Geography of Korea and Japan Unit 1 – Comparative Asian Societies: Korea & Japan
How does the geography of Japan and Korea help influence national identity?
How susceptible are Japan and the Koreas to natural disasters?
How does geography affect the foreign relations between China, Japan, the Koreas?
How does the geography of Japan and Korea affect their national security?
• The Japanese archipelago (island chain) consists of 3,900 islands. The FOUR most important are -Honshû, Shikoku, Kyûshû and Hokkaidô.
• At the closest point, the main Japanese islands are 120 miles away from the mainland.
• Unlike China and Korea, the borders of Japan have stayed relatively stable throughout most of its history due to its geographic status as a group of islands.
In comparison, Great Britain, which is, at the narrowest point of the English Channel, only 21 miles from Europe.
Japan • Cultural differences between the east
(Kanto region) and the west (Kansai region) of Honshu date to the earliest times.
• The Kanto region centers on the Kanto plain, the site of the present capital and Japan’s largest city, Tokyo.
• The early capitals Nara and Kyoto, however, were located in the Kansai region, another area of relatively flat land in the west.
Japan and the Korean Peninsula • The total land space of the Japanese islands is
about 142,000 square miles (377,915 sq. km).
The population and areas of agriculture are
therefore concentrated together.
• By comparison, the whole Korean peninsula is
about 220,258 sq. km and China is 9,596,961
sq. km = 4th largest in the world.
Tokyo • Formerly known as Edo. Tokyo means “eastern capital. ” (to –
east / kyo – capital)
• Became capital of Japan during Meiji Restoration in 1868. Prior to that it became an important city under the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1603.
• One of 47 Prefectures in Japan. City population = 8.7 million
• Largest metropolitan area in the world – 35 million people / New York is third with 22 million.
• Ranked MOST EXPENSIVE CITY in the WORLD by Marketwatch.com (Osaka is 3rd)
• Tokyo experienced 2 major catastrophes in the 20th century:
1. 1923 Great Kanto earthquake – 144,000 dead & missing
2. U.S. bombing of Tokyo in 1944 killed between 75- 144,000 dead & missing.
How Geography Saved the Japanese from the Mongols! • The Japanese attribute their victory over the Mongols to
storms that wrecked the Mongol fleets during both attempted invasions in 1274 and 1281.
• They concluded that Japan was protected from invasion by a divine wind, or Kamikaze, which was invoked in World War II to inspire pilots to launch suicide attacks on allied ships.
• As Central Asian nomads, the Mongols had little experience of the sea and used subjugated Chinese and Koreans to build their fleets.
• The Mongols that did manage to land are reputed to have had some success against the Japanese, who struggled to match their skilled use of mounted archers.
• But on both occasions, the Mongols and the Chinese and Korean troops under their command, headed back out to sea to try to ride out approaching typhoons – and that proved to be their downfall.
The Korean Peninsula • The whole Korean peninsula is about 220,258 sq. km:
– South Korea is 99,720 sq. km.
– North Korea is 120,538 sq. km
• Mountains & hills are THE significant geographical feature on the Korean peninsula. There are very few lowlands and those that exist tend to be the sites of major cities today.