Japan Territorial Losses
The Japanese Empire currently includes the four islands of Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu with the surrounding smaller islands and the Amami Gunto (see table).
Territorial losses sanctioned by the San Francisco treaty. – The peace of San Francisco (see below § History) had to forcefully take into account the military occupations following the armistice. Japan definitively lost those territories outside the Archipelago whose fate had already been fixed by previous agreements between the Allies during the conflict, and which for six years had been in Chinese and Soviet hands, as well as American. The island of Formosa returned to China (which remained under the Chinese nationalist government which already had real possession) and Manchuria. Korea should have formed itself into an independent state. The rights lost in Manchuria in 1905 were returned to the USSR, and possession of the southern part of the island of Sakhalin and the Kuril Archipelago was recognized. Under the administration of the USA remained the Ryu-Kyū, Bonin, Volcano, Paracel and Marcus. Of the Ryu-Kyū, the northern group of Amami Gunto was subsequently returned to Japanese sovereignty (December 24, 1953). As a consequence of the territorial losses sanctioned by the treaty, the Japanese Empire, which on the eve of the war extended over about 679,000 km2, was reduced in 1951 to 368,844 km 2. The loss of the protectorate over Manchuria and sovereignty over Korea deprived Japan of the sources of mineral raw materials that had fed many of its industries, especially the steel industry, until the end of the conflict. The loss of Formosa implied the renunciation of the availability of precious tropical agricultural products, which – in part – were the object of profitable export. Furthermore, all these territories were important outlet markets for the Japanese industry. Overall, about three-fifths of Japanese exports and three-sevenths of imports before the war were in Manchuria, Korea and Formosa. In these conditions, the economic reconstruction of Japan presented very difficult problems, which were solved only thanks to the aid of the USA
The demographic problem. – The overpopulation of a large part of the Japanese territory which is – not from today – the fundamental problem of the country, and which constituted the natural basis on which Japanese imperialism developed, was accentuated after the end of the conflict. In addition to the repatriation of 6,241,548 people from overseas territories (only partially offset by the departure of 1,192,157 foreigners), the beneficial effects of the health policy carried out by the American occupiers, which caused a strong reduction of the mortality rate. The birth rate, which in the first post-war period started to increase, reaching 34.3 ‰ in 1947, then decreased, but the difference between the two indices is still greater than before the war, so much so that every year a natural increase of a million individuals. In 1945 the population was 72.5 million. In 1953 as a result of repatriation and natural increase it had risen to 87 million. In the October 1955 census it was 89,275,529. An evaluation two years later (October 1957) gave 91,100,000 residents (density 246.3 residents per km2).
Immediately after the war, the government authorities, after having unsuccessfully solicited outlets for the exuberant workforce (New Guinea was indicated as a suitable region for welcoming Japanese immigrants), decided to favor propaganda for the use of anti-fertility legalization of abortion with a law of September 1948. It is probably due to this political orientation in favor of birth control that the increase in the population has now stabilized at about one million individuals a year.
According to intershippingrates.com, the increase in the overall population was accompanied by the development of urbanism. While in 1931 only twenty cities exceeded one hundred thousand residents, today there are 99 that surpass this limit. Six reach or exceed one million residents. Among these, especially Tokyo is in a phase of rapid expansion. According to a December 1957 assessment, its population, including its suburban population, had risen to 8,573,879, an increase of about half a million in two years.
Education. – Public education, compulsory and free from 6 to 15 years old, was given in 1956 in 44,957 institutes (6,013 nursery schools, 22,381 elementary schools, 12,736 lower secondary schools, 3,331 upper secondary schools, 228 universities, 268 university colleges) to 22,555.613 students (of which 547.253 in universities). In addition, there were 740 public libraries in the country with 16 million 697,000 volumes, 185 museums, 19 aquariums and 14 botanical gardens.
Communications. – The railway network has expanded considerably compared to before the war (20,000 km in the pre-war period, about 30,000 km in 1959, of which 10,000 with electric traction). The rolling stock reached a length of 145,941 km; the motor vehicles circulating on them in 1959 were 1,498,200 (of which 295,800 cars).
The history of the merchant fleet has faithfully reflected the political and economic events of the country. From 6,300,000 t in 1941 it had reduced in 1945, due to the losses suffered during the conflict, to 750,000 t. But in 1953 there were already 2,250,000 tons of shipping. At the end of 1958 the fleet comprised 2,413 ships for 5,465,442 t (including eleven supertankers constituting 23% of the total tonnage).
Air communications are developing rapidly. In 1954 there was a total of 52,316,000 passenger-km; in 1955 of 329,112,000; in 1958 of 686,312,000. Regular lines operated by Japan Air Lines connect Tokyo with the USA, with Hong Kong, Bangkok and Singapore.