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September 2014



On September 27, Mount Ontake erupted unexpectedly. The volcano is located on the island of Honshu, northeast of Nagoya and west of Tokyo. Honshu is the largest of the many islands in Japan. The island is predominantly mountainous and contains several volcanoes.

The volcanoes of Japan are fairly active, however Ontake was not listed as one of the more active ones. Unzen (elev. 1,500 m) and Sakura-jima (elev. 1,117 m) have been deemed Decade Volcanoes by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior, worthy of study due to their explosive history and close proximity to human populations. Other historically active volcanoes include: Asama, Honshu Island's most active volcano, Aso, Bandai, Fuji, Iwo-Jima, Kikai, Kirishima, Komaga-take, Oshima, Suwanosejima, Tokachi, Yake-dake, and Usu.

Following three decades of unprecedented growth, Japan's economy experienced a major slowdown starting in the 1990s, but the country remains a major economic power. In March 2011, Japan's strongest-ever earthquake, and an accompanying tsunami, devastated the northeast part of Honshu island, killing thousands and damaging several nuclear power plants. The catastrophe hobbled the country's economy and its energy infrastructure, and tested its ability to deal with humanitarian disasters.

The economy has largely recovered in the years since the disaster, but reconstruction in the Tohoku region has been uneven. Japan joined the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations in 2013, a pact that would open Japan's economy to increased foreign competition and create new export opportunities for Japanese businesses. Measured on a purchasing power parity basis that adjusts for price differences, Japan stood as the fourth-largest economy in the world in 2013.

CIA World Factbook; The Columbia Gazetteer, 6/2014; 9/2014

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