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Asia's Turning Point: An Introduction to Asia's Dynamic Economies at the Dawn of the New Century by Philippe Debroux, Ivan Tselichtchev

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20

Japan: Forgotten Giant

A Few Basics

Japan’s population of 128 million is the third largest in East Asia after China and Indonesia. In terms of nominal gross domestic product (GDP) the national economy remains the second largest in the world after the US. By GDP (purchasing power parity (PPP)) Japan ranks third—between China and India. In 2007, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in terms of per-capita GDP (PPP), it ranked twenty-fourth, below Germany and above France.

The main islands of Japan are Hokkaido, Honshu (the biggest island where Tokyo and most other major cities are located), Shikoku, Kyushu, and Okinawa. Administratively, the country is divided into 47 prefectures. The geographical (not administrative) regions are Hokkaido, Tohoku, Koshinetsu, Kanto (including Tokyo), Hokuriku, Tokai (including Nagoya), Kinki (also called Kansai, and including Osaka plus the two ancient capitals of Kyoto and Nara), Chugoku, Shikoku, Kyushu, and Okinawa. The population and economic activities are very highly concentrated in the Kanto region (Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, and Saitama prefectures account for more than one-third of the total population). In relative terms, the north and the very south are lagging behind in their economic development, and the Sea of Japan coastal region is less developed than the Pacific coast.

Japan does not have significant mineral resources. On the industrial front, the country maintains an almost full set of manufacturing and service sectors, ...

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