Background Notes: Japan, October 1998
Released by the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
U.S. Department of State

Official Name: Japan



Area: 377,765 sq. km. (145,856 sq. mi.); slightly smaller than 
Cities: Capital--Tokyo. Other cities--Yokohama, Osaka, Nagoya, 
Sapporo, Kobe, Kyoto, Fukuoka.
Terrain: Rugged, mountainous islands.
Climate: Varies from subtropical to temperate.


Nationality: Noun and adjective--Japanese.
Population (1997): 126 million.
Population growth rate (1997): 0.23%.
Ethnic groups: Japanese; Korean (0.6%).
Religions: Shinto and Buddhist; Christian (about 1%).
Language: Japanese.
Education: Literacy--99%.
Health (1997): Infant mortality rate--4/1000. Life expectancy--
males 77 yrs., females 83 yrs.
Work force (67 million, 1997): Services--23%. Trade, 
manufacturing, mining, and construction--56%. Agriculture, 
forestry, fisheries--6%. Government--3%.


Type: Constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary government.
Constitution: May 3, 1947.
Branches: Executive--prime minister (head of government). 
Legislative--bicameral Diet (House of Representatives and House 
of Councillors). Judicial--Civil law system based on the model of 
Roman law.
Administrative subdivisions: 47 prefectures.
Political parties: Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Democratic 
Party of Japan (DPJ), Komei Party, Liberal Party, Japan Communist 
Party (JCP), Social Democratic Party (SDP), Reform Club, 
Suffrage: Universal at 20.


GDP (1997): $2.85 trillion.
Real growth rate (1997): 1.0%.
Per capita GDP (1997): $22,700.
Natural resources: Negligible mineral resources, fish.
Agriculture: Products--rice, vegetables, fruits, milk, meat, 
Industry: Types--machinery and equipment, metals and metal 
products, textiles, autos, chemicals, electrical and electronic 
Trade (1997): Exports--$411 billion: motor vehicles, machinery 
and equipment, electrical and electronic products, metals and 
metal products. Major markets--Southeast Asia 37%, U.S. 27%, 
China 5%, Western Europe 15%. Imports--$329 billion: fossil 
fuels, raw materials, foodstuffs, machinery and equipment. Major 
suppliers--Southeast Asia 24%, U.S. 22%, Western Europe 15%, 
China 12%.


Japan is one of the most densely populated nations in the world, 
with some 330 persons per square kilometer (almost 860 persons 
per sq. mi.). For 1997, the population growth rate was about 
0.23%. Japan's growth rate in recent years has raised concerns 
about the social implications of an aging population.

The Japanese are a Mongoloid people, closely related to the major 
groups of East Asia. However, some evidence also exists of 
admixture with Malayan and Caucasoid strains. About 750,000 
Koreans and much smaller groups of Chinese and Caucasians reside 
in Japan.

Buddhism is important in Japan's religious life and has strongly 
influenced fine arts, social institutions, and philosophy. Most 
Japanese consider themselves members of one of the major Buddhist 

Shintoism is an indigenous religion founded on myths, legends, 
and ritual practices of the early Japanese. Neither Buddhism nor 
Shintoism is an exclusive religion. Most Japanese observe both 
Buddhist and Shinto rituals:  the former for funerals and the 
latter for births, marriages, and other occasions. Confucianism, 
primarily an ethical system, profoundly influences Japanese 
thought as well.

About 1.3 million people in Japan are Christians, of whom 60% are 
Protestant and 40% Roman Catholic.

Japan provides free public schooling for all children through 
junior high school. Ninety-four percent of students go on to 
three-year senior high schools, and competition is stiff for 
entry into the best universities. Japan enjoys one of the world's 
highest literacy rates (99%), and nearly 90% of Japanese students 
complete high school.


Traditional Japanese legend maintains that Japan was founded in 
600 BC by the Emperor Jimmu, a direct descendant of the sun 
goddess and ancestor of the present ruling imperial family. About 
AD 405, the Japanese court officially adopted the Chinese writing 
system. During the sixth century, Buddhism was introduced. These 
two events revolutionized Japanese culture and marked the 
beginning of a long period of Chinese cultural influence.

From the establishment of the first fixed capital at Nara in 710 
until 1867, the emperors of the Yamato dynasty were the nominal 
rulers, but actual power was usually held by powerful court 
nobles, regents, or "shoguns" (military governors).

Contact With the West

The first contact with the West occurred about 1542, when a 
Portuguese ship, blown off its course to China, landed in Japan. 
During the next century, traders from Portugal, the Netherlands, 
England, and Spain arrived, as did Jesuit, Dominican, and 
Franciscan missionaries. During the early part of the 17th 
century, Japan's shogunate suspected that the traders and 
missionaries were actually forerunners of a military conquest by 
European powers. This caused the shogunate to place foreigners 
under progressively tighter restrictions. Ultimately, Japan 
forced all foreigners to leave and barred all relations with the 
outside world except for severely restricted commercial contacts 
with Dutch and Chinese merchants at Nagasaki. This isolation 
lasted for 200 years, until Commodore Matthew Perry of the U.S. 
Navy forced the opening of Japan to the West with the Convention 
of Kanagawa in 1854.

Within several years, renewed contact with the West profoundly 
altered Japanese society. The shogunate was forced to resign, and 
the emperor was restored to power. The "Meiji restoration" of 
1868 initiated many reforms. The feudal system was abolished, and 
numerous Western institutions were adopted, including a Western 
legal system and constitutional government along quasi-
parliamentary lines.

In 1898, the last of the "unequal treaties" with Western powers 
was removed, signaling Japan's new status among the nations of 
the world. In a few decades, by creating modern social, 
educational, economic, military, and industrial systems, the 
Emperor Meiji's "controlled revolution" had transformed a feudal 
and isolated state into a world power.

Wars With China and Russia

Japanese leaders of the late 19th century regarded the Korean 
Peninsula as a "dagger pointed at the heart of Japan." It was 
over Korea that Japan became involved in war with the Chinese 
Empire in 1894-95 and with Russia in 1904-05. The war with China 
established Japan's dominant interest in Korea, while giving it 
the Pescadores Islands and Formosa (now Taiwan). After Japan 
defeated Russia in 1905, the resulting Treaty of Portsmouth 
awarded Japan certain rights in Manchuria and in southern 
Sakhalin, which Russia had received in 1875 in exchange for the 
Kurile Islands. Both wars gave Japan a free hand in Korea, which 
it formally annexed in 1910.

World War I to 1952

World War I permitted Japan, which fought on the side of the 
victorious Allies, to expand its influence in Asia and its 
territorial holdings in the Pacific. The postwar era brought 
Japan unprecedented prosperity. Japan went to the peace 
conference at Versailles in 1919 as one of the great military and 
industrial powers of the world and received official recognition 
as one of the "Big Five" of the new international order. It 
joined the League of Nations and received a mandate over Pacific 
islands north of the equator formerly held by Germany.

During the 1920s, Japan progressed toward a democratic system of 
government. However, parliamentary government was not rooted 
deeply enough to withstand the economic and political pressures 
of the 1930s, during which military leaders became increasingly 

Japan invaded Manchuria in 1931 and set up the state of 
Manchukuo. In 1933, Japan resigned from the League of Nations. 
The Japanese invasion of China in 1937 followed Japan's signing 
the  "anti-Comintern pact" with Nazi Germany the previous year 
and was part of a chain of developments culminating in the 
Japanese attack on the United States at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on 
December 7, 1941.

After almost four years of war, resulting in the loss of 3 
million Japanese lives and including the atomic bombings of 
Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan signed an instrument of surrender 
on the U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Harbor on September 2, 1945. As a 
result of World War II, Japan lost all of its overseas 
possessions and retained only the home islands. Manchukuo was 
dissolved, and Manchuria was returned to China; Japan renounced 
all claims to Formosa; Korea was granted independence; southern 
Sakhalin and the Kuriles were occupied by the U.S.S.R.; and the 
United States became the sole administering authority of the 
Ryukyu, Bonin, and Volcano Islands. The 1972 reversion of Okinawa 
completed the United States' return of control of these islands 
to Japan.

After the war, Japan was placed under international control of 
the Allies through the Supreme Commander, General Douglas 
MacArthur. U.S. objectives were to ensure that Japan would become 
a peaceful nation and to establish democratic self-government 
supported by the freely expressed will of the people. Political, 
economic, and social reforms were introduced, such as a freely 
elected Japanese Diet (legislature). The country's Constitution 
took effect on May 3, 1947. The April 28, 1952, Treaty of Peace 
with Japan afforded a progressive and orderly transition to the 
restoration of full sovereignty from the stringent controls 
immediately following the surrender.

Recent Political Developments

The post-World War II years saw tremendous economic growth in 
Japan, with the political system dominated by the Liberal 
Democratic Party (LDP).  That total domination lasted until the 
Diet Lower House elections on July 18, 1993.  The LDP, in power 
since the mid-1950s, failed to win a majority and saw the end of 
its four-decade rule. A coalition of new parties and existing 
opposition parties formed a governing majority and elected a new 
Prime Minister, Morihiro Hosokawa, in August 1993. His 
government's major legislative objective was political reform, 
consisting of a package of new political financing restrictions 
and major changes in the electoral system. The coalition 
succeeded in passing landmark political reform legislation in 
January 1994.

Under the 1994 legislation, the lower house electoral system was 
changed to one in which 300 members are elected in single-member 
districts and another 200 members on proportional slates in 11 
regions. The new electoral system also reduced the number of 
seats in overrepresented rural areas and shifted them to some 
urban areas.

In April 1994, Prime Minister Hosokawa resigned. Prime Minister 
Tsutomu Hata formed the successor coalition government, Japan's 
first minority government in almost 40 years. Prime Minister Hata 
resigned less than two months later. Prime Minister Tomiichi 
Murayama formed the next government in June 1994, a coalition of 
his Japan Socialist Party (JSP), the LDP, and the small Sakigake 
Party. The advent of a coalition containing the JSP and LDP 
shocked many observers because of their previously fierce 
rivalry. Prime Minister Murayama served from June 1994 to January 
1996.  He was succeeded by Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, who 
served from January 1996 to July 1998.  Prime Minister Hashimoto 
headed a loose coalition of three parties until the July 1998 
Upper House election, when the two smaller parties cut ties with 
the LDP. Hashimoto resigned due to a poor electoral showing by 
the LDP in those Upper House elections.  He was succeeded as 
party president of the LDP and Prime Minister by Keizo Obuchi, 
who took office on July 30, 1998.


Japan is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary 
government. There is universal adult suffrage with a secret 
ballot for all elective offices. The executive branch is 
responsible to the Diet, and the judicial branch is independent. 
Sovereignty, previously embodied in the emperor, is vested in the 
Japanese people, and the emperor is defined as the symbol of the 

Japan's government is a parliamentary democracy, with a House of 
Representatives and a House of Councillors. Executive power is 
vested in a cabinet composed of a prime minister and ministers of 
state, all of whom must be civilians. The prime minister must be 
a member of the Diet and is designated by his colleagues. The 
prime minister has the power to appoint and remove ministers, a 
majority of whom must be Diet members.

Japan's judicial system, drawn from customary law, civil law, and 
Anglo-American common law, consists of several levels of courts, 
with the Supreme Court as the final judicial authority. The 
Japanese Constitution includes a bill of rights similar to the 
U.S. Bill of Rights, and the Supreme Court has the right of 
judicial review. Japanese courts do not use a jury system, and 
there are no administrative courts or claims courts. Because of 
the judicial system's basis, court decisions are made in 
accordance with legal statutes. Only Supreme Court decisions have 
any direct effect on later interpretation of the law.

Japan does not have a federal system, and its 47 prefectures are 
not sovereign entities in the sense that U.S. states are. Most 
depend on the central government for subsidies. Governors of 
prefectures, mayors of municipalities, and prefectural and 
municipal assembly members are popularly elected to four-year 

The membership of the current Diet's more powerful chamber, the 
Lower House, was elected October 20, 1996, in the first election 
held under the new districting system.  Prime Minister Hashimoto 
led the ruling coalition - made up of the LDP, SDP and Sakigake - 
into that election, but his LDP fell short of a majority and its 
coalition partners opted afterward for a loose cooperative 
arrangement rather than a full-scale coalition.  All cabinet 
members thereafter hailed from the LDP.  The two smaller parties 
broke from that arrangement on the eve of an election to fill 
half of the seats in the Upper House on July 12, 1998, and the 
LDP's dismal showing in that vote forced the Prime Minister's 
resignation.  Keizo Obuchi succeeded him in late July.  Without 
coalition partners, Prime Minister Obuchi has been courting the 
cooperation of various opposition parties on a case-by-case basis 
to pursue his legislative agenda.  (By mid-1998, the LDP had 
gained a majority in the Lower House due to defections from the 
opposition, but had insufficient numbers in the Upper House - 
before or after the July balloting - to control the Diet agenda 
on its own.)

Principal Government Officials

Prime Minister--Keizo Obuchi
Minister of Foreign Affairs-Masahiko Koumura
Minister of Finance--Kiichi Miyazawa
Ambassador to the U.S.--Kunihiko Saito
Ambassador to the UN-Yukio Sato

Japan maintains an embassy in the United States at 2520 
Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC (tel. 202-238-6700). 
Consulates General are in Anchorage, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, 
Detroit, Guam, Honolulu, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New 
Orleans, New York City, Portland, San Francisco, and Seattle. 
Honorary consulates general are in Buffalo, Cleveland, Dallas, 
Denver, Nashville, Miami, Minneapolis, Mobile, Phoenix, St. 
Louis, San Diego, and San Juan; and an honorary consulate is in 
American Samoa.

The Japan National Tourist Organization is at 630 Fifth Avenue, 
New York, NY 10111.


The ongoing region-wide Asian financial crisis, which began in 
1997, has created uncertainty and instability in Japan's economy.  
Japan does, however, retain significant economic strength in the 
world economy.  

Japan's reservoir of industrial leadership and technicians, well-
educated and industrious work force, high savings and investment 
rates, and intensive promotion of industrial development and 
foreign trade have produced a mature industrial economy. Along 
with North America and Western Europe, Japan is one of the three 
major industrial complexes among the market economies.

Japan has few natural resources, and trade helps it earn the 
foreign exchange needed to purchase raw materials for its 
economy. In 1997, the country's exports amounted to about 12% of 
its GDP.

After achieving one of the highest economic growth rates in the 
industrialized world during most of the 1980s, Japan's economy 
slowed considerably in the early 1990s. Plummeting stock and real 
estate prices marked the end of the fragile, so-called "bubble 
economy" of the late 1980s. More recently, the ongoing region-
wide Asian financial crisis that began in 1997 has shaken Japan's 
economic stability. However, Japan's long-term economic prospects 
are considered good.

For information on Japan's economic relations with the United 
States, see "Economic Relations" section under "U.S.-Japan 

Agriculture, Energy, and Minerals

Only 15% of Japan's land is suitable for cultivation. The 
agricultural economy is highly subsidized and protected. With 
per-hectare crop yields among the highest in the world, Japan 
maintains an overall agricultural self-sufficiency rate of about 
50% on fewer than 5.6 million cultivated hectares (14 million 
acres). Japan normally produces a slight surplus of rice but 
imports large quantities of wheat, sorghum, and soybeans, 
primarily from the United States. As part of the General 
Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) Uruguay Round, Japan agreed 
to open its agricultural markets further, including partial 
liberalization of the rice market.

Given its heavy dependence on imported energy, Japan has aimed to 
diversify its sources. Since the oil shocks of the 1970s, Japan 
has reduced dependence on petroleum as a source of energy from 
more than 75% in 1973 to about 57% at present. Other important 
energy sources are coal, liquefied natural gas, nuclear power, 
and hydro power.

Deposits of gold, magnesium, and silver meet current industrial 
demands, but Japan is dependent on foreign sources for many of 
the minerals essential to modern industry. Iron ore, coke, 
copper, and bauxite must be imported, as must many forest 


Japan has a well-developed international and domestic 
transportation system, although highway development still lags. 
Tokyo and Osaka International Airports and the ports of Yokohama, 
Osaka, Kobe, and Nagoya are important terminals for air and sea 
traffic in the western Pacific. However, greatly increased 
traffic in the Pacific markets is putting a severe strain on 
Japan's airports.

The domestic transportation system depends on a recently 
privatized rail network. National rail transportation is 
supplemented by private railways in metropolitan areas, a 
developing highway system, coastal shipping, and several 
airlines. The rail system is efficient and well distributed and 
is maintained throughout the country. The super express "bullet 
trains" take as little as three hours between Tokyo and Osaka, a 
distance of 520 kilometers (325 mi.).


Japan's labor force consists of some 67 million workers, 40% of 
whom are women. Labor union membership is about 12 million. The 
unemployment rate is currently at a record high 4.3%.  In 1989, 
the predominantly public sector union confederation SOHYO 
(General Council of Trade Unions of Japan) merged with RENGO 
(Japanese Private Sector Trade Union Confederation) to form the 
Japanese Trade Union Confederation, also called RENGO, which has 
more than 7 million members.


Despite its current slow economic growth, Japan remains a major 
economic power both in the region and globally. Japan has 
diplomatic relations with nearly all independent nations and has 
been an active member of the United Nations since 1956. Japanese 
foreign policy has aimed to promote peace and prosperity for the 
Japanese people by working closely with the West and supporting 
the United Nations.

After World War II, the Allies disarmed and occupied Japan. 
Article IX of the Japanese constitution provides that "land, sea, 
and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be 
maintained." During the 1950-53 Korean war, a national police 
reserve force was established. Before the end of the U.S. 
occupation of Japan in 1952, the first steps had been taken to 
expand and transform the force into the Self-Defense Force (SDF). 
At the same time, the Japanese Government accepted Article 51 of 
the UN Charter that each nation has the right of self-defense 
against armed attack. This doctrine was consistent with Article 
IX of the Japanese constitution.

In 1954, the Japan Defense Agency was created with the specific 
mission of defending Japan against external aggression. Ground, 
maritime, and air self-defense forces were established.

In recent years, the Japanese public has shown a substantially 
greater awareness of security issues and increasing support for 
the SDF. This is in part due to its success in disaster relief 
efforts at home and its participation in peacekeeping operations 
in Cambodia in the early 1990s. However, there are still 
significant political and psychological constraints on 
strengthening Japan's defense.

Although a military role for Japan in international affairs is 
precluded by its constitution and government policy, Japanese 
cooperation with the United States through the 1960 U.S.-Japan 
security treaty has been important to the peace and stability of 
East Asia. All postwar Japanese governments have relied on a 
close relationship with the United States as the foundation of 
their foreign policy and have depended on the mutual security 
treaty for strategic protection. (Also see "Security Relations" 
section under "U.S.-Japan Relations.")

While maintaining its relationship with the United States, Japan 
has diversified and expanded its ties with other nations. Good 
relations with its neighbors continue to be of vital interest. 
After the signing of a peace and friendship treaty with China in 
1978, ties between the two countries developed rapidly. The 
Japanese extend significant economic assistance to the Chinese in 
various modernization projects. At the same time, Japan has 
maintained economic but not diplomatic relations with Taiwan, 
where a strong bilateral trade relationship thrives.

Japanese ties with South Korea have improved since an exchange of 
visits in the mid-1980s by their political leaders. ROK President 
Kim Dae-jung had a very sucessful visit to Japan in Octoeber 
1998. Japan has limited economic and commercial ties with North 
Korea. Japanese normalization talks halted when North Korea 
refused to discuss a number of issues with Japan. Japan strongly 
supports the U.S. in its efforts to encourage Pyongyang to abide 
by the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and its agreements with 
the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  Despite the 
August 31, 1998 North Korean missile test which overflew the Home 
Islands, Japan has repeated its support for the Korean Energy 
Development Organization (KEDO) and the Agreed Framework, which 
seek to freeze the North Korean nuclear program.

Russo-Japanese relations have warmed considerably since 1996, 
despite the fact that Russia continues to claim and occupy the 
Northern Territories, small islands off the coast of Hokkaido 
occupied by the U.S.S.R. at the end of World War II. But recent 
summits in 1997 and 1998 between former PM Hashimoto and 
President Yeltsin have accelerated work on a peace treaty which 
would set settle the Northern Territories dispute and normalize 
bilateral realtions. To further mutual confidence and trust, 
Japan has pledged about $4 billion to various programs designed 
to bolster Russian democracy and economic reform.

Beyond its immediate neighbors, Japan has pursued a more active 
foreign policy in recent years, recognizing the responsibility 
that accompanies its economic strength. It has expanded ties with 
the Middle East, which provides most of its oil. Japan 
increasingly is active in Africa and Latin America and has 
extended significant support to development projects in both 
regions. And a Japanese-conceived peace plan became the 
foundation for nationwide elections in Cambodia in 1998.

After the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, Japan adopted 
tough sanctions against Iraq and strongly supported the UN effort 
against the aggression. Japanese financial support for the Gulf 
war reached $14 billion. Japan actively supported the Israel-
Palestine peace framework. From October 1993, Japan has 
contributed $300 million to Palestinian reconstruction. Under the 
framework of the Middle East Peace Process, Japan chairs the 
multilateral working group on environment and participates in 
other working groups.

In the 1990s, Japanese military and police forces as well as 
civilians have participated in a wide variety of UN peacekeeping 
missions. These have included Cambodia (two Japanese citizens 
were killed in that effort), Mozambique, the Golan Heights, and 
relief efforts for Rwandan refugees in what was then Zaire (now 
Congo). Japan did not send any Self-Defense Force units to 
Somalia but financed much of the effort there with a $100 million 

Development assistance is a major tool of Japan's foreign policy. 
Japan has been the world's largest aid donor since 1989, with aid 
levels of $9 billion. Japanese aid to other Asian countries 
exceeds that of the United States, and Japan is also a major 
donor to Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America, and the 
Middle East. Japan and the United States hold regular 
consultations to coordinate foreign assistance programs. The 
United States supports Japan's efforts to open its markets to 
developing nations' products.


The United States' close and cooperative relationship with Japan 
is the cornerstone of U.S. policy in Asia and the basis of a 
strong, productive partnership in addressing global issues. 
Despite different social and cultural traditions, Japan and the 
United States have much in common. Both have open, democratic 
societies, high literacy rates, freedom of expression, multiparty 
political systems, universal suffrage, and open elections. Both 
have highly developed free-market industrial economies and favor 
an open and active international trading system. As noted, Japan 
is one of the three major industrial complexes among the market 
economies, along with North America and Western Europe. The U.S. 
supports Japan's goal of obtaining a permanent seat on the United 
Nations Security Council.

Because of the two countries' combined economic and technological 
impact on the world (together accounting for a little more than 
30% of world GDP and 60% of the Western industrialized nations' 
GDP), the U.S.-Japan relationship has become global in scope. The 
two governments have developed a partnership to address shared 
priorities. An example of that partnership is the U.S.-Japan 
"Common Agenda for Global Issues," a set of initiatives in areas 
such as the environment, technology development, and health. 
Under the Common Agenda, the United States and Japan are 
coordinating $12 billion in population and HIV/AIDS assistance to 
developing countries and are conducting joint research on 
advanced transportation and environmental technologies. The two 
governments are also cooperating closely on issues as diverse as 
ocean pollution, children's vaccines, narcotics demand reduction, 
the role of women in development, and the protection of forests 
and coral reefs.

Security Relations

The U.S.-Japan security alliance remains indispensable to the 
defense of Japan and to U.S. security strategy in East Asia.

The U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security came 
into force on June 23, 1960. Under the treaty, Japan hosts a 
carrier battle group, the III Marine Expeditionary Force, the 5th 
Air Force, and elements of the Army's I Corps. At the end of U.S. 
occupation in 1952, U.S. military forces in Japan numbered around 
260,000.  The U.S. currently maintains over 40,000 forces in 
Japan, more than half of whom are stationed in Okinawa. Japan's 
Host Nation Support (HNS) helps to defray about seventy-five 
percent of the costs of maintaining these forces in Japan.  In 
Okinawa, initiatives begun under the U.S.-Japan Special Action 
Committee on Okinawa (SACO) are returning tracts of military base 
land to Okinawons, as well as making U.S. military activity on 
the island less intrusive to Okinawan residents.

Japan's Self-Defense Force has gradually expanded its 
capabilities and assumed primary responsibility for the immediate 
conventional national defense. The SDF mission, which the United 
States supports, is the defense of Japan's homeland, territorial 
seas and skies, and sea lines of communication out to 1,000 
nautical miles. As a matter of policy, Japan has forsworn nuclear 
armaments and forbids arms sales abroad. A bilateral agreement 
signed in 1983, however, allows the export of Japanese defense 
and dual-use technology to the United States.

Despite the changes in the post-Cold War strategic landscape, the 
U.S.-Japan alliance continues to be based on shared vital 
interests. These include stability in the Asia-Pacific region, 
the preservation and promotion of political and economic 
freedoms, support for human rights and democratic institutions, 
and the securing of prosperity for our people and other people of 
the region. 

The East Asia Strategy Report, published by the Department of 
Defense in 1995, noted "[t]here is no more important bilateral 
relationship than the one we have with Japan. It is fundamental 
to both our Pacific security policy and our global strategic 
objectives. Our security relationship with Japan is the linchpin 
of United States security policy in Asia. It is seen not just by 
the United States and Japan but throughout the region as a major 
factor for securing stability in Asia." Japan restated its own 
unwavering support for the security relationship in its long-
range defense blueprint--the National Defense Program Outline--
issued in November 1995.

In April 1996, during President Clinton's state visit to Japan, 
the President and former Prime Minister Hashimoto issued a joint 
summit security declaration which noted the achievements of the 
bilateral alliance and projected its success into the next 
century. In September 1997, the United States and Japan issued 
the Defense Guidelines, which lay out the framework for 
cooperation between the United States and Japan.  Both sides are 
now working on the implementation of the Defense Guidelines.

Economic Relations

U.S. economic policy toward Japan is aimed at increasing access 
to Japan's markets, stimulating demand-led growth in the Japanese 
economy, and raising the standard of living in both the U.S. and 

The U.S.-Japan bilateral economic relationship is a strong and 
mature one. It also is an increasingly interdependent one based 
on enormous flows of trade, investment, and finance. The 
relationship is firmly rooted in the shared interest and 
responsibility of the U.S. and Japan to promote global growth, 
open markets, and a vital world trading system. In addition to 
their bilateral economic ties, the U.S. and Japan cooperate 
closely in multilateral fora such as the World Trade Organization 
(WTO), Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the 
World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund, and regionally 
in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC).

The United States and Japan are the two largest economies in the 
world. Japan is a major market for many U.S. manufactured goods, 
including chemicals, pharmaceuticals, photo supplies, commercial 
aircraft, non-ferrous metals, plastics, and medical and 
scientific supplies. Japan is also the largest foreign market for 
U.S. agricultural products, with total agricultural imports 
valued at close to $17 billion in 1996.

Overall U.S. exports to Japan have grown dramatically since the 
1980s. Between 1986 and 1997, they rose from $27 billion to $66 
billion. Since 1993, U.S. exports to Japan have risen at a rate 
slightly faster than with the rest of the world as a whole. The 
U.S. bilateral trade deficit with Japan declined from $59 billion 
in 1995 to $48 billion in 1996. It was $56 billion in 1997.

These improvements have come about as the U.S. has pursued broad 
trade initiatives as well as bilateral trade agreements with 
Japan. The U.S.-Japan "Framework for a New Economic Partnership" 
(the Framework) was signed in June 1993 by President Clinton and 
then-Prime Minister Miyazawa and renewed in June 1995. The 
Framework addresses sectoral, structural, and macroeconomic 
issues in the U.S.-Japan bilateral economic relationship. In 
addition, the Framework includes the aforementioned "Common 
Agenda for Global Issues," the highly successful program of U.S.-
Japanese collaboration on a wide range of global matters, 
including health, the environment, and population.

Since January 1993, the U.S. and Japan have signed 34 trade 
agreements, most of them under the Framework, plus four 
agreements under the GATT Uruguay Round. U.S. and Japanese 
negotiators concluded Framework agreements on government 
procurement of telecommunications and medical technology products 
and services in November 1994; agreements on intellectual 
property rights, insurance, cellular phones, and various 
agricultural products--including apples--were also signed in 
1994. Agreements were concluded on flat glass in January 1995, 
financial services in February 1995, autos and auto parts in 
August 1995, civil aviation on cargo services in April 1996, 
semiconductors in August 1996, and insurance in December 1996. 
More recently, the U.S. and Japan renewed and strengthened the 
NTT Telecommunications Agreement in September 1997 and reached an 
agreement on port practices in November 1997 and on civil 
aviation in January 1998. The U.S. also settled a WTO dispute 
with Japan over its distilled spirits regime in December 1997.

The Framework follows two earlier bilateral initiatives that led 
to market-opening in Japan: the MOSS (Market-Oriented, Sector-
Selective) talks on specific sectors of interest, initiated in 
1985 and the Structural Impediments Initiative, begun in 1989. 
Through these initiatives, both countries committed themselves to 
comprehensive measures to reduce impediments to competitive 
imports as found, for instance, in marketing and distribution 
systems, savings and investment patterns, and government-business 

In addition to these broad initiatives, the United States and 
Japan have over the last decade signed bilateral agreements to 
open Japan's markets. These agreements cover a wide range of 
sectors, including computers, beef, citrus, manufactured tobacco 
products, paper, and semiconductors. There have been some 
encouraging trends. In certain sectors, U.S. firms have gained a 
significant or even dominant market share in the Japanese market. 
As part of the GATT Uruguay Round agreement, Japan agreed in 
December 1993 to open its rice market, which had historically 
been closed to foreign rice. It also agreed to cut or eliminate 
tariffs and eliminate quotas on a wide range of other goods.

There are considerable investment flows between the United States 
and Japan. U.S. direct investment in Japan was $39.2 billion at 
the end of 1995, much of it in finance, banking, and 
manufacturing; this was up from $6.4 billion in 1982. Many 
American companies have found Japan to be a profitable market. 
Nevertheless, American firms continue to encounter a range of 
formal and informal barriers to investment in Japan, and Japan 
continues to host a far smaller share of global foreign direct 
investment than any of its G-7 counterparts. Japanese direct 
investment in the United States rose dramatically in the late 
1980s, then leveled off somewhat in the 1990s. Japanese direct 
investment in the United States stood at $108.6 billion at the 
end of 1995, mostly in manufacturing, real estate, and finance.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

Ambassador--Thomas Foley
Deputy Chief of Mission--Christopher LaFleur
Economic Minister-Counselor--C. Lawrence Greenwood, Jr.
Political Minister-James Foster
Commercial Minister--Samuel H. Kidder
Defense Attache--Capt. Jeffrey Crews, USN

The street address and the international mailing address of the 
U.S. embassy in Japan is 10-5 Akasaka 1-chome, Minato-ku, Tokyo 
(107); tel. 81-3-3224-5; fax 81-3-3505-1862. The APO mailing 
address is American Embassy Tokyo, Unit 45004, Box 258, APO AP 
96337-5004. U.S. consulates general are in Osaka, Sapporo, and 
Naha, and consulates are in Fukuoka and Nagoya. The American 
Chamber of Commerce in Japan is at 7th floor, Fukide No. 2 Bldg., 
1-21 Toranomon 4-chome, Minato-ku, Tokyo (105).


The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program 
provides Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets. Travel 
Warnings are issued when the State Department recommends that 
Americans avoid travel to a certain country. Consular Information 
Sheets exist for all countries and include information on 
immigration practices, currency regulations, health conditions, 
areas of instability, crime and security, political disturbances, 
and the addresses of the U.S. posts in the country. Public 
Announcements are issued as a means to disseminate information 
quickly about terrorist threats and other relatively short-term 
conditions overseas which pose significant risks to the security 
of American travelers. Free copies of this information are 
available by calling the Bureau of Consular Affairs at 202-647-
5225 or via the fax-on-demand system: 202-647-3000. Travel 
Warnings and Consular Information Sheets also are available on 
the Consular Affairs Internet home page: 
and the Consular Affairs Bulletin Board (CABB). To access CABB, 
dial the modem number: 301-946-4400 (it will accommodate up to 
33,600 bps), set terminal communications program to N-8-1(no 
parity, 8 bits, 1 stop bit); and terminal emulation to VT100. The 
login is travel and the password is info. (Note: Lower case is 
required). The CABB also carries international security 
information from the Overseas Security Advisory Council and 
Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security. Consular Affairs 
Trips for Travelers publication series, which contain information 
on obtaining passports and planning a safe trip abroad, can be 
purchased from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government 
Printing Office, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954; 
telephone: 202-512-1800; fax 202-512-2250.

Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may 
be obtained from the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at 
(202) 647-5225. For after-hours emergencies, Sundays and 
holidays, call 202-647-1512.

Passport Services information can be obtained by calling the 24-
hour, 7-day a week automated system ($.35 per minute) or live 
operators 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (EST) Monday-Friday ($1.05 per 
minute). The number is 1-900-225-5674 (TDD: 1-900-225-7778). 
Major credit card users (for a flat rate of $4.95) may call 1-
888-362-8668 (TDD: 1-888-498-3648).

Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. 
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A 
hotline at (404) 332-4559 gives the most recent health 
advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements, and 
advice on food and drinking water safety for regions and 
countries. A booklet entitled Health Information for 
International Travel (HHS publication number CDC-95-8280) is 
available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, 
DC 20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.

Information on travel conditions, visa requirements, currency and 
customs regulations, legal holidays, and other items of interest 
to travelers also may be obtained before your departure from a 
country's embassy and/or consulates in the U.S. (for this 
country, see "Principal Government Officials" listing in this 

U.S. citizens who are long-term visitors or traveling in 
dangerous areas are encouraged to register at the U.S. embassy 
upon arrival in a country (see "Principal U.S. Embassy Officials" 
listing in this publication). This may help family members 
contact you in case of an emergency.

Further Electronic Information

Department of State Foreign Affairs Network. Available on the 
Internet, DOSFAN provides timely, global access to official U.S. 
foreign policy information. Updated daily, DOSFAN includes 
Background Notes; Dispatch, the official magazine of U.S. foreign 
policy; daily press briefings; Country Commercial Guides; 
directories of key officers of foreign service posts; etc. 
DOSFAN's World Wide Web site is at

U.S. Foreign Affairs on CD-ROM (USFAC). Published on an annual 
basis by the U.S. Department of State, USFAC archives information 
on the Department of State Foreign Affairs Network, and includes 
an array of official foreign policy information from 1990 to the 
present. Contact the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government 
Printing Office, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954. To 
order, call (202) 512-1800 or fax (202) 512-2250.

National Trade Data Bank (NTDB). Operated by the U.S. Department 
of Commerce, the NTDB contains a wealth of trade-related 
information. It is available on the Internet ( 
and on CD-ROM. Call the NTDB Help-Line at (202) 482-1986 for more 

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