Country Listing

Japan Table of Contents



Government: Constitutional monarchy with emperor as symbol of state. Parliamentary form of government. Elected bicameral legislature called National Diet, consisting of House of Councillors (upper house) and House of Representatives (lower house). General elections every four years or upon dissolution of lower house; general elections every three years for half of upper house.

Administrative Divisions: Forty-seven administrative divisions: forty-three rural prefectures (ken), two urban prefectures (fu--Kyoto and Osaka), one metropolitan district (to--Tokyo), and one district (do--Hokkaido). Large cities (shi) divided into wards (ku), then into precincts (machi or cho) or subdistricts (shicho) and counties (gun).

Justice: Civil law system heavily influenced by British and American law. Independent judiciary consisting of Supreme Court, high courts, district courts, and family courts.

Politics: Although in 1994 no party had a majority, Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) had a sizable plurality, followed by Social Democratic Party of Japan (SDPJ). Other parties included: Sakigake (Harbinger) Party, Shinseito (Renewal Party), Komeito (Clean Government Party), and Japan New Party.

Foreign Affairs: Major aid donor to developing countries. Maintains diplomatic relations with virtually all countries of world. Closely aligned since World War II with United States policies but takes neutral and independent stand on some issues. Member of Asian Development Bank, Colombo Plan for Cooperative Economic and Social Development in Asia and the Pacific, International Whaling Commission, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the United Nations and its affiliated agencies, and a number of other international organizations.

Data as of January 1994