Japan is one of the world's leading industrial and trading nations to develop a technologically advanced industrial economy. It is a small country compared with such nations as the United States.
The dominant ethinic group is the Japanese, a Mongoloid people. The Japanese have developed a culture that was strongly influenced between the 3d and 10th century. Spoken Japanese was a long considered a unique language but now is now known to bear a strong association with Korean. Written Japanese is complex, being derived from Chinese. The Kato dailect, spoken in the Tokyo area, is considered standard spoken japanese.
Forest cover about 70% of the total land area and more than 60% of each of the four main islands. Natural vegetation is also widely interspersed with exotics includind bamboo, and camphor. Reforested areas are mostly planted with conifers, and these forest now account for one-third of the total wooded area.
Japan produces a wide range of metallic minerals. Extensive deposits of low-grade coal are located on northwesternKyushu. Nonmetallic minerals include clay and large amounts of gypsum.
The entire population is literate, and education is free and compulsory for all children between the ages of 6 and 15. Education after the age 15 is a matter of individual choice, but more than 90% of all students, male and female, continue to high school. The higher-education system includes about 450 colleges and 500 universities. Admission to most schools is highly competitive and based on performance in entrance examinations.
Japan is a constitutional monarchy, with a hereditary empreror and a parlimentary system of the government. Thde present constitution was adopted on Oct.7, 1946, became effective on May 3, 1947. Judical powers rest with the supreme court.