Japan is an island nation in East Asia located in the Pacific Ocean. The islands stretch between the Sea of Okhotsk, the Sea of Japan and the Philippine Sea. While the archipelago consists of 6,852 islands, 97% of the country’s population is concentrated on the four largest islands Honsu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shitoku.

Population estimate (2019): 126,967,394

Capital City: Tokyo, located on Honshu

Currency used: Japanese Yen

Gross National Income per capita (2012) (PPP international $): 37,630

Time zone: GMT + 9

Population growth rate (2019): –0.20%

Total fertility rate per woman: 1.41

Languages: Japanese is the official and most widely spoken language. Numerous dialects exist, and the Tokyo dialect is considered standard Japanese. The indigenous language Ryukyuan is also widely spoken. Common foreign languages spoken are English, Russian and German.

Key ethnic groups: Approximately 98.5% of the population is of Japanese ethnicity. The largest native ethnic group is the Yamoto people; the Ainu and Ryukyuan people are the largest indigenous minority groups. The largest groups of foreign workers are Koreans, Chinese, Brazilians and Peruvians.

Religion: Shinto and Buddhism are the most practiced religions in Japan.

Literacy: 99%

Climate: Generally Japan has a temperate marine climate with distinct seasonal changes and some regional variation. The north of Japan is cold and snowy in the winter, while the central regions are temperate and the southern regions almost tropical. There is no real dry season, but summer is the rainiest season. In Tokyo (and most other areas in Honshu) winters are mild and summers warm and wet. The average temperature in Tokyo during the hottest month (August) is 26ºc and 5ºc in the coldest month (January). Typhoons are common, usually in August and September.

Healthcare system


The standard of healthcare facilities in Japan is very high; hospitals and clinics are in good condition and usually have the latest and most advanced technology and equipment. There are both private and public hospitals and clinics, but they are all required by law to be run as non-profit and managed by physicians.

Japan has universal health care, which is financed through taxes. All citizens are required by law to have health insurance coverage. Medical fees are strictly regulated by the government to ensure affordability and relative equality of access.  Under the National Health Insurance System the government pays 70% of medical costs and patients the remaining 30%. The plan fully covers screening examinations for some diseases, infectious disease control and prenatal care.

Although healthcare professionals in Japan are highly skilled, it is estimated that around 92% of Japan’s hospitals has an insufficient number of physicians.

Health statistics:

Life expectancy at birth (2016): 81/87 (male/female)

Probability of dying between 15 and 60 years: 65/36 (per 1000 population, 2016)

Total expenditure on health per capita (2014): $3,727

Number of doctors per 1000 population: 2.3

Nursing and midwifery personnel density (per 1000 population, 2014): 11.24

Neonatal mortality rate (per 1000 live births, 2017): 0.9

Maternal mortality ratio (per 100.000 live births, 2015): 5

Births attended by skilled health personnel (2015): 99.9%

Top 10 causes of death:

Coronary heart disease: 155,766 people / 14.51% of total

Influenza & pneumonia: 145,866 / 13.58%

Stroke: 130,159 / 12.12%

Lung cancers: 78,151 / 7.28

Colon-rectum cancers: 54,504 / 5.07%

Lung disease: 51,264 / 4.77%

Kidney disease: 35,771 / 3.33%

Pancreas cancer: 33,204 / 309%

Liver cancer: 32,389 / 3.02%