- Complete Lesson One: Japan’s Demographic Challenges and Human Capital Issues (all readings, one required question, and one optional question)
- Choose between EITHER Lesson Two OR Lesson Three (all readings, one required question, and one optional question).
Your answers to both questions should range from 250 to 500 words (about two, double-spaced pages in 12-point font). The 250 to 500 word guideline is the total for both essays. Please submit your answers to me as an email attachment. Please enter Japan’s Physical Geography and Land Use in the subject line of your e-mail.
The second lesson has two interrelated aims. The first is to understand the physical geography of Japan, including the amount of habitable land. The second is to understand the restrictions that this places on the location of economic activities.
Physical geography is roughly defined as the occurrence of natural phenomena (e.g., rivers, weather, and landforms) on the earth’s surface. Human geography, on the other hand, can be viewed as the location of human activities across the earth’s surface. The latter can be informed by the former and vice-versa.
Please look at the following maps and readings, which are easily accessed on the Internet:
- Go to the CIA World Factbook and calculate the population densities for Japan, Canada, and the United States. Population density (PD) can be calculated as:
PD = total population / total land area
You should receive an answer in persons per square milee (or per square kilometer).
- Read this story about rice and specifically, the centrality of rice to Japanese culture.
- Read these two stories about the crisis among rice farmers in Japan and debates on whether this type of farming is efficient:
After examining the above readings and/or Web sites, answer the first question and one of the final two questions.
- (required) In what ways have these readings increased your understanding of Japan’s physical geography and how it impacts human activities such as settlement patterns and transportation routes?
- (optional) How can you share these materials with your students and how can these materials be integrated into your lesson plans?
- (optional) If you are not able to use these materials in your own class, how might you share it with other teachers in your school?
When addressing the above questions for this lesson, please consider the following questions:
- Looking at the relief map of Japan, where are most of the cities located? Considering that Japan is roughly 80% mountainous, what kind of premium does this place on land use (and prices)?
- How does the relatively high population densities of Japan make high-speed rail transportation economically viable or, if nothing else, practical?
- For numerous cultural and political reasons, Japan continues to grow almost 100% of its rice. Note that much of this farming is subsidized. How can this be problematic? Could the land be put to better use?
- For years, Narita International Airportin Tokyo has wanted to build a second runway that can handle long-distance flights by large aircraft (i.e. a runway of at least 12,000+ feet). Why isn’t this proposed construction an easy task?