What does Japan produce

Max Planck School in Kiel
Internet use in class (2001)

The Japanese economy is one of the strongest in the world. Only the USA has a higher gross national product.

Exports: Japan’s major exports are automobiles, electronic equipment and computers. Japan's most important trading partner is the US, which imports almost a third of all Japanese exports. Other important trading partners are Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore.

Imports: Japan has a large surplus in its export / import balance. The most important import goods are raw materials such as oil, fish and wood. The most important suppliers are the USA, China, Australia, South Korea and Indonesia.

Industries: Manufacturing, construction, distribution, real estate, services, and communications are Japan's major industries.
Agriculture only contributes around 2% to the gross national product. The main product is rice. The need for fish is very high, so large quantities of marine animals have to be imported. The resources of raw materials are very limited and the mining industry is small.


Financial matters

Life in Japan is expensive. The prices of most goods and services, especially in Tokyo, are higher than in most other countries in the world.

The land prices and therefore the rental costs are particularly high. Restaurants and supermarkets, on the other hand, are not expensive and the differences between the prices in Germany and Switzerland are small. For example, you can easily find a meal for less than 10 DM. American fast food restaurants are often even cheaper than in Central Europe. Larger price differences can be found in Western foods. Brand new electronic devices, on the other hand, are available at very low prices, especially in discount stores such as Akihabara, Tokyo.

Japanese banks offer customers two types of ATMs: ATMs (automatic teller machines) and CDs (cash dispensers). In addition to amounts of money, deposits, transfers and payments of bills can also be carried out at ATMs. Only money can be withdrawn from CDs. ATMs and CDs are usually unusable on weekends and during the night. The banks themselves are usually open on weekdays from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

The bills for telephone, gas, water, etc. can be paid in banks, ATMs, post offices and some convenience stores.

If you want to open an account at a Japanese bank as a foreigner, you will need the Alien Registration Certificate and possibly an incan stamp instead of your signature.


Economic relations with Germany

In the field of foreign trade, Japan and Germany are the most important bilateral trading partners within Asia and Europe, respectively. In 1998, the share of Japanese exports to Germany was 4.9% and imports were 3.8% of total foreign trade. On the other hand, Japan's share of German exports was 1.9% and imports were 5.0% of total trade.

The total amount of Japanese direct investment in Germany in 1998 was DM 94 million. This put Germany in third place in Europe behind Great Britain and the Netherlands.

In 1995, at the suggestion of BDI President Olaf Henkel, the "Japan Initiative" of German industry was launched. It primarily provides small and medium-sized companies in Germany with information about the Japanese market and helps them to find cooperation partners. These activities are supported by the Japanese side, in particular by the foreign trade organization JETRO.

The Japan Institute for Social and Economic Affairs provides detailed figures and further information on, among other things, German-Japanese economic relations: www.kkc.or.jp/english/


facts and figures

Change in %1994199519961997
private consumption1,81,31,62,0
State consumption2,21,51,21,4
Fixed investment-1,4-0,71,33,7
Consumer prices0,70,00,51,8
Unemployment rate2,93,23,43,0
Trade balance ($ billion)146135113118
Current Account ($ billion)1291108782


Current data

Gross domestic product (GDP)

Purchasing power$ 2,950 billion($ 1,864 billion)
Real growth rate0,3%  (1,5%)
divisionAgriculture: 2%
Industry: 35%
Services: 63%

More numbers

inflation rate-0,8%  (0,8%)
Unemployment rate4,7%  (10,5%)
value added tax5%  (15%)

Electricity (1998/1999)

ExtractionFossil sources: 56.68%
Hydro power: 8.99%
Nuclear power: 31.93%
Others: 2.94%
consumption926 billion kWh(488 billion kWh)
Exported0 kWh(39.1 billion kWh)
Imported0 kWh(38.56 billion kWh)
Voltage100 volts,
50 Hz in the east including Tokyo
60 Hz in the west including Kyoto,
Osaka and Nagoya
in hotels often 110/220 volts
(220 volts)


1999 total$ 413 billion($ 610 billion)
MerchandiseMotor vehicles, semiconductors,
Office equipment,
(Machines, vehicles,
Chemicals, metals and
Metal products,
Food, textiles)
Partner countriesUSA 31%, Taiwan 7%,
China 5.5%,
South Korea 5.4%,
Hong Kong 5.2%
(EU 56.4%
(France 11.1%,
UK 8.6%, Italy 7.4%,
Holland 6.8%,
Benelux 5.7%),
USA 9.4%, Japan 1.9%)


1999 total$ 306 billion($ 587 billion)
MerchandiseFuel, food,
Chemicals, textiles,
Office machines
(Machines, vehicles,
Chemicals, food,
Textiles, metals)
Partner countriesUSA 22%, China 14%,
South Korea 5.1%,
Australia 4.2%,
Taiwan 4.1%
(EU 53.7%
(France 11.1%,
Holland 7.7%, Italy 7.8%,
UK 6.8%, Benelux 5.6%),
US 8.3%, Japan 5.0%)


Unit: Yen - Currently (as of September 2000):
1 DM = 46.98 yen
100 yen = 2.12 DM



1. Home (Japan Guide / www.japan-guide.com)

2. Financial matters (Japan Guide / www.japan-guide.com)

3. Relations with Germany (Japanese Embassy / www.embjapan.com)

4. Facts and figures on the Japanese economy (IZAP - Asia-Pacific Information Center)

5. Current data (infojapan / www.infojapan.de)