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The post-war economy of Japan expanded at a remarkable pace, maintaining an average annual growth rate of 8 per cent from 1953 to 1973, ranking now second in the world after the United States. Though the country suffered various problems stemming from environmental pollution throughout the period of rapid growth in the 1960s, the efforts and enthusiasm of the government, industry and the citizens made it possible for Japan to overcome these problems. The country is now actively involved in environmental issues around the world, by taking advantage of this experience.

Industrial Structure

The period of rapid economic growth in Japan (1950s-80s) was driven primarily by secondary industries such as steel production, shipbuilding, automobiles and electrical equipment manufacturing. The appreciation of the yen beginning in 1985 led many Japanese manufacturers to shift production overseas. Five per cent of the working population is currently engaged in primary industries (agriculture etc.), 30 per cent in secondary industries and 65 per cent in service and other tertiary industries.

Manufacturing Industries

Electrical equipment and automobiles are the two major export industries. In the automotive industry, 390,000 industrial robots, 52 per cent of the world's total, were in service as of the end of 2000. Research and development efforts in biology, chemistry, physics and other fields of advanced technology are being actively pursued.

Agriculture and Fisheries

Japan is dependent on foreign imports for its food supply, as the self-sufficiency rate is low, with only 13 per cent of the national land used for farming. An island nation surrounded by the sea, the people have developed a taste for seafood. Japan ranks third in the world, following China and Peru, in the annual catch of fish.

Related site:
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries


Main exports today include equipment and machinery (electrical equipment, precision equipment and automobiles) while imports include machinery, petroleum products and food. Japan realised a surplus of 89.3 billion US dollars in its current account balance in 2001 with foreign reserves amounting to 485.3 billion US dollars as of February 2003.

Related site:
Japan Fact Sheet
Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry



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