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There is, however, a new openness in the Japanese economy, and that is making it easier for foreign companies to invest and trade here. But analysts believe that Canada is failing to exploit these opportunities. Only 2 per cent of Japan's imports came from Canada in 2003, a substantial drop from Canada's 3.2 per cent share a decade ago.
"Canada's commercial relationship with Japan has declined significantly in recent years," said Carin Holroyd, a specialist in Canada-Japan trade relations, in a commentary published this year by the Asia-Pacific Foundation of Canada.
"Canada's performance with Japan has been mediocre at best," she said. "Other countries have been more creative, better-informed, and more engaged with the rapidly changing Japanese market. . . . Canadian firms have done relatively little to respond to commercial openings in Japan. The country has suffered economically, and significantly at that, as a consequence."
Japan: an overview
Official name: Nihon
Government type: Constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary government
Electoral system: Universal suffrage at 20 years of age
Head of state: Emperor Akihito
Head of government: Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi
National legislature: The bicameral Diet (Kokkai) consists of the 247-seat House of Councillors (Sangi-in) and the 480-seat House of Representatives (Shugi-in)
National government: Under the constitution, the prime minister must command a parliamentary majority so after elections the leader of the majority party or leader of a majority coalition in the House of Representatives usually becomes prime minister, who them appoints the cabinet
Main political parties: Democratic Party of Japan; Japan Communist Party; Komeito; Liberal Democratic Party; Social Democratic Party
Area: Japan consists of four main islands: Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu, plus thousands for smaller islands. Their combined area is 377,873 square kilometres
Population: 126.9 million as of October, 2000, census (estimated at 127,333,002 in July, 2004)
Currency: Japanese yen (JPY)
Exchange rate: 100 yen = 94 cents (U.S.) or $1.14 (Canadian)
Largest cities and populations:
Tokyo, the capital (8.3 million)
Yokohama (3.43 million)
Osaka (2.6 million).
Nagoya (2.17 million)
Sapporo (1.8 million)
Kobe (1.5 million)
Kyoto (1.47 million)
GDP: 504.6-trillion yen
Per capita GDP: 3,954,545 yen
Real GDP growth rate: 2.7 per cent in 2004.
Unemployment rate (seasonally adjusted): 4.5 per cent in January
Inflation: Minus 0.3 per cent
Corporate bankruptcies: Fell 12.6 per cent In February from a year earlier, down for a 26th straight month
Current account surplus: Shrank 28.2 per cent in January from a year earlier to 774.9-billion yen ($7.46-billion U.S.)
Merchandise exports: Rose 1.7 per cent year-on-year in February
Merchandise imports: Rose 11.3 per cent in February year-on-year
Top trading partners: China (including Hong Kong) reached 20.1 per cent of Japan's total trade in 2004 at $213-billion (U.S.) in exports and imports; the United States was second at 19 per cent or $197-billion
Trade with Canada: Japan is Canada's second largest trading partner (after the U.S.), with almost $20-billion in exports and imports
Trade surplus: Fell 21.7 per cent in February from the same month a year earlier to 1.093-trillion yen ($10.36-billion U.S.)
Agricultural output: Japan's agricultural output totalled 8.901-trillion yen ($80.9-billion U.S.) in 2003, down 0.3 per cent
Industrial production: Rose 2.5 per cent in January, from a month earlier on a seasonally adjusted basis, and was up 1.5 per cent unadjusted year-on-year
Government budget: 82.2-trillion yen ($778-billion U.S.) for fiscal year 2005, which begins in April. The deficit will reach 15.95-trillion yen, down about 3-trillion yen from 2004. (The government hopes to achieve a surplus in the early 2010s)
Government debt: Set to climb to around 770-trillion yen ($7,296-billion U.S.) by the end of fiscal 2005/06 or about 150 per cent of GDP.
Foreign exchange reserves: $840.56 billion (U.S.) the world's biggest external reserves.
SOURCE: REUTERS, BLOOMBERG NEWS, ASIA PACIFIC FOUNDATION OF CANADA, THE MINISTRY OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS AND COMMUNICATIONS STATISTICS BUREAU
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