Japanese F1 Grand Prix

13.10.2019 | Suzuka - Suzuka Int. Racing Course

Key Facts

Location: Far East.

Area: 377,915 sq km (145,914 sq miles).

Population: 126,919,659 (2015).

Population Density: 335.8 per sq km.

Capital: Tokyo.

Government: Constitutional monarchy.

Geography: The archipelago of Japan is separated from the Asian mainland by 160km (100 miles) of sea and split into four main islands: Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku. About 70% of the country is covered by hills and mountains, a number of which are active or dormant volcanoes, including Mount Fuji, Japan's highest peak, reaching 3,776m (12,388ft). Japan sits on major seismic fault lines and is susceptible to frequent earthquakes.

A series of mountain ranges runs from northern Hokkaido to southern Kyushu. The Japanese Alps (the most prominent range) run in a north-south direction through central Honshu. Lowlands and plains are small and scattered, mostly lying along the coast, and composed of alluvial lowlands and diluvial uplands. The coastline is very long in relation to the land area, and has very varied features, for example, the deeply indented bays with good natural harbours tend to be adjacent to mountainous terrain. Many of Japan’s major cities are located on the coastline, and have extremely high population density.

Language: Japanese is the official language. Some English is spoken in Tokyo and other large cities but is less usual in rural areas. There are many regional dialects and there are distinct differences in the intonation and pronunciation between eastern and western Japan.

Religion: Shintoism and Buddhism (most Japanese follow both religions, although religion does not play a major everyday role in most Japanese lives). Marriages are traditionally conducted at Shinto shrines and funerals at Buddhist temples. There is a Christian minority.

Time: GMT + 9.

Social Conventions: Japanese manners and customs are vastly different from those of Western people. A strict code of behaviour and politeness is recognised and followed by almost everyone. However, Japanese people do not expect visitors to be familiar with all their customs but do expect them to behave formally and politely.

A straightforward refusal traditionally does not form part of Japanese etiquette, and a vague 'yes' does not always mean 'yes'. (The visitor may be comforted to know that confusion caused by non-committal replies occurs between the Japanese themselves.)

When entering a Japanese home or restaurant, shoes must be removed. Bowing is the customary greeting but handshaking is becoming more common for business meetings with Westerners. The honorific suffix san should be used when addressing all men and women; for instance Mr Yamada would be addressed as Yamada-san.

Table manners are very important, although the Japanese host will be very tolerant towards a visitor. However, it is best if visitors familiarise themselves with basic table etiquette and use chopsticks. Exchange of gifts is also a common business practice and may take the form of souvenir items such as company pens, ties or high-quality spirits.

Electricity: 100 volts AC, 60Hz in the west (Osaka); 100 volts AC, 50Hz in eastern Japan and Tokyo. Plugs have two flat pins.

Head of Government: Prime Minister ShinzÅ Abe since 2012.

Head of State: Emperor Akihito since 1989.

Recent History: Influence from the outside world followed by long periods of isolation have characterised Japan's history.

In the feudal era (12th-19th century), a new ruling class of warriors emerged: the samurai. One of the most famous and successful samurai, Oda Nobunaga, conquered numerous other warlords and had almost unified Japan when he was assassinated in 1582. Toyotomi Hideyoshi succeeded him and united the land in 1590 but open war broke out following his death.

Tokugawa Ieyasu defeated all rival clans in the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 and was appointed shogun (ruler of Japan). The Tokugawa shogunate began the isolationist sakoku (locked country) policy that spanned the two and a half centuries of tenuous political unity known as the Edo period.

In 1854, the US Navy forced the opening of Japan to the outside world. Ensuing economic and political crises led to the Boshin War and the establishment of a centralised state unified under the name of the Emperor (Meiji Restoration).

The Meiji Restoration transformed Japan into an industrialised world power that embarked on a number of military conflicts to expand the nation's sphere of influence, including two Sino-Japanese Wars (1894-1895 and 1937-1945) and the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905).

On 7 December 1941, Japan attacked the US naval base in Pearl Harbor. This act brought the USA into WWII and, on 8 December, the USA, UK and Netherlands declared war on Japan. After the devastating atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, Japan surrendered on 15 August. The war cost Japan millions of lives and left much of the country's industry and infrastructure destroyed. 

Japan later achieved exceptional growth to become one of the world's most powerful economies.

In 2009, Yukio Hatoyama led the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), the main opposition party, to victory and became Prime Minister, defeating the long-governing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which had been in power almost continually since 1955. However, Mr Hatoyama resigned less than a year later after failing to implement an election pledge to move the US base off Okinawa. Fellow DPJ member Naoto Kan was elected Prime Minister in June 2010 and promised he would continue the programme of reform set out by his predecessor.


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