Japan. A brightening during the year seemed to be felt for Japan’s economy. Growth was reported in December to be 2% on an annual basis. Deflation was stopped and unemployment was stable at around 5%. The country retained its position as the world’s second largest economy after the United States. But ten years of slowing down has still kept Japan in a lull. However, the banks were still very weak, with huge loans outstanding.
According to Countryaah.com, Japan Independence Day is April 29. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s popularity persisted, but he must be low on economic reforms due to opposition in Parliament. In the hope of increased support, he announced new elections until November 9. The dividend was moderate. Koizumi’s party The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lost its absolute majority in parliament instead of strengthening it. The Prime Minister must retain his former coalition partners. The government now controls 277 of the lower house’s 480 members. The LDP received 237 seats – 12 less than before the election.
A dominant political factor was the cooperation with the United States, which still has 47,000 soldiers in the Japan Tokyo government supported the Iraq war, but four out of five Japanese opposed it. Parliament approved in July a decision to send 1,000 Japanese soldiers to Iraq for aid work. In November, however, the government postponed the departure after increased terror.
President George W. Bush visited Japan in October. He demonstrated cordial friendship with Koizumi, but also urged Japan to facilitate imports from the United States.
In January, Koizumi was in Russia, where he signed an agreement to build an oil pipeline from Siberia to the Pacific to reduce Japan’s dependence on Middle Eastern oil.
In the same month, Koizumi angered neighboring countries by honoring Japan’s war victims – among them convicted war criminals – for the third year in a row at the Yasukuni Temple. North Korea was a nail in the eye of Japan The Communist State tested two short-range robots in the spring. Self-defense force Japan, which is prohibited from waging war in the Constitution, responded by demanding a better missile defense system and received some support in Parliament. In December, the government purchased SM3 and PAC3 robots from the United States in defense of incoming missiles.
The Japanese live to a large extent single life, and the nativity remains low. Experts fear that the population will start to shrink in three years, which can cause problems with the livelihood of the many old people.
The Japanese companies have retained a number of principles, inherited from medieval traditions. The worker has a loyalty to his business that is comparable to the farmer’s loyalty to the family property. In today’s capitalist Japan, this gives rise to enormous discipline and productivity. However, the impressive development of the Japanese economy is due not only to this efficiency, but also to the investment policy towards other countries. However, the Japanese projects are also rapidly consuming the non-renewable natural resources, causing irreparable damage to the tropical rainforests and serious changes in Third World ecosystems. Japan imports more than 16 million cubic meters of tropical timber annually, resulting in massive clearing of forests in Malaysia,Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Papua New Guinea. Japan has also become a consumer of endangered species such as elephant tusks or whale and turtle meat.
The direct investment and credits provided by Japanese aid organizations to the Third World, both for road construction and scientific projects, are all guided by its interest in gaining better and cheaper access to these countries’ natural resources.
In modern Japan, achieving economic success has become the most important goal of the people’s lives. The family, the relaxation and the individual ideals are sacrificed for the benefit of the factory or company. Within this system, women play a minor role as the foundation of the home and children’s education. Japan is one of the countries where the social pressure for her to marry is greatest. 80% of women are married before the age of 30. By 50, 98% are married, widowed or divorced. Before and after this social mission, they can work outside the home. Often in second-rate jobs and poorly paid.
Despite this discrimination that has its roots in the country’s traditional culture, the Japanese woman actively participates in residents’ work – both in the cities and in the countryside – against the pollution of certain factories and nuclear power plants as well as in the defense of quality of life and popular consumer goods.
Japan continues to have some form of full employment, which threatens to lead to a labor shortage situation, which only exacerbates traditional Japanese resistance to immigration from the outside and the generally increasing life expectancy. In June 1990, a new immigration law was introduced, opening for the first time the Japanese labor market for foreign workers.
Although the United States continues to carry out the most important defense tasks for the country, Washington has been pushing since 1982 to increase Japanese defense spending – around 0.9% of GDP – and assumes greater security responsibilities in the Western Pacific.
Since the beginning of the 1950s, Japan had demanded 4 small islands returned from the Soviet Union on the grounds that they belonged to the Kuril Islands. Soviet Foreign Minister Edvard Shevardnadze’s visit to Tokyo in 1986 began a new phase in which the two countries committed to regular ministerial meetings and increased trade. In 1987, Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone made a journey through Eastern Europe – the first for a Japanese head of government. Three years later, during a trip in Europe, his successor, Toshiki Kaifu, declared his support for liberalization in Eastern Europe.
The stability of Southeast Asia is of fundamental importance to Japan, as an increasing proportion of its investment and foreign trade is dependent on this area from which it retrieves raw materials for its industrial production.
Architecture and cityscape
During the 1923 earthquake and the World War II bombings, almost all old buildings in Tokyo were destroyed. During the post-war period, the city has expanded unprecedentedly, and the boom has given some of today’s leading architects the opportunity to make their mark. Extreme architectural solutions combine garden art and landscape into a unit where water of some form is often included as an important element of the composition. One of the leading architects is Kenzo Tange. drew up the guidelines for the Olympic Village (1964) and the new town hall in the Shinjuku district (1991).
During the 1980s and 1990s, several projects were linked to traditional Japanese architecture. The Edo-Tokyo Museum by Kiyonori Kikutake (born 1928) has e. g. received its silhouette following the shape of traditional Japanese roofs, and in the Canadian Embassy Redevelopment Project, the architects include added a Japanese stone garden under the sloping glass roof. Also mentioned are the Tokyo University of Art and Design by Arata Isozaki, Ito House by Tadao Ando (born 1941) and Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Center by Mitsuro Senda ( born 1941), whose roof has been designed as a huge ocean wave.
Tokyo, meaning ‘Eastern Capital’, went to the Meiji restaurant in 1868 under the name Edo (older spelling Yedo). Settlement has taken place on the Tokyo plain since prehistoric times, but only in connection with the extensive civil wars during the 1400s and 1500s did the strategic importance of the area affect the population size. The castle of Edo, a precursor to today’s imperial palace, was built in the late 15th century. In 1590, daimyon Tokugawa Ieyasu was appointed county lord with his seat in Edo by Japan’s ruler Hideyoshi.
Since Tokugawa became shogun in 1603, he made Edo the capital of his empire; the imperial family moved from Kyoto into the shogun’s palace in 1869. During the more than 250 years until 1868, the population of Edo grew sharply, and a unique urban culture developed.
Most of Tokyo was destroyed in an earthquake in 1923, when 140,000 people were killed, mainly due to firestorms. An equally devastating destruction caused the Allied bombings during World War II. However, the reconstruction went remarkably fast, and already in the early 1950s Tokyo was again a lively metropolis. In 1964, the Tokyo Summer Olympics were held.