A nation with a democratic form of government that occupies a chain of islands lying off the eastern edge of the continent of Asia and consists of four main islands, Hokkaido, Honshu, Kyushu, Shikoku, plus the Ryukyu islands. On its total land area of 143,574 square miles (371,857 square kilometers) (slightly smaller than the state of California) live 125.1 million people (1994). The nation was formerly a kingdom with an emperor, but at the close of World War II the emperor became a symbol or figurehead, and his position results from the agreement of the people who hold the sovereign power. The population is largely homogenous, of a decidedly Mongoloid type, though there are indigenous Ainu peoples living on the island of Hokkaido who have some Caucasian features, which distinguish them fr...

From the Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia. Published with permission from the Review and Herald Publishing Association.

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