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Top Ten Things to Know About Japan in the Early Twenty-First Century

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By Carol Gluck

10 JAPAN IS NOT A SMALL COUNTRY.

Although Japan is sometimes compared in size to the state of California, it is probably better to think of such things in national terms. In that case, Japan is two-thirds the size of France, one-quarter bigger than Italy or Great Britain, and three-quarters larger than the Korean peninsula. Geographically, the United States, Russia, and China are very big countries, while Japan is something more like “normal size.”1

But geographic size does not itself determine world power, and “small countries” like England and the Netherlands once wielded enormous economic and military might. Today, as the second largest national economy after the United States, Japan is a “big country” in terms of economic power.