Japan is about the size of the state of California. There are four main islands and then the string of Rukyu Islands that reach from the tip of Kyushu Island down almost to Taiwan. Japan is very near China and Korea, and today it is particularly concerned about North Korea and possible threats from that area. More than 127 million people live on the islands that are approximately 70% mountains. About 33 million people live in the greater Tokyo area, the world’s largest metropolis. Nagoya and Osaka/Kyoto/Kobe are two other major metropolitan areas. Japan is very densely populated, one of the highest population densities in the world with 536 people per square mile.
Japan is known for being the home of one of the most homogenous people groups in the world. Over 99 percent of the people are Japanese. More than half of the non Japanese population is Korean. In 2005, for the first time, Japan had a negative birth rate and it is rapidly becoming an aging society. Approximately 20 percent of the population is over sixty five years old. This is the only age group that is increasing in Japan.
Japan is an unreached people group. One of the least evangelized countries in the world even though missionaries entered the country several hundred years ago. Japanese, in general, are indifferent and skeptical toward organized religion. Japanese don’t think it odd to have more than one religion. Eighty four percent of Japanese claim to adhere to both Shinto and Buddhist beliefs. Some 36 percent believe there is life after death, and about the same number believe that death is the end.
Shinto is the native religion of Japan. The Emperor is thought to have descended from the sun and he is thought to be the high priest. Until the end of WWII he was worshipped as a god. Shinto is rooted in animism and its many millions of gods or spirits are known as kami. Buddhism was introduced to Japan in the sixth century and is influential because of its emphasis on ancestor worship. Modern day Japanese tend to think that Buddhism is a native Japanese religion and have forgotten where it originated. Less than one half of one percent of the Japanese are evangelical Christians, which means that less than 1 in every 200 people is a Christian.
SOURCE: About Japan