1.4 Land use
1.6 The Economy
1.7 Energy supply
Japan is located at the eastern edge of Eurasia, between latitudes of 20°25' N to 45°33' N and longitudes of 122°55' E to 153°59' E. It belongs to the Circum-Pacific Orogenic Belt and many fold-mountain ranges, volcanic zones and fault lines complicate its land structure. It is an archipelago of more than three thousand islands of which the four main islands are called Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu from north to south. Japan has a land area of 377,800 square kilometres.
The climate of Japan ranges from the sub-frigid zone in Hokkaido to the sub-tropical in Okinawa islands. It is strongly affected by monsoons and there is plenty of rain between June and August due to the south-eastern monsoon. During the winter, between November and March, northern Japan becomes severely cold and along the Japan Sea, there is plenty of snow caused by north-western monsoons from the Eurasian continent.
According to the census of 1995, population in Japan is 125.86 million as of October 1995, and population density is extremely high at 337 square kilometre. Population growth rate is merely 0.27 %, and total fertility rate is merely 1.42. These factors have led to ageing of the population and a falling birth-rate. The number of households has increased but the average number of family members has a downward trend and now averages 2.82.
Of Japan's 37.78 million ha of land area, 25.14 million ha is forest, which covered 66.5% of land area. Agricultural land is 13.6% at 5.13 million ha, housing land including industrial land covers 4.5% at 1.70 million ha, water bodies cover 3.5% at 1.32 million ha and roads 3.2% at 1.21 million ha while wastelands cover 0.7%.
As of 1995, the average working population was 66.66 million (53% of total population), and the unemployment rate was about 3.2%. Of the total employment, 6.1% was in primary industries, 31.4% in secondary industries and 61.9% for tertiary industries; the share of the latter has been increasing for eight years in succession. Besides forestry, the share of total employment in overall industry had decreased from 1.2% in 1950 to 0.1% in 1995 consistently.
The Japanese economy's transition after World War II can be divided into 5 phases: the reconstruction period after the war started 1945 through 1955, followed by the high growth period until two oil crises occurred in 1973 and 1978. The low growth period started from mid 1970 and was encouraged by appreciation of the yen in the mid 1980s. The domestic-economy oriented growth period started from 1987 onward; currently the Japanese economy has stagnated since the "bubble economy" burst in 1990. The annual growth in real terms between 1992 and 1994 remained at levels of no more than 1 %.
The gross domestic product (GDP) in the last four years has continued to grow, but slowly; yen 475 trillion in 1993, 479 trillion in 1994, 483 trillion in 1995 and 503 trillion in 1996 respectively. Corresponding growth rates are 0.9% in 1993, 0.8% in both 1994 and 1995, 3.0% in 1996. The GDP share for forestry production in the same years was yen 516 billion in 1993 (0.11%), 470 billion in 1994 and 437 billion in 1995 (0.09%) and growth rates in each year are -12.2% in 1993, -8.9% in 1994 and -7.0% in 1995.
As regards the international trade, in 1994 the total export value was yen 41.5 trillion (US$ 395.6 billion) and the total imports yen 31.5 trillion (US$ 274.7 billion), both of which show an increasing trend. The trade of wood was worth yen 943.7 billion (US$ 9.74 billion) as imports (3.5% of total imports).
The energy supply as of 1995 is 5,439 trillion kcal, of which 94.0% was imported. In response to experience of the past two oil crises in the 1970s', alternative energy sources to petroleum (such as nuclear or LNG) have been developed and promoted. As the result of that, reliance on petroleum decreased from 71.9% in 1970 to 55.8% in 1995; nuclear power increased from 0.3% to 12.0% and LNG from 1.2% to 12.8%. In 1995, water power was 3.5% of total supply but firewood and charcoal were so low as to be included in the miscellaneous 1 %.