Japan Demographics

What is the population of Japan?

Population 125,507,472
Population Growth Rate -0.1%
Urban Population 91.3%
Population in Major Urban Areas TOKYO (capital) 37.217 million; Osaka-Kobe 11.494 million; Nagoya 3.328 million; Fukuoka-Kitakyushu 2.868 million; Sapporo 2.742 million; Sendai 2.428 million
Nationality Noun Japanese (singular and plural)
Nationality Adjective Japanese
Ethnic Groups Japanese 98.5%, Koreans 0.5%, Chinese 0.4%, other 0.6%

note: up to 230,000 Brazilians of Japanese origin migrated to Japan in the 1990s to work in industries; some have returned to Brazil
Languages Spoken Japanese
Language Note Japanese is the official language. The Japanese place great value on nonverbal language or communication. For example, much can be said with a proper bow. In fact, one is often expected to sense another person’s feelings on a subject without verbal communication. Westerners often misinterpret this as a Japanese desire to be vague or incomplete. The Japanese may consider a person’s inability to interpret feelings through body language as insensitivity.

Japan Health Information

What are the health conditions in Japan?

Contraceptive Prevalance Rate - female 15-49 54.3%
Contraceptive Prevalence - note note: percent of women aged 20-49
Death Rate - deaths/1,000 population 9.27
Drinking Water Source - percent of rural population improved 100%
Drinking Water Source - percent of urban population improved 100%
Health Expenditures - percent of GDP 9.3%
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate 0.07%
HIV/Aids Deaths 90
Hospital Bed Density - beds/1,000 population 13.7
Infant Mortality Rate - female deaths/1,000 live births 1.92
Infant Mortality Rate - male deaths/1,000 live births 2.4
Infant Mortality Rate - total deaths/1,000 live births 2.17
Maternal Mortality Rate - deaths/100,000 live births 5
Mean Age for Mother's First Birth 29.4
Obesity - adult prevalence rate 5%
People Living with HIV/AIDS 8,100
Physicians Density - physicians/1,000 population 2.14
Sanitation Facility Access - percent of urban population improved 100%
Sanitation Facitlity Access - percent of rural population improved 100%
Total Fertility Rate - children born/woman 1.39

Japan Life Expectancy

How long do people live in Japan?

Life Expectancy at Birth 84 Years
Life Expectancy at Birth - female 87 Years
Life Expectancy at Birth - male 80 Years
Median Age 45 Years
Median Age - female 47 Years
Median Age - male 44 Years

Japan Infant Mortality - per 1,000 live births

Japan median age, birth rate and death rates

Birth Rate - births/1,000 population 8
Death Rate - deaths/1,000 population 9.27
Median Age 45 Years
Median Age - female 47 Years
Median Age - male 44 Years
Population Growth Rate -0.1%
Sex Ratio 0-14 Years - male/female 1.07
Sex Ratio 15-24 Years - male/female 1.09
Sex Ratio 25-54 Years - male/female .98
Sex Ratio 55-64 Years - male/female .94
Sex Ratio at Birth - male/female 1.06
Sex Ratio of Total Population - male/female .95
Sex Ratio Over 64 Years - male/female .76

Japan Medical Information

What are the health conditions in Japan?

Medical Facilities and Health Information

While medical care in Japan is good, English-speaking physicians and medical facilities that cater to U.S. citizens’ expectations are expensive and not widespread. Japan has a national health insurance system which is available only to those foreigners with long-term visas for Japan. National health insurance does not pay for medical evacuation. Medical caregivers in Japan require payment in full at the time of treatment or concrete proof of ability to pay before they will treat a foreigner who is not a member of the national health insurance plan.

U.S.-style and standard psychiatric care can be difficult to locate in major urban centers in Japan and generally is not available outside of Japan's major cities. Extended psychiatric care for foreigners in Japan is difficult to obtain at any price.

U.S. prescriptions are not honored in Japan, so if you need ongoing prescription medicine you should arrive with a sufficient supply for your stay in Japan or enough until you are able to see a local care provider. Certain medications, including some commonly prescribed for depression and Attention Deficient Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), are not widely available.

Japan Education

What is school like in Japan?

Education Expenditures - percent of GDP 3.8%
Literacy - female 99%
Literacy - male 99%
Literacy - total population 99%
Literacy Definition age 15 and over can read and write
School Life Expectancy - female 15 Years
School Life Expectancy - male 15 Years
Total School Life Expectancy - (primary to tertiary) 15 Years

Japan Literacy

Can people in Japan read?

Literacy - female 99%
Literacy - male 99%
Literacy - total population 99%
Literacy Definition age 15 and over can read and write
Predominant Language Japanese

Japan Learning

What is school like in Japan?

Classroom

The school system in Japan is free to students from ages 6 through 14. After that, many attend private high schools to prepare for college entrance exams. These schools can be quite expensive but are the best way to ensure that a student can get accepted to the school he or she wants.

Menus for lunch will vary according to the region of the country the school is in, but some foods are typical throughout most of the country. Examples of these might be rice (which can be served at most meals), soup, tofu stew, assorted vegetables, frozen yogurt, and milk. The student’s family pays about one-third of the price of lunch, at the government pays for the rest, although financial help is available to low-income families. Some students bring lunch from home. Common foods in home lunches are cold rice balls, grilled fish, and pickled vegetables. Regardless of whether a student eats a prepared lunch from home or at the school cafeteria, it is an important part of the daily experience at school, and educators and parents alike understand that a healthy lunch will help the students do better in school.

All teachers teach the same material throughout the country from the same books, which have been approved by the Japanese government. Some teachers feel that while this gives all students the same education, it does not allow the teachers much creativity in how they teach. The classes can be quite large, in fact it is not unusual to have as many as 40 students in each class.

It is also interesting to learn that students help to clean up the school and gardens, organizing lunch, and cleaning up after lunch. This helps them to develop responsibility. In general, Japanese schools place more emphasis on teaching moral values and good character traits than schools in other countries.

Education Culture

Japanese culture places a very high value on education, especially for boys. Success in higher education is usually measured by the reputation of the university that the student attends. As you can imagine, children begin very young to prepare to enter the best universities, and parents often work very hard to help their students get into good schools by ensuring that they work hard in younger grades of school and get good grades.

School is required for children until the age of 15, but most stay in school until they are 18. In Japan, education is the best way to eventually get a good paying job.

Children attend school five days a week and half a day on two Saturdays each month. The school year runs from April through the end of March of the next year, with a relatively short vacation from late July through August. There is also a two-week break in the spring and another two-week break in the fall. Students spend 240 days a year in school, 60 more than students in the United States.

The grade levels of Japanese schools might seem familiar to people who know schools in the United States. This is because the Japanese government modeled their schools somewhat after those in the United States following World War II. Primary school is for students from 6 to 11 years of age. Most students aged 12 through 14 attend the next level of school, which is equivalent to American junior high school. Education is free for students attending public schools from the ages of 6 through 14. During the last two years of junior high, many students focus on getting into a high school with a reputation of sending its students on to top universities. Many of the top high schools in the country are expensive private schools that require their students to pass a challenging and difficult exam to even get into their school. Students in these two grades spend hours every day after school studying and taking practice tests to prepare them for the entrance exams for high school.

In Japan, teachers have a higher social ranking than in many other countries. They are also paid quite well. Because of this, it is harder to get a job as a teacher in Japan than in most other countries of the world.

Learning

Most students in Japan wear a uniform when attending school, usually a black or navy jacket with matching shorts or skirt for girls and slacks for boys.  Japanese children go to school five days a week. Twice a month they attend school on Saturday. Some schools even make boys shave their heads. Working together is very important to Japanese people. Students learn teamwork. Everyday they clean their school. They keep the rooms, halls, toilets, and yards neat. Students must pass a difficult test to get into high school.  In the afternoon, many students have only an hour or two of free time before they go to juku or private cram school. At juku students get individual help with their schoolwork. Juku is usually attended by students in junior or senior high school who are preparing for university entrance exams. 

The national Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology controls what courses students will study. Common subjects for students to study in both primary and junior high school are art, math, moral education, homemaking, music, science, social studies, and physical education. They also spend much time studying Japanese. Japan has a very high literacy rate, which means that most people in Japan can read and write relatively well, even though the language is quite difficult to learn, especially the hundreds of characters in their “alphabet.”

School attendance is very high: 100% in elementary school, 100% in junior high, 98% in high school, and 47% at the university level.

Because the Japanese school system is so challenging, some experts have said that graduation from a Japanese high school is roughly the same as having two years of college in America.

To School

Students often walk, ride bikes, or ride public transportation, depending on the distance from the school and individual circumstances. For some students in high school who must travel to the school they feel will best help them to get into a good university, this means up to two or more hours each day on public transportation. School begins at 8:30 in the morning, and ends at 3:00 in the afternoon, although many students will stay at the school until 5:00 or 6:00 to participate in sports or other activities. This means that most students do not get home from school each day until shortly after sunset, and then they must still eat dinner and spend time doing homework.

Japan Crime

Is Japan a safe place to visit?

Crime Information

The general crime rate in Japan is well below the U.S. national average. Crimes against U.S. citizens in Japan usually involve personal disputes, theft, or vandalism. Violent crime is rare, but it does exist. Sexual assaults are not often reported, but they do occur, and females may be randomly targeted. Hate-related violent crimes rarely occur, although some U.S. citizens have reported being the target of comments or actions because of their nationality or their race. U.S. citizens have reported incidents of pick pocketing in crowded shopping areas, on trains, and at airports. Every year, a number of U.S. citizens report their passports lost or stolen at international airports, especially passports that were carried in their pockets. Robberies committed after a victim has been drugged or “drink spiked” are increasing (see below).

Some U.S. citizens report that Japanese police procedures appear to be less sensitive and responsive to a victim's concerns compared to the procedures in the United States, particularly in cases of domestic violence or sexual assault, or when both the victim and the perpetrator are foreigners. Few victim's assistance resources or battered women's shelters exist in major urban areas, and they are generally unavailable in rural areas. Investigations of sexual assault crimes are often conducted without female police officers present, and police typically ask about the victim's sexual history and previous relationships. The quality of Japanese-English interpretation services can vary, and for some U.S. citizen victims, this has caused a problem.

Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are such goods illegal in the United States, if you purchase them you may also be breaking local law.

Concerns Regarding Roppongi and other Entertainment and Nightlife Districts in Tokyo:

Roppongi is an entertainment district in Tokyo that caters to foreign clientele and is considered a high-risk area for crime, particularly misappropriation of credit card information in bars to make fraudulent credit card charges. Other high-risk areas for crime in the Tokyo area include Shinjuku (especially the area of Kabuki-cho), Shibuya, and Ikebukuro. However, you should use caution in all entertainment and nightlife districts throughout Japan. Incidents involving U.S. citizens in these areas include physical and sexual assaults, drug overdoses, theft of purses, wallets, cash and credit cards at bars or clubs, and drugs allegedly slipped into drinks.

Drink-spiking at bars and entertainment venues, especially in areas such as Roppongi and Kabuki-cho, near Shinjuku, has routinely led to robbery and has also resulted in physical and sexual assaults. In most drink-spiking reports, the victim unknowingly drinks a beverage that has been mixed with a drug that makes the victim unconscious or dazed for several hours, during which time the victim’s credit card is used for large purchases or the card is stolen. Some victims regain consciousness in the bar or club; other victims may awaken on the street or in other unknown locations. Several U.S. citizens have also reported being charged exorbitant bar tabs in some bars and clubs in Roppongi and other entertainment and nightlife districts. Although firearms and brandishing knives in public are illegal in Japan, there have been reports by U.S. citizens of being threatened with gun or knife violence in such venues in order to force them to pay bar tabs or withdraw money. There have also been reports of beatings of U.S. citizens who have refused to pay or hand over money.

There have been recent reports of U.S. citizens being forcibly taken to ATM machines and robbed, or to withdraw funds after being unable to pay exhorbitant bar tabs. Please be aware that Roppongi and other entertainment and nightlife districts have also been the scenes of violence between criminal syndicates in the past. In 2012, a member of a Japanese criminal organization was beaten to death in a bar in Roppongi by several masked men.

We urge you to keep these incidents in mind and use caution in all entertainment areas and nightlife districts. Some travelers have reported that their credit cards have been unreasonably over-charged without their knowledge in these areas. If you believe that you are a victim of crime, you must file a police report at the nearest police station before you leave Japan. The Japanese police do not provide you a copy of the police report, but rather issue a report number. You can provide this report number to your credit card company in order to confirm the incident with the police. The Japanese police cannot accept reports filed from overseas by phone or email.

Japan Penalties for Crime

Criminal Penalties

While you are traveling in another country, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own. In Japan, you may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport or Japanese residence card to show your identity and visa status. Driving under the influence could also land you immediately in jail. If you violate Japanese law, even unknowingly, you may be arrested, imprisoned, or deported. If you are arrested in Japan, even for a minor offense, you may be held in detention without bail for several months or more during the investigation and legal proceedings. A list of English-speaking lawyers located throughout Japan is available on our website. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States, and you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods or purchase child pornography. While you are overseas, U.S. laws don’t apply. If you do something illegal in your host country, you are subject to the laws of the country even though you are a U.S. citizen. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not wherever you go.

Illegal Drugs: Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs, including marijuana, are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and fines. In most drug cases, suspects are detained and barred from receiving visitors or corresponding with anyone other than a lawyer or a U.S. consular officer until after the first hearing, which at times has taken a year to take place. Solitary confinement is common.

You could be convicted of drug use based on positive blood or urine tests alone, and several U.S. citizens are now serving time in Japanese prisons as the result of sting operations that used informants. The Japanese police routinely share information on drug arrests with Interpol, assuring that notification of the arrest will reach U.S. law enforcement agencies. The majority of all U.S. citizens now in prison in Japan are incarcerated for drug-related crimes. In recent months, there have been arrests of individuals selling and possessing synthetic drug – like substances, such as the synthetic marijuana called "spice."

Japanese authorities aggressively pursue drug smugglers with sophisticated detection equipment, "sniffing" dogs, and other methods. When entering Japan, you and your luggage will be screened at ports of entry. Incoming and outgoing mail, as well as international packages sent via DHL or FedEx, is also checked carefully. The Japanese police make arrests for even the smallest amounts of illegal drugs. Several U.S. citizens have been arrested, tried, and convicted after having mailed illegal drugs to themselves from other countries, or for having tried to bring drugs into Japan as paid couriers working out of Southeast Asia or Europe. In 2013, several U.S. citizens were arrested at Japanese airports for smuggling illegal drugs on flights originating in India. All claim that they did not realize they were carrying drugs. When traveling to Japan, never transport packages which do not belong to you and keep immediate control your luggage at all times.

Knives: Possession of a knife with a locking blade, or a folding blade that is longer than 5.5 cm (a little more than two inches), is illegal in Japan. U.S. citizens and U.S. military personnel have been arrested and detained for more than 10 days for carrying pocket knives that are legal in the United States but illegal in Japan.

Immigration Penalties: Japanese work visas are not transferable and are issued outside of Japan for a specific job with a specific employer at a specific place of employment. It is illegal for you to work in Japan while in tourist or visa-waiver status. Japanese authorities do not allow foreigners to change their immigration status from visa-waiver status to work status while in Japan. Japanese immigration officers may deny you entry if you appear to have no visible means of support. Please contact the Japanese Embassy or nearest Japanese consulate in the United States for information on what is considered enough financial support. If you work in Japan without a work visa, you may be subject to arrest, which can involve several weeks or months of incarceration, followed by conviction and imprisonment or deportation. If you are deported, you will have to pay the cost of deportation, including legal expenses and airfare.

Overstaying your visa or working illegally may lead to fines of several thousands of dollars, and in some cases, re-entry bans can be as long as ten years or indefinitely for drug offenders. For additional information please see Japan’s Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act.

Arrest notifications in Japan: Generally, when you are arrested in Japan, the police will ask if you would like the U.S. embassy or consulate to be notified of your arrest. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas.

Consular Access: You must carry your U.S. passport or Japanese Residence Card (Zairyu Kado) with you at all times so that if questioned by local officials, you can prove your identity, citizenship, and immigration status. Under Japanese law, the police may stop any person on the street at any time and demand to see identification. If you do not have with you either a passport or valid Japanese Residence Card, you are subject to arrest. In accordance with the U.S.-Japan Consular Convention, U.S. consular officers are generally notified within 24 hours of the arrest of a U.S. citizen, if the U.S. citizen requests consular notification.

Conditions at Prisons and Detention Facilities: Japanese prisons and detention facilities maintain internal order through a regime of very strict discipline. U.S. citizen prisoners often complain of stark, austere living conditions and psychological isolation. No one arrested in Japan is allowed access to personal medication of any type, often causing problems and health risks to those arrested with medical conditions, as substitute medication provided by prison medical officials is seldom the same in effect or strength. As a prisoner, you can become eligible for parole only after having served approximately 60-70% of your sentence. Early parole is not allowed for any reason -- humanitarian, medical, or otherwise. Access to interpreters is not always required under Japanese criminal law. Additional information on arrests in Japan is available on our embassy website. Japan acceded to the Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons on June 1, 2003.

Japan Population Comparison

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