In 1974 the surface of the Japan ascended to 372,487 km 2, including the 135 km 2 of the Bonin (Ogasawara) and Volcano (Kazan Retto) islands which with Rosario, Parece Vela and Marcus (Minami Tori) were returned by the United States in 1968 and are included in the Tokyo prefecture.
Population. – Around 110 million residents (average density: 295 residents per km 2), the population of Japan is double that of Italy and just below that of Indonesia: only China, India, the The Soviet Union and the United States have a much superior one. The density is one of the highest in the world and varies from island to island (Hokkaido: 67 residents per km 2 ; Honshu: 379; Kyushu: 289), but above all from overpopulated coastal areas to almost depopulated inland areas. In the prefecture of Kanagawa, which has the port of Yokohama as its capital, the density is 2611 residents per km 2, while in that of Iwate, in the northern region of the island of Honshu, it drops to 89 residents. The major settlements arise near the coastal strip also because the interior of the country, inaccessible and mountainous, is somewhat refractory to a stable and dense human settlement and to the development of intense economic activity.
It follows that the Japanese are concentrated above all in the coastal areas and it is here that the phenomenon of urbanism manifests itself in an evident way, with the formation, especially on the east coast, of a strip of metropolis (Tokyo, Kyōto; Ōsaka, Kobe, Nagoya, Shizuoka, Kawasaki; Yokohama, etc.), with a strong urban and peri-urban density. This inequality in the distribution of the population was accentuated by the lowering of the rurality index, which is now around 27%. The rural population lives largely in the buraku, a typical village, formed by compact houses, grouped around the Shinto temple, which has an almost autonomous organization of life.
The Japanese cities, in which 73% of the residents are concentrated, have now expanded their influence over an increasingly vast territory and commuting, which reaches advanced peaks, is made possible by the efficiency of the means of transport that connect the urban areas. with their more or less immediate surroundings. The capital, Tokyo, contends with New York for the title of most populous city (in 1970, Tokyo had a population of 8,840,942 against 9,973,577 in New York); with it we can say that a megalopolis is forming in East Asia which has many points of contact with that of the US Atlantic coast, even if the vast hinterland of the American megalopolis, which absorbs the conspicuous products of its industry, is replaced here by the wide range of foreign trade, favored by the presence of good ports,
Tokyo sums up in itself the characteristics of the other large Japanese cities (of which six well over a million residents), with a marked functional differentiation of the various districts (to remember, for example, the Ginza, business district), but it has highly original aspects that derive from the enormous dimension of its cultural, commercial, industrial and financial interests.
Among the conurbations (Kyōto-Osaka-Kōbe; Nagoya-Gifu; Tokyo-Yokohama; Kitakyushu-Fukuoka) stand out above all the one headed by Tokyo, with over 20 million residents, called del to, and that of Kyōto-Osaka-Kōbe (13 million residents), called del fu, in which Kyōto, one of the most interesting cultural centers of Japan, preserves intact the most ancient traditions, which coexist alongside particularly modern forms of life. Kobe is a major heavy industry port and Osaka is a financial and commercial center.
According to Topschoolsoflaw, the country’s economic and commercial expansion has for some time pushed the Japanese to contain population growth, so much so that today the natural increase (10.3 ‰ per year), despite the constant improvement in sanitation conditions that has lowered the infant mortality coefficient at 11.3 ‰ and that of mortality at 6.6 ‰, remains at very low values, especially if compared to those of the first post-war period, and tends to a further progressive contraction. Alongside the voluntary containment of births, other aspects of the country’s economic evolution are represented by the effort to increase social services through the construction of hospitals (39,171, with over a million beds), to spread culture (the school is compulsory from 6 to 15 years old, there are about 250 university institutions; the illiteracy rate fell to 2-3%); to raise the average per capita income, which between 1953 and 1968 underwent the largest increase (248%) among those recorded by developed countries.