COUNTRY COMPARISONS 

 

 


Korea and Japan



By  Won Seok Choi
 

 

 

Introduction

Korea and Japan have close relationship ever since their ancient histories to this day.  Because of this reason, their economic growth and development have similarities but on the other hand, due to their different characteristics, they also have differences.  This paper will discuss some of the two countries’ major characteristics including geographic, social, and political characteristics and look at their histories and economies. 

 

 

Geography

Korea
Korea extends about 1,000 kilometers to the south from the northeast part of the Asian continent.  It consists of the Korean Peninsula and over 3,400 islands.  Since 1945, as a result of the WWII, Korea has been divided into North Korea, and South Korea.  The total area is 221,607 square kilometers.  South Korea owns 99,237 square kilometers and 45% of the total land, while North Korea owns 122,370 square kilometers, the remaining 55%. Korea is mostly consisted of mountain range with 70 percent.  The Mountains Taebaek connects the full length of the east coast.[i] 
 

Japan
Japan has four main islands - Honshu, Hokkaido, Shikoku, and Kyushu - and more than 3,000 small islands cover an area of 377,727 square kilometers.  These islands extend over 3,000km in total length, and it spreads about 300km in width.  Japan is covered with mountains about three-fourths of the national land.  Mt. Fuji divides the center of Honshu with 3,000-meter high, the main island.  Japan has around 200 volcanoes, among them about 60 volcanoes are active.  As a result of that, earthquakes and volcanic actions are still running.  This mountain range makes rivers to be short and have steep channel slopes.  The rivers carry sediment to the flatlands, so it forms alluvial plains.[ii] 

 

 

 

Temperature/Precipitation

Korea
Korean peninsula extends from north to south, so there are various temperatures between them.  There is a big difference in temperature between summer and winter.  On the same latitude, the average temperature in eastern coastal areas is higher than western coastal areas, because the mountain range in the east blocks the cold winds from the Asian Continent and also the ocean influences temperature.  The average annual temperature of the southern coastal areas is 13 degrees, and in the central region 10 degrees, and in the northern region 8 degrees. The average annual rainfall in Korea is 1,000 to 1,500 mm, and some few areas, an annual rainfall is 800 to 1,000 mm.  This precipitation makes good conditions for growth of crops and plants in Korea.  Because of four seasons and the Pacific Ocean influence, the distribution of rain in Korea is characteristic.  There is a difference between different regions and seasonal difference in precipitation.  When you go down towards to south areas, rainfall increases. So south areas have more than 1, 500 mm rainfall.  There is more rainfall in inland and mountain areas compared to the coastal areas.  So, the coastal areas and islands have low rainfall.  And basin areas have no big rainfall which is surrounded by mountains.[iii]

Japan
Japan lies on the western part of the Pacific Ocean and east of the Asia.  Japan is consisted of several thousand islands.  It is in the Temperate Zone and has a humid monsoon climate.  In summer, Southeasterly blows from the Pacific Ocean, and in winter, Northwesterly winds blows from the Eurasian continent.  Japan is bounded by warm and cold sea.  Even though Japan has four distinct seasons, Hokkaido and Okinawa have very different climates, because the country is extended about 3,000 kilometers.  For example, in March you can go sun tanning in the south and skiing in the north.  Japan lies in the Asian Monsoon Zone. The weather is generally mild and humid with considerable difference from north to south, and between the Pacific Ocean side to the east of the central mountain ranges and the Japan Sea side to the west.  The country's four distinct seasons make three periods of heavy precipitation.  At the Japan Sea side, there is a heavy snowfalls in winter which is first wet period.  And rainy season brings heavy rains to most of the archipelago during June and July, which is second wet period.  In September and October, typhoon hits Japan, which originated from Pacific Ocean, which is third wet period.  These three wet periods’ average annual precipitation is almost double of the world average.[iv]

 

 

 

Population

Korea
Koreans are one ethnic family and speak one language.  Korea’s total population is estimated at 47,275,000, with a density of 476 people per square kilometer.  In the 1960s and 1970s, there was a nation’s rapid industrialization and urbanization.  So it made a migration of rural civilization into the urban area, especially in Seoul.  For a result, Seoul has been one of the most populated metropolitan areas in the world.  However in recent years, people started moving to suburban areas of Seoul.[v]

Japan
Japan’s total population is estimated at 125.6 million, with a density of 337 people per square kilometer.  Now Japan ranks seventh in the world population.  At present, 49% of all Japanese live in the big three metropolitan areas, such as Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, and their surrounding cities.  Like other industrial countries, Japan’s population growth has slowed in recent years with decrease in the death rate.[vi]

 

 

History

Korea
The history of ancient Korea started from 700000 B.C.  For more than 5,000 years of history, Korea experienced beginnings and ends of number of dynasties including two main dynasties, Koryo and Chosun.  Then the fall of Chosun Dynasty came when Japan invaded Korea in 1910, which lasted for 35 years.  After the liberation from Japan, for eight years, the Korean War took place with which Korea experienced division of the country, the condition of two Korea still remains as.  In the north, with the influence of the Soviet Union, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) was formed and in the south, the Republic of Korea (ROK) was formed with the United States’ aid.  North Korea is now a communist country experiencing economic difficulties while South Korea has emerged as a economic power in the world market. 

Japan
Starting with the Paleolithic period, Japanese history dates back to 10000BC.  Then the most well-known periods such as the Nara and the Heian periods followed before the Tokugawa period when Japan started to develop itself as the world power.  Then during the Edo and Meiji periods, Japan looked out to the Western countries to make themselves internationally competitive and with the victory of Russo-Japanese War, it gained international recognition as a major power.  Also during World War I, although Japan played a small role, it was granted a permanent seat on the Council of the League of Nations.  With its built power, Japan established itself as an imperial power in East Asia by occupying countries such as Korea, Taiwan, Mongolia and part of China, but Japan is defeated during World War II with total destructions in Nagasaki and Hiroshima with atomic bombs.  And because of such events, its future international role was in question but Japan managed to re-establish itself as one of the economic super powers in the world. 

 

 

 

 

Government and Politics

Korea
            “System of Government: Constitution of Sixth Republic approved October 1987; effective February 1988. Strong presidency; president elected for one five-year-term by direct popular vote. 224 members of 299-member National Assembly elected by popular vote for four-year-term in April 1988; rest appointed by political parties according to proportional formula.”[i]  South Korea is a republic country that enjoys liberal capitalistic policies with multiparty system.  As for foreign affairs, South Korea is becoming more and more involved in the international affairs by investing much of its capital into other third world countries and it remains its close relationship with Japan and the United States. 

Japan
            The government of Japan is in a form parliament with their emperor as the symbol of state.  They have “elected bicameral legislature called National Diet, consisting of House of Councillors (upper house) and House of Representatives (lower house).”[ii] They hold “general elections every four years or upon dissolution of lower house; general elections every three years for half of upper house.”[iii]   Japan also has multiparty system.  For its foreign affairs, Japan is a major investor in East Asia as well as other third world countries and a member of number of international organizations. 

 

 

 

Religion

Korea
            Buddhism and Confucianism from China have been the dominant religious influences in South Korea in the past.  Buddhism had major impact on Korean arts such as architecture, paintings, calligraphy, and literature.  Confucianism created sense of hierarchy in society and raised the importance of the society as a whole.  Recently, Christianity gained vast amount of popularity and became dominant religion of the state along with Buddhism. 

Japan
Shinto, the only indigenous religion of Japan, Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism from China, and Christianity from the west are the main religions in Japan.  Shinto placed their emperor as a descendent from a god and included some of the teachings of Buddhism.  Similar to other Asian cultures, Confucianism brought concept of hierarchy into Japanese society.  Christianity contains only a fraction of the population in Japan but many Japanese practice traditions such as Christmas and Christian wedding ceremonies. 

 

 

 

Economy 

Korea
When the Korean War was over in 1953, they have made an amazing growth in economics, which people call it as the "Miracle on the Hangang River."  In 1960s, their GDP was same level as less-developed countries in Africa and Asia.  Today, their GDP is seven times of India's, 13 times of North Korea's, and comparable to the below level of European countries.  Government tried to tie up between business corporations and them, so that system made a success in Economies.  It includes directed credit, import restrictions, sponsorship of specific industries, and a strong labor effort.  And the government promoted the import of raw materials, technology, and they encouraged savings and investment.  The Asian financial crisis of 1997-99 showed weaknesses of Korea.  It includes high debt/equity ratios, and huge foreign borrowing.  From 1999, they had recovered financial system, and turned a decline to positive growth in 1999.  The major economic challenge for Korea is to recover their financial system from Asian financial crisis.  They have exported 144 billion dollars in 1999.  Their main commodities are electronic products, machinery and equipment, automobile, steel, shipbuilding, and clothing.  And they have imported 116 billion dollars in 1999.   Their imports-commodities are machinery, electronics, oil, steel, transport equipment, textiles, and grains.[iv]

Japan
Government-industry relationship, a hard work ethic, and a high technology have made Japan to second most technologically powerful economy in the world, and third largest economy country.  Their main characteristic of the Economy was the Keireitsu, which is working together of manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors.  A second thing was the guaranteed of lifetime employment at their company.  Both characteristics are now disappearing.  Now days, industry is heavily depended on imported raw materials and fuels.  Japanese government protects their agricultural part.  Japan is one of the world's largest fishing countries and takes over nearly 15% of the global field.  Their growth rate was a 10% average in the 1960s, a 5% average in the 1970s, and a 4% average in the 1980s.  And then growth rate got decreased in 1992-95 because they made an over-investment during the late 1980s.  And in 1997-98 Japan experienced a worst depression, which was from financial difficulties in the banking system and real estate markets, so it made worse in corporate structures and labor markets. From 1999, output started to stabilize and business was improving.  They have exported 413 billion dollars in 1999.  And they have been concentrated on automobile, semiconductors, office machinery, and chemicals.  Their main exports partners are US, Taiwan, China, South Korea, and Hong Kong.  They have imported 306 billion dollars in 1999.  Unlike exports, they have been imported fuels, foodstuffs, chemicals, and textile.[v]

 

 

 

Conclusion

 Throughout the research paper, several similarities and diversities between Korea and Japan could be found.  Two countries had impacts on each other, for example, Korea’s influence in the ancient history and Japanese occupation in Korea.  Both of the two countries have long blossomed histories, distinct art and literature works, that are going through remarkable economic development.  These characteristics like religious beliefs and government policies helped them to grow faster compared to other countries.  They both are major industrial countries with high technology now and they are still growing.  When looking at their efforts to put emphasis on educating the future generations it seems like they will continue to grow in the future as well.

 


[i] http://www.lifeinkorea.com

[ii] http://www.photius.com/wfb2000/countries/japan

[iii] http://www.korea-np.co.jp/pk/078th_issue/99012011.htm

[iv] http://www.mlit.go.jp/river/english/land.html

[v] http://www.korea.net/2k/data/a/01/04/content.htm

[vi] http://jin.jcic.or.jp/today/society/society1.html


[i] http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?cstdy:154:./temp/~frd_NNut::

[ii] http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?frd/cstdy:@field(DOCID+jp0009) 

[iii] ibid. 

[iv] http://www.iie.com/topics/korea/hotkorea.htm

[v] http:// http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/jptoc.html

 

 

 

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