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Japan, officially Nippon (日本) is an island country in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of China, Korea and Russia. The characters that make up Japan's name mean "sun-origin", which is why Japan is sometimes identified as the "Land of the Rising Sun".

Japan comprises over 3,000 islands, the largest of which are Honshū, Hokkaidō, Kyūshū and Shikoku. Most of the islands are mountainous, many volcanic; for example, Japan’s highest peak, Mount Fuji, is a volcano. Japan has the world's tenth largest population, with about 128 million people. The Greater Tokyo Area, which includes the capital city of Tokyo and several surrounding prefectures, is the largest metropolitan area in the world, with over 30 million residents.

Influence from the outside world followed by long periods of isolation has characterized Japan's history. Since adopting its constitution in 1947, Japan has maintained a unitary constitutional monarchy with an emperor and an elected parliament, the Diet.

A major economic power, Japan has the world's third largest economy by nominal GDP. It is a member of the United Nations, G8, G4, OECD and APEC, with the world's fifth largest defense budget. It is also the world's fourth largest exporter and sixth largest importer and a world leader in technology and machinery.

Selected article

The Diet of Japan in Tokyo
The National Diet of Japan is Japan's bicameral legislature. It is composed of a lower house, called the House of Representatives, and an upper house, called the House of Councillors. Both houses of the Diet are directly elected under a parallel voting system. In addition to passing laws, the Diet is formally responsible for selecting the Prime Minister. The Diet was first convened as the Imperial Diet in 1889 as a result of adopting the Meiji constitution. The Diet took its current form in 1947 upon the adoption of the postwar constitution and is considered by the Constitution to be the highest organ of state power. The National Diet Building is located in Nagatachō, Chiyoda, Tokyo. The houses of the Diet are elected under a parallel voting system. This means that the seats to be filled in any given election are divided into two groups, each elected by a different method; the main difference between the houses is in the sizes of the two groups and how they are elected. Voters are also asked to cast two votes: one for an individual candidate in a constituency, and one for a party list. Any citizen of Japan at least twenty years of age (the age of majority in Japan) may vote in these elections. Japan's parallel voting system is not to be confused with the Additional Member System used in many other nations. The Constitution of Japan does not specify the number of members of each house of the Diet, the voting system, or the necessary qualifications of those who may vote or be returned in parliamentary elections, thus allowing all of these things to be determined by law. However it does guarantee universal adult suffrage and a secret ballot. It also insists that the electoral law must not discriminate in terms of "race, creed, sex, social status, family origin, education, property or income".

Selected image

Kishū kumano iwatake tori (Iwatake mushroom gathering at Kumano in Kishu), 1860
Credit: Hiroshige II

Kishū kumano iwatake tori (Iwatake mushroom gathering at Kumano in Kishu), 1860, a ukiyo-e print created by Hiroshige II. It is part of the series "100 Famous Views of Japan".

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April 22:

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Selected biography

Kawarazaki Gonnosuke as Daroku, ca.1869
Toyohara Kunichika was a Japanese woodblock print artist. Talented as a child, at about thirteen he became a student of Tokyo's then-leading print maker, Utagawa Kunisada. His deep appreciation and knowledge of kabuki drama led to his production primarily of ukiyo-e actor-prints, which are woodblock prints of kabuki actors and scenes from popular plays of the time. An alcoholic and womanizer, Kunichika also portrayed women deemed beautiful (bijinga), contemporary social life, and a few landscapes and historical scenes. He worked successfully in the Edo era, and carried those traditions into the Meiji era. To his contemporaries and now to some modern art historians, this has been seen as a significant achievement during a transitional period of great social and political change in Japan's history. The artist who became known as Toyohara Kunichika was born Ōshima Yasohachi on June 5, 1835, in the Kyōbashi district, a merchant and artisan area of Edo (present-day Tokyo). His father, Ōshima Kyujū, was the proprietor of a sentō (public bathhouse), the Ōshūya.

In the news

9 April 2019 –
A Japan Air Self-Defense Force F-35 Lightning II jet disappears from radar while on a training mission over the Pacific Ocean. Japanese Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya subsequently grounds Japan's fleet of F-35s. (CBS News)
1 April 2019 – 2019 Japanese imperial transition
Reiwa (令和) is revealed as the new Japanese Era name set to start on May 1 upon Crown Prince Naruhito's accession to the Chrysanthemum Throne as the 126th Emperor of Japan. (The Japan Times)
9 March 2019 –
Japanese supercentenarian Kane Tanaka is officially recognized as the world's oldest living person at 116 years and 67 days old. (The Guardian)
A Japanese high-speed boat collides with a "marine creature" while carrying 121 passengers; 87 passengers are injured and 5 airlifted by helicopter to the hospital. (CNN)

Did you know...

Depiction of Naoe Kanetsugu in a rice field, an example of Tanbo art

  • ... that tanbo art (example pictured) is a Japanese practice where giant pictures are created in rice fields?
  • ... that in 1967 Kōji Seki directed Perverted Criminal, Japan's first 3-D film and the world's first 3-D sex film?

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Coordinates: 36°30′N 139°00′E / 36.5°N 139°E / 36.5; 139