Yearbook 1996

Japan. With the lowest turnout since World War II – below 60% – voters on October 20 gave the Liberal Democratic Party (Jiyu Minshuto, LDP) continued government confidence and 239 of the House’s 500 seats. The LDP’s two former coalition partners, Social Democratic Nippon Shakaito (SDPJ) and the Sakigake Party, fell sharply back, while the largest opposition party Shinshinto backed slightly. The Communist Party (Nihon Kyosanto) surprised by almost doubling its mandate and becoming the fourth largest party.

  • ABBREVIATIONFINDER.ORG: What does JA stand for? In the field of geography, this two letter acronym means Japan. Check this to see its other meanings in English and other 35 languages.
Land area 377,915 km²
Total population 125.507.472
Residents per km² 332.1
Capital Tokyo
Official language Japanese
Income per capita $ 42,900
Currency yen
ISO 3166 code JP
Internet TLD .jp
License plate J
Telephone code +81
Time zone UTC + 7
Geographic coordinates 36 00 N, 138 00 O

The LDP’s election promise to guard the Senkaku (Diaoyu) archipelago annoyed China, which also claims the islands. After Japanese right-wing extremists landed on one of the uninhabited islands in July, activists in Taiwan, China and Hong Kong began demonstrating against Japan and sending protest ships against the Japanese patrol boats in the area. Much of the neighbor’s anger resides in memories of Japan’s military brutality half a century earlier. Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto made his country’s apologies during the year to the nearly 200,000 foreign women who during the war were forced to become sex slaves to Japanese troops. However, he promised no damages.

During President Bill Clinton’s visit to Tokyo April 16-18, the United States and Japan signed a new security agreement. stated that US bases on Okinawa would shrink – a response to the islanders’ dissatisfaction with the troop presence. However, the 27,000 US soldiers on the island would stay. Three American soldiers, whose rape of a twelve-year-old girl in which the year before triggered US hostile protests all over Japan, were sentenced in March to seven years in prison. After a long refusal, Okinawa Governor Masahide Ota extended the base leases in September, after the Tokyo government promised in return large development grants. See for practical information about Japan.

The trial of Shoko Asahara, leader of Doomsday sect Aum Shinrikyo, began in April. Shortly thereafter, the gas attack in Tokyo’s subway in the spring of 1995 demanded its twelfth death victim, a 53-year-old man who died after more than a year in hospital.

In July, Japan the outside world asked for help after seven people died and 9,000 people, most in the city of Sakai, suffered from epidemic food poisoning. The source of infection was believed to be raw fish. The epidemic ebbed out in August.

The Onin War (1467-77), which was basically about the succession of the Ashikaga shogunate, developed into a civil war lasting about 100 years. New military leaders emerged, independent of the imperial or shogun authority. They lived with their vassals in heavily fortified cities, while the villages administered themselves and paid taxes.

In the cities, trade and manufacturing underwent a number of changes. Portugal began its trade with Japan in 1545, and missionary Francisco Javier introduced Catholicism in 1549, but Christianity conflicted with feudal loyalty and was banned in 1639 with all Europeans – except the Dutch.

In the late 16th century, the military succeeded in separating the military from the rest of society. This was achieved by the introduction of rifles – initially supplied by Europeans -, military fortifications, the disarmament of the peasants and greater control over the earth. This paved the way for a unification of the country under a unified national authority. In the 17th century, the Tokugawa clan consolidated its dominion across the country. From the city fortress Yedo (Tokyo), the Tokugawa clan administered Japan until 1867. Careful distribution of land among families and local leaders guaranteed the clan control over the major cities – Kyoto, Osaka and Nagasaki – and the main mines.

Local leaders had to spend half their time serving the shogun and had to leave their family members hostage when they returned to their possessions. Now transformed into military bureaucrats, the Samurai were at the head of a class society of 4 classes, where they themselves were followed by the peasants, craftsmen and traders. The latter had low social status, but were essential to urban life. A national market for textiles, food, crafts, books and other products was developed. Since 1639, Tokugawa had practiced almost complete isolation to the outside world. Only exception was Nagasaki, where Chinese and Dutch were allowed to set up trading places – the latter only on the nearby Deshima island.

In the 19th century, the aging regime came into economic and social crisis. The peasant revolts were becoming more frequent, and samurai and local leaders were in ever deeper debt to the trade. The government tried from 1840 to implement a number of reforms, but unsuccessfully, and it was already severely weakened when the United States forced the country to open its ports. Its commander Matthew Perry, with the guns of Japan, forced Japan to break out of isolation. The signing of unfavorable trade agreements with the United States and several European countries merely intensified the shogunate crisis. The Samurai made several attacks against the aliens before turning against the shogun and in 1867 forced him to abdicate.

1868 The Meiji restoration

With the young Meiji, the imperial authority was reestablished in 1868. During the so-called Meiji restoration, Japan embarked on a Westernization process of modernization. The United States as well as England, France and Germany had an influence on the teaching, the sciences, the means of communication and within all expressions of Japanese culture. In less than 50 years, Japan changed from a closed and feudal society to an industrialized world power. Western advisors and technology were widely used in education, trade and industry. An army based on conscripts replaced the military structures of the samurai, which had been crushed during a foolish rebellion in 1877.

Following internal political pressure, the Emperor in 1889 drafted a new constitution. Japan became a constitutional monarchy with a two-chamber legislative assembly – Diet. Yet, only 1% of the population was entitled to vote, and the prime minister and cabinet were responsible to the emperor, who was considered a divine creature.

Population 1996

According to, the population of Japan in 1996 was 126,365,373, ranking number 7 in the world. The population growth rate was 0.300% yearly, and the population density was 346.6294 people per km2.

Japan Population Distribution by Age