Location: Eastern Asia, island chain between the North Pacific Ocean and Sea of Japan
Ethnic Groups: Japanese 99%, Others (Korean, Chinese, Brazilian, Filipino) 1%
Economy: Government-industry cooperation, a strong work ethic, strength in technology, and a relatively small defense allocation have helped Japan advance to the rank of second most technologically-powerful economy in the world after the United States and the third-largest economy after the United States and China. Japan is a forerunner in the area of robotics, possessing 410,000 of the world's 720,000 working robots. Japan accounts for nearly 15% of the global fish catch due to maintaining one of the world's largest fishing fleets. Japan's huge government debt and the ageing population, are two major long-term problems.
Industries: Among the world's largest and technologically advanced producers of motor vehicles, electronic equipment, machine tools, steel and nonferrous metals, ships, chemicals, textiles, processed foods.
Agriculture: rice, sugar beets, vegetables, fruit, pork, poultry, dairy products, eggs, fish
Still today, Japan retains its time-honored culture. The emperor retains his throne as a symbol of national unity, even though the actual power rests in the hands of Japan's politicians, bureaucrats, and business executives. Japan rapidly absorbed Western technology during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. After its defeat in WWII, it recovered to become an economic power and an important ally of the United States. It is currently a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary government. This means there are no elections and the monarch is inherited. The head of government is the Prime Minister who appoints his cabinet members.
The Japanese educational system was reformed after WWII. A new system of 6 years of elementary school, 3 years of junior high school, 3 years of senior high school, and 4 years of University was adopted. The elementary and junior high schools are required. Nine years of compulsory education is a must; however, senior high school is not a requirement. While not compulsory, enrollment is still at 96% nationwide.
Most schools operate on a three-term system with the new year beginning in April. Except for the elementary level, it is usual to average 6 hours of school a day on weekends, one of the longest school days in the world.
Another characteristic of Japan schools are entrance exams. Due to this, there is high competitiveness among students. In order to pass entrance exams to the best institutions, many students attend special preparation schools (juku) in addition to regular classes. There is also the option to attend preparation school for one to two years between high school and university (yobiko).