Glossary -- Japan

Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)
Established in 1967 to foster cooperation in food production, industry and commerce, civil aviation, shipping, tourism, communications, meteorology, science and technology, and Southeast Asian studies. The charter members were Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. Brunei was admitted in 1984. Papua New Guinea has observer status.
Bretton Woods System
A structure of fixed exchange rates developed at the 1944 Bretton Woods Conference, which established the International Monetary Fund (q.v.) and the World Bank (q.v.). The Bretton Woods System was in effect until 1971.
Literally, the way of the warrior (samurai), a term applied to the principles of loyalty and honor; a code of stoic endurance, scorn of danger and death, religious worship of country and sovereign, and proper social relationships; an aesthetic life- style.
The national legislature. From 1890 to 1947, known as the Imperial Diet (in Japanese, Teikoku Gikai) with an appointed House of Peers and elected House of Representatives. Since 1947 has been known as the National Diet, or Diet (in Japanese, Kokkai), with a House of Councillors and House of Representatives, both of which are elected. The word "diet" comes from the Latin dies (day), a reference to the period of time for which a court or assembly met. The word has been used as the English name for the Japanese legislature since 1890.
fiscal year (FY)
April 1 through March 31.
General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)
An international instrument, under United Nations auspices, establishing rules of trade accepted by countries responsible for most of the world's trade; came into effect in 1948. Since 1968 has operated in conjunction with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) to provide information and training on export markets, marketing techniques, and trade policy issues. GATT members have met in a series of "rounds" for multilateral trade negotiations since 1964.
Gross domestic product (GDP)
The total value of all final (consumption and investment) goods and services produced by an economy in a given period, usually a year.
Gross national product (GNP)
Consists of GDP (q.v.) plus income from overseas investments minus the earnings of foreign investors in the home economy.
International Monetary Fund (IMF)
Established along with the World Bank (q.v.) in 1945, the IMF is a specialized agency affiliated with the United Nations and is responsible for stabilizing international exchange rates and payments. The main business of the IMF is the provision of loans to its members (including industrialized and developing countries) when they experience balance of payments difficulties. These loans frequently carry conditions that require substantial internal economic adjustments by the recipients, most of which are developing countries.
Privately established schools that teach either academic or nonacademic subjects. Academic juku offer tutorial, enrichment, remedial, and examination preparatory classes that supplement regular school work. Most hold classes after school and/or on weekends.
Nihon (or Nippon)
Japanese term for Japan, based on the two Chinese ideographs (riben in pinyin romanization), meaning source of the sun. The official pronunciation, as designated by the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science, is Nippon (or in full, Nippon Koku--Nippon country). The common pronunciation in everyday usage, however, is Nihon (Nihon Koku). The use of the term "Nihon" antedates Prince Shotoku's seventh-century reference to himself as the Son of Heaven of the Land of the Rising Sun and possibly dates from the establishment of the Nihon-fu (Japan Office) in the Yamato (q.v.) colony in southern Korea that served as a liaison office of the Yamato court to the Chinese court, probably as early as the sixth century. Marco Polo (or his scribe) referred to present-day Japan as Cipingu (Ribenguo in pinyin romanization), which has variously appeared as Cipangu, Jipangu, and Jipan, from which the current spelling of Japan undoubtedly descends.
Organisation for Economic Co- operation and Development (OECD)
Established in 1961 to promote economic and social welfare among member countries by assisting them in the formulation and coordination of policy and to promote their support of developing nations. Members are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Federal Republic of Germany, Finland, France, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and the United States.
Originally, a "wave person," or a masterless samurai who has left the service of his lord, either by choice or forced circumstances, and serves others with his bold and sometimes desperate deeds. In contemporary Japan, a student who has failed the entrance examination to the institution of choice and has chosen to spend an additional year or more in study to take the examination again.
either voluntary (to expiate serious failure) or obligatory suicide (instead of execution) to regain one's honor in death. A privilege reserved for the samurai class. Commonly referred to as hara-kiri.
World Bank
Informal name used to designate a group of four affiliated international institutions that provide advice and assistance on long-term finance and policy issues to developing countries: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the International Development Association (IDA), the International Finance Corporation (IFC). and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA). The IBRD, established in 1945, has as its primary purpose the provision of loans at market-related rates of interest to developing countries at more advanced stages of development. The IDA, a legally separate loan fund but administered by the staff of the IBRD, was set up in 1960 to furnish credits to the poorest developing countries on much easier terms than those of conventional IBRD loans. The IFC, founded in 1956, supplements the activities of the IBRD through loans and assistance designed to encourage the growth of productive private enterprises in the less developed countries. The president and certain senior officers of the IBRD hold the same positions in the IFC. The MIGA, which began operating in 1988, insures private foreign investment in developing countries against various noncommercial risks. The four institutions are owned by the governments of the countries that subscribe their capital. To participate in the World Bank group, member states must first belong to the International Monetary Fund (IMF--q.v.).
Refers to the country of Japan or things Japanese, such as yamato-e (Japanese painting) and to the ancient court from which the imperial family arose. The Yamato court was situated either in modern Nara Prefecture, from the early fourth century A.D., or in northern Kyushu, starting perhaps in the early third century A.D.
yen (¥)
The national currency, in coins of 1, 5, 10, and 100 yen and notes of 500, 1,000, 5,000, and 10,000 yen. From 1945 to 1971, the Japanese yen was in fixed parity with the United States dollar at ¥360=US$1. After a period of adjustment during the financial crises of the 1971-73 period, the value has floated according to movements in the international capital markets. The exchange rate in December 1993 was ¥110=US$1. Fluctuations in recent years have been considerable, producing exchange rates for US$1 of ¥147 (August 1990), ¥142 (August 1989), ¥134 (August 1988), ¥149 (August 1987), ¥155 (August 1986), and ¥239 (August 1985).
A type of private school that specializes in preparing high- school graduates for university-entrance examinations, often through intensive full-time programs.
Literally, "wealth group." Zaibatsu were powerful industrial or financial combines that merged during the Meiji era and were implicated in the militarist regimes of the 1930s and 1940s. They were an amalgamation of sometimes hundreds of businesses controlled by a holding company owned by a single family. The major zaibatsu were Mitsui, Mitsubishi, Sumimoto, and Yasuda. The zaibatsu were abolished in 1945 and 1946. After 1947, numerous companies formerly controlled by zaibatsu came together as keiretsu (enterprise groups)--conglomerates no longer controlled by a single family and whose individual member companies had greater autonomy than they had had as part of a zaibatsu.