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Portal:Japan

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Japan, officially Nippon (日本) is an island country in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of China, Korea and Russia. The characters that make up Japan's name mean "sun-origin", which is why Japan is sometimes identified as the "Land of the Rising Sun".

Japan comprises over 3,000 islands, the largest of which are Honshū, Hokkaidō, Kyūshū and Shikoku. Most of the islands are mountainous, many volcanic; for example, Japan’s highest peak, Mount Fuji, is a volcano. Japan has the world's tenth largest population, with about 128 million people. The Greater Tokyo Area, which includes the capital city of Tokyo and several surrounding prefectures, is the largest metropolitan area in the world, with over 30 million residents.

Influence from the outside world followed by long periods of isolation has characterized Japan's history. Since adopting its constitution in 1947, Japan has maintained a unitary constitutional monarchy with an emperor and an elected parliament, the Diet.

A major economic power, Japan has the world's third largest economy by nominal GDP. It is a member of the United Nations, G8, G4, OECD and APEC, with the world's fifth largest defense budget. It is also the world's fourth largest exporter and sixth largest importer and a world leader in technology and machinery.

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Set for Departures
Departures is a Japanese drama film directed by Yōjirō Takita and starring Masahiro Motoki, Ryōko Hirosue, and Tsutomu Yamazaki. Loosely based on Shinmon Aoki's memoir Coffinman, the film follows a young man who becomes a nōkanshi—a traditional Japanese ritual mortician—and overcomes the prejudices of those around him. The story was conceived after Motoki, affected by a funeral ceremony he had seen along the Ganges, read Coffinman and felt that the story would adapt well to film. Departures took a decade to complete, and distributors only released it after the film won the grand prize at the Montreal World Film Festival in August 2008. Departures became Japan's highest-grossing domestic film that year and won numerous awards, including the first Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film for Japan. It was praised for its humour and the beauty of the encoffining ceremony, but critics took issue with the film's predictability and overt sentimentality. The film's success spurred the development of tourist attractions at its shooting sites, increased interest in encoffining ceremonies, and the adaptation of the story for various media.

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Mahuri, an anime character
Credit: Niabot

Drawing of an anime character named "Mahuri". It combines design elements of Mahoro from Mahoromatic and Haruhi from Suzumiya Haruhi no Yūutsu.

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Hasekura's portrait during his mission in Rome in 1615, by Claude Deruet, Coll. Borghese, Rome
Hasekura Tsunenaga was a Japanese samurai and retainer of Date Masamune, the daimyō of Sendai. In the years 1613 through 1620, Hasekura headed a diplomatic mission to the Vatican in Rome, traveling through New Spain and visiting various ports-of-call in Europe. This historic mission is called the Keichō Embassy. On the return trip, Hasekura and his companions re-traced their route across Mexico in 1619, sailing from Acapulco for Manilla, and then sailing north to Japan in 1620. This is conventionally considered the first Japanese ambassador in the Americas and in Europe. Although Hasekura's embassy was cordially received in Europe, it happened at a time when Japan was moving toward the suppression of Christianity. European monarchs such as the King of Spain thus refused the trade agreements Hasekura had been seeking. Hasekura returned to Japan in 1620 and died of illness a year later, his embassy seemingly ending with few results in an increasingly isolationist Japan.

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Flag of Shiga Prefecture
Shiga Prefecture is a prefecture of Japan which is part of the Kinki region on Honshū Island. The capital is the city of Otsu. Shiga was known as Ōmi Province before the prefectural system was established. Shiga shares a border with Fukui Prefecture in the north, Gifu Prefecture in the east, Mie Prefecture in the southeast, and Kyoto Prefecture in the west. Different areas of the prefecture include Kohoku (north of lake), Kosei (west of lake), Koto (east of lake), and Konan (south of lake). Lake Biwa, Japan's largest lake, is located at the center of this prefecture. It occupies one-sixth the total area of Shiga. The prefecture is enclosed by mountain ranges with the Hira Mountains in the west, the Ibuki mountain range in the east, and the Suzuka Mountains in the southeast. Northern Shiga is substantially colder with higher snowfall than in southern Shiga, which is usually warmer. Seta River flows out from Lake Biwa to Osaka Bay through Kyoto. This is the only natural river which flows out from the lake. All of the other natural rivers flow into the lake. A number of major companies have factories in Shiga such as IBM Japan, Canon, Yanmar Diesel, Mitsubishi, and Toray. Trading house C.Itoh was founded in Shiga among the well-known Omi merchants. The population is concentrated along the southern shore of Lake Biwa in Otsu city (adjacent to Kyoto) and along the eastern shore of Lake Biwa. Cities on the eastern shore like Kusatsu and Moriyama are within commuting distance to Kyoto. In recent years, many Brazilians have settled in Shiga to work in nearby factories. The lake's western shores are more rural and resort-oriented with white-sand swimming beaches.

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Seiden (main hall) of Shuri Castle

  • ... that in 1967 Kōji Seki directed Perverted Criminal, Japan's first 3-D film and the world's first 3-D sex film?

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In the news

16 January 2020 –
After his escape from Japan, Carlos Ghosn's Japanese lawyer Junichiro Hironaka and seven other members of his defense resign. Hironaka says Ghosn's escape was a "complete surprise". (CNN)
15 January 2020 – Japan–North Korea relations
North Korean state media condemn Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe for his attempts to reform the pacifist Japanese constitution. The state media say that "in the event of a constitutional revision, which gives [Japan's] self-defense forces legitimacy, the Japanese reactionaries will have all the preconditions necessary to realize military aggression overseas". (UPI)
12 January 2020 – Japan–Saudi Arabia relations
Japanese PM Shinzō Abe arrives in Saudi Arabia in his first visit to the Middle East, where he expects to mediate between the United States and Iran amid heightening tensions. (The Japan Times)
9 January 2020 –
Judge Ghassan Ouiedat, a Lebanese prosecutor, imposes a travel ban on former Chairman of Nissan Carlos Ghosn after he was summoned over an Interpol warrant issued by Japan seeking his arrest on financial misconduct charges. (Reuters)
8 January 2020 – 2019–20 Persian Gulf crisis, 2020 Iranian attack on U.S. forces in Iraq
Due to heightened tensions, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe cancels his scheduled trips to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Oman, and convenes a National Security Council meeting, likely to discuss Iran's attack on U.S. forces based in Iraq. (The New York Times)
8 January 2020 – Aftermath of the Sagamihara stabbings
The trial of Satoshi Uematsu, a young Japanese man who admitted to stabbing 19 disabled people to death at a care center in 2016, begins. The rampage ranks among the country's worst mass killings. His lawyer is expected to enter a plea of not guilty on grounds of diminished capacity. Uematsu will be handed a sentence on March 16 and could receive the death penalty. (Channel News Asia)

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Coordinates: 36°30′N 139°00′E / 36.5°N 139°E / 36.5; 139

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