Japan in the 21st Century
Environment, Economy, and Society
Publication Year: 2004
Published by: The University Press of Kentucky
JAPAN IN THE 21ST CENTURY
List of Maps and Figures
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Preface and Acknowledgments
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Japan stands as one of the more intriguing nations in Asia. Despite Japan's important role as the second-largest economy in the world and a major trading and strategic partner of the United States, geographic studies of Japan in the United States have been relatively scarce. The standard English-language geography, Japan: A Geography, by Glenn Trewartha, ...
1. Japan at the Crossroads: Grappling with Changes
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Japan. The name evokes thoughts of electronics, dials, lights, and numbers. This ancient civilization, with its Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples, is closely associated with all that is new and modern in our times. Looking outward, Japan sees what it has become since Hiroshima: a source of fury and wonder, the world's second-largest economy, a power without arms. ...
2. Environmental Challenges and Constraints
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What challenges and constraints does the natural environment offer to Japan? What is the influence of nature on the country's society and culture? What impact will the environmental challenges have on Japan's role in the twenty-first century? The Japanese dwell in a dynamic and ever-shifting, even though restricted, natural setting, from cold northern ...
3. The Cultural Heritage
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Because of the acidic volcanic soils of the archipelago, fossils of early humans have rarely been preserved in Japan, but the few fossils of early Homo sapiens that are available indicate that the people were short and had flat faces. The characteristics of the fossils are similar to those found in southern China, and thus the mainland of Asia is the area of origin of the Japanese ...
4. Japanese Landscapes
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The landscape of Japan is extremely complex and intricately organized. It records the occupancy by a culturally distinct and dynamic society of an archipelago bordering the earth's largest continent and on the brink of an ocean trench 35,000 feet (10,668 m) deep! Great tectonic plates collide in this zone, resulting in earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, ...
5. Regional Reality
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Often Japan is described as a homogeneous island nation, but in reality it consists of distinctive constituent regions, each with a unique character. On a broader scale there are differences between eastern and western Japan (Nakamura 1980), between the seat of political and economic power in central Honshu and the outlying peripheral areas (Sugimoto ...
6. Demographic and Social Challenges
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Japan faces a number of demographic challenges as it enters the twenty-first centuryâfalling birthrates, an aging society, shortage of laborâand social problems involving homelessness, minority groups, gender discrimination, and social welfare services. In this chapter the geographic dimension of these challenges and Japan's approach to them are analyzed. It is ...
7. Rural Landscape, Settlements, and Agriculture
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The nature of Japanese agriculture, farm villages, and the countryside has changed radically during the pat half century. Rice continues to be a staple crop, but truck gardening for the urban market has grown in importance. Quality- and labor-intensive production is much more significant. Apples, grapes, strawberries, and other fruits are produced in increasing ...
8. Urban Settlements
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Because Japanese cities have grown at different times (over several centuries), in different geographic regions, and in varied economic settings, they reflect diverse characteristics. Specific features of site and topography influence the form of the city. However, despite intraregional and interregional variations, recurrent national patterns of urbanization are, in ...
9. The Political Challenge
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Japan's political system is one of the most controversial areas in contemporary research. The basic nature of the system is hotly contested. There are three main models: (1) some scholars, such as Edwin Reischauer, have argued that Japan is an advanced democratic system characterized by unity derived from its Confucian past and strongly influenced by ...
10. The Economic Challenge
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Japan has the second-largest market economy in the world, with an aggregate output of more than $4.8 trillion. The per capital gross national product (GNP) was $38,000 in 1997, as compared to $29,000 in the United States. However, once corrections are made for Japan's high cost of housing and various goods, the effective per capita GNP in terms of purchasing ...
11. Development and Restructuring of Industry
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In comparing Japan's history of industrialization and modernization with that of the West, several important differences stand out. In the first place, the process of modernization took place over a much longer period of time in the West. Western capitalism first appeared about five hundred years ago; then the Industrial Revolution occurred in Britain starting about ...
12. Postindustrial Japan
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Since the mod-1970s, when manufacturing employment began to decline, a major transformation has been ushering Japan from the3 industrial into the postindustrial era. The passage into postindustrial society is marked by structural shifts from the production of goods to the provision of services and by the growing importance of technology and information ...
13. The Challenge of Environmental Preservation
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Environmental degradation in Japan has accompanied the development of modern industry since the Meiji period. Environmental problems caused by drainage from the refineries at the Ashio Copper Mine in Tochigi Prefecture, operated by the Furukawa Company, go back to 1878. The provoked intense political struggles in the period 1890 to 1905. ...
14. Facing the Challenges
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As Japan enters the twenty-first century, the country faces several critical challenges to realize the great potential that the new era holds. Earlier chapters of this book have highlighted realities of contemporary Japan and the environmental, social, demographic, political, and economic challenges facing the Nation. Reforms are required in order to meet the needs of ...
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Page Count: 416
Publication Year: 2004