Introduction

Japan is one of the most populated countries in the world with a population of approximately 127 million people. The area of Japan is comprised by over 6,000 different islands in the Pacific Ocean. Although this nation is made up of so many islands, only 430 of these islands are inhabited. Out of these 430 islands, the majority of the population live in four islands, which are Honshu, Hokkaido, Shikoku, and Kyushu.

 

Major Urban Areas of Japan

Tokyo and Other Major Cities of Honshu Island

Tokyo is the capital city of Japan and the most populated city in the country. Almost 37 million people live in the Greater Tokyo-Kanto region which is made up of Tokyo and surrounding areas. This city is on Honshu island which is the biggest island in Japan. 103 million people reside on this island. Other big cities that are on this island include Kyoto, Osaka, Nagoya, Kobe and Hiroshima.

Fukuoka

Outside of Honshu island, Fukuoka is the most populated city. This city has approximately 5.5 million residents and it is located on Kyushu island. A large amount of agricultural cultivation takes place on this island, with tea, sweet potato, rice, tobacco, and soy being widely grown there. Other than Fukuoka, the other remaining cities on this island are not very populated, with Kitakyushu being the second most populated city on the island with a population less than 1 million people.

Sapporo

Another major city in Japan is Sapporo. This city is located in the island of Hokkaido and it is famous for skiing due its mountainous location. This city has a colder climate in comparison to many other parts of Japan and as a result many tourists travel here in order to part take in winter sports. The snowfall is good for such activities and as a result the 1972 Winter Olympics also took place in Sapporo.

Politics

The Japanese political system is very different from those of the western democracies, although the institutions may initially look similar. The Diet has little real authority; traditionally the factions within the Liberal Democratic Party have been more important than the other political parties; Cabinet meetings are brief and largely ceremonial; and the Prime Minister is weaker than his counterpart in other democracies and usually has a relatively brief tenure in office. Power in Japanese society is wielded less by politicians and more by civil servants and industrialists. This triumvirate of politicians, bureaucrats and big business is known in Japan as "the Iron Triangle". In 2016 the constitution was revised to allow Japanese troops to fight overseas, this is a matter of concern for many neighboring countries. Meanwhile many in Japan are keen for its economic power to be reflected now in the political structures of the United Nations with the country admitted to permanent membership of the Security Council.

Ethnic groups

The largest ethnic minority in Japan is a group of around 700,000 Koreans. Large communities of Brazilians, Filipinos, and Americans also live in Japan. Other significant ethnic minorities are the Chinese and a tiny group of aborigines called the Ainu. The Ainu are the one remaining distinct ethnic group in Japan.

Japanese diaspora

 The two largest overseas populations of Japanese are Brazil and the United states with 1.6 million and 1.4 million respectively. There are also substantial populations of over 100,000 in China, the Philippines, Canada and Peru. New Zealand's Japanese community is still small with around 14,118 mostly living in Auckland or Wellington. The Japanese community in New Zealand is growing.

Religion

Shinto and Buddhism are Japan's two major religions. Shinto is as old as the Japanese culture, while Buddhism was imported from the mainland in the 6th century. Since then, the two religions have been co-existing relatively harmoniously. 

Shrinking Population

Japan has a population which is decreasing in size with an annual growth rate of -0.2%. This is due to factors such as an aging population and part of the population migration away from the country. It is unlikely these cities will drop in population since more and more Japanese people are moving to the cities. About 200 rural communities have become extinct since the turn of the century, and in addition to that almost 10% of towns are at risk of a similar fate with 50% of the population of these places expected to move to the larger cities.

Age structure

0-14 years: 12.97% (male 8,472,869/female 7,963,782)
15-24 years: 9.67% (male 6,436,935/female 5,813,222)
25-54 years: 37.68% (male 23,593,194/female 24,145,406)
55-64 years: 12.4% (male 7,867,611/female 7,840,141)
65 years and over: 27.28% (male 15,080,738/female 19,488,235) (2016 est.)e larger cities.