Japan has few minerals and the share of mining in the national income is negligible. Of the fuels, coal mining in Hokkaido and Kyushu is the most important, but despite state subsidies, due to poor geological conditions and high costs, it is not enough for international competition. It does not even cover 10% of domestic consumption. Oil and natural gas production from deposits in northern Honshu is negligible. Only the mining of building materials, zinc, lead and copper ores is more significant. Smaller amounts of gold, silver and tungsten are also mined. Most fuels and raw materials, including iron and copper ore, coking coal and bauxite, must therefore be imported.
The decisive part of electricity production is covered by power plants burning oil and oil derivatives, about 1/5 comes from coal and 10% from natural gas. Nuclear energy is developing rapidly, and Japanese power plants, which are among the largest in the world, already account for 20% of total production. More than 10% of electricity is produced by numerous hydroelectric plants.
Industry and construction already employ less than 1/3 of the workforce, but account for more than 40% of the gross domestic product. Industrial growth began at the end of the 19th century, and the gradual opening of new markets in Taiwan, Korea and Southeast Asia led to its rapid expansion. In the 1920s, the first family businesses (zaibacu) were established, which are still a characteristic feature of the Japanese economy today. The industrial centers were the target of heavy bombing towards the end of World War II, but Japan quickly rebuilt them after the war. During the Korean War (1950–53), Japan supplied weapons to the United States military.
According to Relationshipsplus, Japan gradually changed its industrial strategy. It went from cheap mass-produced goods to high-quality production based on progressive technologies, gaining a significant share of world markets. The decisive factor is the production of consumer electronics, especially computers, copying, telecommunications and audiovisual equipment, including cameras. The country ranks first in the world in the production of passenger cars and ships. For the development of engineering fields, Japan has built a massive metallurgical base, even though all raw materials must be imported mainly from Australia. It is currently the largest steel producer in the world. The production of chemicals, synthetic fibers and resins, foodstuffs, cement and paper is very extensive. Japan is characterized by a very low unemployment rate, which, in addition to the aforementioned tradition of family businesses, is also due to the fact that
The main industrial belt stretches along the southern coast of Honshu from the Kantō Plain in the east to the north of Kyushu Island in the west. The industry is most concentrated in the agglomerations of Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka.
Transport and connections
Until the 1920s, Japanese roads served almost exclusively for pedestrians. Today, the construction of toll roads and highways continues at an extraordinary pace, especially in densely populated areas, where road traffic is constantly on the rise. Motorways connect all major city centers.
The first Japanese railways were built in the second half of the 19th century. But the glory of Japanese railway transport was brought only by the first super express line, which was opened in 1964 and connected Tokyo with Osaka. In the same year, the first monorail was put into operation in Tokyo, soon followed by many others. There are plans to expand the super express train system across the country. By the end of the 1980s, all four main islands were connected to each other by roads and railways. The world’s first undersea railway tunnel was built between Kyushu and western Honshu in 1941, a double-deck road tunnel in 1958, and a suspension bridge in 1973. Between 1979 and 1988, the construction of the most technically demanding and longest (53 km) railway tunnel in the world connecting Hokkaido with Honshu was carried out.
Maritime transport is of particular importance to Japan. After Rotterdam and Singapore, the Japanese ports of Kobe (also serving Osaka and Kyoto), Ciba near Tokyo, Nagoya and Yokohama are the largest in the world. Tokyo, with its two large airports, Haneda and Narita, is one of the largest aviation hubs in the world. The airports in Osaka and Fukuoka on Kyushu are also world-famous. In total, there are 70 airports with regular services in the country.
Japan’s postal and telecommunications system ranks among the most advanced in the world. Radio and television broadcasting is also at a high level. The Broadcasting Corporation of Japan (NHK) is a public corporation funded by concession fees that broadcasts in twenty of the world’s languages. Alongside it, a number of private corporations and satellite and cable companies operate. There is no state censorship of the press, but until the 1970s the press refrained from criticizing government policies. Since then, the Japanese press has been far more open to publishing bribery affairs.