"In the current severe economic situation, the only path that will lead to revitalization of the Japanese economy is structural reform to enhance the potential for sustainable economic growth."
Japan is an East Asian nation consisting of four main islands: Honshu, Hokkaido, Shikoku, and Kyushu. Its neighbors consist of Russia, the People's Republic of China, South Korea, and North Korea. Japan is a mountainous country where most of its 127 million residents (2002 estimate) live along the eastern coastline on the island of Honshu. Severe winters are common for residents on the western coastline, especially in northern Honshu. Japan's population density is 343 people per sq km (890 sq mi). Tokyo, the political and financial capital, is centrally located on the western coast of Honshu.
Japan is a highly secular and advanced industrial nation with a rich cultural and religious tradition. The majority (84%) of the population observes both Shintoism and Buddhism; the remaining 16% practice other religions, including a small minority who practice Christianity (0.7%). Shinto, a native Japanese religion based on shamanism, emphasizes the worship of nature and honoring of ancestors. Although Japan currently has no official religion, Shinto was the state religion prior to 1945, the end of World War II. Buddhism became an integral part of the nation's custom and cultural life since its importation from ancient China. The Japanese place a high priority on education and enjoy a 99% literacy rate. Newspaper circulation (576 per 1000 people) is twice that of the United States. Life expectancy is 77 years for males and 83 for females.
The Japanese economy is highly dependent on international trade for obtaining natural resources and for exporting finished industrial and consumer goods. The United States is Japan's major trading partner, accounting for 18% of its imports and 30% of its exports in 2001. Japan also has extensive trading relations throughout East and Southeast Asia. The monetary unit is the yen . Per capita gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at US $28,000 in 2002. Recently it was reported that China was a fierce competitor for Japan's automobile industry. The World Bank issued this report in early June 2003.
Prime Minister's Office