Quick Facts

  • Location: an archipelago of 6,852 islands in eastern Asia between the North Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Japan, east of the Korean Peninsula
  • Area: 377,915 sq. km (slightly smaller than the state of California)
  • Climate: varies from tropical in south to cool temperate in north
  • Terrain: mostly rugged and mountainous
  • Population: 126,919,659
  • Capital and largest city: Tokyo (pop. ~38 million, the largest metropolitan area in the world)
  • Religion: Shintoism 79.2%  Buddhism 66.8%  – many people practice both religions
  • Economy: A major economic power – 3rd largest economy by nominal GPD, 4th largest economy by purchasing power party and 4th largest importer and exporter. World’s largest and technologically advanced producer of motor vehicles, electronic equipment, machine tools, ships, processed foods, chemical, and textiles. Accounts for nearly 15% of the global fish catch.
  • In March of 2011, a massive 9.0 magnitude earthquake disrupted manufacturing. Electricity supplies remain tight because Japan has temporarily shut down almost all of its nuclear power plants after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors were crippled by the earthquake and resulting tsunami. Estimates of the rebuilding – 253 billion to 310 billion
  • Persistent deflation, reliance on exports to drive growth, and an aging and shrinking population are other long term challenges for the country.
  • Current weather conditions: www.weather.com
  • Tips for travel in country: www.travel.state.gov
  • Currency exchange rates: www.xe.com



Government in Power

  • A parliamentary government with a constitutional monarchy
  • Chief of state: Emperor Akihito (since 1989) – a ceremonial figurehead
  • Head of government: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (since 2012)


Healthcare Statistics

  • Life expectancy: 84.74 years (only exceeded in Monaco)
  • Health expenditures: 10.3% of GDP
  • Physicians density: 2.3 physicians/1,000 population
  • Hospital bed density: 13.7 beds/1,000 population
  • Obesity adult prevalence rate: 3.5%
  • Third lowest infant mortality rate
  • Japan’s health care is provided by national and local governments. Payment for personal medical services is offered through a universal health insurance system that provides relative equality of access, with fees set by a government committee. People without insurance through employers can participate in a national health insurance program administered by local governments. Since 1973, all elderly persons have been covered by government-sponsored insurance. Patients are free to select the physicians or facilities of their choice.
  • Infectious disease updates: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list.htm

Images From the Field

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Area Agencies

Field Stories

It was by random chance I got to work with the GFR team in Jordan 2014. Turned out the organization they were working with in Jordan needed an extra translator, and I just so happened to be in Amman at the time.


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