Thursday, July 1, 2010

Size Matters

I can't count how many times I've been told that Japan is a small country. I heard it often enough while living there. But is it really? Japan is roughly the same size as California, and California isn't so small. I thought I'd do a little research look on Wikipedia and see just how Japan sizes up to other countries.

In terms of area, Japan is the 61st largest country on the planet. With a total country count of almost 240, that means that 3/4ths of the countries on the globe are smaller than Japan. Germany? Smaller. England? Smaller. Malaysia, Norway, Italy, and New Zealand—all smaller. Even a unified North and South Korea is significantly smaller. I remember I once told a Japanese person—who had been insisting how small their country was—that it was larger than the UK and she just about freaked out. Japan is also compared to America. "Look how small it is next to mighty America." That's an unfair comparison. Every country except for Russia, Canada and China is small compared to the US and A.

Land mass isn't everything. How about in terms of population? In that respect, Japan comes out even higher, with the 10th largest population in the world. In this respect it's larger than Mexico, the Philippines, Canada, and Australia. You win again, Japan.

Why this insistence on being so small? Japan has a larger landmass than 3/4ths of the countries on the planet, a greater population than just about everyone accept the biggest of the big, and even a population density to be proud of (number 36). And then there's that big ol' economy, number 2 in the world.

So why the low self-esteem, Japan? If size really does matter (and it seems like it does to you) then why not realize how big and strong you really are? I'll bet before you lost the war you didn't go around telling other countries how tiny you were. Have you since made yourself psychologically small?

I'm curious what others think.

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