranking: 1
$14.46 trillion (31 December 2011 est.)
$15.43 trillion (31 December 2009)

Stock of domestic credit World Ranking: 3
$16.39 trillion (31 December 2008 est.)
$13.32 trillion (31 December 2007 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares World Ranking: 4
$3.541 trillion (31 December 2011)
$4.1 trillion (31 December 2010)
$3.378 trillion (31 December 2009)

Agriculture - products
Rice, sugar beets, vegetables, fruit; pork, poultry, dairy products, eggs; fish

Among world's largest and technologically advanced producers of motor vehicles, electronic equipment, machine tools, steel and nonferrous metals, ships, chemicals, textiles, processed foods

Industrial production growth rate World Ranking: 158
-3.5% (2011 est.)

Electricity - production World Ranking: 3
937.6 billion kWh (2011 est.)

Electricity - consumption World Ranking: 4
859.7 billion kWh (2011 est.)

Electricity - exports
0 kWh (2011 est.)

Electricity - imports
0 kWh (2011 est.)

Oil - production World Ranking: 48
131,800 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - consumption World Ranking: 4
4.452 million bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - exports World Ranking: 37
366,800 bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - imports World Ranking: 4
4.394 million bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - proved reserves World Ranking: 80
44.12 million bbl (1 January 2011 est.)

Natural gas - production World Ranking: 53
3.397 billion cu m (2010 est.)

Natural gas - consumption World Ranking: 6
100.3 billion cu m (2010 est.)

Natural gas - exports World Ranking: 121
0 cu m (2010 est.)

Natural gas - imports World Ranking: 4
98.01 billion cu m (2010 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves World Ranking: 76
20.9 billion cu m (1 January 2011 est.)

Current account balance World Ranking: 4
$120.5 billion (2011 est.)
$195.8 billion (2010 est.)

Exports World Ranking: 5
$788 billion (2011 est.)
$730.1 billion (2010 est.)

Exports - commodities
Motor vehicles 13.6%; semiconductors 6.2%; iron and steel products 5.5%; auto parts 4.6%; plastic materials 3.5%; power generating machinery 3.5%

Exports - partners
China 19.7%, US 15.5%, South Korea 8%, Hong Kong 5.2%, Thailand 4.6% (2011)

Imports World Ranking: 5
$808.4 billion (2011 est.)
$639.1 billion (2010 est.)

Imports - commodities
Petroleum 15.5%; liquid natural gas 5.7%; clothing 3.9%; semiconductors 3.5%; coal 3.5%; audio and visual apparatus 2.7%

Imports - partners
China 21.5%, US 8.9%, Australia 6.6%, Saudi Arabia 5.9%, UAE 5%, South Korea 4.7% (2011)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold World Ranking: 2
$1.259 trillion (31 December 2011 est.)
$1.063 trillion (31 December 2010 est.)

Debt - external World Ranking: 6
$2.719 trillion (30 June 2011)
$2.441 trillion (30 September 2010)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home World Ranking: 27
$148.6 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
$145.8 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad World Ranking: 9
$873.3 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
$795.7 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Exchange rates
Yen (JPY) per US dollar -
79.81 (2011 est.)
87.78 (2010 est.)
93.57 (2009)
103.58 (2008)
117.99 (2007)

Fiscal year
1 April - 31 March


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