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Country Profile

Area: 377,780 square kilometres (142,771 square miles)
Population: 127,692,000
Capital City: Tokyo
People: 98.3% Japanese; 1.7 % other (mostly Chinese or ethnic Korean)
Language: Japanese
Religion(s): 80% of Japanese adhere to more than one religion: Shinto (106.8 million), Buddhism (89.2 million), Christianity (3.0 million), others (9.8 million)
Currency: Yen
Major Political Parties: DPJ - Democratic Party of Japan; LDP - Liberal Democratic Party; New Komeito; JCP - Japan Communist Party; SDP - Social Democratic Party
Government: Representative democracy with a bicameral (two chamber) parliament (the Diet). Executive power rests with the Prime Minister and his cabinet. The emperor is head of state, although his function is purely symbolic.
Head of State: Emperor Akihito, ascended to throne 7 January 1989.
Prime Minister: Yoshihiko Noda, since 2 September 2011.
Foreign Minister: Foreign Minister: Koichiro Gemba, since 2 September 2011
Economic Information: Despite several years of low growth, Japan was only overtaken by China as the second largest economy in the world in 2010, although it has a much higher per capita income. A period of stronger, export led growth starting in mid-2002 came to an end in 2008 with the global recession. Successive governments implemented five fiscal stimulus packages between them, totalling over 5% of GDP. The economy started to recover in the second half of 2009, spurred by a recovery in global demand for Japanese exports and by support from government policies. The economy then weakened with the focus of policy shifting to how to deal with the massive Government debt and a possible consumption tax hike. The Tohoku earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster of March 2011 had a sharp negative impact. The Bank of Japan estimates that it will reduce growth by 1%, to 0.6% this fiscal year. But reconstruction is expected to help growth return to 2.9% in fiscal 2012.
Membership of International groups/organisations: United Nations (UN), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), World Trade Organisation (WTO), International Monetary Fund (IMF), Group of 8 (G8), Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), International Bank for Reconstruction and Development Bank (World Bank), Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), African Development Bank (AFDB), Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC), Asia Development Bank (ADB), Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol), International Labour Organisation (ILO), International Maritime Organisation (IMO), International Telecommunications Satellite Organisation (ITSO), International Telecommunications Union (ITU), Universal Postal Union (UPU), International Whaling Commission (IWC), World Health Organisation (WHO), plus various others.

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Japanese men and women enjoy the highest life expectancy in the world. However, with the Japanese population expected to age rapidly during the next 30 years, the Government is concerned about how it will finance health care for the aged in the future.

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Basic Economic Facts

GDP: US$ 5,391 billion (2010)
GDP per head: US$ 34,200 (2010)
Annual Growth: 3% (2010)
Inflation: -0.7% (2010)
Major Industries: High-tech electronic products, motor vehicles, office machinery, chemicals.
Major trading Partners: China, US, EU, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Australia, UAE and Thailand
Aid & development: ODA in 2009 was US$9.47bn (down 1.4% on 2008)
Exchange rate: £1 = 135 Yen (May 2011)
The post-war Japanese economy experienced rapid growth, expanding ten-fold from 1955 to 1990 allowing living standards to catch up and surpass those of established Western economies. A number of factors, including low interest rates, banking deregulation and sudden appreciation of the yen, resulted in a stock market and real-estate bubble in the late 1980s. At the end of 1989 the bubble burst; after that stock prices fell by as much as 75 percent and the value of commercial land in Tokyo by 85 percent.

The economy then stagnated for more than a decade due to sluggish consumption and weak investment as excesses from the 1980s unwound and Japan adjusted to Asian industrialisation and globalisation. A particular hindrance was the lingering non-performing loan problem that prolonged the life of the weakest companies and hampered economic recovery. Through the 1990s, the Government utilised huge fiscal and monetary stimuli to try to kick start the economy. During former Prime Minister Koizumi's term in office, there was a greater focus on structural reforms in the corporate and public sectors to lift Japan out of its economic malaise, culminating in the passing of legislation to privatise Japan Post, by some measures the largest financial institution in the world.

Starting in mid-2002, the economy recovered strongly with its expansion lasting as long as the longest previous expansion, which ended in 1970. Booming exports and business investment and solid growth in private consumption initially drove this, but increasingly, the domestic private sector then took over from exports as the main driver for growth. The economy seemed to be close to achieving self-sustaining growth. But growth slowed during the global recession that followed the financial crisis and successive governments responded by introducing five fiscal stimulus packages starting in August 2008, totalling 5.2% of GDP. Combined with a recovery in global demand, these helped bring Japan out of recession in the second quarter of 2009 although policy measures have continued. The Government announced a supplementary budget at the end of August 2010 because growth was slowing, partly due to the yen’s appreciation hitting exports. The Government was also looking for ways to deal with its massive fiscal debts, with Prime Minister Kan suggesting raising consumption tax. The Tohoku earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disasters of March 2011 caused extensive damage and the tragic loss of approximately 30,000 people. The resulting disruption of supply chains and power supplies has had an effect well outside the immediate disaster area and is expected to reduce growth to only 0.6% in fiscal 2011. However, the Government has already passed a two supplementary budget worth over 6 trillion yen to help the region recover and growth is expected to rise to 2.9% in 2012.

Japan has one of the world's fastest ageing populations thanks to the highest life expectancy in the world and a low birth rate. As a result, the population has started to shrink. The working-age population is forecast to contract by over 20 percent over the next 25 years if current trends continue. This presents significant challenges - all too familiar in Europe - for the provision of pensions and healthcare in the future.

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A centralised state has existed in Japan since the 4th century. In the middle of the 19th century, the ruling elite set about developing Japan's industrial and military power, and methodically adopted much from the West. Japan's rapid rise led to a war with China 1894-95, Russia 1904-05, and the annexation of Korea in 1910. Japan appeared to be becoming a liberal democracy in the 1920s, but the Great Depression led to acute economic problems and military domination. Japanese military expansion in China after 1931 led to friction with Western powers and, faced with an oil blockade, Japan started the Pacific War.

The Allied occupation after the Second World War introduced far-reaching political, social and economic reforms before Japan regained full independence when the San Francisco Peace Treaty came into force in April 1952. By 1955, a strong co-operative arrangement was established between a dominant conservative party, the bureaucracy and business, which successfully implemented policies aimed at rapid industrial growth. This concentrated economic activity in some regions and led to policies aimed at ensuring wealth was redistributed to rural areas. The Democratic Party of Japan-led Government that came into power in September 2009 is committed to reforming the 1955 system.

BBC News Country Timeline: Japan (

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Japan is increasingly active in international diplomacy, and is a reliable and constructive partner on a wide range of issues including Afghanistan, Climate Change, Iraq, the Middle East Peace Process, and in counter-proliferation and the fight against terrorism. Since 11 September 2001 Japan has provided welcome political, economic and logistical support to the international coalition against terrorism and has extended strong civil and military support to reconstruction efforts in Iraq and more recently Afghanistan, announcing a $5bn support package over five years.

Japan's Relations with the US

The US remains Japan's principal foreign policy and economic partner and the security relationship is central to Japan's defence policy. Under former Prime Minister Koizumi, Japan took on a more active role in the security relationship. Japanese support for the fight against terrorism, along with the absence of major trade frictions, has contributed to a warming of relations. In its manifesto, the current Democratic Party of Japan indicated that it wanted to deepen Japan’s relations with the US but on a more equal basis. This led to some friction although the strong foundations of the relationship have recently been reconfirmed by both sides. The US provided extensive military and humanitarian support during the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, and subsequent nuclear crisis.

Japan's Relations with China

Japan normalised relations with China in 1972 and the two countries have strong and growing economic links. But there is also considerable friction in the relationship. Japan worries about the growth in China's defence spending, and competition from Chinese exports to certain sectors in Japan. In China, there are still bitter memories of Japanese actions there in the pre-1945 period. These came to the fore when former Prime Minister Koizumi made several visits to the Yasukuni Shrine that honours Japan's war dead. Relations recovered under Prime Minister Abe. This improvement continued under Fukuda, who visited China on 27 -30 December 2007 and hosted a return visit by President Hu Jintao on 6 - 10 May 2008. The length of these visits reflected a marked warming of relations. Prime Minister Hatoyama wanted to improve relations with Japan’s neighbours and, to do this, has said that Japan should face up to its bilateral historical problems. Foreign Ministers were quite frank on some sensitive bilateral issues in early 2010 and, after a clash between a Chinese fishing boat and the Japanese Coast Guard in August, the Japanese Government was criticised for not taking a more robust position with China. But relations now seem to have returned to normal.

Japan's Relations with South Korea

Japan's relations with South Korea are often soured by memories of Japanese actions on the peninsula. Relations with the South were normalised under the Basic Treaty in 1965 and showed signs of warming after former President Kim Dae-jung, during his visit to Japan in September 1998, stated publicly that the relationship should look forwards, not back. President Roh Moo-hyun visited Japan for a regular summit meeting in June 2003 but, after he clashed with Prime Minister Koizumi over a variety of what he saw as “inappropriate” Japanese actions (including visits to Yasukuni), these Summits were suspended. But relations improved after Prime Minister Abe’s visit to Seoul in October 2006. They continued to improve under Fukuda and the South Korean President, Lee Myung-bak, with the two leaders agreeing to resume regular Summit meetings. Japan has strongly supported the South Korean response to the sinking of one of its navy ships by North Korea. Prime Minister Kan offered an apology to South Korea for Japan’s colonisation of Korea shortly before the 100th anniversary of annexation.

Japan's Relations with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)

Japan has never had diplomatic relations with the DPRK, and the situation between the two nations remains tense. Then Prime Minister Koizumi's bold initiative to visit Pyongyang and meet with Kim Jong II on 17 September 2002 was supposed to pave the way for normalisation of relations. But Kim’s admission that the DPRK had abducted several Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s, with eight having died there and only five survivors being allowed to return to Japan, shocked the Japanese people. The Japanese Government responded by cutting the humanitarian aid that it had provided to the DPRK. This temporarily resumed around May 2004 when former Prime Minister Koizumi made his second visit to Pyongyang and secured the release of the surviving abductees’ immediate families. However, continued suspicions about the fate of the deceased abductees and other Japanese who have gone missing, as well as Japan's security concerns over the DPRK's nuclear and missile programmes still stand in the way of a normalisation of relations. Japan is a participant in the stalled Six-Party Talks, which address the North Korean nuclear issue.

Japan's Relations with Asia

The Japanese economy was for a long time the largest in Asia. Japan made a major contribution to help South-east Asian countries affected by the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis. It is also by far the largest investor and bilateral aid donor in the ASEAN region.


Twenty-four Japanese citizens died in the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks. The Japanese reaction was swift. Prime Minister Koizumi presented a package of measures to the Diet that included humanitarian assistance for the countries near Afghanistan and logistical support from the Self Defence Forces for US and other forces involved.


Japan was the world's largest single aid donor in absolute terms for several years. It has reduced its aid budget over the past 12 years, due to economic difficulties and is now fifth (behind the US, UK, France and Germany). Until recently most aid went to Asia and the Pacific, particularly China and ASEAN states. But Africa is now the main recipient with Japan’s growing interest in the continent being reflected in its hosting of four international conferences on development there. Japan has announced that it will cut its aid budget by 10% in FY2011 so that it can finance reconstruction efforts after recent disasters. However at a recent conference in Senegal former FM Matsumoto reaffirmed Japan’s commitments to Africa.

Japan relations with the UK

The British Ambassador to Japan, David Warren arrived in Tokyo in July 2008. As well as the Embassy in Tokyo, Britain also has a Consulate General in Osaka.

His Excellency Keiichi Hayashi became Japanese Ambassador to Britain in January 2011. Japan also has a Consulate-General in Edinburgh.


The scope of the bilateral relationship, both governmental and non-governmental, has expanded greatly in recent years.


-- 1998: The Emperor and Empress came to the UK on a State Visit
-- May 2001: the Crown Prince (who studied at Oxford)
-- June 2008: Former Japanese Prime Minister Fukuda
-- May 2011: the former Japanese Foreign Minister Matsumoto


-- July 2010: The Foreign Secretary
-- April 2011: Peter Luff, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology
-- June 2011: Vince Cable, Business Secretary
-- July 2011: Jeremy Browne, FCO Minister for State
-- 27 August-4 Sept: Jeremy Hunt, Culture Secretary
-- 20-22 Sept: Philip Hammond, Transport Secretary (
-- 26-30 Sept: Lord Earl Howe, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health

Great East Japan Earthquake

On March 11, a massive earthquake with a magnitude of 9.0 struck Sanriku Coast in North East Japan. The ensuing tsunami swept across many cities and villages along the Pacific coast of the Tohoku district, North East Japan, causing tremendous human and structural damage. In Miyako City, Iwate Prefecture, tsunami waves of over 8.5 meters high (maximum) were observed. Tokyo also observed tremors with a seismic intensity of 5-strong, but damage there was relatively modest.

The earthquake and tsunami devastated Tohoku and other regions. Damages were inflicted in Kanto district, too. The number of deaths is 15,812, the number of injured is 5,934, and the number of missing is 3,983 (as of 28 September according to the National Police Agency).

Jeremy Browne MP, Minister of State at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, visited visited the earthquake affected areas in North East Japan from 9-10 July 2011.

The UK’s Government response to the earthquake can be found here. (

Cultural links

There are strong cultural and educational links between Britain and Japan. Around 100 British cultural organisations – theatres, museums, orchestras – have links with Japan. 52,000 Japanese students study in the UK each year – both on full-time and short-term courses. And about 65,000 Japanese live in Britain (the third-largest Japanese community overseas), while approximately 17,500 British people live in Japan.

The Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme

The JET Programme is a government-to-government programme between Japan and 36 countries worldwide. It brings young overseas graduates to teach in Japanese schools and local communities in order to foster international exchange and aid foreign language proficiency. The UK was one of the first countries to participate in the Programme. There are currently around 400 UK graduates taking part in the JET Programme.

JET Programme (

Youth Exchange Scheme

Following agreement by former Prime Ministers Blair and Mori in summer 2000, the UK-Japan Youth Exchange Scheme began in April 2001. It provides opportunities for young British people between the ages of 18 and 25 to spend up to a year in Japan and vice-versa. During their stay, participants in either country can take work incidental to their holiday in order to supplement their travel funds. A special visa is issued to successful applicants. British applicants should contact the Japanese Embassy in London or British Embassy in Tokyo (see 'Diplomatic Representation' for contact details above).

Volunteer Visas

The Japanese government introduced a new category into their visa regulations in May 2003. This will allow young people working for voluntary organisations to travel on a volunteer visa. The new visa was launched on 1 May 2003.

Far East Prisoners of War

The British Government announced on 7 November 2000 that a single ex-gratia payment of £10,000 would be made to surviving members of the British groups held prisoner by the Japanese during the Second World War or, if they had died, their surviving spouses. Details can be obtained from the War Pensions Agency ( website. Both the British and Japanese Governments regard the question of official compensation as having been settled under the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty, and support reconciliation as the way ahead.

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Japan consists of a chain of islands. The main ones are Kyushu, Shikoku, Honshu (where Tokyo and Osaka are situated) and Hokkaido. The land is mountainous and volcanic, and only 17% of the total area is cultivable. The highest mountain is Mount Fuji (a dormant volcano) at 3,776 m.

UK/Japan Trade and Investment

There are about 1,400 Japanese investors in the UK. Of these, about 220 are engaged in manufacturing, 160 Japanese companies have R&D operations, and 100 have European headquarters in the UK. UKTI recorded 107 new investments from Japan in 2009/10, second only to the number from the US, and these investments created about 2,300 jobs. Recent big name investments include new European headquarters for Canon and Eisai, new model productions for Nissan, Toyota and Honda, Hitachi trains to provide new intercity passenger trains, Eurus Energy investments in offshore wind power and a new Panasonic European Design Centre in London. The UK remains successful in attracting Japanese investment across a range of industries in high-value added manufacturing, research and development, regional headquarters, and European marketing functions. The automotive sector is largest in terms of manufacturing employment and capital expenditure, but the ICT and biopharma/healthcare sectors are also significant sources of investment.

Japan is the UK's largest export market after Europe, China, and the US, and Britain is Japan's ninth largest market, with tourism (50,000 visitors per year) and financial services bringing our balance of trade with them into surplus. The UK exported about £8.1billion of goods and services to Japan in 2009/10.

Main UK exports to Japan include chemicals, pharmaceuticals, automotive components and cars, electrical machinery and scientific instruments. There are about 450 UK companies operating in Japan including Rolls Royce, Cable and Wireless, Astra Zeneca, GSK, Tesco, and GKN. British retailers and designers with a presence in Japan include HMV, Body Shop, Burberry, Lush, Dyson and Paul Smith. Toyota motors now build their Avensis model in Britain and re-export it to Japan. A number of law firms have also opened offices in Japan including Allen & Overy, Linklaters, Freshfields and Clifford Chance.

The Japanese market has become more open during the 1990s, as 'cost down' pressures and more competitive global markets encouraged Japanese companies to look overseas for products, technology, design and services. Deflation since the bursting of the economic bubble in Japan in 1989 has brought down rents and salaries. Japan is still a relatively expensive and time-consuming market to do business. But succeeding in Japan can enhance companies' global competitive position, and bring significant profit and technology advantages.

UKTI supports exports and investments into Japan through a range of services, including market research, missions and trade fair grants, and helps 2,000 companies every year to do business in Japan. UKTI has over 50 specialist staff in Tokyo and Osaka. New investors can take advantage of high quality, low cost serviced offices at the British Industry Centre in Yokohama (run by the British Chamber), and services provided by the Japanese Government through JETRO.

The EU and Japan reached an agreement on working towards negotiations on a free trade agreement.

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Japan's Diet consists of the House of Representatives, and the less powerful House of Councillors. The House of Representatives has 480 members (300 from single seat constituencies and 180 from regional PR blocks); the House of Councillors has 242 members (146 from prefecture-based multimember constituencies and 96 from a national PR list). Members of the House of Representatives are elected for a four-year term, but the Prime Minister can call an election at his discretion. Members of the House of Councillors serve a fixed six-year term, with half of the seats contested every three years. The last general election (House of Representatives) was held on 30 August 2009; the next must be held by August 2013. The last Upper House election took place on 11 July 2010.

The conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) ruled Japan for most of its post-war history. In power continuously from 1955-1993, they were toppled by a loose coalition of their rivals in 1993. But in 1994 they were back in power as part of a coalition and nearly all governments after that were LDP-led coalition governments. A coalition was formed in April 2000 between the LDP and New Komeito, a small party with close ties to the lay Buddhist organisation, Soka Gakkai. After a succession of short-lived leaders in the late 1990s, Junichiro Koizumi became Prime Minister in April 2001. His fresh approach was popular with the public allowing him to pursue difficult structural reforms and tackle vested interests within the party. When faced by internal opposition to his plans to privatise the post office, he took the rebels on by calling a Lower House election and won an overwhelming victory with his coalition gaining two-thirds of the seats. Koizumi was succeeded as Prime Minister by Shinzo Abe on 26 September 2006. His position was weakened when the LDP and New Komeito lost their Upper House majority in the election on 29 July 2007 and he finally resigned on 12 September 2007 after just one year as Prime Minister.

Yasuo Fukuda succeeded Abe as Prime Minister on 25 September 2007. He had a moderate, consensual approach and pushed for constructive engagement with the Opposition but with minimal success. After months of low poll ratings he offered his resignation unexpectedly on 1 September 2008 after less than one year in office.

His successor, Taro Aso, was named Prime Minister on 24 September 2008. Aso was popular with the public and during his leadership campaign pledged to tackle social and economic issues. He was keen to see Japan asserting itself more internationally and his approach to foreign policy is likely to reflect this. His Government’s main priority was reviving economic growth and it introduced a number of stimulatory measures. However, he did not manage to satisfy the electorate before calling an election on 30 August 2009.

Since 1998 the main Opposition party had been the "centrist" Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), founded through the merging of a number of smaller parties. It led an opposition coalition in the Upper House after elections in 2007 and caused the ruling coalition problems by disrupting the legislative process. The DPJ finally took power, after an overwhelming victory in the Lower House elections in August 2009, campaigning on a manifesto including governmental reform and the elimination of wasteful projects, child support policies, support to the agricultural sector and the abolition of motorway tolls.

It won 308 seats, compared to the 119 for the LDP. Partly to maintain its majority in the Upper House, the DPJ formed a coalition, with the Social Democratic Party (SDP), the People's New Party (PNP), New Party Nippon and New Party Daiinchi. After coming to power its efforts to realise its manifesto pledges and reform a long-established system were hampered by a series of funding scandals and media scrutiny. In May 2010, Prime Minister Hatoyama announced that he had to accept the relocation of a US Marine Base in Okinawa, despite opposition from the local population and his pledge to work for its relocation outside Okinawa. This led to the SDP leaving the coalition and a further decline in DJP support. Hatoyama stepped down, as did DPJ Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa, and was replaced by Naoto Kan within days. This led to a sharp jump in DPJ support. But Kan’s proposal for a rise in the consumption tax in the run up to the 2010 July Upper House elections was partly behind the Party’s poor performance in the election. It lost its majority in the Upper House and will find it more difficult to pass legislation without the cooperation of opposition parties. Prime Minister Kan saw off a challenge from Ichiro Ozawa in a DPJ leadership election in September 2010 but still faced some opposition from within the Party. Although he had stressed his commitment to remaining in power to lead the government’s response to the Great East Japan Earthquake, Kan resigned as Prime Minister in late August. Yoshihiko Noda succeeded Kan as Prime Minister on 2 September. Prime Minister Noda’s priorities are reconstruction in the Tohoku region, continued response to events at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, and financing these in the face of a global economic downturn. He will continue to need opposition support.

Energy and Environment

As a country with no fossil fuel resources of its own, energy security has long been a core goal of Japanese domestic and foreign policy. Its vulnerability to external supply shocks explains the vigour with which Japan has pursued a nuclear programme, investing huge sums in the pursuit of the nuclear fuel cycle. Although Japan currently produces 35% of its electricity in nuclear plants, recent safety scandals and demand concerns mean that this programme may not expand much further. Japan has also invested tremendously in the pursuit of 'new energies', and is a world leader in solar, hybrid car and fuel cell technologies. These technologies, as well as nuclear power and Japan's impressive level of energy efficiency in the industrial sector, lie at the heart of the country's efforts to reduce its carbon emissions. However, despite its role as host of COP3 where the Kyoto Protocol was agreed, Japan’s efforts to meet its Kyoto target of -6% on 1990 levels did not appear ambitious, with emissions rising year on year, and a largely voluntary emissions reduction plan focused on industry. In 2009, former Prime Minister Aso said that the most ambitious possible target for Japan for 2020 was just 8% on 1990 levels. The new DPJ government overturned this and announced its commitment to reduce Japan’s greenhouse gas emissions by more than 25% below the 1990 levels by 2020, provided that other major emitters agreed similarly ambitious targets. Despite a disappointing outcome at the Copenhagen COP15, the DPJ government has stuck to its guns and intends to put the (qualified) 2020 target in its draft Basic Law on global warming countermeasures, submitted to the Diet on 12 March 2010. The DPJ has also announced its intention to introduce a raft of new climate change measures, including emissions trading, carbon tax and a target of 10% renewable energy by 2020. Industry remains split between those traditional sectors (power, steel, cement) which see such action as a threat to their business models and competitiveness, and those progressive companies (such as Sharp, Mitsubishi Heavy Industry), which export cutting-edge low-carbon technology to the rest of the world, but have had little incentive or opportunity for domestic investment up till now. The recent nuclear disaster is likely to lead to a rethink of the Government’s energy strategy and former Prime Minister Kan did push through a renewable energy bill as a condition for stepping down.

Japan's own natural environment, while diverse and often exceptionally beautiful, has suffered from the pressures of population density and expansive infrastructure investment.

Human Rights

There has recently been increasing discussion of human rights issues in Japan. The main issues of interest to activists in the past was the treatment of minorities of Japan, including 'lower caste' Japanese, the Ainu race in Hokkaido, and ethnic Korean and Chinese residents in Japan. With the Japanese Government having taken some action to deal with these, the focus has moved on to the rights of children and women. Legislation to counter child abuse, both in Japan and abroad, has been passed and measures are also being introduced to reduce the level of domestic violence. Japan still retains (and carries out) the death penalty and Britain, through the EU, regularly takes this up with the Japanese Government, although there is still overwhelming support for capital punishment in Japan. There are also concerns over Japan’s criminal justice system.

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Last Updated: October 2011

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