Saturday, 25 May, 2013
22:01 GMT 02:01 Moscow
Local Time: 02:01
Japan occupies the territory of a group of islands in the western Pacific sit the eastern coast of Asia, with the largest islands Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku.
The country occupies an area of 372,2 km2.
The population is 127.7 million (2005).
The capital of Japan is Tokyo.
The administrative divisions consist of 47 prefectures, including those of Tokyo and Okinawa (since 1972), and two city prefectures - Kyoto and Osaka. Prefectures are divided into districts. Hokkaido is a special administrative region comprising 14 districts.
The state language is Japanese.
The currency is the yen (¥1 = 100 sens).
The political system is a constitutional monarchy. The Constitution was promulgated on November 3, 1946 and came into force on May 3, 1947.
The national holiday is the Emperor's Birthday on December 23 (born in 1933).
The head of state is the Emperor. The throne is inherited by male descendants. Under the Constitution, the Emperor is "the symbol of the State and unity of the people" and does not exercise political power and manages state affairs on advice and by approbation of the government. The current Emperor is Emperor Akihito who was enthroned on January 7, 1989.
The supreme legislative authority is a bicameral parliament known as Kokkai or the Diet. It consists of two houses: the House of Representatives (Shugiin) and the House of Councilors (Sangiin). Shugiin consists of 480 deputies elected for a term of four years, with 300 elected in single-member constituencies and 180 by party-list proportional representation. Sangiin consists of 247 members elected for a term of six years. Half of them have to run in elections every three years. Both houses are elected by general direct secret vote. A bill passes if both houses approve it by simple majority. Should there be any disagreements between the houses, Shugiin has a final authority.
Shugiin and Sangiin sessions can be routine, extraordinary or special. Routine sessions of parliament are convened once a year in January for 150 days. Shugiin has the upper hand over Sangiin on the appointment of a new Prime Minister among others.
Shugiin is entitled to put a motion of confidence or non-confidence before the government while Sangiin is not.
Japanese nationals aged 25 or older may be elected to Shugiin and those aged at least 30 to Sangiin. Japanese citizens aged 20 and older are entitled to vote.
The executive power is vested in the government headed by the Prime Minister appointed by the Diet from its ranks. The Prime Minister appoints ministers, with the majority of them to be elected from members of parliament.
The current Prime Minister is Junichiro Koizumi.
The principal economic indices are as follows:
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