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Japan 4 Essay, Research Paper

Earthquakes are frequent in Japan. A survey showed that seismic disturbances, mostly of minor nature, occurred more than three times a day. Geological research has shown that, possibly under the continuous impact of these disturbances, the western coast of the Japanese islands is settling, while the Pacific coast is rising. The most disastrous earthquake in Japanese history occurred in 1923. It was centered in Sagami Bay and damaged Tokyo and Yokohama; about 150,000 people were killed by the earthquake and its aftermath. In January 1995 a strong earthquake struck below Awaji Island in +saka Bay. The most devastating effects occurred in K be, across the bay on Honsh . The quake left more than 5000 people dead, more than 25,000 people injured, and more than 300,000 people homeless.

The most important natural resources of Japan are primarily agricultural. Although cultivable

land is limited, Japan has among the highest crop yields, and the country produces about 71 percent of its food. Japan s large waterpower potential has been extensively developed, but mineral resources are limited. The country must import most of its mineral requirements.

The population of Japan is 125,688,711, yielding an overall population density of 333 persons per sq km (862 per sq mi). Some 78 percent of the people live in urban areas.

The Bank of Japan, established in 1882, is the central bank, acts as general revenue for the government, and is the sole issuer of currency. About 140 private commercial banks constitute the heart of the financial system. The Tokyo Stock Exchange is one of the world s leading securities markets. The basic unit of currency is the yen. (108.78 yen equal U.S.$1; 1996).

In the early 1990s about 18 percent of the annual national budget was allocated for social security purposes. A medical insurance system has been in effect in Japan since 1927. Self-employed people and employees in the private and public sectors are included under the medical plan.

Social welfare services have greatly expanded since World War II. The entire population is covered by various insurance systems. Most working people once retired at the age of 55, but an increasing life expectancy and government encouragement has extended the average age of retirement to 65. Health conditions are generally excellent. In 1997 life expectancy at birth was 77 years for men and 83 years for women; the infant mortality rate was a very low 4 per 1000 live births.

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