Japan is made up of four main islands, Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu. There are also many smaller islands. The islands have rugged mountains with smaller areas of plains near the coast, where most of the cities are found.
Area: 377,800 sq km
Coastline: 29,751 km
Climate: Varies from tropical in the south to cool temperate in the north.
Relief: Mostly rugged and mountainous
Natural resources: Negligible minerals, fish.
Land use: Arable 13%; grassland 2%; forest 67%
Hazards: Volcanoes, tsunami, typhoons
Population: 125.9 million
Population density: 334 people per sq km
Birth rate: 10 births per 1000
Death rate: 7 deaths per 1000
Infant mortality: 4.3 deaths per 1000 live births
Employment: 99% of workplace employs fewer than 300
Main companies: Toyota, Mitsubishi, Fuji
Products: electrical appliances; cars; motorcycles; shipping
Crime: one of the lowest rates in the world.
Hokkaido has a very low population density, 0 – 74 per sq km. This is because the land is High, steep and rugged. This makes agriculture, transport and manufacturing very hard so people choose not to live there.
Honshu is split into five regions, In the north, Tohoku is sparsely populated because it is hilly and mountainous, and the climate is harsher than the rest of the island. Kanto, in the east is densely populated this is because the land around the coastal area is less mountainous so transport and settlement is made easier. This is where the major cities are and a population density of over 1000 per sq km. Chubu has a population density of 75 – 249 per sq km. This is low because it is very mountainous and where the major volcanoes are situated. Kinki and Chugoku in the south are densely populated especially in the main cities of Hiroshima and Osaka.
Most of the population of Shikoku lives in the north where farming is popular. The main cities are in the north. There is a population density of 250 – 499 per sq km in the north and 75 – 249 per sq km in the south.
Kyushu is sparsely populated through the centre of the island due to the Kyushu mountains that run through making settlement difficult. It more densely populated at the north coast and the south coast where the population density is approx 250 – 999 per sq km.
The population of Japan is increasing every year. The natural increase is 3 people per 1000. This is because the birth rate is higher than the death rate.
Age composition between 1920 and 1995
In 1920 the population of 15-64 year olds was just under 60% and was reasonably level until 1955 when it rose to nearly 70% by 1965 and levelled off by 1995. The population of under 15 year olds was about 35% in 1920 and was level until 1950 when it started to decrease to 25% in 1970, it stayed like that till 1980 then decreased to 20% by 1995. A number of factors contributed to the trend toward small families: late marriage, increased participation of women in the labour force, small living spaces, and the high costs of children’s education. Life expectancies at birth, 76.4 years for males and 82.2 years for women in 1993, were the highest in the world.
The population of people over 65 years was just above 5% in 1920 and was level till about 1955 when it gradually started to risen 20% by 1995.The aging population was brought about by a combination of low fertility and high life expectancies.