• FlagMapBasic Facts


    Country Name: 

    • conventional long form:  none
    • conventional short form:  Japan

    Location:  Eastern Asia, island chain between the North Pacific Ocean and Sea of Japan

    Population:  127,333,002

    Ethnic Groups:  Japanese  99%, Others (Korean, Chinese, Brazilian, Filipino)  1%

    Languages:  Japanese

    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.


    Family Life

    • The family is the basic societal unit and the central focus of an individual's life.  Extended families, with several generations living under one roof, are common.
    • Role relationships within hierarchies are often considered important.  Individual family members are expected to fill their roles according to gender, age, and position.  For example, wives may submit to husbands, younger male children submit to older male children, and female children submit to everyone.  Fathers may hold the highest authority, with eldest sons also being in a position of high respect.
    • Children are encouraged to listen and respect all adults and authority figures.  Respect for elders is expected.
    • The family's reputation is very important.  The behavior of each member reflects on the entire family.  It is important not to lose face.
    • Parents tend to initiate conversation with children, explain tasks verbally, monitor activities verbally, and ask children factual questions.


    School System 

    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).


    Classroom Applications

    • Many Asians have a great respect for learning.  Education is viewed as a means of advancement.  In some groups, the greatest honor a child can bestow upon his or her parents is academic achievement.  Because of this, many Asian parents are very active in their child's learning.  They work diligently with their children at home.
    • Many Asian students are accustomed to authoritarian teachers. The students expect to maintain a proper social distance from their teachers.
    • Many Asian students come from a classroom atmosphere in which the teachers often lecture.  The goal of the teachers is to present information; therefore, time for discussion or encouraging children to participate are not incorporated into their teaching styles.  Therefore, many Asian students consider it rude to volunteer or ask questions in class.
    • Cooperation is a concept that is a highlight of the Japanese culture.  Therefore, working in groups is a method often used.
    • Students tend to avoid eye contact with teachers because giving eye contact is a sign of rudeness.
Last Modified on January 4, 2013